I have sat in front of my computer almost all day, tackling inputting chamber opera 2 into Sibelius.
First off, that's right! The original intent of the blog, to chronicle writing my first opera, has come back around for a second round! But there'll be more about that opportunity later.
For now, my head is in the score, getting all the details into this infernal software. They're all "nicely" laid out in my manuscript, but translating some things into notation in software isn't too easy. Sibelius 6 still doesn't treat Sprechstimme markings all that nicely (where's my shortcut for that on the keypad! C'mon!), and there are a fair share of note-head changes for different techniques.
Ah, so now you're thinking "Oh, he uses all these techniques, so he's gonna talk about what a pain that is" or maybe "Now he's gonna say 'there's a limit to putting dynamics on every note!' FERNEYHOUGH FOREVER!"
Well, we're not all Ferneyhough (but I kinda wish I was...dude's awesome, but that's a previous post). No, this is about something less...musical?
This is about the words. I'm in a second semester of playwriting, which makes me practically an expert. That's a joke. But one thing we've discussed several times in class is how much information should be put in stage directions. The professor, Frank Higgins (he's kinda kick ass. Check him out), likes to remind us "If the words dictate an action, you don't need stage directions." (paraphrased, of course). And, what about emotions, like "angrily." I remember, vaguely, Frank basically telling us at the beginning that this was pretty much a hands down "no."
And yet...it's a practice in operas. I've checked out a few scores and, there it is, right over the words. "Angrily" "with growing frustration" "Happily." In instrumental writing, I get it.
In the violin part to an opera, I get it
But right over the singers words, and just hers?
If I was a singer, which I'm most assuredly not (though my resume says I did it in amateur fashion many moons ago), I may take it in stride, and just do what I'm told.
Or I might get irritated.
Yeah, you're right, I'd get irritated. Who does this composer jackwad think he is, telling me exactly who I should feel. Maybe I feel like the character should be more peeved than angry. Maybe it's a jaunty happy not a blissful happy. I can add the character just fine, thank you.
If I sent out a script where lines were tagged as such, I'd be laughed at. So, why are we still doing it in music? I even started to do it in my own piece, when I realized "ya know, I don't REALLY have to tell the singer how to do this. If the words tell the action, and show the character, it doesn't matter." Heck, if it's written well enough, even things like irony and sarcasm would come across in the characters voice without me having to put "sarcastically."
So, maybe we should ease off a bit in the markings. Let musicians be musicians, singers be singers, and opera singers by OPERA singers...which intrinsically means actor/actress as well.
Enough complaining, back to the grind!