To excerpt, or not to excerpt?

To excerpt, or not to excerpt?

In the modern musical world, there are so many different elements music creators have to juggle in every element of their work. Once the final piece has been sculpted, however, another question arises: How do you share it?

After the last series of blog posts I uploaded, containing excerpts from Scenes from a Train, I had a similar discussion with a few different people. They asked why I had only uploaded excerpts of the piece, rather than sharing the whole thing. I thought I’d share my philosophy behind it!

The most recent pieces of music I’ve uploaded to Soundcloud have been the Scenes from a Train pieces – which I’ve put up as computer generated recordings, and excerpts. There are some other recent pieces on there in a similar format. There are a number of reasons why I’ve been using excerpts for computer recordings.

Firstly, if your music is designed for a live performance, then no computer generated performance will do it justice. Yes, you can enter subtle tempo changes, dynamic curves and attacks, but it still won’t be quite right. Therefore, no computer generated performance will necessarily capture the essence of what I’m conveying in the music. Secondly, as far as my music is concerned, the performer’s interpretation is a key part of the music itself. As discussed in previous posts, I don’t like controlling every minute detail of the music. Some composers do, and I’m not criticising that; this is purely about my practice and how I work. A computerised performance doesn’t have that unique, insightful side to it.

To summarise, therefore: I only upload excerpts of computer generated recordings as I don’t think they truly reflect the music. Some people may think differently, but this is my personal view about my music. It never sounds like it does in my head when a computer performs it, so why should I be happy sharing a version so different to how the finished product should sound?

In my opinion, uploading recordings should be treated differently to excerpts . There are many instances where I’ve only uploaded excerpts of recordings – initially, I think, because it was the norm! When I first uploaded pieces – probably around 2006 – most people were only sharing excerpts, potentially partly for copyright reasons amongst other things. However, now the tendency is to upload full pieces to share with others. There are, of course, the occasional circumstance where you can only share excerpts because it’s not your place to release the entire piece – but I won’t dwell on that!

From now onwards, therefore, I will attempt to share pieces in full if they are recordings, but only upload excerpts of computer generated performances if I want to share them (for example, in a blog post). There are of course exceptions, when I’m not allowed to upload the full audio of a piece for whatever reason, and I’ll make that clear.

Luckily, there are a couple of pieces I’ll be sharing with you over the next couple of months (when I’m allowed to!) which are full audio, which I look forward to introducing you to. I also have a couple of pieces in the works which I may share with you before they are performed, in excerpt form.

I’m also aiming to launch my new website sometime this month, and as part of that I’ll aim to share some of the full audio of recorded compositions that are currently only available as excerpts!

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