“How Do You Decide What Piece to Write Next?”

Many people still harbor romantic notions of composers. I often get the impression that they think we drift from project to project on the wings of  some mysterious force called “inspiration,” perhaps while hunched over a piece of manuscript parchment, ink quill in hand and scowling at a stingy muse.


In reality, the question of what we work on is mostly about how one chooses to manage their time and what one’s professional priorities are.  I’ll illustrate from my own experiences.

What composing actually tends to look like...

What composing tends to look like.

Since I usually have little time to compose most days, I have to maximize the impact by focusing on projects that have a clearly-defined future.  Thus, if I’m working on a piece, it’s usually for one of these reasons:

  • commission
  • contest/call for scores
  • strong publication potential (or request from publisher)

Read the rest of this (and much more) in my book Writing and Living in the Real World: Advice For Young Composers



  1. Great article, Brandon. I’ve actually found myself saying no to people as of lately, whether it’s performance/composing opportunities, just because I know those opportunities won’t be fruitful or lead to greater things. Our time as composers is so precious because there’s so much else to do.. like feeding and bathing yourself! :p

    1. You’re absolutely right. Learning to say no is important. I know a few composers who would be doing a lot better if they didn’t throw themselves at every offer, despite what it may or may not offer them in the bigger picture.

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