Monday, 7 February 2011


Issue: Practical composition

Convener(s): Lizzy Westcott

Participants: Andrew Scullin, Simon Pollard, Mary O’Connor, Suzy Almond

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lizzy called for suggestions about the practicalities of composition for musical theatre. How to progress if you hit a wall. Mary talked about Dalcrose Eurythmics, a fairly abstract method which helps to surrender the constraints and rules of standard composition, embracing ‘mistakes’ as they do not matter in the journey, as long as you reach your destination.

T.E.D. Talks and Bobby Macferrin sound as if they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Kodaly. Hand gestures and forgetting the standard A-G scale. Read ‘Dramatic notes’ By Neil Brand.

Simon uses music as inspiration before starting work on a piece. Helps to channel creativity. Music is important even in ‘Non-Musical’ productions.

Andrew suggested to not fear completing an idea which you feel is bad or trite as this may be what the other parties are looking for. Most creative types are their own worst critic.

An actress popped up and mentioned a more ‘found sounds’ process, allowing the performers to become one with the music. Choreographer also talked about creating the dance and the music in tandem. This could result in a more powerful piece.

Important not to feel like a fraud if you have no traditional training. The confidence in your music is what counts. Don’t looked at people who are sight reading as more capable. Their rules are also their shackles. Without rules, there are more options, right or wrong.

Don’t get too clever. A flourish is nice but sometimes entirely unnecessary. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. If your cast aren’t alienated, this will result in quicker understanding of the music = better performance.

Alex’s suggestion of using a musical theatre idea in a gig setting, therefore turning the tables somewhat.

Suzy added her lack of knowledge of her instrument is actually more freeing, allowing her scope to play with the words and is not a distraction. Followed up by a group appreciation imperfection. Judi Dench, Lee Marvin, Woody Allen.

Let’s create an opera performed by people who ‘can’t’ sing.

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