Thought and news (Day 310/365)

Two interesting things today, one for Moonlight and one for William Blake.

Having started some actual work on songs for Moonlight, I made a sincere effort to keep the lyrics for “Love Song of Thurgood…” in my head so that maybe others would come. But what I found myself doing was playing with melodies for the words I had.

This is probably a good idea. Hammering out words that fit some metrical scheme (which may not be apparent from the words on the page, actually) to fill out the first verse is a good place to start, and then I think if I can begin setting those words to music, that gives me a rather complete framework to start writing the second verse, the ‘B’ section, and the third verse.

Question: having seen the gist of the first verse, do you think I need to strive for any kind of character development in the song, i.e., we know more about Thurgood at the end than at the beginning, or we see some change in him from beginning to end, or is it going to be acceptable for this to be yet another comedy song? I have a feeling we can fill this show with comedy songs. Is that going to be OK?

In other news, I handed off the score to “Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way” to Stephen Czarkowski, our orchestra maestro extraordinaire, to peruse. Never mind that I sent this to him in April. Never mind that I’ve been on pins and needles since he replied that there were a “few problems” and that he never told me what they were.

You understand my anxiety: I am a total fraud, without a real clue as to what I’m doing when I create an orchestral score of some proportions like “Milky Way.” For all I know, none of it can be played. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have some real knowledge of the woodwinds and sort of for the brass and percussion. Strings, though, I am quite in the dark.

I can look at a score by one of the masters and see that my music is not as “hard to play” as theirs, but I have no idea if there are certain intervals or fingerings that just can’t be done.

So I reacted apparently noticeably when, in a meeting with the GHP music department, Stephen says, “Oh, your ‘Milky Way’ score? There are some parts… Unplayable.”


I’m thinking all kinds of horrible things: what if all those arpeggiations in the celli are just not doable? What if whole chunks of the thing cannot be played? That lovely music, everyone’s favorite, just gone because it’s… unplayable.


He finally crosses my path again later this afternoon, bringing the score with him. Here, he says, measure 57, these two notes in the viola, out of their range.

And that was it? A part I copied and pasted from the second violins and transposed down, and never checked the range on? And I never heard the note was missing because it’s a complex section and the violas are doubling the violin IIs anyway? And I clearly never ran the plug-in that checks for range issues?

Before I could get too upset at the whole thing, Stephen says they plan to give it a readthrough during the sixth week of the program, i.e., basically after everything is accomplished and things are winding down. That’s as it should be, actually. I have no claim on the students’ time here at this program in this way, although I would like to think that might change after the readthrough.

But “Milky Way” will get at least an orchestral readthrough in late July. I’ll keep you posted.

One thought on “Thought and news (Day 310/365)

  1. In other words, should it be a comic song that stands on its own like “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” or “Yes, we have no bananas,” or should it be one of those Sondhymenal turns where wit and story walk together, one feeding the other. Ask your playwright, but its certainly more in the spirit of a Marx Brothers movie to avoid any lofty talk of Groucho’s “character” changing. To try and play by the rules of legitimate drama is not in the anarchic spirit of things, perhaps.

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