May. 30th, 2015

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Though I've been a Gilbert & Sullivan fan since childhood, somehow it escaped my attention until recently that a lot of progress has been made in reconstructing a song from HMS Pinafore that was cut before the play's premiere in 1878. The last I'd heard of it, in the mid-90s, all that was left of the song was a violin part. But since then, quite a bit more of the orchestration has been found, enough to make an educated guess at the missing parts and perform the piece.

It's kind of like watching the deleted scenes on a DVD, isn't it? The song is interesting as a glimpse into the creation of a tremendously and enduringly successful play, but as a song, it's pretty slight, and I don't find myself baffled that they decided to cut it.

Good writing is largely good editing, and sometimes the hardest things to cut are parts you've written that aren't really bad, but maybe just don't fit or don't add enough. When you experience the finished work of talented people, a lot of that work's success has to be in what you don't see or hear — because they knew better than to leave it in.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment wherever you're comfortable.


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