Writing the trio

Rehearsals are very much underway and the songs seem to be working. It is a real pleasure to hear them come to life and so far only one key change – which I was reluctant to do but it was necessary to maintain the integrity of the vocal line even though this was at the expense of the particular pitches I desired. I have only seen the singing rehearsals so far but I’m looking forward to the dialogue and music coming together over the coming weeks.

The three solo songs – ‘Dreaming of Donny’, ‘Notice Me’ and ‘572 Friends’ are due to come together in a trio in the second act – an idea of conceived by the director but very much something I do in my composing. I have often presented very different types of material in a piece that had a moment where the material is presented simultaneously. It is this simultaneity that I love – something I noticed recently when working on Prokofiev’s second piano sonata, the last movement. The quintet in West Side Story is such a compelling and powerful moment that it makes one feel combining three songs could be a challenge, certainly in trying to recreate the brilliance of Bernstein’s quintet.

My major concern in the simultaneity if the three songs is whether to maintain their original keys or to attempt to homogenise them into one tonal area. The resulting polytonality might be too unsettling for the prevailing mood desired at this point in the show. I’m looking forward to attempting this though. Whether or not I present complete verses or create ostinati figures from fragments from the three songs is also another idea – and this would speed up the learning of it. Time to start writing…

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