I think it was Archimedes who said, ‘Give me a big enough lever and I can… er… um… Helen? Can you come here a minute and help me with this couch?’ OK, maybe not. But like old Archie, I need all the leverage I can get. Staging a for real opera is for real work. I would imagine that Puccini got pretty efficient at things at some point… or John Adams… but for me it’s ridiculous.
What you want (besides that machine one sees in 50’s sci-fi movies that looks like a colander with wires attached and allows one to instantly transcribe thoughts onto paper) is any way possible to leverage your efforts. And don’t think I haven’t considered the whole colander thing. But so far, computers seem to work best. And computers will kill a composer. They are like Las Vegas for musicians… promising instant gold if you just keep throwing money at it. But, like Sin City, they are just as likely to leave a musician creatively (and literally) broke.
Most people are now aware that computers are used as tape recorder, but for ‘serious’ composers, computers provide lots of other benefits such as music notation and above all project management.
Because an opera is a project. Hell, it’s a military campaign and needs to be carried out as such.
I used to think of the computer as something like a ‘desktop publisher’ for music. But what I need it to be now is more like a movie production company. I need a way to put as much ‘project management’ into the computer as possible, ie. all the details to actually mount a production as I am able.
Now, in the broadest sense, an opera consists of:
- Music Score
- A Libretto
- The Book
Back in the good old days, one could get away with doing #1 and #2. The idea of a ‘book’ came later, as I’ve discussed before. Nowadays, The Book has expanded to include things like Staging… what we’d call ‘Storyboards’ and ‘Production Design’ in a movie.
You can’t get funding or grants for any large work with ‘just’ music and libretto. You have to have a detailed enough staging so that potential producers have at least some notion of the necessary forces and budgets that would be involved. In other words, if your work involves King Arthur, you need to specify if any ‘dragons’ or ‘castles’ or ‘armor’ are required.
The delay in giving out samples is in getting the computer(s) to allow for all this. I currently have eight arias (songs) completed for key moments. That was the easy (fun) part. Those songs were the initial flurry of inspiration when the whole idea came to me. But now? I don’t want to do much more separate work, without that integration in place; ie. the ability to put the entire work: story, libretto, music, staging together in a single ‘project’. I want to be able to move entire scenes around, as one would with a word processor. This probably doesn’t make too much sense now, but in a couple of weeks, I hope to have this facility and begin posting both musical and visual examples.