Try to go for a publisher or self-publish?
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Currently, I self-publish with ASCAP, but not with my sacred music. My sacred music has not been copyrighted and is unpublished. I consulted my former orchestra teacher and she mentioned several publishers but I thought E.C. Schirmer or GIA were the only publishers that would be a good route for my music. Let me know if y'all think a publisher is a wise choice for a traditional-minded Catholic or if I should just stick to self-publishing. I somewhat remember the ins and outs of self-publishing but not signing on with a publisher. HELP NEEDED!! : D
  • MarkB
    Posts: 839
    You could consider Simply Liturgical Music:
    https://www.slmusic.org/

    Also Cantica Nova:
    http://canticanova.com/
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,932
    Never give up copyright no matter which route you choose

    You cannot make a living publishing music

    A lot of composers give their stuff away just to be performed

    I give a piece away once in a while

    My self publishing model charges a dollar per person in the choir for life

    I Stopped composing English texts years ago... all sacred music exclusively in Latin

    So I am a “twilight zone” composer

  • Marc Cerisier
    Posts: 454
    There’s nothing to keep you from doing both. Unless the published piece has a really wide appeal and is well marketed, don’t expect to see much money out of it. I have a Christmas psalm that does well. I have two other psalms out that have made less than $1 in royalties in the years they’ve been available. The first example was widely marketed the second was not.

    Unless some exceptional circumstance might arise, I just give my compositions away now. Most (all that I have copyright clearance to give away) are now on CRCCM’s repertoire site. Unless you’re writing the stuff everyone on this board complains about, you’re probably not going to do well financially, and even then I believe most of the “big” composers probably make more off of workshops and concerts.
    Thanked by 2achoyce91 tomjaw
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    NB: by mere dint of creating the thing, you own the copyright.

    Registering works officially with the copyright office (prior to publishing) is always safest, but it is not strictly necessary. It only makes legal cases easier to prove and damages awarded higher, should it ever come to that.

    Regardless, you never lose copyright unless you sell the rights or otherwise give them up (such as publishing through a Creative Commons license.)
    Thanked by 2achoyce91 Liam
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Thanks, @MarkB, @francis, & @MarcCerisier, Cantica Nova is right on board with the kind of music I want to compose. However, as they admit, they're noticeably lacking in resources. I just want to provide beautiful music that has value to others.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,431
    CanticaNOVA is a great publisher. And you can always write more later.
    Thanked by 1achoyce91
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    Here's the problem: mechanical royalties aren't squat, and ASCAP/BMI/your PRO here don't pay for liturgical performances (which is as it should be), though there's always the chance that your piece might be done on a concert, so it's still worth registering.. The main reason for print publishing is credibility: somebody else has spent money to make your music available, so it has more credibility right out of the gate. If you're "singing a new church into being", it might be worth it; you have a chance of selling enough units to merit cutting the check. But if you're writing in the continuing tradition of the Church, you're in competition with Palestrina, and I don't care how good you are, Palestrina has >400 years of brand recognition. Why should people pay for your music when they can have Palestrina for free?

    My personal response has been to put my things up on cpdl under personal copyright. They're widely available, under an excellent search system, at a Palestrina-like price point. Those to whom they speak can find them, and if they want more of the same, can commission me.

    If you do use a living composer's music, or an editor's editions, let them know. It may be just the encouragement they need at a bleak time. And it gives them some idea of what to do: more of this, less of that.
  • Jeffrey,
    Kings threw banquets back when there were more kings than presidents. The fact that there used to be more doesn't mean that we can't throw a fitting banquet now. Admittedly, it's not a perfect analogy, but the Church tells us that composers should contribute to the treasury of sacred music (as should architects and painters and sculptors).

    One other reason we should pay other good composers is to encourage their tribe. We know the schlock-peddlers are making money hand over fist, but we're not selling schlock.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    Starve a composer long enough, [s]he will die.

    While there is something to be said for offering our works to the service of the Church and Her glory (I would never make my parish purchase copies of the music I compose for this choir whilst employed there!) the fact of the matter is that composers have a real need to live, too. If my church decides they will no longer pay me enough to justify my continued employment here, they will cease to benefit from my talents and compositions too. 'Good will' doesn't pay my mortgage or grocery bills.

    I self-publish, and I only hope in any given year to break even with my web hosting costs. So far I've fallen short of the mark. But I also never thought this would be a get-rich scheme.
    Thanked by 2Don9of11 Elmar
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 593
    Most publisher's want you to submit a manuscript of your work for consideration. Their response is a timely process and maybe after weeks or months you'll recieve a reply and find out their not interested. That was my experience when I tried publishing a collection of hymns to St. Joseph. Disappointing even more or at least in my case was trying to request an Imprimatur from my local bishop. After many approaches to the problem and one disappointment after another I decided to self publish through Amazon.

    Sales have been good but not been that great. I've spent more in advertising than I've recouped in Sales. I've advertised in prominent Catholic newspapers, magazines and local Catholic entities. I thought at one time I had someone from the Chant Cafe interested in doing a write-up on my efforts but that fizzled out to. Too bad, I was really excited about that prospect.

    Moving on, there are some things I did to help increase my exposure like building a website, creating a Facebook page and other social media efforts. I've turned my attention to getting "known" and establishing myself. Each month I do a write-up on a Catholic hymn and post it on my website and social media pages, even here on this forum. Enthusiam from my social media pages regarding my hymn write-up and the research efforts I put into them are fantastic and far exceeds anythin else.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Merci beaucoup mes amis.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • If what you wish to publish is within the stable of what the publisher wants to associate with its brand and thinks it can bring to market successfully, publishers are not an evil thing.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    @Chris Garton-Zavesky, good to hear. I'm planning on submitting my Mass in Bb minor to CanticaNOVA, but I need to make sure all is kosher and I write an exquisite cover letter.

    You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/alexchoyce/sets/mass-in-bb-minor?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

    The score can be viewed here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4a7pmnzbab0vi41/Mass in Bb minor - Score.pdf?dl=0

    Any advice? All can chime in.
  • Alex,

    Except in some isolated pockets of the Midwest, "prayer" is sung as one syllable, not two.

    For what it's worth, if that's where I had to start with comments, I wasn't finding much else wrong with it.

    Someone at CanticaNOVA may reasonably ask himself, even if he doesn't ask you, why you're in B-flat minor. (I don't have a difficulty with it, but then I read all sorts of stuff, including Cesar Franck, for whom 5-flats with a marked lack of accidentals is positively tame.)

    I'm going to guess that you don't intend congregations to sing the Kyrie, but only those trained to sing the 4ths so quickly, and who have a range wide enough to start the octave on the f above middle C. (This, too, isn't a criticism if by the word we mean "negative assessment", but it is clearly a limitation. Congregations don't sing high F's.)
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    My main criticism is not the music itself, but rather the organ part which is not idiomatic. It is written like it’s for piano, but marked for pedal. If played as written, you’d only use the right hand and feet. I think it needs to fleshed out differently. Perhaps you could consult an organist if you aren’t one yourself.
    Thanked by 2achoyce91 LauraKaz
  • I paid attention to the melody, not the organ score.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,943
    B-flat minor (with all the high F's) is way too high for the congregation. It would be much better transposed down a minor third to G minor. It's hard to imagine having to listen to the screeching F's in the Kyrie.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Thanks, guys. I'll try to consult an organist. I can see how this plays out like a piano part, so I'll post that I need an organist's help. And @Chris Garton-Zavesky, I'm confused by your comment about prayer being one syllable since what I composed is almost exclusively syllabic. Also, you're commenting on it being in Bb minor. It's not a common key, but it's a very beautiful key. I can change the melody in the Kyrie. I have no problem with that.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Actually, @ServiamScores, I can see how to write it for two hands and pedal. It shouldn't be very difficult. I'm thinking of having it written with the right hand playing the melodic parts (top 1 or 2 notes) and the left playing the supporting tones. I'll have it fixed and will show it to you on this thread.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    Also, you're commenting on it being in Bb minor. It's not a common key, but it's a very beautiful key. I can change the melody in the Kyrie. I have no problem with that.

    Few thoughts; take them for what they are worth (not much).

    Bb minor isn't a problem, per se, although you do need to know that many musicians will immediately look at the first page and think, "nope. not doing that." the moment they see the key signature. I don't have a problem with it, personally, and recently I've written a few things in Db myself. But, I would hate to be an incumbent, and have to hire a sub for a weekend on short notice and hand them a part in Bb minor. Many musicians would struggle with it. I confess, it seems odd to me that you'd be willing to change the fabric of the music, rather than the key that it is in. Large interval leaps aside, it seems much more prudent to take CHG's advice and just transpose it to a more comfortable key.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen LauraKaz
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,943
    The high F's aren't just in the Kyrie.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Alex,

    In the Gloria, in measure 37, you have the word "prayer" written on two notes (quarter note f's) hyphenated to indicate that it is a two syllable word. The word "prayer", when sung, is usually, but not always sung as if it were "pray'r", i.e., 1 syllable.

    Serviam is correct in analysing my worry about B-flat minor, but I would add that publishers, seeing 5 flats and knowing that people get easily scared by key signatures, may refuse to publish it. Does that make more sense?
  • Listening to the piece in my head, the F - Bflat- Dflat C motif rings a bell marked "Fiddler on the Roof".

    You have metronome markings of quarter note at 140. I gather you mean this to indicate that the movements shouldn't drag, or have melancholy qualities to them, but I wonder if that's not tremendously faster than most congregations can sing with any degree of accuracy.

    [Not your fault]: The Kyrie proves, to my mind, why (in what way) the EF asks greater maturity of its participants. All the "chorus" does in this setting and, frankly, in most settings, is respond to the call.

    Measure 21 of the Benedictus puts the word "the" on a strong beat (the downbeat), which (I trust) is not what you intend. Perhaps you're following the Solemn ictic placement method which avers that a strong syllable should rarely receive an ictus because it's already getting emphasis as part of the text. [That's a clumsy explanation, everybody, so don't pounce on me for it].

    Is there a Credo?
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Mr. Garton-Zavesky, very helpful. Thank you. There is no Credo as this is written for the Novus Ordo Mass. I'm really glad I'm getting this feedback now as I want to make the best impression possible for the publisher and eventually write a Mass in Latin. And uh... I'm gonna keep it in B-flat minor. It's too pretty. I've already sold a copy of the score to a music minister in Germany and he was the one who approached me about it.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    @CHGriffin I'll be on the lookout for other Fs.
  • There is no Credo as this is written for the Novus Ordo Mass.


    Non sequitur. The people are supposed to be able to sing all their responses, so anywhere the Creed is spoken, it should be possible to sing it, if the resources are dedicated to the task. There's nothing in the Ordo of Paul VI which precludes or (necessarily) discourages singing the Credo.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    In fairness to Alex, it is VERY uncommon to set the creed in modern settings, although this is a practice that should undoubtedly be taken up.
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz tomjaw
  • Serviam,

    Would a Credo make a Mass Ordinary more publishable or less so, do you think?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    I imagine the majority of parishes would be apathetic either way. There are mass settings we know where I ignore certain bits (alternate versions of the mysterium fidei, for instance). I suspect most would just ignore the inclusion of the credo. But there is a chance that other parishes, like ours, would indulge. We started singing Credo III (in english) this year and worked to a relative level of proficiency. I'm looking forward to the return of the choir in September so we can pick it back up again. (Our pastor wanted to simplify the music and take a break over the summer.)

    It's worth noting that composers of yore included settings of the Credo, and some of them are well-known these days. There's really no reason to not recommence the practice.

    I have yet to compose a full ordinary (I've been mulling the idea over for a while, however) but I will compose a Credo whenever I do.
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz tomjaw
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    I always thought it queer that ICEL sets "prayer" to one note but "myst'ry" to 4. A glance at Webster's 9th however validates these: 'pray-er' is a separate entry "one who prays" and 'mys-tery' gets a parenthetical variant /mis-t(ə-)rē/. Time to own the my-(y)s-te-ry, I guess.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Serviam, I completed the Glory to God today. Please let me know if the organ part looks kosher. The melodic lines in the organ part are mostly thirds played by the right hand.

    Here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sjqm8gnm2ji3jr9/Mass in B-flat minor - Glory to God - Score.pdf?dl=0
  • Richard,

    Yes, a Prayer (two syllables) is a person who prays, just as a maker is someone who makes and a slayer is one who slays.

    My point, however, is that (usually) writing "prayer" as two syllables is bad form. I'm aware of specific places in which that's not true, so it's not an absolute.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    The new organ part looks MUCH better. Drastically improved, in fact.

    My only other thought, as an active organist for the last few years, is that at no point do you cover the melody. That is fine in a choral setting, but if you expect it to be sung weekly by the PiP’s, you need to work in the melody, or at least provide some points where the organ syncs up with the voices. People will struggle if you don’t.
    Thanked by 2achoyce91 LauraKaz
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Huh. I can definitely see what you're saying, Serviam. It is quite busy.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    From my perspective, it’s not at all that it’s ‘busy’. It’s more the fact that someone who doesn’t read music well (or at all) will not hear the melody for even one measure to help them learn it, or stay on track. From a congregational standpoint, this won’t work. As I said before, this would be no problem for choirs. But PiPs are left to their own devices and either won’t sing or will struggle (especially in the beginning) and it will only take one mistake to derail them. And as I said, learning the mass setting will be a Herculean chore because they will only have the cantor to go by; the organ won’t help them at all in that regard.
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 282
    In your Glory to God, you could easily combine the right and left hand organ parts into the left hand with few modifications, and put the melody into the right hand.
    Thanked by 1achoyce91
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    @m_r_taylor, I thought about that but the melodic line moves in thirds mostly, so I went for that. However, I can see how it would be smoother to execute the thirds with separate hands. Thanks.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Wow. I just have to say this has been a lot for me. It's clear that I need to study sacred music more. I live right by a Catholic university that offers a Masters in Sacred Music, so maybe I can learn organ and study great choral works. The university connects you to a church where you can practice music ministry. I'd also sing baritone in their pretty good choir.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    Oh, wait, @m_r_taylor, I see what you mean now. Put the choir's melody in the right hand. I'll see if it works. I may not get to that till later since I'm pretty sick of this composition by now.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,099
    I would highly recommend studying some scores of modern liturgical music intended for practical use by parish choirs and congregations (of all denominations), like Peter Latona, Healey Willan, John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, et al. Take a look at the vocal ranges, accompaniments, etc. Remember that this Mass will most likely be performed by parish choirs that will consist of almost 100% amateur volunteers who have very little vocal training, minimum reading skills, will rehearse once a week, and will need to learn everything by rote; something like this Mass could take a couple months to learn.

    One of the drawbacks to the key that you are in is the high tessitura. I am a tenor, so I would find this no problem, but it does hang out around in the minor third between b-flat and d-flat quite a bit, which will be tiring for amateur basses and altos, and also a fair number of parish sopranos, who are sometimes more often than not Mezzos who would prefer to sing alto. I understand the artistic reasons for b-flat minor, but for practical usage use, it would also be good to offer different keys, similar to the way art songs are available in different keys for high, medium, and low voices.

    I also concur with Serviam about doubling the melody in the organ part, especially if you want congregational participation. And the revision of the Glory to God organ part is a massive improvement, and encourage you to look through the rest of the organ part. There is no sin in revising: Mendelssohn revised extensively, even works that had already been published.

    Not to end on a discouraging note: I do really like this setting. Have you considered the possibility of a version using the text in the Book of Common Prayer (1661)? (The most alterations would be in the Gloria.) I think that it would work very well.
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    I'll have to look around more for the Book of Common Prayer. In the mean time, I'll go double the melody.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    The people are supposed to be able to sing all their responses,

    Which is an argument AGAINST a Credo setting, as a congregation can't be expected to learn something of that length and complexity. I don't do NO, but the only time we've ever done composed Credos was during the COVID lockdown, when there was nobody around to sing along
  • Congregations (cue Kathy's response about Parisian SSPX'ers) probably shouldn't sing polyphony from the pews, but they can and should sing Chant Credos.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,765
    Which is an argument AGAINST a Credo setting, as a congregation can't be expected to learn something of that length and complexity.
    Au contraire! We learned my English transcription of Credo III and sang it for months, only pausing after Corpus Christi once the choir began their summer hiatus. Don’t forget that singing the creed was mentioned in V2 and Paul VI promulgated ‘Jubilate Deo’ after the council, which included Credo III among the other chants that “every catholic should know”. Furthermore, if congregations can sing the myriads of Gloriæ out in the wild (some of which are difficult and can also be on the long side) then why couldn’t they similarly learn the credo? Mind you, most people can recite it just fine (at least in groups).
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    So I was in the University of St. Thomas' Chapel of St. Basil and looking through the Mass guide provided. The Credo was included in Latin! I'm gonna try to write a Credo (will DEFINITELY be a challenge) and rewrite the entire Mass in Latin. Will take a while...

    Also, more importantly, in case y'all are wondering I reside at a Co-op for the mentally ill and have a case manager who will not let me attend Mass due to my extreme scrupulosity that I had in the past. It's quite mild now and I'm very frustrated she will not let me attend Mass yet. I've been stable for weeks! Please pray that when I meet with her tomorrow she will finally let me attend Mass next week!
  • Elmar
    Posts: 464
    I reside at a Co-op for the mentally ill and have a case manager who will not let me attend Mass due to...
    @ anyone who may know: Is this a normal affair? Our choir sings once in a while in a home for the mentally handicapped; sometimes it is a challenge to remain focused on the Mass, but everyone (many of them with personal assistance) whatever his/her mental state attends, and it is always a joyful event.
    Thanked by 1achoyce91
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    SeverviamScores:
    Which is an argument AGAINST a Credo setting, as a congregation can't be expected to learn something of that length and complexity.

    Au contraire! ...

    You misunderstand. The topic is composed Credo settings. They're almost always too complex for congregational use, and they'd only work if that composed Mass were constantly repeated. I can't think of a single composed Mass I'd want to hear week after week; even Mass XI gets old.

    Gregorian Credos are a different matter. We do Credos I-V, though III and to a lesser extent I are the only ones we get significant participation in. When we do a composed Mass, we substitute whichever chant Credo is up that week.
  • Jeffrey,

    If we take as the high watermark the music of Haas, Haugen, Joncas and Co., then clearly the Mass setting of a Credo would be too hard. Would it be possible to set a Credo as I'm currently organizing part of the Agnus Dei from Mass IV... that is to say for 3 voices with the chant melody being prominent within the piece? That way, they could sing the chant melody, could sing the Credo.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    @Elmar, it is not normal. I've been shoved back and forth through the mental health system and when I was at Menninger (got in free cause I allowed them to research the efficacy of a medication I was taking) they had NO problem with religious services and I was able to see a priest and receive the Blessed Sacrament. And Menninger isn't even a Co-op. It's very confined. One of the other staff members was pretty stern that I had a right to attend Mass, but she wasn't an authority above her, so it didn't happen.
    Thanked by 2Elmar tomjaw