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Topic: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

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  1. #1

    Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"


    (click the picture for the MP3)
    "School Days"

    The cast brings benches on stage to indicate a school room, singing "School Days" as they get the set in order and take their seats.

    This of course is a well known song by Gus Edwards and Will D. Cobb. It's from a period a bit later than "Tom Sawyer," but its old-fashioned nostalgia fits the tone of Twain's schoolroom nicely.

    This is a funky arrangement in keeping with the rest of the show, using just the chorus of the song, keeping it a transitional moment in the show of under a minute long.


    (click the picture for the MP3)
    "Gum"

    "Gum" is sung by Tom and Becky Thatcher during the famous scene when, all at the age of 12, they get engaged. Tom, in a burst of boyish enthusiasm, asks Becky if she likes rats. He likes to tie a dead rat on a string and swing it around over his head. Becky has a supremely great non-sequiter response. She says, "No, I don't care for Rats much. What I like is gum."

    Tom loves gum too, wishes he had some right then. Becky has some with her, but she makes Tom promise to give it back after chewing it awhile. That leads into their short song, "Gum," during which they smack their gum but keep shushing each other to chew more politely. On the last beat, Tom dutifully spits the gum out into Becky's waiting hand.

    Garritan instruments used:

    JABB Steinway
    JABB Harmonica
    JABB Accordion
    JABB Tuba
    JABB Upright Bass 1
    WORLD Jaw Harps


    Randy

  2. #2

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Some very nice, short bits you have here! Your descriptions are always nice. It is very easy to imagine the scenes accompanying your music ( or accompanied by your music ).

    The sparse instrumentation is nice, too. It really emphasizes a feeling of simplicity, which is, I think, perfect for the scenes.

    Thanks for sharing more developments on Tom Sawyer!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
    soundclick page

  3. #3

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Quote Originally Posted by sanyarem View Post
    Some very nice, short bits you have here! Your descriptions are always nice. It is very easy to imagine the scenes accompanying your music ( or accompanied by your music ).

    The sparse instrumentation is nice, too. It really emphasizes a feeling of simplicity, which is, I think, perfect for the scenes.

    Thanks for sharing more developments on Tom Sawyer!
    Michael, I'm rather sure yours will be one of the few responses on this modest little thread of mine, so I want to thank you for stopping to type a response--it's much appreciated.

    I can tell from what you wrote that you understand exactly what these little bits are. Thank you especially for mentioning the sparse instrumentation - My goodness, "Gum" has just two instruments in the lead, --string bass and accordion - I am rather sure I've never written something for so few instruments. One exception - years ago I wrote incidental music for a play that was just for solo flute. But those two leads are only accompanied by drums and "jaw harp" in "Gum"--doesn't get much more sparse than that!

    Thank you, my friend, for your post.

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    I have a hankering for some gum now - it was like an old fashioned advertisement.

    Great little additions to the production - I really like the lyrics in School Days, I found them quite clever.

    More! More!
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  5. #5

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Randy! Thanks for a couple more of your cute T. S. pieces. I am curious as to how much you are involved with your plays. I know that you write the music, but do you also write the words, and do you get into what the performers do on stage? As always, this is a fun listen.
    Jay

  6. #6

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    I have a hankering for some gum now - it was like an old fashioned advertisement.

    Great little additions to the production - I really like the lyrics in School Days, I found them quite clever.

    More! More!
    hehe, Yeah, "Gum" Is like an old ad jingle. Those two kids are so darned cute, expressing however they can the first time they've loved someone besides their parents. The Tom and Becky relationship is one of the most famous in American literature, and provides Tom one of his most important experiences during the process of growing up that he goes through during the course of the story.

    "School Days" is a classic popular song, written in 1907. Music by Gus Edwards and lyrics by Will D. Cobb. It's a song that everyone still knew and sang when I was growing up. SO, I can't take credit for those clever lyrics. This is one of a few public domain songs I've worked into the show.

    Thanks, Graham!

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    Randy! Thanks for a couple more of your cute T. S. pieces. I am curious as to how much you are involved with your plays.
    Hi, Jay - It's always great to see you here. Thanks for your post.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    I know that you write the music, but do you also write the words?
    Oh yes, I write my lyrics and scripts. The first phase of this "Sawyer" project was to adapt the novel. That was a large project in itself since novels have so much more in them than can be used in a script. Even the best film adaptations of novels are really only brief "highlights from" productions. I went through the book, making sure I had enough bits to sketch in the main characters sufficiently, then focused on finding the most solid dramatic through line. I tried to keep changes to a minimum, since Twain was a major genius, and his work needs to be respected. But sometimes adaptation calls for changes, because what's effective in a book isn't always the most effective choice for a performance. It was quite a challenge, but a fun one, especially since this had to all be funneled down into a one act show!

    During the process of writing the script (using the good and standard script program, Final Draft) I would find places that could support the conversion into being a song instead of dialogue. Sometimes I would pause working on the script and start sketching in the song. In the case of these simple songs, melody and lyrics pretty much arrived simultaneously. Other times, I had a place marke,r "insert song" where I wanted to try adding music later.

    I thought the project would take me about a year, but I worked full-time on it (plus some) and managed to get it done in about 9 months, which for me, is super speedy!

    An additional composing phase for the project was writing extensive underscoring for the show. Short bits for scene transitions, theme statements for characters' entrances, and dramatic underscoring in several places. The next thing I post will be an example of the kind of instrumental work done for the show.
    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    do you get into what the performers do on stage?
    When the premiere production of "Dorian" was done here in town, I directed it. So I was Very much involved with the actors. When the Russian production was being prepped, I flew to Moscow and worked with them several weeks as they started getting oriented to the show.

    But a script needs to keep stage directions and descriptions of technical elements (lights, sets, costumes) to a minimum. The playwright needs to only write enough to indicate the sort of thing he/she has in mind, but needs to state it in a way that allows the tech team and the actors to feel their own creative input is needed.

    In the case of actors, sometimes parenthetical directions will be given for a line, like (angrily) or (turning his back) - but those need to be kept to a bare minimum, and should really only be used when it might otherwise not be clear what the intention is.

    A hallmark of an amateur script is for it to be full of such parentheticals (surprised!) (sarcastically) (looking him in the eye)-- An over-use of descriptors like that indicates the writer has the mistaken notion that he's supposed to be in control of exactly how an actor performs a role. And that's not the case at all. An actor must be free to create a performance in collaboration with the director which is inspired by the words on the page, but not hemmed in by them. The unpredictable element in a production is the personalities and capabilities of the actors - factors the playwright can't possibly predict while writing the show. Often, actors manage to bring insight to what's written which is beyond what the playwright was even aware of. So to dictate to the actors through too much stage direction in a script is to underestimate and misunderstand the importance of the actors' input.

    The same goes for the technical elements. If a playwright seems to be insisting that a set look exactly a certain way, then he doesn't understand that set design isn't his province - that's the scene designer's department. For the set in "Sawyer" I briefly say in the script that a woodsy, rural environment be suggested, and that indications of locations be kept as simple as possible. That's enough of a sketched in idea for a scene designer to base his creation on.

    And so on!

    Thanks for the questions - It was fun to rap about theatre here a bit.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Randy! What an informative response. I had no idea what was involved in pulling of a theatrical play. Thanks a bunch for the a cliff notes of what you do.
    Jay.

  9. #9

    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    Randy! What an informative response. I had no idea what was involved in pulling of a theatrical play. Thanks a bunch for the a cliff notes of what you do.
    Jay.
    Hey, glad you enjoyed that Novella of a reply I wrote, Jay. You asked some good questions, and it was fun to yap away in response about theatre for awhile. 8-)

    Randy

  10. #10
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: Two brief numbers from "TOM SAWYER"

    Hi Randy,

    It sounds to me like these will work well with the story.


    I liked your thoughts about scripting.


    Thanks for posting.



    Phil

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