written from an active composer, musician and student


Q&A Discussion: Revisions

As a composer, one project includes revising a flute/vibe duet I composed last year for A/B Duo.

Under the tutelage of my theory professor, Dr. William Price, I decided to prolong submitting the work to be performed.

Therein lies a surmountable obstacle. How does one go about revising a piece to make it better or more interesting?

Here’s a paraphrase of Dr. Price’s comments after hearing¬†MOONLIGHT:

You’ve got a good, distinguished melody; however, I think the piece needs more movement. It’s a little too slow… The vibe part could use more notes, maybe some chords, since the player can play more than one note at a time. The tempo is a little too slow for me. I feel like it needs to move faster in some parts. It kind of drags, and as a listener, I lose interest. Some of your ending chords [in the vibes] don’t make sense to me, either.

Remember, that is a paraphrase, but it’s in the gist of his overall feedback.

To improve the piece I added more movement in the flute by using eighth-note triplets. With a slow tempo (~60-80 bpm), I figured that was a good compromise. I’m reluctant to add sixteenths as I think it would be too fast. (I’m sure that sounds ironic.)

I’d say that so far, I’m making progress on revising the piece trying to improve the areas that needed work or to improve the piece overall to keep it interesting and engaging.

I pose this question to fellow composers: When you are revising one of your pieces, what is your process? When answering this question, you can be as general or specific as you’d like. I’m hoping to get some feedback; I think I will find what other composers have to say about revising very helpful. (I’m still verdant as a composer.)


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