Workshop: Revision

That's an interesting word: revision.

I wrote Episodes in Anticipation (band, 2001) in longhand on 30-stave paper. I copied the parts in pencil. I wrote in longhand rather than in Finale, because of a short timeline and because I didn't feel strong enough in the software to get the piece done in time. Rehearsals and a performance had been scheduled and everyone involved was committed to a performance on a date certain.

I was happy with the piece--it did pretty much what I wanted it to do, the performers enjoyed playing it and did so with style, and the audience was generally receptive. Still, I'm sure everybody reading this has seen room for improvement after the fact in pieces, performances, or other creative work.

There are a couple of people who have aksed to see the score and I want to send it to some others, so the time was right to load it into Finale. And, since I'm having to do all that work on the piece anyway, why not do some of the revisions. The score aleady had many marks in it from the rehearsals for the premiere, including some added percussion notes, so there was already some revision there.

Which brings us back to that word,"revision".

The Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary defines "revision":

1 a : an act of revising b : a result of revising : ALTERATION2 : a revised version

Fine, as far as it goes. But when does the act of revising proceed to the point where the root of the word changes fron "revise" to "re-vision", to see the work anew and, so seeing, make it new again? Should you make this work everything it can be, fix it up a little, or leave it be and try again next time?

The answer is different for every artist and every work, of course, but the temptation to make wholesale changes is there, and is made greater by the ease of doing it in software. For example, in a hand-copied score, if you wanted to add a measure or (especially) two or more, it usually meant re-copying the rest of the score after the additions. With Finale (and other music-writing software packages) you can insert measures into the middle of a piece at will.

In this case, I'm adding a measure or two here and there, giving some of the players a little more to do (even adding an instrument that I inadvertantly left out), but mostly I'm leaving it as it was and moving on to the next piece.

By the way, I have an mp3 of the premiere. If anybody is interested in hearing it, let me know.

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