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Topic: A Danse Macabre

  1. #1

    A Danse Macabre



    EDIT-6/22/07 - For SEAN, and anyone else interested--here's a 30 second clip of a vocal demo from this number.
    It's me singing all the parts of a section that starts at 1:00 in the instrumental file posted. You can also catch a glimpse of what the orchestra sounded like before I was using GPO--Keep in mind I'm also singing the female parts, an octave lower than written:


    EDIT-6/20/07 - There has been some confusion about the nature of this piece. It's a dance number from my musical, and in an attempt to set the scene in the text below, I've mis-led some listeners into thinking it's intended to be horrific.

    On the contrary, besides a slightly strange main theme, the music itself is an energetic waltz (following introductory passages of a different nature) which in context of the show is understood to be ironic in its tone.

    Reading some of the thread before listening would be instructive.
    This piece is actually titled "Fantastic Eyes." It's a big production number in my musical, "Dorian-The Remarkable Mr. Gray," and follows the last section of the show I posted awhile back.

    I also call it a "Danse Macabre" because the scene has something in common with the Medieval dances of skeletons during that morbid period of time.

    It's a masquerade scene--a wild Victorian orgy of song and dance held in a clandestine location, and fraught with danger and decadence. But on the surface, the music sounds like a pleasant party scene. Appearances are deceptive--that's the theme of the entire story.

    Lord Henry is introducing Dorian to a new world-a secretive counter-culture which Dorian has never seen before.

    As with the entire virtual orchestra sound track I've done for the show, this is mostly GPO. The rest is from my Korg X5dr sound module, various soft synths from online, and a surprise sound effect during the Coda.

    This is primarily a dance number, but there are sections during which The Chorus will sing--voices not included on this recording--This is strictly the orchestra the cast will sing to.

    An outline of what's happening and when The Chorus sings:

    1 - Thematic reprise from "Every Picture Painted" is the transition into the scene.

    2 - Up until 0:36 is a brief section of Henry introducing Dorian to The Chorus, and them replying. This is a transitional segment not musically related to the main section. Then the waltz begins.

    3 - 1:00 The Chorus sings in four part harmony with overlapping contrapuntal lines.

    4 - 1:32 A dance segment as a small group of female dancers dressed as Peacocks, seduce Dorian. A theme from the opening number "Prelude" is heard.

    5 - 2:00 Brief vocal section from The Chorus.

    6 - 2:15 more dance, then a brief section of singing, followed by more dance.

    7 - 2:38 Full Chorus singing and dancing.

    8 - 3:09 The coda is dance only, with the Peacocks exiting with Dorian and the masked dancers approving with lascivious glee--listen for them.

    Randy B.

    Last edited by rbowser-; 06-22-2007 at 10:26 AM. Reason: trying to clear up confusion/adding another link

  2. #2

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    while I enjoyed the piece (as I so tremendously did the other excerpts from your musical), it somehow didn't fit the description you gave of the intended mood. it was too "pretty" for a dance macabre!

    I could certainly imagine a wonderful Victorian street scene to it. it sounds "bustling" rather than menacing or seductive. with a mildly "circus-y" sound to it nearer the end.

  3. #3

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Hello, Michel--Thanks for posting a reply!

    AH--the power and importance of visuals and irony.

    You're very right, that the mood sounds bustling and perhaps even happy. You make me realize that I could either have just posted the number without description--except people are wanting to know what's going on in the show as I post pieces from it, or I could have explained that the piece is ironic in contrast with what happens in the staging.

    I believe the apparently happy carnival-like-atmosphere of the pretty (but slightly off-center and over-blown) music will be clearly taken to be ironic by the audience Seeing the show. I was hoping the images of the dancing skeletons would guide the listener a bit to realize that the surface mood is merely a veneer--just like Dorian's face. He remains "pretty" throughout the show even as he becomes a soul-less murderer.

    I'm glad you've been enjoying my posts, thank you!

    Randy B.

  4. #4

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Fantastic Eyes? You meant of course Fantastic Notes!!!

    Just what I needed to end-the-day. Nice piece, Randy and it is catching.
    Some strange effects come up... but very nicely mixed. I love it.


  5. #5

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Raymond, my friend in The Hague--I'm very glad you're enjoying my waltz. Turn about is fair play, I guess, since I enjoyed your recent post in tribute to your anniversary which I was fortunate to help out a bit on.

    It's kind of a peculiar thing, to slowly be sharing the numbers from my show this way. There's obviously no way to convey a lot about what the purpose of each section is, and how it all flows together in context of a live stage production.

    Context. It's so important. And Michel's reply on this thread made me think of that again.

    This waltz is a full chorus production number, as I said in the initial post, and it follows an extended section which only had the three main characters on stage. That was a series of solos and duets.

    At this point, the show is lifted up into a larger, more bristling mood with this large group number, and musically needed to be a contrast to both what came before it and what follows.

    As the show progresses there are numerous "Gothic Horror" moments, musically, and that barrage of heaviness needs relief once in awhile, such as in this number--even though there's an undertone of danger and darkness in this masquerade scene as it's to be staged.

    Halloween doesn't always sound scary! And can't it be even creepier when what's perceived on the surface as being light and fanciful is stretched over an unknown morass of mystery? I think so!

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    I like to hear the pieces in the listening room without reading other people's comments first. It did sound Victorian to me, and very professional. Is it maybe not decadent enough for what you intend? It sounded more like good clean fun a lot of the time. But I'm not sure how much you would want to change it around having produced such polished work. And having written that, I then saw other people had already said similar things! Anyways thanks for sharing this work in progress.
    Vista / Sonar Home Studio 6 / GPO 2d edition / Melodyne Uno 1.8

  7. #7

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Well, I heard the "off center tilt of morality" and "crooked smiles" in this one! I started to listen and forgot to read the notes you had listed. I kind of got "caught up" in the whole number.
    Is this something that you record and play back with the choir? I think the music is written perfectly and will convey the appropriate message to the audience. I know I felt the impact!

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music

  8. #8

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Diligamus!--Great to see you on my thread. Thanks for stopping to listen and leave a reply, and thanks much for saying it sounds professional!

    Since you say you didn't read the other replies until you wrote yours, I'm not sure if you saw me explaining more about how in context of this show, this music has an irony that can't be grasped without experiencing how it's part of a much large piece--the 2 hour show. And as I also talked about, seeing it on stage would be a completely different experience.

    Taken on its own, you heard the music very spot on--like a fun happy party is exactly what it sounds like on the surface.

    The entire show is about the dark, writhing under belly hidden by the repressive society of late Victorian England, and be extension, modern day America, which considering the frightening backlash trends of late--is ever bit as repressed and hypocritical. Glistening happy surface and dark hidden agendas. Dorian Gray, the man who eternally looks like an innocent youth has beneath his care free exterior the black heart and soul of a monster.

    This waltz is a foreshadowing of his descent into evil because like him, it's all light and laughter on the surface.

    There are plenty of Gothic Horror moments later in the show. This is still in the first half of Act One, and comes at an important point when high energy is needed after an extended more contemplative scene with just a few characters. On stage, we get a burst of energy with the full chorus and dancing in this number, but clearly in context of the story and the staging, the music is to be taken as ironic--deceptive.

    My skeleton pictures and opening text were intended to help fill in the blanks for the piece being heard on its own, but it looks like they may have been more confusing and misleading than helpful. My other choice would have been just to present this as a circusy waltz. But I couldn't bring myself to do that--It's part of my show, and I'm doing what I can to share it here.

    Michael! It sounds like you caught the irony very well--that's great. Yes, this number is something like the happy sounding music at a carnival which one can imagine is actually hiding some very dark shadows. Don't you find carnivals and clowns and all that over-the-top hAApppy stuff scary? I do!

    You asked:

    "...Is this something that you record and play back with the choir?..."

    Both you and Diligamus are new enough to the Forum to have not caught the other pieces I've posted from the show. What I did was record a sound track of the entire show, using GPO, to be used as a replacement for a live orchestra in a live theatre production.

    You could use the Forum search to find the previous posts if you wanted---I listed all the links on my last post from the show, but I'm feeling less inclined to keep it all Quite so handy for everyone. Obviously I can't post the entire script, though it would help for you and anyone interested to understand how each number works in context of the show.

    One more factoid about this project--I had one version entirely recorded, but then I discovered GPO. I felt I Had to replace my all-synth tracks. It took me a full year to do the new GPO version, and it was worth every minute.

    And I'm still doing tweaks on mixes. This post, this waltz,--oh this is probably "final" mix number 10 at least. It's been worked and re-worked and re-mixed, like all of the show, so what you're hearing on here is actually the result of several years work.

    Thank you both for listening and for your great replies--I really appreciate it.

    Randy B.

  9. #9

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    I think this fits perfectly with the scenario outlined; but then,
    everyone knows I'm a little, er, off-center, myself... lol.

    Randy, I find myself repeating: Some of the best stage writing
    I've heard. And what a wild wired ride this sequence is! Loved
    it, especially the tail end of it -- that's inspired.

    Technically what struck me the most was the incredibly good
    control of the "performance"... every metric shift perfect,
    superb use of dynamics, and masterful handling of tempi and
    overall flow.

    Superb work once again, Randy; and when this gets to
    Broadway (which it damned well should)... I hope they've
    got a pit orchestra that does it as much justice as your
    renderings do.

    My best,


  10. #10

    Re: A Danse Macabre

    Oh, yes, I hear it now that I've read all the comments and listened to it again -- I can see how that would work as irony, as a kind of false front to what's really happening, fake smiles, and so on. I agree with etLux too -- you've put together a masterly "performance" on the GPO.
    Vista / Sonar Home Studio 6 / GPO 2d edition / Melodyne Uno 1.8

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