Friday, July 27, 2007

Writing, Writing, Writing.

The thing I've been doing the most here at home is work on songs. Amy has been tossing quite a number of lyrics at me for our upcoming musical revue, and my job has been to turn it all into music. Now, that might seem like an easy chore, but it's not just writing music. It's making the demos and then writing out the sheet music. All of this takes endless hours of literally back breaking work. It's also very intense.

Songs are like little movies. Each one is a world of its own, something I've talked about before. And I believe strongly that if you're going to ask people to give up three minutes of their time to listen to you, you better give them something interesting and gripping to listen to or they'll get bored after about 30 seconds.

Anyway, this is why I've not devoted any time to finishing the videos from the Norway cruise. Since I'll be away from home for the next month doing Big Voice in San Francisco, I won't have access to my studio. So I decided the best thing to do was devote all my time to making these recordings.

So far, we have about 15 songs ready for the new show. For me, this is amazing. Since I've mostly written my own lyrics for past shows, and since I don't write lyrics quickly, it usually takes me a long time to finish a project. So, to have a new show almost ready barely a year after opening off-Broadway with Big Voice is amazing! And I love this material. I find that it's testing my ability to widen my musical range.

For one thing, we're aiming this piece at the cabaret scene. So, I want all the songs to tell little individual, emotionally involving stories. But also, more comedic material. Amy has a great way with lyrics, as you've heard on some of the songs I've already posted here in the blog. Having a writing partner is fun because if I have an idea that she doesn't go for, then I just write it myself. I wrote a really fun opening number, for instance.

The other fun part about writing with a partner is that we push each other. When she writes something really good, then I feel I have to match it. And I'm sure she feels the same way. It's a great circle of challenges as we seek to top each song and push the level of quality higher and higher.

Someone asked me if the new show was only going to be performed in New York -- and the answer is no. My vision or plan is to start very simply with four great singers and a small band. If possible, to get the four best and hottest cabaret singers in New York for a short limited run. Then, as we shape the material and write new things, Jim is going to write a book to pull the song together, which we'll then pitch to theaters.

IOW, the idea is to start simple, build on the simplicity and let it grow naturally, keeping the focus on the singers and the songs. We want to provide material that will show them off to their best abilities and, hopefully, give them something new to sing. The problem with cabaret, as many singers have expressed to me, is that there is always a shortage of new material. Especially new material that has a modern edge to it. While it's fun to sing Porter or Gershwin, you can only do those songs so many times before you have audiences craving something new to chew on.

I'm not pretending that our songs will rise to the level of the great composers, but I do think we can bring a newer, modern sensibility along with our own specific points of view. Already, Devin Richards has incorporated three of our songs in his act. And other musical directors around town have begun asking for more material. People like Bill Goffi who plays at the Monster and the Duplex has been promoting some of the new material as I've leaked out little bits here and there.

In fact, if there are any singers reading this, pop me an email if you'd like a demo or some sheet music. I'd love to have people singing these songs.

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