In the most coarse manner, I want to get as much mileage out of this material as I can. Think of this like food companies. They start with a $10 of raw corn, and then somehow, turn that into $100 worth of ‘corn products. Like most things in life, this can be good (corn meal) or very, very bad (high fructose corn syrup.) But they’re quite efficient at the concept. My goal is similar. Hopefully the by-products of somewhat higher overall quality.
What I’m trying to do is get as much stuff out of Detroit as possible. One thing is to be able to re-purpose materials
- The Opera (well duh!… I wonder how Verdi said ‘Duh’?)
- JCH Music: I always envisioned this material as being at least one or two band albums. This doesn’t violate the ‘ethos’ of the opera—I see it as two vines that grow from the same root. I hear the songs on a parallel plane from the operatic arias, even though they are arranged quite differently. The great thing about the computer is that it allows me to work on these multiple arrangements simultaneously.
- Solo Concert versions of various songs: This is the same kind of thing. Only different. If you’ve been to one of my house concerts, you know the arrangements for solo guitar (and soon solo piano) are things unto themselves. You’ve heard it said that one learns by teaching. Well my solo arrangements are like that. Because they have to be so musically different from the original ‘band’ arrangements, they often teach me how I really feel about the material—and sometimes the real reason I wrote the song. So in the end, it would be fair to say that they are truly different songs with the same lyrics.
- Score Excerpts: I am committed to transcribing coherent musical sections into instrumental suites for appropriate ensembles. There is no shortage of ‘material’ of this kind, but frankly? Most of it either sounds ‘dead’ to me. When I was in school it was a running joke about all the failed attempts at doing rock with jazz ensembles (or vice versa.) The Third Stream Movement was kind of a bust, but the idea behind it was very ‘prog’ and someone oughta keep at it until they get it right. So that’s what I’m a gonna try to do. To whit…
- Jazz Band: Like I said, there have been so many crappy attempts at making big band music that sounds ‘contemporary’ it easily makes most people conclude that they broke the mold when Ellington passed. But there will be at least one ‘Suite’ excerpted from Detroit for standard Stage Band (5-4-3 horns, piano, bass, guitar, drums.)
- Symphonic Band: Ditto. I winced all through college at the sound of numerous crummy wind bands. The music was usually lousy and the tuning generally atrocious. Since then, I have seen the light—or maybe everyone else was aware of the problem too! Nowadays, one can write for a good college ensemble and expect a good performance, with sweet intonation and nuanced dynamics. And oh the sound a good band can make! Heavenly.
In short, I want the ‘product synergy’ that marketing people talk about so much. I want to get Detroit out there in as many ways as possible without taking away what it is. I have no intention of doing ‘versions’ of various bits simply to increase the ‘output’ or make a few extra bucks (although that wouldn’t hurt!) But the material itself can be put to multiple uses without soiling the thing as a whole. In fact my hope is just the reverse: that people who would not otherwise get to hear the entire work will, for example, hear a school ensemble play a portion and then be encouraged to seek out the opera, or a JCHMusic album of songs from the opera. I see no ‘sell-out’ in this approach since the entire project is meant to be used in these various ways holistically. In short, Detroit was meant from the beginning to be ‘re-purposed’. The trick now is in developing the skills to work on all this stuff en masse so that it all comes out sounding as I intend: an organic and cohesive entity, regardless of the medium in which you may hear or see it in action.