17 October 2008

Lady Grace leads us all in song

Image © Sarah Zagni 2015

December, I took a break. A holiday! A blissful, four-week interlude to reflect on the old and prepare for the new.

January, I hit the ground running. I sketched out a plot of the cues in the Emergency Story Penguin script (using Goodnotes and a Jot Mini stylus on iPad), Slung Low’s latest children’s show.

I realised that for a 1-hour-long-show there was a lot of music to be written, and so I had to get on that writing pretty quickly. It was clear that the main song was the first order of business, the heart of the score, and an important starting point for themes.

A page from the script 'Emergency Story Penguin'

“…a breakaway pop hit.” No pressure then.

However, we didn’t have any lyrics. Yet.

I’m no lyricist. When we have songs in Slung Low’s shows, I renounce all responsibility in the words; it’s up to the writer to get poetic! Since I’m living with the lovely writer (John Hunter) I’d been prodding him to sketch out some lyrics since he’d finished the script before Christmas… though it quickly became apparent, that, like me but in reverse, he was really averse to constructing the lyrics before having an idea of the melody first, understandably.

Chicken and egg situation. (Though we all know the egg came first, don’t we? Because dinosaurs, obvs.)

I bit the bullet and scribbled some lame-ass lyrics super quick then sat down at the piano to sketch out a few ideas for melodies. Then arranged it a wee bit better on the Mac and Dropboxed (which is totes a verb) it to John.

Lovely chap that he is, he sketched me out some excellent lyrics that fit with the syllable stress patterns of my ropey words, but the chorus didn’t fit with the music… between going from words to paper to computer I’d changed the melody and harmonic structure, and forgot to go back and update the lyric document.

But it all turned out for the best (phew! we really were on tenterhooks there) since, along with this, the lyrics and score for the chorus of this big-ass powerful all-systems-go song that I’d written was a bit too nice and friendly and sweet when it should have been bolshy, adventurous and thrilling. On a really basic level, to get that feeling of ‘powering up’, the notes of the melody really should rise, rather than falling. Unlike what I’d written. #FAIL.

John wrote a new chorus for us, immediately after discussing this, then sang to me a rough idea of the rhythm.

I slept on it.

In the morning, I arranged it. We had it. Our (inevitable) breakaway pop hit. Power to the Engines!

From an audience recording:

The Penguin with an Emergency Story situation

Image © Sarah Zagni 2015

Emergency Story Penguin is made by Slung Low in co-production with Dep Arts, and is touring theatres until April 2015, (though there may be more dates added after this). Click here for details.

Take the whole family to save Christmas at Z-Arts in Manchester! Made by Slung Low, the show runs until Christmas Eve, and tickets are going fast. Shows are at 11am, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm most days from this Saturday (20th Dec) onwards.

The full album is available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and all other good online mp3 outlets.

From the Z-Arts site:

Things are very, very wrong – Christmas trees are behaving strangely, there are rumours of grumpy fairies and elves throwing baubles at shoppers! Someone is out to spoil the fun, the clock is ticking and no one can stop it but you – you have 59 Minutes to Save Christmas!

An interactive headphone journey around Z-arts for intrepid adventurers and brave parents (who might be useful to reach the high stuff).

***SPOILERS!*** Some of the themes from the show are here:

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