I have a piece I wrote 17 years ago – a thirty-three minute song cycle for soprano and six instruments – that’s getting recorded in June. About a month ago, I realized I no longer had copies of the parts, so I contacted my publisher to ask for theirs, because I had a sneaking suspicion that the only remaining parts were from a different draft of the piece than the one I wanted to record. In other words, the piece was premiered in 1993, then revised, followed by a number of subsequent performances, each with slight adjustments – so several versions have existed.

As I feared, when the parts arrived, they didn’t match the score I had. In fact, they didn’t match any score of the piece that I could find. I no longer had an electronic copy, because the software it was notated with had morphed out of existence.

So for the past month I’ve been re-entering this piece — all one-thousand-and-twelve measures of it, note by note – into my computer so I will have a score and parts that match. It’s a mind-bending and mind-numbing experience.

Age-old problem: I’m coming across passages that I want to rewrite, with the wisdom I’ve accrued over the years. But I don’t think I will. It’s not that I feel that the original is sacred, I just truly don’t have time – rehearsals start in a month. It kills me, though, because once it’s recorded, that’s it. Since I’ll be involved in the recording, the result will be viewed as authentic, so it’s now or never. What to do?

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