Monday was a day full of compositional activity of all sorts, writing, sorting and, as it happens, apologising, but more of that later. I achieved what I had set out to do, spending some time polishing my latest orchestral piece (still not quite to my satisfaction), finishing With Thy Might for the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir in its first incarnation, and then researching some competition regulations with a view to discovering a new piece to write. Once I had decided on the competition (for a work for harp) I set about dissecting a piece I had written earlier in the year for guitar, with a view to rearranging it. After half an hour or so, not only did I realise that this was a bad idea in terms of creativity, but also that what I gained from doing it, namely a few days of work saved, was not worth it compared to what I might learn from writing something new. To cut a long story short, I am writing a new piece for harp.

This won’t be the first piece I have written for the instrument, and, back before we used the internet, a work I wrote for soprano, flute and harp (probably terrible) was shortlisted for a competition, so I have some form. If I were to dig through my pile of manuscripts, I think I would find a couple of other harp pieces in there as well, so maybe I shall explore later today.

The apologising was done in the afternoon. I received an email whose title led me to believe that somebody might be asking to see a copy of one of my choral works. In reality it was a very gentle missive telling me that I had not sought permission to use their text, which is still in copyright. This was a genuine omission on my part – I had assumed that the text was in the public domain, and therefore free to use, but not so. I don’t even remember giving the issue much thought when I wrote the piece, but rules is rules, and I think copyright should be respected, so I apologised and asked for retrospective permission, which should be given, I hope, within the next couple of weeks or so.

Talking of copyright, a potential commissioner is going through the process of asking for permission to use four lines of text from a certain publisher, and it will take eight to ten weeks for the request to be processed. This seems like an awfully long time, and we had hoped to have the piece ready by Christmas, but no matter. What is important is that they give us permission, and I hope that they see fit to do so. The lines concerned are certainly worth setting.

Onwards and upward with the harp piece today, then, and possibly a little more revision on the orchestral work. There is certainly enough time in my day to do both, and working on three pieces yesterday was quite refreshing. I tend to focus on just the single composition at any one time, but having them overlap ever so slightly keeps things fresh, else it can get a little like hard work at times. I wish I thought that the orchestral piece was brilliant, a masterwork waiting to be heard, but there are too many areas where it is not quite right, and I know that I need to keep working at these aspects of my technique, which is why it is better to write something new than to revise something old. The guitar piece might turn out to be useful for something else down the line anyway, but a new harp piece gives me the opportunity to confront and tackle new problems and, on a good day, solve them.

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