I am the music man

Yesterday was the final performance of Ellie’s play, “Middle Ground”, which she wrote and directed as part of her degree.  Based on a story that has been told and re-told many times by different people (including Shakespeare, amongst others), this was a meeting point of each variation.  The focus of the project was empathy, in that it was written and directed in such a way that there was no clear ‘bad guy’, and pretty much every character could be perceived as someone you could feel sorry for.  There were twists and turns, emotion and drama, and my music was the backdrop.

I had been asked to write the music specially for this play, and of course I jumped at the opportunity!  I have always wanted to write film scores, I’ve always been fascinated and enthralled by that style of music, the way it reflects and often directs the emotional content of what you see.  So I rose to the challenge, and I’m told it went down really well.

This is actually the third time I’ve been creatively involved in a drama production like this.  In my first year at uni I wrote some music for a production of Shakespeare’s ‘Pericles’, performed by the Theatre Arts Society.  For that I had a string quartet playing live, with me leading from the cello!  An interesting experience, but I was really pleased with the music, nice and atmospheric.

My second stint as Musical Director came the following year, when I was asked to provide some music for the panto “Aladdin”.  This didn’t involve writing anything original, but rather arranging backing tracks for them to sing along to.  These were sequenced on my computer and recorded from there, but I was using a fairly decent software synthesizer so it didn’t sound too bad.  For the performance itself I played keyboard for a couple of songs, but the rest of the time it was just a case of sitting back and enjoying the show.

Similarly, the music for ‘Middle Ground’ was all pre-recorded, again with my computer generating the noises.  This time I was using slightly more professional tools, and as a result the quality of the end result was slightly higher.  Logic Express 7 came in very handy, with the sounds being mostly EXS samples or Soundfonts.  It was mostly strings, with some brass, percussion and piano thrown in for good measure.  There was even a church organ blasting out at one point too, and a music box playing a cute little tune.  Unfortunately, because the music was only really to cover scene changes, altogether it only amounts to about 10-15 minutes, of which some of that is just a sound effect of some waves that had to be played in the background.  However, if I get a chance I intend on putting all the material together and writing an overture, using all the themes from the play and creating a piece of music that stands on its own.

Ellie’s play went really well, and I have some photos up on my PhotoLounge Extra site if you want to take a peek.  Hats off to my wonderful fiancee for a marvellous production!

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