28 January 2005


I performed my rock opera, The Silent Spectrum, to a roomful of friends last night. It went off fairly well--nerves made me hack about 30% of the music, but no one really noticed. In a post-performance poll, some friends remembered the couple of quick false starts yet none of the glaringly wrong notes or ragged tempo. I'll take whatever I can get.

Here's the program (PDF) I created for the occasion.

The first three milestones are the most fun: (1) write the songs, (2) learn the music, and (3) premiere it to friends. The next are always uncertain and certainly downhill in terms of fun. Everyone praised the music and the story (yes, all of those highly critical friends), but how to get such a thing out in hopes of actually selling it? The initial intention is to create and see it exist. Hear it exist. Selling it is only an issue because, obviously, it'd be nice to have a hobby that sustains itself. And, equally obviously, I'm proud of what I've done. Go tell the world!!

Recording has always been milestone (4) in my mind. A poor recording can always be a demo to communicate the work; a good recording can always be sold (or attempt to be sold). People can't read music, ya gotta have a recording. Then the question becomes: (1) record with piano and my voice, (2) record with piano and a better voice, or (3) try to get a band together. (3) requires (1), would be a big pain in the ass, yet would be the most marketable. (1) and (2) are both harmless and would either be marketable or be useful to communicate the work to ... who?

The Silent Spectrum is a rock opera with maybe Quadrophenia as the model. It's a musical performance and not a theatrical performance--I don't see it acted out because the music does all of the work and the dramatic part writing was not done with an eye towards the theater. I'm a composer, not a playright. I had been asked with some incredulity by several people who enjoyed the music whether I expected people to just listen without seeing the action performed. How do you listen to any other rock music? Or, for that matter, 90% of music? There are many dramatic music pieces that don't require theatrical (acted) performance: think of any of the art rock that I go on about such as Yes or Genesis, or the long ballads of folk music, or the programmatic [Wikipedia] Romantic symphonies or tone poems, or any other rock operas [Wikipedia] (including the new one from Green Day can you believe it). Some of those works have stage bric-a-brac, but I'd rate that as secondary.

It struck me as odd that everyone was impressed that I could memorize ~70 minutes of music and lyrics. I had almost forgotten what an accomplishment that was in my own mind two years ago for my first rock opera. Before that I had a history of learning a few songs at a time or being part of the rhythm section in a I-IV-V college rock band. But then again, maybe everyone was only impressed that I memorized ~70 minutes of music and lyrics. Hmm. Now, it's much less of a compliment. Drat.

[ posted by sstrader on 28 January 2005 at 12:13:34 PM in Music ]