Many of us have had the need to create several different versions of our work. Here's an example - a comparison of a "Dorian Gray" song in its various versions.
The original tracks I produced for my show, "Dorian Gray," were the result of quite a few years work. After the long period of composing the score, translation into MIDI driven tracks was even a longer process.
First I produced a recording exclusively using a hardware synth module, the Korg X5DR. Then I discovered GPO online, was blown away with the demos, and bought the Library. Soon after, I went about the task of re-doing all my tracks, this time with GPO.
A few years later I had much better sounding tracks. But it was virtually full time work for several years, starting all over, going through the GPO learning curve, testing my recording work with Sonar Forum members with more experience, re-doing and re-doing again. On and on it went. It was one of the best learning experiences of my life, even though there were times I thought the work would never end.
Now that it's been a number of years since doing these tracks, naturally I'm hyper critical of them, and would like to do them over yet again. We're all like that. We listen to older projects and know we could do better. But we can't constantly be re-doing what we've done. So, faults and all, I'm still pretty happy with these tracks.
There was a dual purpose in producing the "Dorian" recordings: To demo the show, and to have them as backing tracks in productions of the show. Twice now, they have been the "virtual orchestra" for productions both here in Oregon and in Russia.
When I was working away at it all, I didn't have a care in the world about how possible it would be for the music to be performed live. I always knew that when the time came for a band/orchestra to perform it, I'd have to do yet more work in adapting the score for a more finite number of instruments.
The tracks featured a pop combo of piano, bass, drums, electric and acoustic guitar, and that combo was backed by full orchestra, harp, and a bank of synths. It was something along the lines of early prog rock groups like Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. The orchestral sections would shrink and expand, depending on the song. Instruments would come and go. Sometimes sound effects were an integral part of what I was putting together. All I was concerned about was getting a Big Lush Sound, with an emphasis on the woodwinds.
Here's an example of one of those tracks, Dorian's first solo, "Somewhere In-between." As with all the tracks I'm posting here, the music starts while in progress because there's continuous music from the previous song. Also, notice the instrumental tracks were kept fairly dry since they were to be played in auditoriums which would add their own ambient reverberation to the playback.
NOTE: - I'd like you to hear the comparisons between these various versions, but you don't need to listen to the full tracks. Just hear enough to get an idea of what the sound is for each one:
Flash forward. It was becoming necessary to produce a reduced score, for the event of a production using a live band. I agonized over what instruments to include. I ended up retaining the all-important woodwinds, but had to either adapt or cut some harmonic lines, and it had to all be for soloists rather than sections. I did adaptations like switching from harp to acoustic guitar. Here's the list of this medium sized band, the current version used in the score:
Acoustic Guitar/Electric Guitar
Piano Keyboard (switching between many different patches, Harpsichord and then Celesta in this song) Violin
It took some getting used to, but I ended up liking the more intimate and raw sound. Here's a demo of the reduced "In-between" done in 2009 when I first started this re-scoring project that kept me busy for 2 years, wrapping it up at the end of last year:
Reduced score "In-between" demo
And if you'd like to see my somewhat sketchy notated score, here's a PDF copy of this number:
BUT twelve musicians is still a much bigger band than many theater groups would be able to muster. There's another potential production in the works, and the producer has said he'd want to do the show with no more than FOUR MUSICIANS. - oh my - I don't have the heart to simplify the score down to that sparse an instrumentation. For now, we'll be leaving it to a clever music director to adapt the score for whatever size band he puts together - Probably Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboard. sigh.
If you visit that thread, please don't respond to it and bring it back up to the top. If you'd like to respond to this current thread, naturally I'd love to hear from you.
One more comparison. Here's part of "Somewhere In-between" as it's being performed in the pro premiere production in Moscow, Russia. They're using my GPO tracks which they've beefed up with more layers, an emphasis on bass and drums:
"In-between" in Moscow
The moral of the story - Our music can exist in many different sizes and shapes. The challenge is to work out the details!
Great posting! I love hearing and seeing the evolution of a piece of music.
In the worlds of musical theater and jazz (two of my greatest musical loves), it's actually part of the very fiber of those art forms, right? Almost without exception, revivals, even on Broadway, often come with new orchestrations. Most of the times, it's purely economic ("Please reduce the pit from the original 30 to, say, 14 or 15 please?" (Or worse!) And sometimes it's a shame to have to do this, but then sometimes, in the hands of a competent orchestrator, it can sound as good as the original set of orchestrations.
In the case of old shows from the 20's-30's, it takes them into a new light so audiences aren't saying to themselves every 3-4 minutes "God, this sounds so dated!". Funny to me how the actual musical often trancends the decades just fine, but the orchestrations can keep it back in the 20's-30's if they aren't updated.
I think leaving the reductions up to a new production's MD is the way to go (unless, of course, someone will throw a few sheckles at you to produce the reductions!)
I downloaded all your samples and have enjoyed comparing them ... thanks for posting this, and good luck at getting new producers interested! Hopefully Dorian lives on!
Frank, very fine to see you here with one of your trademark info-packed posts - Thanks for it.
This long post of mine was put up mostly for archive purposes, "for the record." I didn't know if I should expect anyone to actually wade through it all or not and respond. I should've known - You'll usually boldly go where fellow Forumites may fear to tread!
So true what you said about the orchestrations in Broadway revivals making the music sound fresh and hip again. Arrangement styles really do change a lot of over time.
AND I'll tell you, at this point I wouldn't mind at all if an experienced, clever arranger took over on the "Dorian" score. If a really big state-side production geared up, that's what the producers would do, and I'd welcome it. Meanwhile, on a smaller scale, a good band leader/music director could theoretically do just fine working up a small band version of the music. I know how these things can work - With a band as small as four, it could very likely be a matter of the guys listening to the tracks a few times, glancing at the score, and then just playing things the way they want - much like a rock band working out the original arrangement of a new tune. The results could be interesting. We'll see what happens.
EDIT: A special thanks to the Forum member who recently picked up the full original cast album of "Dorian" via my BandCamp link. It's wonderful when artists support each other - THANKS!
Hello Randy, it's great to hear this again! Somewhere In-between was easily one of my favorite pieces from your show (and there are so many good ones!)
I really liked the reduced version. You did a great job keeping all of the motion and fluidity that gave this piece (and much of your musical) its full, sometimes zany, sometimes magical, sometimes eerie quality. It is quite the coincidence that you posted this now (or I guess a couple weeks ago, but I'm replying now ). I was just recently asked to reduce a 10-player percussion ensemble to a quartet, and I completely understand where you are coming from. It is quite difficult to pick and choose what to keep, what to toss out, and what to adapt to different instruments. If I hadn't accidentally trashed the audio version of the score in Finale, I'd do a similar post, but perhaps that will have to wait for another time!
Great post Randy, have always loved "Somewhere In-between," and it's great to hear this reduced arrangement!
Michael - Thank you very much for the post. It's very encouraging to hear that you like the reduced version, since you know the show so well, and remember this number in particular. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know that!