performing and recording

things you may change

Many elements of music are naturally variable and flexible in performance.

Some common ones are:

tempo to suit music, instruments, performers, acoustic and style of event;

dynamics, in consideration of the same factors;

pitch level and transposition (not always to be regarded as changeable, and you should state if you transpose);

playing or singing the last note of a bass line an octave lower than written (but not always – use discretion);

cutting off notes before their full duration, either at ends of phrases or during them;

setting your own preferred lengths of breaks between verses, where no specific indication is given;

performing some sections as solo rather than full;

doubling or substituting voice parts with melodic instruments, to play lines of notes already clearly written in the music;

adding nonmelodic percussion in the same rhythm as the original (with discretion).

None of these things constitutes making an arrangement of the music.

If you are adding an instrument for a performance of a piece of music, and at any point any doubt exists about which note it should play next, then a process of making an arrangement has started.

things you must not change

Unless permission is explicitly given, in performing any music published here you may not change:


rhythmic structure;



If you change any of the content of an item of music when you perform it you are effectively making an arrangement with no permission from the composer or publisher.

Unless you have such permission, any music that you perform, record or broadcast must be performed as published.

Otherwise, you would give a false impression of the music to hearers, including people who may be interested in buying it.

Imagine someone publishing a photo of you, with your face subtly distorted out of shape, so that the changes are not obviously fake to anyone who does not know you, but with a caption that simply states that the photo is of you, and no mention of the alteration.

performing an excerpt of our music

You may do this, if you have a licence to perform the music.

But you must make clear in your program notes and any announcements that you are performing only an excerpt.

Otherwise, depending on how much you do, people hearing it may think that that’s the whole thing.

performance licences

Depending on where you perform copyright material, and on the type of event, you may need a performance licence to do so.

Even in the same publication, text and music content are often owned or licensed by different people or organisations.

If you do not have reliable specific information to the contrary, always assume that you need a licence to perform copyright material.

If you need a performance licence you should assume that you must get it in advance.

Get advice before your event. Don’t risk leaving it until afterwards then finding that you have broken the law.

Ensuring that you are legally licensed to perform copyright material is your responsibility.

And it’s not hard or expensive.

getting advice

Your local performing rights organisation can give you all the information you need about performing copyright material.

Some countries have more than one such organisation.

You can easily find your local ones by searching for “performance licence”.


Recording rights are the mechanical copyright equivalent of performing rights.

Before making a sound recording of copyright music or text you must get a licence to do so.

Mechanical rights organisations exist in most countries.

performing rights for Laurie Williams’s music

Laurie is a member of the Australasian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA).

His performance rights are held by APRA.

APRA is affiliated with the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited (AMCOS).

If you are outside Australia and need performance permission for Laurie’s music, contact APRA regarding affiliate licensing groups in your country.

altering and arranging

© Laurie Williams Music, Adelaide, South Australia, 2014, 2015