Elizabeth Ferguson is a coordinator for this year’s Make Music New York event, and has a little offer for NYC-based composers/musicans. I’ll let her take it from there:

Make Music New York is a unique, free outdoor celebration performed by anyone who wants to play, and enjoyed by everyone who wants to listen.  Last year, some 875 performances took place on streets, sidewalks and parks in all 5 boroughs on the first day of summer, June 21st.

MMNY is now accepting submissions for this year’smusical handshake“: a single melody serving as the secret lingua franca for musicians on Sunday June 21st, 2009. As part of the third annual festival, hundreds of musicians are taking part in “Mass Appeal” performances, playing pieces written for single types of instruments. Huge ensembles of clarinets, crotales, French horns, hub caps, violas, accordions, saxophones, and more will perform across NYC’s five boroughs.

The “musical handshake” will allow these musicians to greet one another throughout the day, beyond their own bands of instruments, with the hope that momentary handshakes will turn into longer, improvised musical conversations. In the evening, the composition will receive its public premiere at the Mass Appeal afterparty in Central Park. The winning handshake will be selected by a panel of judges and announced in


• Participants must be residents of the New York City area and in attendance on June 21st.  [Ed. note: this is the one rule that we don’t get at all. Tons of composers living in NYC didn’t start out there, so who cares where the tune comes from, really?]
• A musical handshake is a short melody, up to 10 seconds long, consisting of two phrases, so that two musicians can use it to greet each other with a call and response.
• Nearly all instruments and all musicians – from amateurs to professionals – should be able to play the musical handshake.
• No more than two submissions per composer will be accepted.
• Entries are due by midnight on Friday May 1st, 2009.
• Entries must be submitted in standard musical notation.
• Please email submissions as PDF attachments to musicalhandshake@makemusicny.org.
Or mail your composition, on a single 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, to:
Mass Appeal “Musical Handshake”
c/o Make Music New York
PO Box 1164
New York, NY 10013

• Include your name, address, phone number, and email address on the same page as your composition. (Judges will not see this information when choosing a handshake.)
• By submitting a musical handshake, you affirm that the composition is your own, and agree that, if selected, your submission will become the property of Make Music New York, Inc.

5 thoughts on “Care to Try Your Hand(shake)?”
  1. Also, I’m sorry I was so hostile initially–it was rude and obviously unnecessary and I could easily have expressed my concern in a more civil tone. Thanks again, and I hope Make Music New York is a big success 🙂

  2. That’s a huge improvement, thank you! And thanks for being so responsive 🙂

    Rights issues are complicated and confusing, and I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm the first time around (and I’m sure you had no intention of enforcing copyright under that old version) but it’s better for everybody to have it corrected.

  3. Hello again,

    We took the issue back to our lawyer and here’s some new language:

    • By submitting a musical handshake, you affirm that the composition is your own, and agree that, if selected, Make Music New York, Inc. has your permission to use/exploit the work in any manner and by means of any form of media.

  4. Hey Galen, Everyone –

    Obviously the whole point is for everyone to use this melody freely, throughout the day on June 21st and otherwise. But if the melody gets (let’s say) 10,000 “performances” on June 21st, we don’t have the money to pay the licensing fees, if anyone were to try to collect them on behalf of the composer. Granted it’s an unlikely scenario, but our attorney was concerned, and asked us to insert this clause to avoid liability.

    With that said, we look forward to everybody’s compositional thoughts on what makes a friendly musical handshake on the first day of summer!

  5. “if selected, your submission will become the property of Make Music New York, Inc.”

    Woah. Granting Make Music New York a permanent license to use the music would be one thing, but demanding full ownership is _not_ okay.

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