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Topic: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

  1. #1

    OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    Just did a theater project on a crazy schedule; one week from first meeting to opening night, and they wanted as much music/sound bed as they could get for a one-act, one-hour Greek Drama.

    I'd just recently gotten a "new" Ti Powerbook, installed Cubase, and collected a bunch of free, shareware, and cheap VST instruments and sample collections for it. Just in time; I composed basic sound beds and simple cues marked by long pads, simple percussion beds and repetitive ostinato right on the laptop. Created one cue sitting in the theater as the audience was walking in!

    Was terrifying yet exhilarating. Usually, I'll have two months to work on a theater project. A month of meetings, script reading, watching rehearsals, getting timing marks, talking concepts with director, coming up with themes and palette. Then a month to create the material -- rarely more than, say, fifteen minutes worth of original music for the entire show (at least at this point in my career).

    This was hit the ground running, with minimal input from the director, almost no chance to try out ideas in rehearsal, certainly no time to tweak mixes and make everything nice.

    But I made it. Music was really rough but it definitely enhanced the show. So I just wanted to come in here and shout about it!

    And start a dialog going with some of the other people I've noticed in here who have done and are doing the theater thing.

    As things go on I look forward to continuing to use the flexibility and access and speed having my entire studio in a duffle bag gives me -- that ability to remix a sound effect on the actual effects speakers to be used, or change a music cue right in the middle of rehearsal; or create and play an idea for a director in the midst of a concept meeting.

    I am also thinking forward towards performance tools, MIDI show control integration, real-time controllers to trigger sound effects, and all sorts of other things this accelerating technology makes available to allow sounds and music to be organic and breath with that live performance.


  2. #2

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    I am doing "Our Town" as of right now. Even got to compose a hymn for the start and end of the show. How awesome is that!

  3. #3

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?


    You've got that legacy to live up to...Copeland, after all! Friend of mine recently through-composed for same show at the community theater I was working for at the time. It's a great one for underscore opportunities.

    Good luck and don't forget to have fun!

  4. #4

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    Ya definitely, I am approaching it a little more intimate that Copland does, less brass, more solo violin, guitar, string sections, & of course... Choirs

    Last year I scored all of Mary Zimmermans's Metamorphoses, that was alot of fun also, because we put alot of dances in the show.

  5. #5

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    I just composed 45 minutes of music for a new version of Aristophanes Peace. Got the script 2 weeks before rehearsals. Mostly negative parameters from the director (nothing slow, nothing long, nothing that calls too much attention to itself, nothing in traditional song structure, nothing rangey). Slammed out music and vocal arrangements in 2 weeks, took another week and a half to arrange the music. Exhausting. But kinda fun at the same time. I usually write theatre music, but mine is musical theatre. I enjoy the opportunity to write in a lexicon that I would never reach for (country, in this case- lots of farmers in Peace.) And the paying gigs are easier to get to write music for plays than getting regular royalties with musicals.

    I'm doing a reading of one of my musicals at the York Theatre in NYC. Finally, a higher profile gig, and my first NYC credit!

    Glad to hear there aree others working in theatre. I would love a special area for us.



  6. #6

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    This would be a great thread to have.

    I have thought about writing a small one act musical that sounds a bit like something from the 1920s.

    I would probably write music, book, lyrics, and orchestration too.

    I would just have to find a theatre to perform the show.

  7. #7

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?


    Actually, I was just working tech for a production of "James and the Giant Peach." I was quite taken by the music and asked the composer about it. He'd written it, and been vocal coach for the cast: and the actual music, he assembled in GarageBand! It sounded quite warm and human, the loops weren't obvious at all, and it was quite appropriate to the show.

  8. #8

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    Quote Originally Posted by nomuse

    You've got that legacy to live up to...Copeland, after all!!
    Copeland is the rehab/support group resort I frequent every summer. I think the man's name was Copland.

    I mean, it'd be ridiculous if I were playing a waltz written by Shopan, right?

    I have nothing to contribute to this thread, other than pointless spelling nitpicks. I've had all kinds of ideas for avant-garde/progressive metal operas, though. Which is sorta like musical theater. Kind of.

    No idea how you get into that biz, though, if you're just starting as a complete outsider. I do check out the community theater group once a month or so, though. And they're pretty good. Maybe I should talk to them... they do a lot of classics, of course, as well as more obscure works and probably thrice a year, they'll do a run of original material. No idea if they commission that stuff, though, or pluck it from a pool or accept submissions or what...


  9. #9

    Re: OT? Thread or section for theater composers?

    My experience is, the best way to get into a community theater is through close contact with a director, producer, other designer or playwright. Community theater is still in the process of discovering sound design and underscore of non-musical plays, and they often don't even know that we are out there, much less what we can do for their production.

    So it really eases the way if you've met a director, you work well with them, they are supportive of adding sound/music to a show they are working on, and they introduce you around to the people who will be writing the checks (for cable and better speakers, at least, if not always for contract fees).

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