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Topic: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

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  1. #1

    "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"


    "A Most Amusing Man"
    (click title for MP3 - VOCAL demo on link below)

    On the same night Dorian murders Basil, Lord Henry Wotton hosts a gathering where, as usual, he is the life of the party. His fawning guests spend the evening enthralled by Henry’s celebrated wit, and Henry is unaware of the new depths to which his protégé, Dorian, has sunk.

    A momentary hush comes over the crowd when one dissenter steps forward to remind the crowd that Henry is a friend and mentor of the notorious Dorian Gray, but Henry deflects the barb with his customary aplomb and the party continues into the night.

    ----------------------------------------

    The most up-beat chorus/production number in my original musical, “Dorian-The Remarkable Mister Gray,” “A Most Amusing Man” is unabashedly modeled after the light opera scores of Gilbert and Sullivan. The verse’s rhythm features the trademark 6/8 time signature so characteristic of G&S, with accents on beats 1, 3, 4 and 6.

    The middle section, purely rhythmic in the orchestration with no colla voce, is to support two patter song sections for Lord Henry which are patterned after the famous G&S patter songs such as the well known “Modern Major General” from “The Pirates of Penzance.”

    The number uses some chord progressions and key changes which digress from and open up the G&S mold into more modern territory. But most audiences should readily recognize the intended homage to England’s most beloved 19th Century writing team.

    The scene has many sections of dialogue which are underscored. The music is continuous, flowing from verses, choruses, Henry’s patter-solos, and the simple repeating “vamps” which underscore the short sections of dialogue.

    There's also a light minuet section for choreography as well as to underscore more dialogue.

    A COMPARISON BETWEEN GPO
    AND HARDWARE SYNTHS

    Several years ago, I completely finished a recording of “Dorian’s” score using my bank of hardware synths. Then I discovered GPO - I bit the bullet and decided to completely re-record the tracks. I needed them to sound as good as possible since I knew they could be used as the 'virtual orchestra' in early productions of the show - and that's exactly the case when the show is first done in April of 2008.

    It took well over a year of re-working the files, expanding the orchestrations, and learning how to use GPO. On top of that work, I also learned more about using computer recording software and mixing music.

    To maintain wisps of fantasy in this number, as there are throughout the show, I still used some of my old synths on the new tracks (heard above) but GPO is the primary sound source.

    I recorded a complete vocal demo of the show when I only had the old hardware version of the tracks, with me singing all the roles.

    Now for the first time, I’m posting one of those original vocal tracks so “A Most Amusing Man” can be heard more as it will be on stage, and also so you can hear what a difference there can be between tracks recorded with traditional synths and those recorded with GPO.

    This old track was done entirely with hardware synths like my trusty old Korg X5DR and Yamaha FB-01.

    TECHNICAL NOTE: To those with ears sensitive to such things, you’ll hear that these vocals are far too compressed. I applied the compression destructively on the tracks, not knowing what I was doing back then, and using far too high a compression ratio:


    The illustration at the top is a contemporary cartoon of Oscar Wilde. The character of Lord Henry was written as a self parody by Wilde, thus the appropriateness of this image.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  2. #2
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    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    An interesting comparison between the versions. Of course the hardware synth has the vocals over the GPO, which adds quite a bit to it. And with the vocals I can most definitely hear the G&S, particularly the middle section.

    Do you have all of this score so if (I mean when) somebody wants to perform it you will have all the parts written out? I ask because there are synth parts and stuff throughout and I was wondering what you did with those. Did you describe the type of sound needed, give “orchestral equivalence”?

    Anyway, a very successful section of music.

    Oh, BTW, I recognized Mr. Wilde as soon as I clicked onto the page. Kind of strange, but he does have a distinctive look.
    Trent P. McDonald

  3. #3

    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Hi, Trent! Wow--you jumped on this post--Nice to have you here.

    I thought of you right away when I went about making an MP3 of the old vocal demo, since you're always hoping to hear the pieces with vocals rather than hearing the instrumentals by themselves.

    "...Of course the hardware synth has the vocals over the GPO, which adds quite a bit to it..."

    I'm not positive what you meant - The vocals are on the hardware version and the instrumental MP3 posted is GPO. I think you probably mean that the vocal version has it "over" the GPO version, as in it's more interesting to you, because you prefer hearing how vocals work with the music. Right?

    In any case, I'm glad you find it successful. It's certainly a Major change of pace for the show at this point. Variety is the spice of not only life but also theatre. I easily predict this will be an audience fave.

    "...Do you have all of this score so if (I mean when) somebody wants to perform it you will have all the parts written out? I ask because there are synth parts and stuff throughout and I was wondering what you did with those. Did you describe the type of sound needed, give “orchestral equivalence”?..."

    I don't have the score worked up in a legible, printable way. Just the raw MIDI tracks which would need major quantizing and working in a notation program to produce scores musicians could work from. When that's needed, I'll gladly get outside assistance with that tedious job. I know that New York publishers have people on their staffs for creating the scores that are mass-produced, regardless of whether or not the composers have scores already available--one reason I've never been excited about making my own computer generated scores to print.

    I've worked with scores for shows that include synth parts though, and what they do is dedicate staves for the synth(s) and indicate with descriptive phrases what the required sound is. They attempt to keep the phrases generic so that keyboardists can come up with appropriate sounds. Like they'll say "synth wind" - and the keyboardist is expected to come up with a good wash of white noise.

    Some of the sounds I use will call for some creative descriptions though--like, I don't know, "phasey out of tune tinkle sound with an echoing tail"---things like that! lol. None of the synth sounds I've used in the score can be found on the General MIDI list.

    Thanks for your comments, Trent!

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  4. #4
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    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Hi Randy. I haven’t had a chance to listen to anything on the forum for a few days and when I got here you had literally just posted this.

    Yes, you got my meaning – I can hear a big difference with the GPO version and think it sounds better, but I liked the hardware synth version better because I enjoy listening to the vocals and hearing how they fit with the music.
    Trent P. McDonald

  5. #5

    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Cool, I get ya, Trent. And I'm honored you clicked on my new post when you settled down to catch up a bit. Always appreciate your feedback.

    One of the most Major songs from the show is coming up, and I have a fairly decent vocal demo of that done with the GPO tracks - I look forward to you catching that one also.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  6. #6

    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Randy

    I think I told you in the past that I am not a big fan of vocals. However on this, I got halfway thru the new version and decided to check out your old with the vocals. Surprised me that I would even want to do that, but I enjoy hearing you sing your own music. Of course I went back and re-listened to the entire new version w/GPO.


    Of course the music sounds better w/ GPO, but it is nice in this one to hear the vocals as well.

    Another great section of Dorian. I always look forward to the next installment but usually give each one a few listens, so the pace is still right.

    Well done

    Hope you enjoyed the wine!

    Ron

  7. #7

    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Howdy, Ron - Always great to see you here on the "Dorian" threads.

    That makes good sense to me, that you decided half way through the instrumental version to go see how the vocal version sounded - because about 1/2 through in the instrumental is where it becomes so totally supportive of and subordinate to the vocals that it's like listening to a naked rhythm track - a major ingredient is missing--the melody line.

    I've been looking forward to posting this number because there's really nothing else like it in the show. In the wake of the murder scene, it should be quite a combo of relief and sardonic irony. The previous post, "10 Past 2" had its own kind of surprise value since it's in the jazz realm, - but you guys have grown to expect to be surprised and kept on your toes with this thing.

    Wow - the way it's taken me ELEVEN months to post what I have from the show makes it seem like it's a Huuuuge epic. Just slightly over 2 hours actually - which Is a lot of music, but I'm really looking forward to having an audience get bombarded in one sitting with the whole shebang. It will be a very different kind of experience.

    Thanks again, Ron.

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  8. #8
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    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Randy,

    Ahhhh yes, of course what better way to portray Lord Henry Wotton than using a G&S sketch. It works well and you have captured the spirit of G&S nicely as well as the production using GPO.

    I can appreciate the amount of music that you have produced for your two hour show, stacks and stacks of it. Having known a few pit orchestra musician, the individual books alone are an impressive undertaking. And the full score with all cueing marks becomes an immense undertaking.

    Looking forward to the continuing saga of Dorian.

    Gary

    www.garybricault.com

  9. #9

    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Randy

    Don't get the wrong idea that I switched from boredom. It was more curiousity than anything else. Good thing it didn't kill me, but then I am not a cat. Poor, poor joke. sorry, I'm tired and have to go back to school tomorrow after a wonderful week off..

    I just wanted to add that I am so very impressed with this work. I took 3 months on my last one and couldn't believe that it took so long. Yet you are going strong after much longer, and still making great sounding material.

    On top of all that you find the time to help those that need it.

    As I said..

    Very very impressed!!!

    Ron

  10. #10
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: "A Most Amusing Man" - from "Dorian Gray"

    Thanks for posting the vocal version. Even if the compression is too much it's nice to hear a human voice.

    Now I can imagine this as it will sound for the performance.

    I think this moves well and toughens up at the end.

    Even at two hours I'm sure it will end too quickly.


    Phil

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