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Incidental Music for Death and Whipped Cream: 2004
A more palatable "slice o' pie".

Between 1995 and 2002 I adopted the role of "traveling musician" (check out the other pages for those recordings). Going from town to town doesn't leave you with much time to write, so I put composing on the "back burner" for a while. Fortunately an opportunity arose, at a time when I wasn't touring too much, to compose incidental music for an Off-Broadway play called "Death and Whipped Cream". The play tells the story of a man trying to save the life of his wife by playing a game of poker with Death (think "Seventh Seal"). Like many of the projects I had worked on it was a mixture of Theater, Video (both live and pre-recorded) and Sound, with yours truly performing the Violin parts live to pre-recorded music that I had composed. Unlike my earlier work, I took a more "conventional" approach to the music for this show.

I performed, recorded, edited, mixed and mastered all of the music under very tight time and budgetary constraints, so I hope you will forgive the occasional out of time/out of tune playing ;-). Here are some excerpts from the show...

Woman (2:47)

For this show there are three main musical themes representing Man, Woman and Death. The wife is caring, nurturing, etc, the husband is pre-occupied, self-centered, etc., and Death is the "sage" that gives enlightenment to the husband (although the knowledge Death bestows may have come a little too late).

The woman who was playing the wife was a country girl from Colorado, so I used that as the basis for her theme.

Death (1:52)

For the music that accompanies Death I begged, borrowed and stole every percussive instrument I could get my hands on. Here's what I found...

Man (2:01)

The main character in this play is the husband. His actions and reactions are the focal point of the story. As a result the "Man" theme is restated several times throughout the play, but each time it is a little bit different.

The first time we hear the theme is in the prologue where we meet the main character as an old man on his deathbed looking back at his life. The rest of the play proceeds as a "flashback".

Man - Variation 1 (1:16)

The next time the theme is used, the man is now a young husband lying in bed with his wife. He is obsessed with trivial matters and not really paying attention to his wife.

Man - Variation 2 (2:46)

At this point in the play, night has fallen, Death has made his entrance, explaining to the husband that he is there for his wife and now the husband is sitting down to a game of poker with the Grim Reaper, hoping he can save her with a game of cards.

It's an other-worldly, carnival-like atmosphere that the game takes place in and I did my best to capture that.

Man - Variation 3 (1:30)

After some banter and philosophical musings the game comes to an end with Death as the victor. The time has come for Death to take the man's wife...

BTW the "gongs" at the end were created using a circular saw blade hanging from a string!

Man - Variation 4 (1:06)

The husband is sobbing and begging Death to take himself instead of his wife. Death (who really isn't a bad guy) takes pity on the husband and decides that he'll just "drop by again in another 10 or 20 years", as long as the husband agrees to stop and smell the roses and not take his wife for granted.

Man - Variation 5 (:26)

The final statement of the "man" theme occurs when the husband wakes up the next morning (was it all just a dream?) next to his wife, ready to begin a new chapter in his life.

Seduction (2:30)

This is a fun scene early on in the play where the wife is trying to seduce her husband. I combined an Iranian drum beat and some quazi-Arabic fiddle playing for the first section, followed by some goofy Hawaiian lap steel for the second section.

Bow Music (1:10)

The Writer/Director wanted some Klezmer for the bow music, so I grabbed my yarmulke and got to work!

 

 
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