I managed a flying visit up to Edinburgh Fringe for the opening weekend arriving mid-afternoon Thursday staying until Tuesday late afternoon. My first job was to fight my way through the pouring rain and Hugh crowds to the Fringe Media office to pick up my media pass. The media pass is not a free ticket to all events but it proves that you are a reviewer and allows the media office to support your visit.
The Edinburgh fringe organisers have caused massive upset this year by charging an additional 80p per ticket booking charge no matter where you buy your tickets from (in previous years booking fee charges were limited to online bookings) and although the booking fee is capped for multiple ticket purchases to £4.80 it still makes ticket buying expensive when most shows are between £15 and £25. This certainly may drive some visitor to spend more time at the Free Fringe events where there is no entrance fee and you pay what you like at the end of the show.
The free Fringe is not to be ignored with over 680 free shows and over 9000 performances over the month and Edinburgh Fringe is bigger than ever with 53,232 performances planned this year (3000 more than in 2016).
The first show of the weekend was the Thursday night showcase hosted by Radio Forth whereby for £21 you can get to see 12 of the Fringes best acts (in theory) in a brilliant two and a half hour show. Highlight on the Friday were comedians Jason Byrne, Andrew Maxwell, Tiff Stevenson and Tom Allen all who have been on Live at the Apollo on TV and were fantastic. Lesser known comics were Peter & Bambi Heaven and Myra Dubios who didn’t make me laugh so fell short of the six laughs test (Hello to Jason Isaacs).
It wasn’t all comedy there was the wonderful Sowetto Gospel Choir, amazing mind reader Colin Cloud and the superb voice of Camille O’Sullivan who suffered by having an ego maniac guitarist who played a solo so loud that nothing else could be heard until he finished and so completely spoilt her performance which was a shame.
My first full day at the Fringe began with Bone Wars as part of the Free Fringe which is a new comic play by Keiron Nicholson and Nicholas Cooke, at The Counting House on from August 3rd to 13th 2017 start time 11am.
The premise is that in America 1863, two scientists discovered dinosaurs then go mad and destroys each other and we are asked to witness history’s greatest feud. The play stars Nicholas Cooke, Keiron Nicholson and Michelle Wormleighton and isn’t very good. It’s a good idea badly executed and just isn’t funny although there was someone laughing at the back of the room which was very irritating as no one else was joining her.
Luckily the next show I went to was brilliantly funny, so much so I went back on the Monday and that was Trevor Lock’s Community Circle, this was the show without any jokes and no real content Trevor informed us that the show is for the strong and for those of us who decide for ourselves when to laugh. And there seem to be many of us in the room because we all laugh a lot.
Then, at the end of his hour, he apologised for not having been able to do the show at all. Which has been entirely our fault, apparently but what we get is an absolute masterclass in comedy performance. The traverse layout of the seating leaves the audience facing each other rather than the stage and Lock’s schoolmasterish onstage persona is perfectly judged to fit his total control of his audience.
According the Trevor we are exploring reality and whether there is such a thing as objective reality. It is a social experiment, and it is both fascinating and hilarious. Several people in the audience are given notepad and pen and instructed to write down what is happening as they see it: block capitals, full sentences. From time to time, Trevor checks on their work. This sounds slight, but it creates brilliant comic intercourse from these readings. His manipulation of the audience is fantastic and this must be the funnies show on the Fringe,
Other shows that come a close second to Trevor's Community Circle were Jimmy McGhie’s Tribal Gathering, Bec Hill’s Out of Order and Sophie Willan show Branded all worthy of the booking fee.
I only got to see one music group over the weekend and that was Wereldband. A Dutch five-piece band who are multi-talented musicians performing a range of instruments, they are also knock-about clowns, in a similar vein to Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin and Harold Lloyd.
Dressed in vaguely scruffy 1930s gentleman's chic with assorted novelty facial hair, the show Slapstick emphasises their talent as clowns in a series of meticulously timed routines and running gags that are interspersed with an eclectic musical set list.
Chaplin's Smile is mournfully belched out on a tuba and front-man Rogier Bosman leads a barbershop quartet negotiating Uptown Funk in Dutch. One minute they are playing instruments such as the double-bass, trombone or mandolin with remarkable dexterity, the next, they are slapsticks, whacking each other over the head with all the frenzy of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
A fairground theme is explored as Jon Bittman reels off the patter of a hawker, while wheeling out games for the audience to try their luck. There may be more than a hint of nostalgia about Slapstick, but the show is fresh and family friendly and garnered a standing ovation the evening I was there.
The other standing ovation of the opening weekend of the Fringe was for Education, Education, Education a brilliant play set in 1997 where it's the last week of term at the local secondary school, New Labour has just been elected, Miss Haines has lost the mock exam papers, the Year 11s have put a Renault 5 on the school roof and the video player has broken. Things can only get better. The play explores power, responsibility, and change through the eyes of a hapless group of schoolteachers trying to make it through the day, it’s a fantastic piece of work by Bristol based theatre company Wardrobe Ensemble .
All too soon it was time for the train back to York but I’ll be back again next year for the pilgrimage that is The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Ian J Cole
This is an update of a piece first published in 2012 on the issue of music copyright, my reason for this is because in the past I’ve had a run in with a couple of Music Publishing Houses (one in France and one in Germany) and I thought I would share the tail with you.
The copyright of music is a massive problem for record companies and anyone trying to make a living out of their music. There are two schools of thought, one that copyright doesn’t matter and we should be able to copy, download, resample, rewrite and do whatever we like with a piece of music because once it’s out in the public domain than its for everyone to use.
The other camp feel that the composer and artist should get a royalty for every time a piece of music is played or recorded or sampled, a few years ago the most sampled record was drum patterns from James Browns back catalogue and in fact ‘Funky Drummer’ is still No 2 according to Who Sampled.com all of this royalty copyright stuff keeps music publishing lawyers ready to sue at the drop of a hat.
This is not a new problem, Mozart apparently had issues with people stealing his ideas, Albinoni’s famous ‘Adagio in G minor’ wasn’t written by him it was written by his biographer ‘Remo Giazotto’ who based the work on a manuscript fragment from Albinoni, imagine how his decedents feel at missing out on all those royalty cheques.
Even the guy who recorded Buddy Holly, Norman Petty added his name to the writing credits of several of Holly’s songs including the hit ‘Peggy Sue’, Petty of course didn’t write these songs he recorded and produced them but part of the deal was adding his name to the writing credits so another poor musician/composer gets ripped off.
Anyway my story starts on the train journey back from Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012, it was my birthday while at the Festival and my birthday present was a small synthesiser from Korg called a Kaossilator 2 which allows me to create music on the fly, I tend to use it as a composers notepad and this is exactly what I did on the train back from Edinburgh. I spend about 30 minutes composing the basics of an electronic piece that I called ‘Seat Number 7’ this was my seat number on the train of course. The composition was edited back at home; a little piano was added and then finally mixed and mastered by myself.
I decided to put the piece on my You Tube Channel, so I created a little video to go with the finished track and duly uploaded the finished masterpiece (I’m being ironic) to You Tube thinking no more about it, apart from hoping people might listen and like it.
Within seconds of the video going live on You Tube I was send the following email:
Dear Human Being ,
Your video "Seat Number 7", may have content that is owned or licensed by Kontor New Media, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.This claim is not penalising your account status. Visit your Copyright Notice page for more details on the policy applied to your video. Yours sincerely, - The YouTube Team
And within a few more seconds another e-mail saying the same message from You Tube but this time the company was called ‘Believe’, I was flabbergasted as all of the content was created by sounds generated in the Korg Kaossilator
which didn’t need any copyright clearance.
I duly wrote back to both companies the same day (through You Tube’s web e-mail system) and explained where, when and how Seat Number 7’ was composed saying that I even had a witness as sitting in seat No 8 next to me on the train was my wife who watched me compose the piece, she didn’t have to listen as I was wearing headphones.
And then I waited…..
Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and just as I was about to start a ‘Free the Seat Number 7 one’ campaign and rally round everyone I know in East Yorkshire to march down Pocklington Market Street on a Saturday afternoon stopping on route for tea and biscuits, I finally got the following e-mail ( it only took them 36 days to have a listen to my piece).
Dear Human Being,
Believe has reviewed your dispute and released its copyright claim on your video, "seat Number 7". For more information, please visit your Copyright Notice page. Yours sincerely,- The YouTube Team.
And then the following day another similar message regarding Kontor
New Media’s claim against me.
Hurray I felt like a free man and so relieved to know that the copyright police were not going to come knocking at my door demanding access to the Pocklington Music computer hard-drives amongst other things.
I am of course joking, I found the whole thing mildly annoying but there is a bigger issue here as I’ve said before musicians and composers should be paid for the work they do (see my YorkMix piece from May 2012) and there was a lot of fuss over musicians not getting paid at the Olympics and Paralympics which the musicians union are finally doing something about because they are starting an awareness campaign.
As for which copyright camp I fall into, I fall in somewhere in the middle, if you’re a guy working in your bedroom wanting to remix a composition I’ve created or add it to your own work I’m happy for that to happen and I won’t want a fee (unless your loaded) I would still want to be asked (it is my right to refuse of course) and I’d want you to make sure I’m credited and the correct PPL, ISRC & PRS codes are registered (these are codes that identify a song/composition on a CD or download so writers can receive royalties).
On the other hand if you’re a film company or large publisher wanting to use my piece in the next blockbuster ( I wish) then I would like paying please.
In fact I’ve turned down two film contracts in the last few of years, because the contracts offered required me to give up my copyright on the songs that were going to use in each film. This means that if I added these songs to my own album and those were the songs the company wanted then I would be paying a percentage to the film company every time I sell an album, although they don’t have anything to do with the album – that doesn’t seem right somehow does it?.
The publishing deal that I finally signed with MusicIQ a music publisher in New York mean that I get to keep all copyright, I can licence or do whatever I want with my songs and compositions I’ve written and if MuseIQ want to place one of my songs in the next episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ or the latest CSI spin-off CSI Pocklington maybe!) then we’ll split the fee and the royalties (although I’ll
get full composers royalties) and both will have better bank balances for it and as for Kontor New Media and Believe they are both off my Christmas card list!!
Although just as I was about to post this blog, I received another e-mail from You Tube stating that my ‘Seat Number 7’ composition had a new copyright claim from a company called Cloud 9 Music who have claimed that 'Seat No 7' is in copyright infringement with a song by the band Moke and a song called Till Death do us Part - I can't contest this decision or see the similarity but you decided!!!
(All copyright clearance provided)©2012/2015☺
Ian J Cole
Ian is a Composer, Musician, Producer and Sound Designer and MD of Pocklington Music who has been working in the music industry since he signed his first independent recording contact in 1981. Over the years Ian has been commissioned to write music for Education, TV, Film, Software and the Internet.