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Topic: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

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  1. #1

    Smile Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    "We're Too Young"
    (click picture for MP3 - use the player and please do not download)


    Hello again to the small but faithful group still following my rather protracted "Tom Sawyer" posts. Here's something short (1:52) and sweet.

    I think by now you know that variety is one the hallmarks of my musicalization of Mark Twain's classic. This time I offer up a song that makes more than a nod to the late '50's-early '60's pop girl groups. What?!--Let me explain the context, and that concept will make more sense.

    Tom and his buddies have been missing for several days. When their raft is found upstream on the river, they're given up for dead. The whole town gathers for a funeral. But the boys have observed the townspeople searching the river for them, and realize that if they sneak back into town, they'll have the pleasure of attending their own funeral. That's one of the most famous incidents in Twain's great pastiche of growing up in 19th Century America.

    As everyone gathers at the church, Becky Thatcher is full of remorse. She wishes she could take back the last angry words she spoke to Tom before he disappeared. Her girlfriends urge her to speak her mind. Song cue.

    There are several references in the lyrics to things that have gone before in the show, so of course they'll have more impact when those details are fresh in the audience's mind:

    --"That gift that you gave" -- Tom had given her his brass door knob, but she threw it back at him last time they saw each other.

    --"You saved me at school" -- In the school room scene, Tom took the blame (and received a Hickory Stick whipping) for tearing the teacher's book when actually it was Becky who accidentally did the deed.

    --"We're not too young to be engaged" -- In an earlier scene, Tom and Becky declared themselves to be engaged to each other. That's the key element to this song.

    --"You can have all my chewing gum" -- In the song "Gum," Becky gave a piece of gum to Tom to chew, but only after he promised that he would give it back after he's chewed it for awhile. That song ended with Tom dutifully spitting the gum back into Becky's hand.

    With those refreshers in mind - the song will make more sense.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Instruments:

    The Garritan Stradivari (as fiddle)
    Full strings
    Violins 1
    Violins 2
    Violas
    Cellos
    Basses
    JABB Piano
    JABB Tambourine

    With:

    Sonar's Studio Instrument Bass
    Strum Electric by Applied Acoustic Systems
    Indy Free Tamb
    Sonar's TTS-1 Ac Guitar
    Kore (free version) Ac guitar
    EZ Drummer

    Thanks for listening. Hope to hear from you.

    Randy

  2. #2

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    A cute little song! Yuck! He spit the gum in her hand. You would think that he would at least kiss her and pass the gum with some artful tongue action. Oh well. That's Tom for ya. The variety of of sample software fit nicely together. A nice post. Thanks for this. Jay

  3. #3

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Well that made me smile no end. I love the backing vocal 'chorus'. You're a one man production!

    I was half expecting a 'cooties' rhyme in there, but alas it never materialized.

    The beat, structure and key changes reminded my slightly of a song from Greece - well, in so much that each verse/chorus cranks the 'love' up a notch. It's like your version of the spoof song from Spamalot 'Once in a show there is song like this' (or whatever its called).

    Loved it.
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  4. #4

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    A cute little song! Yuck! He spit the gum in her hand. You would think that he would at least kiss her and pass the gum with some artful tongue action. Oh well. That's Tom for ya. The variety of of sample software fit nicely together. A nice post. Thanks for this. Jay
    Thank you very much, Jay. I appreciate knowing that some people are hearing the song - Sounds like you got a kick out of it, so thanks for letting me know.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    Well that made me smile no end. I love the backing vocal 'chorus'. You're a one man production!

    I was half expecting a 'cooties' rhyme in there, but alas it never materialized.

    The beat, structure and key changes reminded my slightly of a song from Greece - well, in so much that each verse/chorus cranks the 'love' up a notch. It's like your version of the spoof song from Spamalot 'Once in a show there is song like this' (or whatever its called).

    Loved it.
    And your posts never fail to bring a smile, Graham - Thanks for this one.

    AAaah yes, I can see why it this is a bit "Grease"--like. That show's a take off on the same era in pop music as this. Early Beatles crossed my mind as I worked on the tune - the period when they did so many homages to the pop that came before them.

    Thank you especially for mentioning the do-wop backup, to be sung by Becky's two friends. GET THIS - Up until the day before I posted this, the official demo of this song (first recorded a year ago) didn't have those bg vocals! It had been bugging me for awhile that I hadn't added those in the original "final" version. So I opened up the project, and in very little time had my two part harmony lines laid in - "You're too young - You're too young -" On stage it'll make for nice 3 part vocals when those girls join in.

    I rushed through production on the re-do so I could post the new-improved version cooked up especially for the Garritan Gang. There are things I could improve in the mix, but it's fine for now. SO - thanks for taking notice of that!

    Randy

  6. #6
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Hi Randy,

    Really nice tune; completely appropriate genre for Becky!

    Although I enjoy any and all types of musical theater, If I'm doing any of the content creation (composing, arranging, or orchestrating), I've always had the most fun doing the 'classic' (but not at all classical!) 'book' musicals because of the good variety of musical styles they can contain. Literally, 'Anything Goes'!

    How charming to contrast a story about middle America from over a century ago with street music from the late 1950's! And THAT is the power and beauty of musical theater!

    With the background singers helping out visually and aurally, this number will bring a tear, a smile, and a good deal of applause at the end! Love the Gmaj-Amaj modulation on the bridge (and back again). Not a typical Do-op m2nd modulation, but it works perfectly! ... once again, it's good to be king and mix-match musical devices!

    Looking forward to the next installment (and sorry for bumping this back up, but maybe some more will enjoy this tune as well)

    Frank

  7. #7

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    Hi Randy,

    Really nice tune; completely appropriate genre for Becky!

    Although I enjoy any and all types of musical theater, If I'm doing any of the content creation (composing, arranging, or orchestrating), I've always had the most fun doing the 'classic' (but not at all classical!) 'book' musicals because of the good variety of musical styles they can contain. Literally, 'Anything Goes'!

    How charming to contrast a story about middle America from over a century ago with street music from the late 1950's! And THAT is the power and beauty of musical theater!

    With the background singers helping out visually and aurally, this number will bring a tear, a smile, and a good deal of applause at the end! Love the Gmaj-Amaj modulation on the bridge (and back again). Not a typical Do-op m2nd modulation, but it works perfectly! ... once again, it's good to be king and mix-match musical devices!

    Looking forward to the next installment (and sorry for bumping this back up, but maybe some more will enjoy this tune as well)

    Frank
    Howdy, Frank!

    Starting at the end of your reply first - NOooo problem that you bumped this back up. This is my current "Sawyer" post, and with just the two previous replies, it was languishing, doing the fainting away routine that most posts go through now in our good ol' Listening Room. There's nothing I can do about the low level of participation, but I can certainly always make sure to always express appreciation to those folks who do listen to music and take the time to post responses.

    So - THANK you for rescuing the thread! And of course I'm glad you like the number, and think it'll go over well on stage. Natch, I hope that's the case!

    It's remarkable that you not only listen, but you have such insight into what you hear, and express it so well.

    You've understood Perfectly what I did with this little tune. And I love your observation about the atypical modulation I did going into the bridge. In case you see this reply to your post, I want to tell you something about this "Sawyer" song which is typical of what I went through with all of the numbers:

    With the prime directive of making sure this show's songs were simple enough for the audience to pick up on after hearing them just one time, I knuckled down to be as conventional as I could stand it. I felt that I really needed to see if I could stick to the basic structure of repeating 8 bar sections. It was almost excruciating for me to do that since I've always rebelled at being so conventional. I let myself run riot when composing my "Dorian Gray." 8 bar segments? Very rare in that score. I knew what I was writing for that show was removing the music from the Broadway category, from the pop category - that while I couldn't claim that what I was doing was revolutionary, I was certainly creating a "difficult" score, full of complex music which was most often sung dialogue, with scant repetition. I made sure there was at least a handful of actual Songs that could stand on their own, but the majority of "Dorian" was intended to be an impressionist, semi-operatic theatre piece. As such, it's a show that could never be something with a wide audience appeal. But I stuck to my guns, and it has found its audience here and there, and hopefully will have the chance to find more.

    But here I was with "Sawyer," and I forced myself to be as simple as possible. BUT, the iconoclast in me just Had to include at least some unconventional moments, hopefully none too jarring, but bits that would help satisfy myself more. And that G to A modulation in "We're Too Young" is a perfect example of that. I've dutifully launched right into an 8 bar melody that repeats twice, - time for a bridge ("chorus") - and I just Had to give the whole thing the lift that a full step modulation brings.

    Here's the Piano/Vocal score to this song. I needed to get these vocal scores ready right away for the show, and that was new for me. I hardly ever work in Sibelius - "Dorian" was worked on for years before I ever stopped and put together scores for it. For the way I work, notation is a diagram for what already exists, the music. It's nearly impossible for me to put the notation cart before the music horse.

    Makes me chuckle to look at its simplicity, and smile with gratification that there's that "quirky" modulation, done differently the two times it appears. That's as "wild" as I could get with this tune, with Any of the "Sawyer" tunes, but I do need to add that working with such tight constraints was good for my discipline. If I apply myself again, maybe I'll yet come up with some songs that could actually have some commercial success!

    The PDF displays right there at Box if anyone would like to take a look.

    "We're Too Young" piano/vocal score

    Thanks again, Frank.

    Randy

  8. #8
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    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    My best composition teacher. Hunter Johnson, frequently talked about the effective use of silence, or thinning of texture, as a tool for giving something in a piece more importance. The spot with the words "not give it back" is a good example and very effective.

    I hope you will eventually post the entire work so we can hear everything in context.

    Norman

  9. #9

    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    Quote Originally Posted by jandjnelson View Post
    My best composition teacher. Hunter Johnson, frequently talked about the effective use of silence, or thinning of texture, as a tool for giving something in a piece more importance. The spot with the words "not give it back" is a good example and very effective.

    I hope you will eventually post the entire work so we can hear everything in context.

    Norman
    Hi, Norman! - I love the note you left. That moment you pointed out when the band cuts out for the joke line to pop out came about during the production stage, a part of MIDI project work I love. As I worked along on the tracks, I suddenly heard what a perfect opportunity it was right then to exercise the effective of silence concept. Then I topped it off with that loud rim shot on the snare. Glad I did that, and it's great you took note of it as an effective part of the arrangement.

    I can't believe it - I've commented before on these "Sawyer" threads recently, that it's hard to believe I started posting the numbers from this show back in July of 2011! I think I've been overly strict with myself, following the old posting guidelines more strictly than they really need to be followed now that the Forum is so slow. That means I've averaged about one post a month, pausing those big stretches of time before moving on so everyone else has a chance to have their work noticed and commented on. I should take the lead of other members who are posting much more frequently now.

    SO, the largest portion of the show has already been posted here, spread out all over at this point. Two of the best numbers are still coming up though, a big production number with the full company, and a love song for Tom. Also, in the Finale there's a brief bit of SATB choir work that I'm especially proud of.

    It's always a bit of a quandary though, how to protect one's work, but share it online also. For a long time I left my pieces from "Dorian" uncollected and spread out over a year's worth of posts, so it would be difficult for someone to find them all and possibly use them in an unauthorized way.

    "Sawyer" is still rather new, still un-staged, and so I'm needing to be at least somewhat protective of it. What I've posted, for the most part, are these vocal demos which couldn't actually be used, but an enterprising sort could still work the songs out by ear and use them.-- In other words, right now I don't want to rush into gathering all the parts for easy access - but will do that later on down the line. I invite you to look through the Forum for the posts though if you have interest. Start in July of last year. Counting this post there are 12 songs up so far, and one or two posts of underscoring music.

    Thanks much for your post, and for your interest in the project, Norman!

    Randy

  10. #10
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    Re: Pre-teen angst ala my version of "Tom Sawyer"

    I understand. Thanks for the info.

    Norman

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