23 July 2009

from MATT, part 2

Team Intervention!
As promised, here is the second half of what I intended to say yesterday but ran out of time to say. I guess I'm a little wordy, but you already know that. (More on the distinction between lots of words and extra words some other time).
You asked if one group is most popular... "Popular" in most contexts seems to mean the people you'd like to be friends with, look like, act like - circles you'd like to integrate; folks you'd like to emulate. That's not the case here - no group wishes they were more like or closer to another. In Intervention, I think any eyes looking jealously across the invisible lines that separate social groups are driven by romantic feelings, as opposed to aspirations for social status.
Which group was I in at high school? Actually, kind of all of them. Most clearly the academics, the thespians, the musicians... but all the kids who turned into big time jocks were good friends of mine - we'd grown up together and we were all close. I could tell that for many folks in school those 'invisible lines' were pretty visible - but I didn't experience that myself. People are people - the rest is just clothing, literally or metaphorically. Even the "spiky collar kids wearing gothic black" were great to hang out with because under the Hot Topic merchandise they were just nice kids who secretly performed in punk bands on the weekends, singing with faux British accents for no good reason. By the way, attending their concerts is why I'm a little hard of hearing. Cover your ears!
How long did it take to write Intervention? Jill and I came up with a rough roadmap of how the show would go in November 2006, and I started writing Jan 2, 2007. I finished the first act by mid March (two and a half months later) before going on spring break to Bermuda with the Hasty Pudding Theatricals (a group I was music directing at the time). Now, I had announced to everyone I knew that I would perform a preview of Intervention (just me singing through it all) at Harvard on April 14. We returned from Bermuda on April 2 and so Act 2 got written in just under two weeks, in time for the April 14 sing-thru - except for Sheldon's Confession, which I ran out of time for and wrote the following week. So, all in all, about three months.
It was a real magical and intense routine working on this show. I would wake up everyday at 10, wander over to the keyboard before even opening my eyes, and start working right away. I usually spent about three days on a number: the first day to get some musical and lyrical ideas together, the second to do the hard work of cranking out the bulk of it, and the third day to edit, tidy up, and make a demo recording. Those were long days, and I was on a diet of matzoh and Lipton soup, because I didn't want to stop to cook. It would suddenly be 11 at night (time for Jon Stewart) and I would call it a day.
I remember the first tune I finished was "Michael," but I didn't want to show Jill right away because she would get the wrong impression of what the show would sound like. I came up with the chorus for "Sheldon" in early January 2007, but didn't write the patter until early March. Sheldon, by the way, was originally called Lancers (I know...) to rhyme with answers (Three Cheers for Lancers, he gives us the answers...) - once I abandoned the possibility of rhyming the name with anything (thank goodness), Sheldon was in some ways a natural choice :) "Sheldon" is a crowd pleaser (I just performed it on Saturday) but it wasn't actually too hard to write because the math all works out, and it's all high school calculus. (By the way, I wonder if you can infer the actual question to the extra credit problem). "Why Throw Your Life Away" was really hard to get just right - that was the last tune I finished (other than the Confession), and the last part of that tune to get written was the bridge. Those two lines "I don't want to worry... spirit soar" took six hours to come up with! Well, better to spend the time and get it right than settle.
And finally - is this a personal story? Well, some other time we can discuss this, and I know Jill will have something to say about that, too. I've gone on long enough.
Thanks for asking, and for reading!
Break a leg in rehearsals!
PS: Please articulate :) It's all about the words.

No comments: