I finished a commissioned vocal arrangement yesterday, start-to-finish. A 4:45 minute piece, in one day.
Well, actually, no, I just did the easy part yesterday.
Before the one day of work to write it down, I had to:
- find the right piece.
- obtain legal permission to arrange.
- discuss specific ensemble needs with the commissioning conductor.
- internalize the text, melody, and harmony of the piece.
- transcribe specifics as needed.
- consider the piece’s range and transpose to the right key.
- plot the form of the piece and make preliminary arranging choices.
- make score-wide notation decisions for clarity and conciseness.
That was all specific work for this arrangement before I put down a note. That isn’t even mentioning the years of work I put in before I earned this commission in order to make my writing worth commissioning.
I finished the day proud of my accomplishment – on a Monday, no less! – but needed to remind myself that it’s all the invisible work beforehand that makes the music worth anything.
Notating it is mostly just writing it down. It’s fun, it’s creative, but it’s the 10% of an iceberg above the surface, hiding the vast majority of the work underneath.
This piece will be sight-read this Friday, and premiered on October 28 at the ACDA-Michigan Fall Conference in Kalamazoo.