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Topic: A bit from "Into The Woods"

  1. #1

    A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post in the listening room. It is an excerpt from two songs out of the Broadway Musical Score for "Into The Woods" by Stephen Sondheim.

    As some of you already know, I did musical direction for a production of this show at a local high-school that three of my children attend. It was a lot of fun! I ended up using a student orchestra to play this show live, but here is a cut from two songs that the cast performed on a local television show, "Good Morning Memphis", as an advertisment for the show. These are the backing tracks they used on that show.

    This was all played "live" from my laptop to a digital two track. It uses GPO, Jabb (trumpet and some percussion) and Strad:


    A few notes about the songs, the first song is called "Your Fault". It is a fast paced and frantic number where six cast members are arguing back and forth in a very high energy scene. This segues into the next song, a fast 3/4 piece sung by the witch - "Last Midnight". It is the final scene for the witch and she dramatically disappears at the end of the song.

    Thanks to everyone here that helped me get started with this project and to all those that answered the many questions I had along the way.

    Kenny Long

  2. #2

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Kenny -

    First I must say that "Into the Woods" is probably my most favorite musical, period. To me, the story, the lyrics, the music and orchestration are just brilliant; this musical is a true work of art, in my most humble opinion. Now, I USED to say that Stephen Sondheim was my favorite living composer. But after hanging around this forum for the past few years, I have added many, many composers found here to my list of favorites! But, to me, Stephen Sondheim is still one of the tops!!!!

    Now. . . about your sequencing of this piece.

    WOW! Nice work!! You seemed quite skillful in sequencing as evidenced by these renderings. You brought a muchly needed smile to this tired face after listening to these songs. It was a most pleasurable listen and it brought back fond memories of when I musically directed this piece for an local community theater. (We're talking 13+ years ago! Yikes! ) We all worked hard on this project. Without a doubt, it was a challange for all of us to learn and perfornm this musical. But the long, hard work paid off and a fine show was presented to the public. I love this musical. Listening to this music again was a treat!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  3. #3

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    a beautiful rendition, Kenny, bravo! Did you do this in a sequencer or a notation program? Great work!


  4. #4

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"


    Thanks for listening, glad it brought back memories for you. Into the Woods is one of my favorites and Sondheim is as well. Your piece made me smile as well Ted.


    This was all hand played into the sequencer line by line. It takes forever to get things sounding natural and reasonably tight without making it sound mechanical. You have to make very minor timing adjustments for every instrument or things just don't end up sounding right. Perhaps if I was a better player it would go a little faster, who knows? When I grow up and really learn how to sequence, I want to be just like you man. Wishes is my favorite piece of yours thus far... I've been playing it for everyone here at the house and they all agree it is fantastic.

    I just noticed that I killed most of the stereo imaging when I mixed this version. This was the actual cut I used for television spot and I was afraid they would only get one of the stereo channels from my feed, so I wanted to minimize the impact of this - hence I reduced the stereo field quite a bit.

    Thanks for listening,

  5. #5

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Wow, amazing rendering! That piano sounds superb!

    I just "discovered" Sondheim this year, so I'm not as familiar with all his work, but this musical is one of his best in my opinion (Sweeney's gotta be my favorite though ). It's amazing how different this piece sounds without the voices! It's still immediately recognizable, but the main melodies are just completely gone! It's very unlike other musicals, in which the main melodies are instrumentally doubled. The way this piece works must be harder for the singers, especially with this piece's pace and dialogue nature. Ah, what fun!!

    Bravo, great work on this!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  6. #6
    Senior Member rayzalaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"


    I don't tend to listen to musical theatre stuff which I'm sure is my loss so I can't hear the singing but I can appreciate your abilities in producing this arrangement, and your description of how you do it is very familiar to me.
    I'm sure we will hear many more examples of your excellent work to enjoy here.

    My Best



  7. #7

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Kenny! I'm really glad you let us hear this clip of "Into The Woods." It sounds fantastic, clearly assembled with loving care. To get this kind of result, it will always take a very long time, as you described. I wouldn't anticipate the process getting all that much faster as you gain more experience.

    Interesting comments on this thread too. Sondheim's music is so textural, and as was pointed out, without very many guides for the singer. It can be very difficult for singers--Sometimes a song's orchestration can sound like just a "pad" and basic things like knowing when to come in is the first challenge for singers who are used to much more obvious set ups for their entrances.

    You did great, Kenny!

    Randy B.

  8. #8

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"


    Hey Sean, thanks for the kind words. The piano is the GPO Steinway - it works well with the rest of GPO doesn't it?

    Sondheim is amazing isn't he? I also love Sweeney Todd. Yes, the melody is totally carried by voice - the orchestra doesn't play it or echo it at all in either of these pieces. I almost didn't post this piece at all because without the melody there is definately something missing here. This was defintely a challenging song for the kids, but they pulled it off and did a really great job. I started working on this song with the cast on the second day of rehearsals so they had it down cold for the show.


    Thanks for the kind words. Maybe I should have played the melodies back with the strad or something? I thought GPO sounded really good with the orchestration at hand, I didn't want to spoil it.


    Your kind words mean a lot to me. I have a lot of respect for what you are doing and what you have done.

    For those of you who don't know, Randy has written a musical and the parts I have heard are fantastic.


  9. #9

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Excellent job on this, Kenny! Especially the performance
    aspects of it... pace, dynamic management. Sondheim's
    material is quite sophisticated and extremely demanding,

    Welcome aboard, and four aces on your first foray, here!

    All my best,


  10. #10

    Re: A bit from "Into The Woods"

    Thank you so much for listening David.

    I played the conductors score on the piano with all the tempo fluctuation and dynamics I was going for then built around that.


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