6/5/08

A little bit o' form...

If you're in the NY/NJ/PA area you prolly have seen those annoying commercials with Little Bit of Luck...yeah, i hate those...Anyway, this is my little addition to the world of pint size denizens that really wish they'd never been born...

As i chow down on a western omelet at the HoJo diner (i think its called Ambrosia) and hear the annoying mothers who obviously wish that they'd never had kids...and fathers telling 8 y/o daughters that "well, with your $2 breakfast, that means you owe me $7 so far on this trip..." it makes me realize one thing...

I never want kids...

Which makes writing an opera difficult, because it the closest thing (other than raising Monster) to rearing a kid. I've always been too impatient to let things just...develop. and it makes me wish i had tabasco for my potatoes...riiiight

AH, form in opera. finally getting to the point. so, as one who has never REALLY studied opera, i've gone about approaching more as if it were a symphonic piece. man...its hard to write with this family beside me...*sigh* too bad the WiFi doesn't work in the rooms, only the lobby and tiny diner. Damn...did that lady just say "It'd be better if they served cocktails..." It's only 9am...

ANYWAY, as someone who is more of a casual observer of opera, it basically seems to break down like this...

Overall Scheme falls as a combination of Arias, Recitative, Chorus, and the occasional duet or trio. So, they shove song forms sandwiched between the less structured Recit with the occasional large number. It pretty much seems to just be a back and forth set-up depending on what's happening in the story. I'm sure there is a deeper form in there deciding which song goes where, but i haven't spent the time studyin to figure that part out.

So, when i'm handed a gig like "write an opera" and i see "Aria, Recit, Chorus, Repeat" i get pretty damn bored. Even with knowing that i can put the arias into different song forms, not just the standard Aria or De Capo Aria form, well...its still a wash, rinse, repeat...So, how am i looking at form to create more internal interest?

Well, first, my operetta is quite short, shooting for 20 minutes max. That shortens what one can do anyway. The above formula would probably only go through twice...Instead i'm looking at a layering forms one on top of another...

In comparison then...a "classic" opera (not french, cause no ballet) basically follows the above recipe. Each scene might be different (scene 1 may be Recit, Aria, Recit, Aria, Recit and scene 2 may be Chorus, Aria, recit, duet, recit aria) but its basically mixing and matching the above and changing out song forms when needed. How about setting the whole opera up as a form, say, something "simple" like a Rondo. It would fit well with the idea that this is one continuous piece and not broken up into scenes. So, we have the Rondo form, meaning i have the one repeated theme and then new themes thrown in the mix, so, ABACADAE...on and on and on...This theme seems to be perfect to me for the opera. Sarah, the lead character, suffers from a form of psychosis that lends itself to repetition...I haven't decided how many specifics of the story i want up here, might want you to see it instead. heh. So, the lead suffers from a psychosis that is really cyclic, so a rondo, which is a cyclic form in itself works perfectly.

Now, that's all well and good, but how do you base songs on a rondo where A is a repetition? well, second layer of forms then...

the "A" theme then would have its own form, or possibly just be a short theme. undecided as of yet. However, the other sections, B and so on, the unique ones, show have...unique forms. makes perfect sense, no? Let's say, for instance, that B will be a Virelai, perhaps C will simply be Bar form, C might be a ballade (i love the formes fixes, obviously...and playing with things, such as Bar being AAB and ballade being AaB...such small difference. heheh). Anyway, so you end up with the Whole Opera as "Rondo" then 'scenes' being a set form such as "Virelai", and THEN, if there is an instance of an entire song in a section (say, the first scene where i KNOW there will be a short DC Aria) that form is then inserted. So what you could have in one page of libretto is a form that ends up...

A (B {CDCDE} cbB) A

confusing enough? especially the little "c" in the virelai. heheh.

This is what happens when i get bored, i end up doing form how the "masters" seemed to always do it. Forms inside Forms inside Forms...Also, this will help the music from wandering too much. Sarah's psychosis is based on repetition not wanderlust, so the music should be somewhat, fixed, yes? i think so...

Anyway, breakfast is over, i should shower sometime, maybe head back to sleep for a few moments before working noon till midnight. heh. Hope you all somewhat enjoyed my first "real" music post on here.

Till next time, fare thee well

2 comments:

Speak Coffee said...

OMG I'm seeing letters spinning around but I have no idea what they mean. It looks cool what you're writing down here but I really lost you on the forms, within forms ... within forms. And I'm fine with being lost so long as you can make it out of the woods ;)

And suddenly I'm liking the idea of big powerful choruses, but that's something for another opera.

devorageller said...

seriously John ... how many blogs do you need?? lol. But this is good. I can't comment on livejournal, but you should be expecting lots of blogbabble from me, now that I know about this.

jk. sort of.