How to Paraphrase
Most often when we work with sources we paraphrase other scholars' work to make a point in relation to our own thinking. Paraphrasing is an essential tool when working with other writers' material.
A paraphrase is:
Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because:
6 Possible Steps to Effective Paraphrasing:
As you see there is a clear relationship between good note-taking practices and efficient paraphrasing. Practice putting the information you gather from reading into your own words. This will also help you understand the source material better.
Examples of proper and improper paraphrase
The original passage:
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) integrated national American idioms into his music with technical polish. He was the first of many American composers to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Jazz idioms and dissonance figure prominently in some of his earlier works, such as Music for the Theater (1925) and the Piano Concerto (1927). These were followed by compositions of a more reserved and harmonically complex style, including the Piano Variations of 1930. In a desire to appeal to a larger audience, Copland turned toward simplicity, diatonic harmonies, and the use of traditional song Mexican folksongs in the brilliant orchestral suite El Salón Mexico (1936), cowboy songs in the ballets Billy the Kid (1938) and Rodeo (1942). The school opera The Second Hurricane (1937) and scores for a number of films (including Our Town, 1940) represent the Gebrauchmsmusik of this period that is, music composed specifically “for use.”
Copland reached the apex of his trend toward simpler music in Appalachian Spring (1944), first written as a ballet with an ensemble of thirteen instruments but better known in the arrangement as an orchestral suite. The work incorporates variations on the Shaker hymn ‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple. The song is subtly transfigured and its essence is absorbed in music that sincerely and simply expresses the pastoral spirit in authentically American terms. The wide spacing of chords and the empty octaves and fifths suggest country fiddling.
A legitimate paraphrase:
Aaron Copland, the first of many American composers to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, integrated many American idioms into his music in a very expert way. He incorporated jazz styles and dissonance in some of his earlier works, than created music in a more reserved and harmonically complex idiom. Later, desiring to reach a larger audience, he wrote in a simpler way, using diatonic harmonies and traditional types of songs, including Mexican folksongs and cowboy songs. He also wrote a number of film scores and a school opera. This trend culminated in the well-known work Appalachian Spring, originally written as a chamber orchestral work for ballet, but better known in its version as an orchestral suite. Incorporating variations on the Shaker hymn ‘Tis the Gift to Be Simple, the work suggests country fiddling at times, and conveys an authentically American spirit (Hanning, 556).
For more information on the difference between quotation and paraphrase, see Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.