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Topic: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

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  1. #1

    A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    This week I am finishing up creating the orchestrations for the pit orchestra for my musical, Rivertown. When done, I will go back through all 21 songs and do some final tweaking. This is all new to me, so I am learning a lot as I move from song to song. I know that I will make some changes in the earlier scores based on my experiences with these last songs.

    Here is my request. The last song I will orchestrate is called "From That First Dance". It is near the end of the second act and is a sweet and sad moment. The patriarch of the town is thinking back to when he first met his, now deceased, wife at a firemen's ball - it will be a beautiful ballroom scene and a flashback.

    It is a waltz and I am having trouble with creating a satisfactory (to my ears) pattern for the piano. I am not a "real" piano player - I fake it well for school and when singing my own songs, but precisely notating piano is sometimes tricky for me. All the piano parts I have written thus far for the show are fine. But I am not "finding" this one in my hands at the moment.

    I would like someone to throw me suggestions for a basic pattern besides the old ONE - 2 - 3, ONE - 2 - 3 - you know. I have a lead sheet in Finale 2008 and a pdf of the opening part of the ready to send to anyone who wants to give me any ideas/suggestions. I guess I could send a MIDI file with the pdf as well.

    I am not asking for someone to write the whole piano part - just help me with the first section and I could go from there. Be aware that if I use it or adapt it, I will not be doing a credit in the score or be a part of the copyright. I want to be up front about that so there is no misunderstanding or hassle. If that concerns you, then ignore my request.

    Just a suggestion for a piano part that I can use and/or adapt. My brain is running out of creativity at the moment. I can't just hand over my songs to the orchestrators like the big boys do on Broadway!

    I know most piano players can just fake something in 2 seconds that I can never do - that is why I am asking here for a suggestion.

    Email me if interested.

    charles@momanmedia.com
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

  2. #2

    Re: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    Charles,

    Check your e mail.

    Tom

  3. #3

    Re: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    I can only tell you what I've been doing with my musical (which may or may not be the right approach for you) and recommend studying the "masters" of this art form.

    As regards the latter, take a look at the score for "A Little Night Music" by Stephan Sondheim. ALL the numbers in that show are waltzes -- yet there is a remarkable amount of variety. It should give you a lot of ideas.

    One thing I stumbled onto myself, in my own writing and orchestration, that I will happlily pass along: I suppose this depends a lot on the tune and the character of the piece, but I found that in one of my numbers I could get a waltz-like feel by writing it in 5/4 time, rather than 3/4 time. You sort of get that waltz like momentum without it actually being a waltz. Nice if you all ready have a waltz in the score and want a somewhat similar effect without sounding repetative.

  4. #4

    Re: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    Thanks for the suggestion. Before writing any scores I listened to a some Broadway shows last school year to get some style ideas and that has been helpful.

    I will probably just do it all myself - sometimes I hear it in my head better than my notating skills let mw write it. Not being a "real" piano player can make it a little harder for me to get it "on" the page just right. I usually get close enough.
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

  5. #5

    Re: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    The piano is the only instrument I have ever played and I am hardly a virtuoso, but I have been acting for over 30 years (if I count the shows I did while still in school). Actors get to know the piano player more than all the other musicians because he is there at every rehearsal. You hear what he is playing then, and what he plays with the orchestra. They often hang out with you after rehearsals and I have learned a lot from them over the years.

    A piano in the pit is a double edged sword. It can fill out a small orchestra and make it sound bigger than it actually is. It can also make a whole number sound like mud. IMHO the best pianists know how to bring their part to the fore when necessary and fade into the background (or lay out entirely) when it would just get in the way.

    All I'm saying is, there are times when your basic ONE-two-three pad will be just fine. It depends a lot on what else is going on in the number, what comes before it and after, and how many times you've relied on it in the show. I think the best approach is to rely on your own taste -- especially if you are the composer as well as the orchestrator and/or conductor. If ONE-two-three seems too boing to you, then you probably need a little more interest in the piano part. You don't have to turn the piece into an virtuoso piano performance, though. Sometimes a simple variation will be enough to give it a lift without taking over the song. (For example, ONE-triplet-triplet. Or, better yet, some combination of the two. -- i.e. ONE-triplet-triplet, ONE-triplet-triplet, ONE-two-three). Your ear will tell you how simple or complex it should be.

    Finally, if the score is being played by a professional pianist (I mean one that has done shows and knows how to "comp") you don't really even need to write out the whole piano part. You can give him just the chords, a simplified idea of the rhythm (ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three) and a good description of the style ("slow, romantic waltz" or whatever) and he will make it sound better than you ever could. I would, of course, fully write out any riff where you know exactly what you want. Again, a good player will know to play these parts literally and the rest more freely. In short, more often than not, piano parts are written like bass, guitar and drum parts. A lot is left to the performer. The best advice might be just to make your intentions clear and make sure you get a good, experienced pianist.

  6. #6

    Re: A request for a piano pattern for my musical

    Thanks for those thoughts.
    I understand I will have an experienced pianist who has played for this director numerous times. I will not be conducting the show - thankfully. By the end of the month I have to have ready all of the piano/vocal scores for rehearsals. The piano parts in some cases will not be like the piano in the full score. The piano/vocal scores need to stand alone for the kids to rehearse, but in the full score the piano is only a part of what is going on.

    Makes for a little more work, but that is fine. I will get it done. Sometime down the road I might be looking for someone to "polish" up my piano/vocal scores in case I want to sell it. We will see.

    Back to work. The show debuts in less than four months!
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

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