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using tunes of famous songs and changing lyrics

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Hi there Blueboarders,

I was wondering if I was legally allowed to use the music of some common songs like Jingle Bells and not so common songs from Christmas TV shows and  change the lyrics for a children's play I'm working on. I know some of the drama services prefer sending them a cd or the musical score but that would be challenging for me.

I thought since this play is geared toward elementary school kids, the actors would find it easier to learn the songs if they already knew the tune.

Any thoughts or advice on this? Don't want to send anything that may be frowned upon or worse, illegal!

Thanks! :rejection
#1 - September 09, 2013, 07:00 PM

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Music can be copyrighted just like lyrics. You need to do some careful research to see if the music is still under copyright.
#2 - September 09, 2013, 07:06 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
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You may also want to check with a musician. Some "common" tunes are quite difficult for children to sing well. An example: everyone knows Happy Birthday to You - and about 80% of singers butcher the jump near the end between 'birth' and 'day'. Which is why it's sometimes used as a quick and dirty audition - sing the interval correctly, you move on.
#3 - September 10, 2013, 05:23 AM

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You may also want to check with a musician. Some "common" tunes are quite difficult for children to sing well. An example: everyone knows Happy Birthday to You - and about 80% of singers butcher the jump near the end between 'birth' and 'day'. Which is why it's sometimes used as a quick and dirty audition - sing the interval correctly, you move on.
FYI: Happy Birthday is actually a copyrighted song. That's why restaurants generally make up their own songs when they toast patrons who are having birthdays.

God Bless,
Susan
#4 - September 10, 2013, 07:58 AM
susanameyers.com
Susan York Meyers, Children's and YA Author

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FYI: Happy Birthday is actually a copyrighted song. That's why restaurants generally make up their own songs when they toast patrons who are having birthdays.

God Bless,
Susan

Also why it's never used on TV shows....

Sorry about the thread hijack! But, yes, you'll have to check for copyrights.
#5 - September 10, 2013, 08:21 AM

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FYI: Happy Birthday is actually a copyrighted song. That's why restaurants generally make up their own songs when they toast patrons who are having birthdays.

Hmm. The restaurants around here don't do that. They sing Happy Birthday. I'm pretty sure the Coldstone Creamery employees also sing their made-up lyrics to known tunes, so the issue seems muddy to me. I know I've at time seen lyrics and then a notation in parentheses (sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice) so you really do need to find out if a particular song is currently under copyright and, if it is, how one might legally use it. Also look into whether you can legally "arrange" the song.
#6 - September 10, 2013, 12:57 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
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Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

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Thank you for your thoughts and sound advice. Guess it's serious research time before submitting this play.  :phone

#7 - September 10, 2013, 06:28 PM

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