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Schillinger System of Musical Composition Books
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Schillinger System of Musical Composition Books
wiggy81
So the man has been dead for decades, his work now falls under Pd by my understanding.

So in that case where are his books? Seems only a few Shylock types are holding on to the books to try and squeeze a few more dollars out of anyone interested in learning from his methods. Trying to sell some sort of expensive online course. That is great if you are rich and have a fast internet connection but what about the rest of the world lol? Sorry but I am not paying $200 for some chump to give me a watered down version of what I could have read in the f&*D book.

Buy a second hand copy off of amazon for $200.00+... by the time it gets here with customs that would be $400-$500 just to get the books of a guy that died in 1943...


I checked the usual places (archive.org) but I can't find anything besides mathematical basis of arts. The Schillinger system of Musical composition books are mysteriously absent.

What do the Schillnger society actually do besides sell the works of a dead guy in a watered down format? I don't see any promotion, development or advocacy going on there? So what entitles them to hold on to the information? Would seem to me a competence thing - if you haven't advanced the ideas of the man you were supposed to promote for how many decades you are unworthy of holding the works to ransom to perpetuate some easy street ngo job/foundation.

Just seems weird that after decades, nothing really progressed except the development of a cash-grab online course and no apparent way to get the books that Schillnger himself wrote.

So many of these composer foundations seem to do nothing but perpetuate themselves whilst trading off the intellectual property of dead guys. Preventing wider dissemination. It seems counter-productive if the roll of these organizations is to get the information out there - but at the same time they put all of the relevant information behind a paywall....

Stockhausen is another good example - during his lifetime constantly complained nobody was listening to his ideas yet, he refused to communicate the information to a wider audience instead choosing to sell a few dvds and books at an extortionate amount. Fair enough that was the man's (somewhat bizarre) business approach during his life time. Now he is gone, surely someone in his estate can see the flaw in the logic "I want my ideas to be spread to many new people... how is that going to happen when none of my books/papers have a competent translation in English, and the German originals are all overpriced."

The thing that blows my mind about Stockhausen is he had no reason to like that, he was living on easy street from the point he was married. There was no financial need for him to bleed his listening audience dry. The guy could have financed the translation of his material if he was genuinely interested in communicating his works to a wider audience he could have just asked his wife for the cash like he did for everything else..

Morning saltiness over. MY ASS IS BLEEDING
wiggy81
So, you got this far - what's the point? Well Mathematical basis of Art is the only book actually written by Schillinger. Having seen previews of the later published books. That were compiled from his papers.

The question is how much extra content is in the later books? The later books have around a thousand pages - so I am guessing that there is some heavy knowledge in there gathered from the shit show that is Lawerence Berks - Schillinger's papers (You can access the papers bty ymmv). This was the only available archive on the net that you didn't have to drop a stack of cash to access about Schillinger. (Probably due to it being largely unreadable.)

https://archives.berklee.edu/bca-007-berk-schillinger-papers

Shillinger has a number of archives but they are all closed behind pay walls.

Now I got a lot of respect for the guy that managed to find 1000 pages of content from Schillinger's papers - I shudder to think of the poor guy that had to dig through that mess of chicken scratch and just thousands of pages of sparse incomplete thoughts. That is what makes me suspicious about what this extra content actually comprised of and how much was other people adding there 2c.

Having seen the state of the papers, there must have been a significant addition from others to get the material into a presentable state. So I am curious how different the two actually are.

So what is the value of the extra content? Does it bring anything more to the table than the book Shillinger actually wrote all by himself?

Reason is a number of people seem to point to Shillinger being the most important music theorist you probably have never read. If there was extra content I never seen before then sure I want to know about it. Mathematics of art is a good book, so my hunch is the later stuff has the potential for greatness but considering how his work was handled in the proceeding decades I have doubts.
Yasha
wiggy81 wrote:
So the man has been dead for decades, his work now falls under Pd by my understanding.

In a reasonable world, maybe, but with U.S. Copyright (in general...) texts published between 1923 and 1963 are only in the public domain if:
    a.) They were published without a copyright notice, or
    b.) Their copyright was not renewed.
I believe his correspondence course materials were published in 10 volumes in 1941 and as a 2-volume book in 1946. The copyrights were renewed, so the works will not be in the public domain until 95 years after publication. Or more likely never, as Congress keeps extending copyright terms at the request of DisneyCorp.

(Unpublished materials like those at the Berklee site are under copyright until 70 years after the author's death, so those by Schillinger alone would be in the public domain.)
wiggy81
Thanks for the reply, yes I later found a portion of the correspondence course he wrote, but sadly only around half the lessons survive there. But luckily those that do are on line and available to view. Surprising how much was kept consider how draconian his NDA was to his students when they started the course.

http://www.schillingersociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Mark-Thes is-1-October-2011.pdf

Some smart boffin wrote his thesis on the system, I thought it was a good read and goes into some detail why the books might not be the best source of information about the man's system. It also documents the decline of the school and what happened regarding the court case I linked to bellow.)


Looking through the papers its seems the man himself was mad for the shekels just as much as his foundation. 15 dollars in 1941 dollars per lesson for a postal course that was at most 10 pages (usually 4-6). Accounting for inflation that's over 260 dollars a lesson for a correspondence course. There appear to be 274 lessons in total, 121 are online at the Berklee site. What is missing is lessons 1-56, lessons 104-129, lessons 186-257.

What's fascinating is a lot of his students were themselves teachers, so considering that the man tells you from the jump start 'don't ever reveal any of my methods, don't show this to anyone, don't perform any of the examples, don't redistribute.' they must have been crossing their fingers when they signed this as they would later go onto teach this at Berklee at a fraction of what Shillinger was selling his Scientology-like business model correspondence course for (buy my expensive course and develop world altering composition powers... no I can't answer questions not relating to the lesson or that might require later information... where is your next cheque?)

New York public library and a few other places have copies but they are not digitized and I doubt they would do it without charging a small fortune.

Not to say that the correspondence course was not good, I just and surprised he charged such a huge amount for it, given the restrictions he placed on the use of what he taught also.
With that said props to the guy for explaining the course would take around 3.5-5 years to complete. That is a big difference to what's on offer now from the "foundation" lol. 6 weeks to learn all of this - that is either weak sauce or they are leaving out a huge amount. Just looking at the 120 lessons that would take a person years to complete to do it the way the guy expected you to. (go through the examples and experiment will all the variations till you get the concept straight in your head - that could be hundreds of bars, or thousands if you really wanted to exhaust the topic.)

I will give the man the thumbs up for an excellent teaching style, there is no hand holding in this course either, you are expected to investigate the topics yourself beyond what's covered in the lesson. That is essential to understanding what he is trying to teach and compared to today where there is so much hand holding in these types of courses its refreshing. But again. If you were paying 260 dollars for a 5-10 page document that basically told you 'this is awesome, this is how you do it. This is why, to understand better now practice this a few hundred times.. ok now your wasting my time. see you next week.'

I did get the impression that the courses were sometimes padded - Like some weeks you would have only got a 4 page document. others were 6-8 and a few times 10+.

Still it seems the man himself was not too keen on his system being a gift to the world to advance global culture, he seemed to want to be rich like a rock star. Surprising as you would assume a theoretician would want his works to be known by as many people as possible. Especially after his death I figured it would have been a primary function of his foundation. But then it was being run by people that had paid thousands of dollars in 1940s money for a correspondence course so they wanted to recover there investment I guess.

It does raise intriguing issues surrounding unreasonable/perpetual copyright and its negative impact on culture. This is a brilliant example of a case where after 70+ years information that could help many people learning to compose in any style is kept behind a pay-wall, not distributed (the correspondence course was never re-issued it seems, and the 2 volume book was reprinted last time in the mid 1970s.) So where is the commercial justification in keeping this under lock and key? a institute that paid 2% per annum to the widow? This is a bit weird as a legal case from the 50s lists her as the head of the institute... seriously, i just don't get it

http://www.leagle.com/decision/1951808101FSupp707_1621/SCHILLINGER%20v .%20SCHILLINGER%20HOUSE

Seems that some students were more favoured than others - but in fairness this appears to be a legitimate complaint on the part of the widow.

Overall regarding the lack of transparency and the copyright issue...

It's a weird cases because the copyright holder was clearly against his works & methods ever being reviled but beyond his intent, when do the rights of the individual creator need to be overridden for the good of the overall society? Especially when the guy is long dead. (Its one thing to remove the ability of a creator to earn from his works, but a foundation of people not related to the original creator??? after how many decades?) Seems very weak sauce to keep his techniques locked away like this just so they can sell some watered down version.
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