How do you approach putting music to words? Ronald Perera



Ronald Perera
Photo by M. Richard Fish, photographer, Smith College

Most composers of vocal music, whether they are composing songs, chamber music with voice, or opera or music theater, are setting to music words that are not their own. My own approach is, in effect, to make another’s words my own. That is, in choosing a text, I have to feel some intimate connection to it that goes beyond mere admiration for the writer’s craft. I have to feel that the writer is writing something that I myself would want to express, however different in time or circumstance the actual writer’s experience may be from my own.

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