Concerto of Deliverance Album Comment
The "Immorality" of a Concerto of Deliverance
[A Reply to the Critics at Objectivism Online
I've reviewed the criticisms against me and, in particular, against my producing the album Concerto of Deliverance for my pleasure and then presenting it to other Rand admirers for their own enjoyment. I've thought very carefully about this project from the beginning and, not only did I conclude that it's a moral thing to do, but a glorious, benevolent act as well. But, to be open-minded about this, I'm intrigued by the possibility that the critics here may have discerned a principle I'm not aware of.
So I examined their arguments as stated in their posts, with the view that, even if I could not find a clear and consistent principle in their presentation, perhaps I could deduce a principle from the concrete examples they gave. The issue raised is important, not only to the “moral” status of the album Concerto of Deliverance, but also, in general, to how anyone should properly use and benefit from the work of Ayn Rand.
In response to my first post introducing myself and presenting the new album Concerto of Deliverance -- giving a summary of and links to who I am, why and how the music was produced, and what it might sound like -- there were these following replies.
Stephen Speicher condemns me as being "irrational", a "liar", an "intellectual and ethical fraud", who "immorally sought to reap benefit from the good name of Ayn Rand” and “selling his immoral product", which is "a clear violation of the property rights of Ayn Rand".
Don Watkins III expressed "disgust... that he/the musician he hired had the gall to call their project 'The Concerto of Deliverance'. Morally, that is a violation of Rand's intellectual property rights. It is the attempt to confer the benefits she made possible on someone who has no right to them. For anyone who professes admiration for Rand to use her in this way is sickening.”
My reply to these criticisms included the following:
"Far from being ‘a clear violation of the property rights of Ayn Rand’, the album Concerto of Deliverance is a tribute to her achievement and, among other aims, a way to draw new readers to her works (which it is already doing). And I put my severance pay and savings, and my love and dedication to objectivism, to produce it. (Does anyone here expect me to give it out for free, other than the samples and insightful articles on the website?)
"The US copyright laws says this: 'Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks.' See US Copyright Office http://www.loc.gov/copyright/ And there is no registered trademark for 'Concerto of Deliverance'.
"As to my using and benefiting from Rand's works, don't all objectivists? Is someone who makes a movie of Anthem (now in the public domain) being immoral? Is someone who names their children after characters in Rand's novels being immoral? Is calling a website or organization 'Objectivist' being immoral? Is applying objectivism in one's life and career, and making money from that, being immoral? If it is, then we should all refrain from deriving any benefit from her, put her works in a vault, and make them taboo."
Following my rebuttal, Don Watkins III then wrote:
"You're dropping context. We all benefit from Rand's work. That is no crime. The issue is trying to take from Rand benefits to which we are not entitled. The music you comissioned [sic], even if it lived up to Rand's description of Halley's work, is aquiring [sic] an audience simply by using a title given value by Ayn Rand. It would have been fine had you called it something else, and said, 'Inspired by Rand's description of Halley's Concerto of Deliverence [sic].' But to call it 'Concerto of Deliverence [sic]' is intellectual fraud."
And Brian wrote, "Monart may, and possibly should, have the legal right to call his song what he wishes, but not the moral right. I don't think anyone should call their peice [sic] of music the Concerto of Deliverance. In everyone's minds it is a great masterpiece that we cannot hear but it selfcontained [sic] in Rand's novel. We each see it as something beautiful in our own way. And I think it should remain that way. It's something too precious to have someone try and bring it to reality." [Emphasis added; my comment to this at end of article.]
Collectively, the critics’ statements make this claim: that I am “immoral” and a “fraud” in producing and presenting an album called “Concerto of Deliverance”, because, in doing so, I am “violating (morally)” Rand’s “intellectual property rights”, and “reaping benefit” from what she created that I wasn’t “entitled” to.
What were the reasons given to justify this claim of “moral violation and fraud”? I read and re-read the critics’ posts, but I could not find any. All that was stated was the repeated assertion of their claim, and comparisons of this Concerto of Deliverance album with other cases of people who, in their own projects, used words associated with Rand’s work. There were also appeals to allegedly Rand’s (presumably posthumous) “disapproval” of such things as this album.
Even though the reason and principle upon which I am being charged with “immorality and fraud” is not given, I will analyze their claim, nonetheless, and try to discern its meaning and validity.
First, the part of the claim pertaining to “violation of intellectual property rights”: As I have posted earlier, referring to the copyright laws, I did not violate her property rights, intellectual or other kinds. In response, then, the qualification “moral” violation was insisted, without explaining what that means. Now, it is the case, that a violation of rights is an act committed in a socio-political context which integrally involves the use of force or fraud. But no such an act was committed by me or the composer.
I certainly did not use force. Nor, did I use fraud -- as in, e.g., taking credit for, and pretending that the name and meaning of, “Concerto of Deliverance”, was of my own making. No, I do not; I clearly attribute the title to its source. Indeed, the title is a commemoration and a tribute to her work, as is clearly stated in the album booklet and the information on the website. So other than charges of forceful and fraudulent, i.e., legal, violation, what is the “moral” violation?
Now, I can understand cases where I can be immoral in producing the album, but which have nothing to do with Rand’s property rights, as in: if my wife or my daughters need life-saving and expensive medical treatment, but I took our remaining dollars and put it into this album -- then I’d be immoral, in sacrificing their higher value. But that wasn’t the case. So in what way am I being immoral (and in alleged “violation” of Rand’s property, or even in disrespect of her eminence)?
The second part of the claim, that I’m benefiting from Rand’s work to which I have no right and am not entitled, is also difficult to make sense of. That’s why, in my previous post, I listed several kinds of ways in which someone could use and benefit from Rand’s work -- ways which, if they were “immoral” and should not be done, then her work should be made taboo. The critics then insisted on the qualification of “no right and not entitled to”, a qualification which doesn’t make the charge of immorality any clearer. I’m definitely not taking any part of Rand’s work that I’m not “entitled to” or given “rights” to. I’m obviously not taking or copying a piece of music that Rand composed and calling it my property. So in what way am I using her work that I’m not entitled to?
Don Watkins III gives a slight elaboration: The album “is aquiring [sic] an audience simply by using a title given value by Ayn Rand”. I don’t know what Watkins III means by “audience”, but if he believes that an audience is created that easily, he should produce an album called “Anthem”, or “Fountainhead”, or another “Concerto of Deliverance (once it becomes “moral” for him to do it). Without the genius required to create the music, the title would no more “acquire” an audience, than Clinton would acquire a following, wearing a T-shirt that says, “I am John Galt”.
“The Concerto of Deliverance”, as a literary reference, is the title of Chapter VI, Part III, in Atlas Shrugged, and, within the story, is the name given by Richard Halley’s friends to his Fifth Concerto. The description by Ayn Rand of what the music sounded like to Dagny (when she first heard it whistled on the train during the scene that introduced her) is repeated when the music is described when played in the Valley near the end of the story.
The title of the album I’m presenting is not “The Concerto of Deliverance”, indicating a supreme or ultimate or sui generic status. It is also not a depiction of Richard Halley’s Fifth Concerto. It is: “Concerto of Deliverance” -- implying that it is a: “Concerto of Deliverance”, an original work inspired by a contemplation of Rand’s description of such music. The composer, John Mills-Cockell, with literary guidance from the commissioner and executive producer, created this, his longest, most expansive work as his musical offering of the themes in Rand’s passage. This was the original commission, as shown in the numerous postings and updates on the web during the past two years, and now on the album’s website -- and this was the product.
I will quote, in the appendix below, from the last pages of the album booklet, as indications of the relationship between the executive-producer, the composer, and Ayn Rand, in regards to the emergence of this album “Concerto of Deliverance”.
Finally, a comment on Brian’s insistence that Rand’s description of the
Concerto of Deliverance “is too precious to have someone try and bring
it to reality”. If this is true, does that mean that any ideal
depicted in Rand’s art (or formulated in her philosophy) is too
“precious” to bring into reality? If not, why then is only the Concerto
of Deliverance too precious? There is something wrong with this
attitude, something which holds dreamers back from being real, something
which I referred to in the Zarlenga poem I posted previously: “Soar
aloft in the Night Sky…Afraid to face the dawn.”
- Monart Pon
Monart Pon -Executive Producer
Monart Pon immigrated to Canada from China when a boy. Here he found three of his passions: astronautics, philosophy, and music. He enjoys a diverse collection of music, including Dvorak, Debussy, Gershwin, Stivell, Elvis, and many, many others. He has a Master’s in the philosophy of astronautics and advocates the rational, libertarian advancement towards living in Space. http://www.starshipaurora.com Monart first heard John Mills-Cockell’s "Tillicum" & "December Angel" and first read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, 30 years ago, and since then, wanted to hear a "Concerto of Deliverance" as created by his favorite composer. This album represents, for him, that desire achieved.
The Music of John Mills-Cockell
John Mills-Cockell's music cuts across genres and breaks the bounds of traditional styles and instrumentation, melding together both familiar and newly synthesized sonorities. His musicality spans a wide range of styles and themes, embracing the dramatic and deep, the light and simple, the wistful and enchanted, the defiant and the triumphant, the joyous and the sad -- all imbued with freshness, equanimity, and integrity. A fountainhead of genius in our times, John Mills-Cockell’s sunlit music ennobles and sets fire to the soul.
John Mills-Cockell demonstrates his incomparable mastery of the New
Music, when he creates -- with superb clarity, intensity, sincerity,
confidence, and grace -- such profoundly moving and philosophical themes
as those of "deliverance". His music can challenge, comfort, and cheer
one's relentless movement towards the realization of life's beauty and
happiness. It's that powerful. An unusual musical adventure of
discovery, remembrance, and arrival -- this Concerto of Deliverance.
- Monart Pon, a fan
About Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
Ayn Rand is a celebrated champion of free thought, free trade, individual rights, and romantic heroism. She wrote:
"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being,
with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive
achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
[‘About the Author’, Atlas Shrugged]
"At the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and
of life's potential...the sense that one's life is important, that great
achievements are within one's capacity, and that great things lie
ahead." [‘Introduction’, The Fountainhead]
"She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes
flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they
were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody
every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a
sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the
freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and
left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo
within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but
spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no
ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an
immense deliverance."[‘Concerto of Deliverance’, Ayn Rand, Atlas
They Soar Aloft in the Night Sky
To be free in their minds
They soar aloft in the night sky
- - Peter Zarlenga The Orator, 1976
Concerto of Deliverance