Recycle vs. Repurpose

I am not a big fan of revis­ing your music. Once you’ve got things set, and once the music has been per­formed, it’s time to let it go and move on to your next piece. The way I look at it is this: That piece of music is a snap­shot of who you were at the time you com­posed it.

If there are obvi­ous errors or over­sights in your score, yes, by all means cor­rect them.

But to the ques­tion at hand: what about using your own mate­r­ial in fresh, dif­fer­ent ways? More and more I learn this is a tried and true tech­nique, and you should def­i­nitely con­sider it.

For instance, my Three Songs of Carl Sand­burg was recently per­formed again, and a request came up to rescore it for soprano and marimba. Well, why not? I’ve come to learn that many very big names in com­po­si­tion reor­ga­nize their music to fit the bill, what­ever that might be. Some­thing you wrote as a movie theme might become the basis for a sym­phony, etc.

This is espe­cially use­ful dur­ing any time you feel “stuck” and don’t know what to write. Repur­pose your older music for a new venue, and con­tinue to keep writ­ing every day. This will help you keep your dis­ci­pline and may even lead to some fresh, new inspiration.

About Richard D. Russell

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.