For the first time in a long time, Thanksgiving break offered an uninterrupted half week of free time. I used a lot of it to revisit some musicals I hadn’t worked on in a while. I submitted my first musical, a couple years old now, to a festival and will hear back about it during winter break. But I also made progress on a short musical now almost three years in the making.
For a bit of background, I composed a ninety-minute musical in high school with my brother, which I was lucky enough to see performed as a staged reading. We started collaborating on another musical after that which was going to be full length but we trimmed it to a short, basically sung-through musical in keeping with my brother’s one-act play on which it is based.
I wrote many of the songs my freshman year of college and continued to add and tweak them basically until now. To perform it, the show would have to be scored or recorded somehow, and I didn’t have time to assemble another full piano vocal score like I did for the first one (while certainly an experience, it is extremely time consuming). So this time, I decided to look into some digital recording, which would not only handle a lot of the scoring for me but would also allow me to quickly orchestrate the piece for more than just piano.
I’d forgotten how entertaining digital recording is. In fact, I got so wrapped up in marveling at what my computer instruments could do that I quickly went too far and produced some very complicated orchestrations. They say less is more with most orchestrations, but each song was a tad fast and a tad too dramatic, especially compared to most other arrangements I’ve heard. Of course, the anecdotal feedback I’ve received on my music is that my songs are already very energetic pieces and I need some mellower ones. What can I say – I’m a sucker for drama.
In any case, they made for some rather entertaining demo tracks, and since they’re just song demos, I’ll have plenty of time to polish them. At least I have started recording my second show. And even though I hadn’t composed anything new in a while, I was quickly getting accustomed to the formerly mysterious world of computer orchestration.
Then, just as I thought I had no more song ideas, a flurry came to me out of nowhere. That’s not entirely true – I’d been working on a ten-minute musical but hadn’t figured out how to put it together, and finally I came up with an outline for several different songs and an opening number. I guess hearing some new instruments and sounds was enough to get back into the swing of composing again.