Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zombies + Der Rosenkavalier = Lots of Musical Fun!

I write plenty of serious music- a missa brevis for the incredible Korean choir Incheon City Chorale, a powerful setting of a war poem by Amy Lowell for the Ithaca College Choir, settings of Antonio Machado's beautiful Spanish poetry in a piece called "El Limonar Florido" (The Lemon Grove in Blossom), and a double choir reinvention of William Billings' "When Jesus Wept".  Yet many people know my humorous music the best, for instance the three movement choral cycle "Play with your Food" and its middle movement "Mashed Potato Love Poem". Another humorous piece is "God Says Yes to Me"- which proclaims God to be a woman *gasp* and a lover of jazz *gasp again*.

So recently someone was prodding me to write another humorous piece and so I began to think- what is the funniest thing you can think of, and my answer was - zombies! While I do love a cuddly, fluffy kitten, puppy, or unicorn- zombies are kinda cute and adorable too, doncha agree? And they're funny because they are so ridiculously slow, have bad skin, and moan and drool a lot. All in all, they are just so awesome.

So I decided what the heck- let's write a zombie piece. We'll let some of those other composers write their mezzopiano vertical piled-up sonic cotton candy- we'll cut to THE CHASE- the blood, gore, and yet cuteness of a pack of starving zombies. The next step was contacting my New Zealand wild man friend Oliver Twigge for some lyrics. Oliver provided the goofy yet sweet texts for the children's choir hit "Peace on Earth...and lots of little crickets" plus another recent kids choir piece. So with Oliver mulling over my lyrics request down under I also began to think- what is the most ridiculous musical  thing you could pair with an onslaught of ravenous zombies? Well how about the most purtiest music you might ever hear- the Richard Strauss "Der Rosenkavalier" waltzes? So now we had a plan- Oliver would cook up some sort of witty, yet also ridiculous text and I would pair it with Rosenkavalier tunes (hurray, Rosenkavalier is in the public domain) and we would have a good old time with this project. After awhile we realized that maybe Strauss himself could be one of the zombies, and that he, in his urbane, yet highly conceited way, would remind "normal " humans that zombies might be gourmands of the highest level and just might have feelings too, and that maybe we are the savages. Aha- a way to turn the piece on its side a bit!

My favorite Marschallin (not Martian) - Elizabeth Schwarzkopf!

So with Oliver's witty words (I think Ira Gershwin would grin at many of the rhymes), I set about finding the most delectable of the Rosenkavalier waltz tunes (a must-have was the one waltz, ascending melody in the strings, that Baron Ochs sings over) and getting crazy with the piece.

The final product (SATB/piano, not difficult) is just a few minutes long and would probably make a great final number or encore, especially for a concert of humorous music or a Halloween concert.

The piece, titled "Zombi Sing Prety Song 4 You" (yeah, zombies are spelling challenged)  is just now finished and if anyone would like to see a free perusal score, let me know. The piece is just a few minutes long and the staging  possibilities (subtle or over the top) for this piece are endless, methinks.

I won't be sending this to any publishers- I'm pretty much done dealing with them. So if you like, you can see a free perusal score and if you like the piece, get permission through me to make copies and perform it. I will be pricing this one a little lower than usual- just because it is a novelty piece and the music is Strauss's, not really mine!

Thanks for reading,


Oh yeah, if you'd like a perusal score of any of those serious pieces mentioned up top- let me know! Excuse me now, Woody and I have a bead on an abandoned Hostess Twinkies truck... see ya later.

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