Sunday, 19 April 2015

My Musical Journey--Part 1

Within the zipper of this mystical blue artifact is the key to ultimate awesome.  A power that extends so far it could destroy a mere human.  But no need to fear I am not your typical human.  I'm not even close to being that avearage.  Much less in fact.  Okay okay, all jokes aside what this binder does hold is my musical.  Yes you read right.  In the past few weeks.  Six to be precise I have written a musical.  Dance numbers songs and all.  As of today I actually finished and printed my first edit.

In total off the top of my head there are about fifteen actual songs.  Some of those are themes so they get played throughout the musical, and then there are the musical sections that are neither themes or actual songs which I just have guidelines for and the composer gets to wing it.  So yeah.  It's huge.  After six books.  A poetry and essay book.  Book reviews, and blogging.  I can admit I was correct in avoiding plays.  They are hard work.  And my stupid ass shot straight for musical.  Play?  Shit those are for punks, I'm hardcore.  Musical baby!  

I can honestly say that this is the type of thing I would have to just be in the zone for.  It's that difficult.  If I wrote a screen play the music and all sorts of other things would be out of my hands.  A musical...  Well I have to have enough there for the director to know what I'm going for so no matter how much they deviate what should be there is there.  Random sounds, and when the music starts.  Just think favorite things in the sound of music.  I'm a fan of just going right into a song so kinda like favorite things, you are never quite sure a song is coming whether music is playing or not.  And even if it's obvious I still like to have in some instances the first line of a song to actually be the next line of what the character would say if they weren't singing.  All that to say, timing is also key.  I have to have a somewhat guestimation of how long it will take for my singer to sing.  I have sections where music sets up the songs so music is always playing before a song and not usually the song that will be sung but something that will transition into the song either before or just after the characters sings the first line.

Was it easy.  Oh hell no.  See If I wrote a play I'd probably just leave so much space cause I'm easy like that.  If you want it stage left or right, or whatever as long as the tone is there, unconcerned.  Screen play.  Well I'd write it and start fielding it out and hope for a movie.  The director will direct sit down with the composure for the scenes they dont buy already made recording artist songs for, and my job would be done mostly, accept for the occasional rewrites and added scenes the producers or director need to make my vision into something that matches theirs.  But a musical.  Okay songs have time limits.  Actors have costume changes.  They have to be at certain markers at certain times depending on the song and what they need to do in reference to the other actors.  Basically I need a good enough guideline and idea of how long my songs, and wordless music sections are and where everyone needs to be for what so the director can do what they please around that.  Naturally they will ignore things, but if I have nothing we will all be flying in the dark.  

This is where I am at now.  I haven't the slightest idea how long any of my songs are.  The ones that have musical or dance numbers in the middle I've mapped out by verses.  For example I will say the song plays through one time, or the song plays up to the bridge.  Or a section lasts long enough for the lead to change her outfit.  These are markers that have a solid time that I just don't know.  The verse will always be the same length.  So even though I don't know if it's 45 or 90 seconds I know it's the verse.  Same with the whole song.  It's a set time i just haven't timed it yet.  So I have an idea of what I'm working with that is actually solid.  I just need to pull out my stop watch and see what the times are.  

Moods.  I'm way anal.  So all my none worded song sections will be either variations of songs in the play/themes, or just plain music.  As far as the moods go, sad happy or fun, I"m very well aware of what instrument I want to feature in all the songs singing and none singing.  So I'm on my way to mapping that out in detail on this second edit.  Even little things like jokes that my characters play straight will have, back to timing, musical backup to sell them.  Yes, I'm that touchy.  Moods are a psychological and emotional blend so I'm not trying to fuck that up by giving my composer misinformation.   So yes.  Every instrument for every song is in my head I just need to get it out of there and on paper so I can clearly represent it to the composer.

I'm def as I said already not to particular about some things.  Exit stage is usually that.  Never stage left or right, or anything like that.  It's really not that deep.  Sometimes the curtain falls if I feel it's necessary.  When I don't really know or don't care, scene ends.  That's it.  Whatever the director deems appropriate, don't care. Again it's not that deep.   I think I might be missing some emotional acting cues but I dunno.  Actors can feel so don't think it's necessary.  I only mention it if there's an intentional gag or if there's something symbolic in the acting.  Like a timed laugh, or physical gesture, dramatic emotion.

Now why I haven't recorded a single melody yet.  Even my composure was like shoot me a tune and they would get going.  Here is why.  Lots of people can work with just a melody.  I really can't.  I need to be able to sing it clearly without second guessing a note first.  Secondly I need to know what the chorus/ensemble is doing while the lead is singing.  I also need to know where musical spaces are in the song that are just there for dance numbers or maybe a set or scene change.  I need to know the style, rock-opera, opera, modern, gospel, rock, r&b, jazz, cabaret.  Violin heavy or horn heavy.  Is it dancy with flutes, or mamba/tango/samba inspired.  Are there any instrument solos in the song.  By the time I open up my mouth to sing a tune I like to be very well away where all the players are all located so that the music is played in a way that allows all the singing and maybe dancing and possible on scene set changes can work seamlessly.  Otherwise I'll have a song and be all 'I like it but then they can't do this' or 'it's beautiful but it's too happy, it's a death song'  or 'There's a two part chorus line in the back their parts won't harmonise well with the melody being played' and so on and so forth.  I am def the type to be like, 'no. I don't like it.' and send you back to it.  I know how hard it is to write anything so anything I can eliminate that will prevent a complete overhaul of a song, I am going to do it.  Maybe I am just weird but I'm uncomfortable with not knowing entirely what a song will sound like in my head without the music and then singing it because of all the things that can go wrong because I don't have all the parts and possible harmonies sorted yet.

I'm learning most people do not operate like this.  They are happy with just one verse and they will role with a song if I can just hum the rest. I really just can't do that.  I'm to paranoid something will go wrong.  And I always feel bad when I don't like something.  Especially if I think it's my fault.  I struggle telling professionals anything negative cause what do I know.  I just wrote the damn song.  Maybe I'm wrong.  To prevent future anxiety attacks and sleepless nights because I was a meanie, things need to be sorted out as much as possible before I get there.  I am sure my composure is like this guy ain't serious.  When I sit down with all my notes for our meeting maybe things will be different.

So yeah I work different.  And going forward any fine tuning to be done will be mostly to the chorus/ensemble.  I'm filling this play with music both vocal and instrumental.  I don't want it to feel empty at any point unless what's being said is sooooo important silence is needed.  But most things can be enhanced with musical backdrop.  Just think disney animation.  The older variaty of course.  The new ones do have a lot of orchestral stuff still, but not so much singing anymore.

So yes.  It's been a rough six weeks.  I've had no life.  And I'm officially not putting a time limit on each phase.  I know I could be done entirely in a year because other people are professionals.  They will be much more efficient at the scoring stuff than I am at the creation.  But I am hoping by end of week I will know where every music section vocals and nonvocal are.  I'll have my detailed list of what's going on in each song and I'll be ready with both files, script and instructions, when I finally sit down with my composer.  This way they wont have to weave through my musical to find the page for this and the words for that and blah blah blah.  They will have a list specifically for them from the time every scene with music starts until it ends with page number guides should they want to actually read the none musical parts for mood and setting purposes.

I will keep you posted because I need to.  Otherwise i might fall of the waggon.  Now it's online so I have to keep doing it.  Thinking about videoing my sessions with composer for a documentary maybe if I ever convince someone to invest in this musical.  Who knows.  Someone might be interested. 

Anyways.  Rant over.  I have a second edit to begin.

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