Gratitude List 1549

(1) Exercise appears to have been reinstated, with corresponding weight loss in the works.   I ran 2 1/2 miles three days ago, walked four miles briskly the day after, and eight whole miles yesterday – though it was only brisk throughout the first four miles thereof.   Though innervated today, I’m confident I’ll have a good run tomorrow morning.

(2) Working on the 5th and final column of my five-part series for Spokane Faith and Values.   This one should drive the point home.   I’m grateful for the opportunity to have aired this particular viewpoint, at this time.

(3) Beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, which made the walk up and down the hills circling campus very pleasant yesterday, as well as quite brisk on the uphill at the start.   Today’s a shade on the cloudy side, but I like it a lot.   Reminds me of San Francisco.

(4) We closed out our pandemic-based Eden in Babylon workshop yesterday, with tears of joy and thanksgiving on my part.  I’m deeply moved that these people seemed to show up out of nowhere — talented, dedicated singer/actors, who helped me more than they know.   We also recorded three more songs — “Midnight Screams,” “Daylight,” and “The Urban Elegy” — with piano, singing and professional sound design on the part of Liam Marchant.   The band will keep rehearsing every Monday indefinitely, but outside of further future podcasts that Kelsey Chapman and I are planning, the involvement of the singer/actors is formally complete.   The whole having been uniquely beautiful, I’m sure we’ll all stay in touch.

(5) I finished the new version of the script on March 12th, the first revision since December 21st, incorporating everything we learned in the workshop, and then some.   I’m standing on new ground spiritually, and thankful, and taking heed lest I fall.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1646

(1) True to resolution, I’ve been exercising much more and spending much less time on the Internet.  Mostly I’ve been engaging in long brisk walks.  I’m losing weight and feeling a bit more heightened, spiritually speaking.

(2) Just dropped off my monthly rent check at the landlord’s office — a monthly ritual as of over three years now.

(3) Grateful for the $300 anonymous donation sent to Danielle’s pool, followed by the $600 relief check.

(4) I was granted an honorable mention among eight other journalists for having placed in the top ten of every category in the annual awards ceremony conducted by Spokane Faith and Values.  Also my column on the recent anti-maskers stunt placed No. 8 in the Top Ten opinion pieces of 2020.

(5) It was recently very freeing to make an unpopular decision for the benefit of the greater good.  It was liberating to release the unpopular information, with my reasons.  It had been such a burdensome thing, holding it all in.  I have faith we’ll move forward in liberation from here.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Christmas Offerings from the Team

First I’d like you to hear a couple of the musicians I’m fortunate enough to have landed for our Eden in Babylon workshop.   That’s Liam Merchant on saxophone (he’s playing sax, flute, and keyboard synth in the EIB band).  Bobby Meador is the guitarist, as they do an intriguing version of “The House of the Rising Sun,” sung to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” 

On a more traditional note, here are the Wendt Brothers — Cody, Ian, and Tyler — with their charming Christmas Special.   Numerous carols are here displayed, evoking the signature Wendt harmonies and piano stylistics.  In addition, Cody narrates the Christmas Special with accounts of how these carols came into being.   

May the warmth of the season embrace us all, and God bless us — every one.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Vocal Score

Finished this last night. It’s the third draft of the vocal score to my musical. Music, lyrics, and vocal arrangement.  Maybe you just heard that song “Daylight?” Here’s a screenshot:
And here’s what a considerably more complex page looks like: Capture You may not read music, but there are plenty of words involved, too!  If if you feel like checking it out, you can always click on the link with the title below.   This way you get the whole 90 pages of it:

EDEN IN BABYLON VOCAL SCORE

Hm, it just crossed my mind that maybe you do read music.   You probably even know how to write it.  In that case, don’t judge me too harshly for my many peccadilloes.   I’d rather have you help me score all this stuff out, because believe me, getting all those little black dots in the right places with Finale software can be a real pain in the you-know-what.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1632

(1) Though a more devastating blizzard has been foretold, thus far it’s not been a deterrent to my getting out of the house.  Peak winds have been 17 mph so far, and on each day the weather’s been conducive to a long brisk walk or jog.

(2) Having determined new functions for three of my team members, we now add to the previous roles of Cody, Richard and Zazen the duties of musical direction, orchestral direction, and stage management respectively.  This not only takes a load off of me, but also it enhances the overall team spirit, giving a couple of our Actors and one musician more of a role on the team outside of that of being a performer.  It’s all about optimizing each individual’s  contribution while gradually reducing the size of my own role.  And this is a good thing, for the overall team.

(3) Zazen reports that people have sent their schedules to her, and she’s already scheduled a big “Sirens of Hope” rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.  The delegations — and semi-delegations — appear to be working.

(4) Somebody whom I probably need not identify was there for me at my lowest moment, and I felt the love and support that’s real, that’s based on something that’s not only promising in the long run, but tangible in the here and now.   In fact, a number of supportive people then arose to encourage me, and that included most of the members of the team, and beyond.  It has been this great, unprecedented experience of massive love and respect.  Moreover, to top it all off, yesterday there was another unexpected anonymous one hundred dollar donation.

(5) In pastoral counseling this afternoon, it came about that I am to be thankful for this new sense of community that has been formed in our Eden in Babylon team.  And there’s no reason for me to deprive myself of a due experience of enjoying that community, even to the casting aside of reservations and doubts.

“Unity is strength. Where there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
— Mattie Stepanek

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Turns Toward Dawn

Cooper Knutson and Keva Shull singing the song “Turns Toward Dawn” from the new musical Eden in Babylon at a rehearsal this past Tuesday afternoon.   I’m on the Baldwin GP-190 concert grand, and we used one “snowball” mike, situated approximately twelve feet away from the piano, with the two of them standing six feet apart on either end.   It’s raw and real — I hope you enjoy it.   

Andy Pope · Turns Toward Dawn

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Tuesday Tuneup 86

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Paralysis.

Q. Meaning?

A. I can’t move.

Q. Can’t?

A. Well — maybe “won’t” would be a better word.

Q. Can you tell us the difference, please?

A. “Can’t” connotes actual inability. “Won’t” only connotes unwillingness.

Q. Are you saying, therefore, that you actually can move, but only that you won’t move?

A. Actually, now that you mention it, I not only can move, but I probably will move — eventually.

Q. Eventually? What’s keeping you from moving right now?

A. I don’t know which way to move.

Q. Why is that?

A. I could move in a number of different directions. But I don’t know which is best.

Q. How can you find out which is best?

A. Obviously, by examining the nature of each different direction, and deciding which direction is the priority.

Q. Well then! What are the various directions?

A. I could work on the three columns of the five columns in the series that I have not yet turned in.

Q. Columns? Series?

A. You heard me! My editor wants to do a series of my columns, one after another I believe, with some regularity, between now and Election Day.

Q. What happens on Election Day?

A. God only knows. But the point is, I have three more columns to turn in before Election Day. And in fact, I have stated that I would get them done within the next three weeks.

Q. So – is that the top priority?

A. Not necessarily. But it’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Q. What else must you do?

A. I’m getting frightfully near the completion of a die-hard project that I began in June. Only a few short steps remain in order to complete it.

Q. What project is that?

A. It’s called the Ode Project.

Q. Ode? As in “Ode to Joy?”

A. As in “Ode to the Universe.”

Q. What is “Ode to the Universe?”

A. It’s a crazy concept I came up with about ten years ago. I had the idea to write a zany “ode” designed to be sung by anybody at anytime, anywhere around the globe, to the end that maybe we could get the entire human race together at one moment, and sing one song at one time — to the Universe.

Q. Isn’t that a bit ambitious?

A. I can do it! I truly can!

Q. Now is this really a priority on this particular morning, when you have all those columns to write?

A. No no – let me explain. So far I have nine videos of nine people performing the piece in different places and different times, accumulated over the past four months or so. I’m supposed to submit the videos to the videographer, who will then create a nice 3 by 3 set of frames, and —

Q. May I interrupt?

A. You already have.

Q. How long will this take you?

A. Well, I’m nearing the end — I have to do my video over — I think the mix of the nine performances needs to be synchronized a bit better — I can’t quite find the trumpet player’s video – and the trumpeter has not gotten back to me about it —

Q. So you don’t know how long it’s going to take, correct?

A. Correct. It may be nearing completion, but it depends on a number of unknown variables.

Q. So is there anything else you need to do today? I mean, on this very day?

A. Yes.

Q. What, may I ask?

A. I need to add three more piano tracks to this folder, so maybe my cast members will be able to listen to them before we rehearse them at 3:30 this afternoon.

Q. What time is it now?

A. About 10:30 in the morning.

Q. So you have five hours?

A. Correct.

Q. To record three songs on the piano?

A. Well, the sooner I do them, the sooner they’ll have them.

Q. How difficult will that be?

A. Not difficult at all.

Q. So what’s keeping you?

A. Nothing, anymore — now that we’ve thought it through.

Q. We?

A. Don’t you know two heads are better than one?

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Members of the Team

At this time, I thought you might like to see some work from a couple of the very talented young people whom I am so fortunate to be working with on my musical project. Here is Keva Shull, currently playing the part of Taura, the ingenue in my new musical, Eden in Babylon.

And here we have Cody Wendt, the man on the right hand side of the piano he shares with his brother Ian on the left.  Cody is playing the part of Benzo, one of the antagonistic characters in the show.  He and his brother do an enchanting rendition of “Scarborough Fair.”

If you’re interested in hearing other piano reductions of the musical score, I’ve placed them on a shareable link on my Box drive. These are primarily for the purpose of helping cast members learn the music, but you might find them enjoyable all the same.

Other news is that we have finally found a male lead for our emerging production. I’m eager to begin working with Cooper Knutson, who has been recommended very highly by a number of people in the area. Further information is on our Facebook group. Hope you all are gaining encouragement from our group effort, at this trying time in human history.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Awake the Dawn

The team thought it would be a good idea for me to record a bunch of piano-only clips of the songs in the score to my musical EDEN IN BABYLON. This one was done on the famous Green Piano in Rm. 33 (of which I’m certain word must have reached your ears).  The Green Piano is an aging workhorse clunker that’s just perfect for the boom-chuck of musical theatre. And anyway, I read my piece “Awake the Dawn” off of my vocal score, and this is the first time I’ve played the tome from start to finish without missing a beat. A little touch of Edvard Grieg at the end, and we’re in business! Enjoy.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Babylon Interactive

I want to let you all know that I’ve got a playlist now on SoundCloud that will automatically pull up the interactive score to the musical I’ve been working on.   Feedback is welcome — I’m not exactly sure how viable the instrumentation is.   If I want to easily translate it to a live pit orchestra with “real” musicians, this arrangement probably is not optimum.   It does have an interesting, ethereal sound to it, however.

The thing I keep struggling with is the awareness that when I “received” this music, I was walking about the various outdoor venues of the Berkeley, California area, fully believing that the correct orchestrations were as absolute as the music itself, and that all these sounds were coming from Beyond, having originated in a realm of musical consciousness far greater than the confines of my relatively minute human intellect.

The more powerful that memory, the greater the sense in which I feel this music is cheapened by the arbitrary addition of synthetic sounds only remotely related to the real live musicianship that seems to be called for.  On the other hand, when the music was originally being “given” to me, I “heard” it involving sounds that I identified as being of a timbre tantamount to that of a tenor saxophone and a viola soloist.   So my choice to employ tenor sax and viola in my arrangements was not arbitrary.   It’s an attempt to best replicate that which I have already heard. 

The problem with this is that, while it may indeed provide adequate background for singers presenting an interactive production online, it would be difficult to rectify those sounds as being suitable within the typical pit orchestra of a Broadway-type musical.  I could replace them with an increased focus on electric guitars and keyboard-synth, and thus render the interactive orchestration compatible with that of a real-live pit orchestra — one with a rock ensemble flair — but if I do so, I sacrifice the beauty of the expressive tenor sax and viola sounds, as authentically replicating the ethereal sounds that I heard.

One thing to note is that instruments like saxophones and violas are generally found as parts of larger jazz or classical ensembles.  While we do hear sax solos in jazz and other genres, we don’t often hear viola solos.  More often, the viola is a part of a string section.  So I might as well add a wind section, a string section, and a brass section for that matter, if I’m going to involve such instruments.  They sound out of character when played together without some bolstering or support from instruments of their kind.

However, all of this has to do with idiom.  That is, because the ear is not accustomed to hearing passages that involve a sax and a viola harmonizing in descending cascades such as we hear in Sirens of Hope, it rejects the application of those instruments as bizarre.  They don’t match the typical pairing of instruments — a single brassy wind like that, with a solitary stringed instrument in the midrange.  And yet, were we to have such instrumentalists in a pit with ample miking and the like, we could lift their sounds to levels akin the other players – the drummer, the bass, the guitarist and the like.

A final thing to consider is that when the music was being directed my way, it was not with the idea that human musicians were playing it in whatever Ethereral Realm of the Beyond it was emanating from.  Seriously!  The distinct impression I got was that it was being performed in such a way that transcended mere human musicianship.   And if this is the case, then certainly the employment of the software is excusable.  To the ears of the ethereal, human instruments, human devices, and human programs are all one and the same.  They are all equally non-divine.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

 

Gratitude List 1550

(1) Once again I have rediscovered the power of sleep.   Grateful for the blessing of being able to go back to bed this morning and recharge.   Three hours later, I felt thirty years younger.

(2) In the past week, an almost supernatural sequence of events has caused all kinds people to come together in support of my project.   I am particularly grateful for a special ensemble of young people who seem to keep hanging with me, no matter what.  I may be grouchy in my old age, and yet I do not know where else on earth I could have found a bunch of Kids so devoted.

(3) Also grateful for the students I’ve picked up on Skype and Zoom since we’ve been quarantined, and for Zoom meets in general, which are less anxiety-provoking (for me) than the real live gatherings.    

(4) Although I enjoyed completing my Vocal Score, I wasn’t looking forward to the arduous task of creating a piano score.  So I’ve immersed myself wholeheartedly in the more exciting task of creating a full score for the pit orchestra — a score that will be electronically replicated for our interactive production.   The piano part is still the most tedious, but now that it’s a smaller part of a much larger project that engages and excites me, the arduous tedium is worth it.  Grateful for the new confidence that I will not only get the job done, but will do an even bigger and better job in the process.   I’m serious!   I have total new confidence — and the proof will be in the pudding.

(5) It’s a beautiful sunny day at 75F degrees in spacious North Idaho.  Even in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing concerns about climate change, we are still granted the blessing of a beautiful day.   One Day at a Time.   

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”
      –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

 

Sirens of Hope

I’ve been arranging the Opening Number of my musical for our interactive production.  This is a teaser.  It stops and fades about halfway thru the number.   You can check the script and picture the singing that will be coming on later.     

This was done, by the way, with Finale 26 music notation software.  No real human musicians were used at any point.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

 

Musical Script Available

If anyone wants to read the script to my musical Eden in Babylon, I’ve got it posted right here:

EDEN IN BABYLON (MUSICAL LIBRETTO)

I had been working on some revisions, mainly removing some of the harsher “street language,” so as to increase the likelihood it might be produced at the high school level.   Prior to COVID-19, we began discussing shooting for a high school production, since at that level, there is no taboo against producing large-cast shows.   

As an American musical in the tradition of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Eden in Babylon has a cast of 27, which is fairly large.  This makes it difficult to produce in a world that naturally values economy.   The musical is usually rejected these days on cast size alone, without anyone actually looking at the script.

Theatre Masks Clipart | Free download best Theatre Masks Clipart on ClipArtMag.com

I knew this when I was writing it.   But I guess I had a chip on my shoulder.  You see, I like the traditional American musical.  It’s a nice medium between the straight play (Shaw, Albee, etc.) and British Comic Light Opera (such as Gilbert & Sullivan.)  It’s also a uniquely American genre — though perhaps that point can be argued.   

I had this crazy idea that if I used the traditional American musical concept — which is to present life not as it is, but as it ought to be) – and wrote a musical in traditional American musical form, I might just be able to appeal to those who can afford season’s tickets at community or regional theaters — you know, people who enjoy musicals.

And the final Scene definitely does not present life as it is.   But it sure presents it as it ought to be.    So — hope you like my work.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

  

Midnight Screams

I’ve not given you any music for a while, though I said I would.   Here’s Zazen Matossian singing “Midnight Screams”  from my musical Eden in Babylon.  We got the right groove on the song this time, though it could use some development.  Zazen is a junior at Moscow High School in Moscow, Idaho.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

A Musical Note

I’ve been sorely tempted to post one of these two new piano tracks that I recorded on the Baldwin Grand at my church with the help of my pastor’s Motorola smartphone.   This is an especially strong temptation in light of my having promised to post more music, and less written text, at this time of our common trial.

Eighth Note Blue clip art | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart Images

The reason why I haven’t been posting more music can be summed up in two words: technical difficulties.

The reason why I don’t want to post either of these two new tracks is on another plane.  They’re supposed to be piano tracks used in our interactive production of my musical, Eden in Babylon.  If I posted them prematurely, without the other musicians and singers involved, it might hex it.

So, I guarantee you that you will soon see a singer, a bass player, and a pianist (Yours Truly) performing my song “Midnight Screams” in three different places at three different times.   The beauty of it is that it all comes together at once.  

This all is reminding me of a time when I asked a woman to marry me.  She said yes, but told me not to tell anyone yet, because it might “hex” it.  Of course, I told everybody.  Five days later, her ex-husband found out about it, and she was more-or-less forced to call off the engagement.

Oh well.  Perhaps our sudden mutual feeling of having fallen in love was little more than a fleeting infatuation.  Still, I have no desire to repeat past indiscretion.  As you all know, I am virtually already married to Eden in Babylon.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Bubbles Defined

This is probably about the 4th version you’ve received of this one same song of mine.  Heck, I never do play this one exactly right from start to finish!   But this one might well be the most “definitive.”  

Anyway, this ought to tide you over.  I’m waiting for clips from last night’s Open Mike to surface in my inbox.   It might be a while, so enjoy . . .  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Got to Get You into My Life

Another clip from the Beatles show, very early on.  Obviously, I’d not yet grasped that I don’t need to hit those electronic keys quite as hard as the keys on the Baldwin Grand.  (Not that I exactly need to hit the Baldwin keys as hard as I do either.  I just like it like that.)

Dave Harlan is the sound man, the guy who helped put the music stand back on the piano after I hit the keys so hard it fell over onto the floor.  (He also happens to be the director of Eden in Babylon.) Paul Anders on the Cajon, and one can even detect my pastor Norman in the audience, as well as the very kind woman Marilyn who gave me my Howard upright piano for free.   Even covered the piano moving.   Lots of nice people in da hood.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Rosy

Happy Independence Day, to whomever it may apply.   It applies to me in numerous ways, not the least of which is that I finished  a working script and score to my musical Eden in Babylon on Independence Day, exactly one year ago today.  And now, may I present you with a third version of my song “Rosy.”  This is from last Friday’s open mike.

Andy Pope on the Yamaha at the Open Mike
at the One World Cafe, Friday June 29, 2019.
“Rosy” from In Lies We Trust.
Copyright © 2019 by Andrew Michael Pope.  All Rights Reserved.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Auditions Tonight

Auditions for Eden in Babylon begin tonight at 7pm at the Lionel Hampton School of Music.   There will be further auditions Monday at 7pm, with callbacks Tuesday at 7pm, at Moscow First Presbyterian Church.

I have waited seven years for this moment.  If you know what it means (or even if you don’t), please feel free to comment with the words “Break a Leg.”

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

Open Mike

So apparently somebody heard me playing at the Open Mike last Friday and posted this picture on his Facebook: 

Image-1.jpg

I don’t personally use Facebook, but I knew something was up as soon as I hit the downtown main strip this morning.  All these people who know me as a social activist were coming up and saying: “I didn’t know you were a musician!”

By the way, the song I played and sang was The Word from Beyond from my new musical, Eden in Babylon.  The link is to the lyrics, and if you want to hear an instrumental rendition of it on my SoundCloud, be my guest:

Otherwise, I must confess the obvious.  I mainly posted this here in lieu of a piano video because I once again didn’t get it together.  I didn’t get it together because it takes two people to produce those vids — one to play the piano, and one to make sure the recording device (i.e., the smartphone) is mounted in its proper place.  And each of the people who usually help me happen to be on extended holiday vacation.  :(

So, after much consternation, I have decided to postpone the piano posting till next Friday.  At that time, I hope to provide my unique rendition of “Wintertime Love” to whoever is available to receive it.  And may Jim Morrison be rolling over in his grave — with laughter. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

Free “Exile” Playlist

I’ve been under the weather this week and have not practiced my piano piece at all.  I told people I would actually be singing tomorrow — but my voice is not in very good shape.  Still, I’m going to venture forth toward the church in a bit, where that nice Baldwin grand piano is, along with all the very nice people who don’t mind me playing on it from time to time.

So, I might pull through.  I just want to leave it up in the air.  In the meanwhile, anyone who wants my Exile album, or at least wants to listen to it to check it out, but who doesn’t want to shell out fifteen bucks for it, here it is online:

Also, in isolation this week, I have been pondering my life’s direction.  I’ve felt as though I’ve been in something of a lull ever since I finished the script and demo to my musical I’ve been working here and there, on my various projects as well as on the necessities of living.  But my heart, by and large, has not been in what I’m about.

I think this is because I am being cosmically nudged to get cracking on the Eden in Babylon vocal score. I finished the first five numbers a while back, but got sidetracked when I encountered a few setbacks earlier on.   I’ve dealt with the setbacks sufficiently that there’s no real remaining excuse for slacking.

So I’m going to prioritize scoring all the singing parts for Eden in Babylon, and it’s going to have to take priority over this blog.  I found earlier that I was spending too much time blogging, and not getting the vocal score done.  Life does present itself occasionally, and it will interfere with my creative flow.  But in the meantime, there’s no valid reason for not pressing onward with the goal.

So – I’ll try to have something posted tomorrow.  No promises, but you might as well check back in a day or so, and see if anything looks different.  After that, if you don’t hear from me a while, take it to be good news.  Only so many hours in the day, and occasionally one has to get on the ball.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

 

Exile

My third piano album, entitled Exile, is now available on CD for $15 USD, including shipping costs to your postal address. ($20 if overseas)

Image result for exile clipartThe album contains eleven clips from my youtube channel, performed in the past three months; that is to say, August, September, and October.   The sound quality is distinctly better, however, than on the youtubes.  I think you will enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I can’t post these clips on my bandcamp page, due to bandcamp restrictions.  (They only allow originals and songs that are public domain.  No covers.)   A CD is honestly the best way for me to manifest this music at this time.  I hope you have a player in your possession.

Here is a list of the songs you will find on the album (in this order):

  1. Chaos in Camelot — Frederick Loewe, Andy Pope
  2. Brian’s Song   —   Michel Legrand
  3. Killing Me Softly   —   Charles Fox
  4. Hermit   —   Andy Pope
  5. Circumstance   —   Edward Elgar, Stephen Schwartz, Andy Pope
  6. Bubbles Taboo   —   Andy Pope
  7. Berlin-Porter Medley   —   Irving Berlin, Cole Porter
  8. Look to the Rainbow   —   E.Y. Harburg
  9. Autumn Leaves   —   Joseph Kosma
  10. Summertime   —   George Gershwin
  11. The Host Awaits   —   Andy Pope
  12. Together in Turmoil   — Andy PopeGarry Bonner & Alan Gorden

If you wish to buy an album, please drop $15 into the pool by clicking on the word “donate” in this sentence, or at the bottom of the page.  Then, please leave me a postal mailing address on my contact page.   — unless, of course, you live within walking distance of my current abode.  (I walk fast, by the way.)

All proceeds will go toward the production of my musical Eden in Babylon.  I will resume posting piano pieces on this page next Friday.  Thank you all for your support.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Every little bit helps!

 

Hunted

There was neither a speech nor a piano recording this week, for the simple reason that I’ve been relying on the high-quality microphone in my lady friend’s Motorola smartphone in order to make these recordings, and while she’s away visiting our friend on the Coast, I could not manage to locate another device.

On another level, however, I am still dealing with enormous exhaustion after having put my all into the creation of this new musical, Eden in Babylon, and having at last received the recordings on the demo for that musical.  The third and final song in the demo, my song “Hunted,” is below.

Hopefully the present innervation precedes a future innovation.  It’s going to take quite a bit of ingenuity to instigate the initiation of this initial production.   I can’t just sit at home idling with incessant alliterations, to no avail.  I have believed in this message to the Mainstream of Modern American Life.   Now all I need to do is make sure the message is heard.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The Very Same World

In lieu of offering a speech this week according to schedule, I’m writing to let you know that I’ve received the 2nd number from my Eden in Babylon demo.  It’s “The Very Same World,” (link is to lyrics), and I’m posting the demo now.

I should have the third speech in my new series, entitled “Homeless by Condition, Part Two,” posted by next Wednesday or Thursday, or thereabouts.   If you feel like going back and listening to the first two speeches, here they are:

Homeless by Condition, Part One

Homeless by Choice

Finally, if you want to make an any-amount donation and help me produce my musical about homelessness in America, now’s your chance.    At this stage, every little bit helps.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 17

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.  You are a part of me.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Quick, spot-check tuneup.  I know, I know — it’s Thursday, not Tuesday.  I’m two days late.

Q. Why so late?

A. Exhaustion.  Sleeping round the clock ever since July 4th, for eight days barely fitting in all the things I’m supposed to be doing in this world.

new-beginning-quotes-picturesQ. What happened on July 4th?

A. Independence.

Q. Independence from what?

A. From Eden in Babylon. 

Q. You were — enslaved by Eden in Babylon?

A. I was indeed.  Enslaved by my own work.

Q. And now you are free?

A. In a very real sense, yes.  I need no longer belabor this script.   It’s as good as it needs to be, in order for me to submit it.

Q. Don’t you need the demo in order to submit it?

A. The demo is on its way.   The pieces for the final mix are coming in.  Listen to this one, the first one — you gotta admit it’s not bad:

Q. Who’s the singer?

A. Her name’s Erika.  Very good singer, classically trained with a degree in Voice, and having musical theatre experience.  Obviously, she put her whole heart into it.  I acknowledge her in full, along with the sound engineer, on the credits.

Q. But don’t you need more than one song on the demo?

A. They’re on their way.  I’ve heard drafts of the mixes.  The engineer is in the process of preparing a final mix.   It won’t be long now.

Q. And then what?

A. Then I package the show, of course.  I send out packages to theatre companies who accept submissions of new musicals.  And also, to theatre companies where I’ve worked in the past, or where I know people with whom I’ve worked, people who might think well of me from the start (as opposed to hearing from a total stranger.)   

Q. Won’t this cost money?

A. Gee, I thought you’d never ask.  Of course it will cost money.  And this could take a long time.

Q. Won’t that be a drag?

A. Maybe.  But the way I look at it, it’s all part of the process.  It could take a long time, or it might not take very long at all, depending on how it’s meant to be. 

Q. What if it’s not meant to be?

A. Oh, it’s meant to be all right.  If it weren’t meant to be, it wouldn’t have gotten this far. 

Q.  But once you’ve sent out your script and your music, won’t you have to wait to hear from these companies?  For months on end?  Possibly years?  What if you never hear from them at all?

A. Then there’s another alternative.  Rather than put most of the money into submissions, put only a little bit of the money toward that aspect.  Say, 20%.  The other 80% will go toward funding a trial production — a local production, renting out a local house that will be ideal for the show.  And then — inviting key people to the production.

Q. So then you can invite the people to whom you’ve submitted the show to come to this local production?

A. Yes.  And not only them – but all kinds of other people.  We’ll run the show for six nights only, over three weekends.  

hartungQ. Can you get this venue for three weekends in a row?

A. If I start soon enough, I can.

Q. How much does it rent for per night?

A. Two hundred bucks.

Q. So that’s $1200 you need already?

A. More than that.  Add an extra four nights for tech week, and make it $2000.  Plus, they provide the technical staff, and I have to pay them $15/hr.

Q. And won’t there be other costs?

A. All kinds of costs.  I need to print out scripts.  I might need to rent a rehearsal space, some building on campus somewhere, a space to use only to rehearse.  Then of course I have to hold auditions somewhere, and get a cast together.  Prior to that, there will be advertising costs.   This thing could cost me hella money, let’s face it.

Q. Won’t there be some kind of return?  Or profit margin?

A. I wouldn’t say profit.  But a partial return, in terms of box office receipts.  Even for the trial production at the perfect 400-seat theatre I have in mind, there will be ticket costs.  I won’t let people in for free.

Q. So some money will be coming back?

A. To somebody, yes.  Maybe that can go to the investor, or investors.

Q. Investor?  Investors?

A. Yeah.  That’s what I’m thinking,.  Some detached person with little more than a monetary interest, might kick down some reasonable sum of money in exchange for box office receipts, and a small profit.

Q. But will that be enough to produce the show?

A. Naw, it would only be a jump start.  A drop in the bucket, maybe.

Q. Where will the rest of the money come from?

A. Grants.  Loans.  Financial aid.   LP sales.

Q. LP sales?  

A. Yes.  First off, I’m trying to sell my LP.  I’ve managed to sell over 15 CD’s – you know, hard copies, to people in the hood who like my stuff.  But online, last I checked, only two people had bought one.  And they were both, like, friends of mine.

Q. Isn’t that discouraging?

A. I try not to think in those terms.  I just have to push harder.

Q. But doesn’t this all go against your grain?

A. What grain?  You gotta do what you gotta do.  And relax in the process, knowing that the outcome is inevitable.

commitmentQ. Inevitable?

A. Inevitable.  It’s meant to be.

Q. How can you say that?

A. I just can.  I just know.  It has something to do with the nature of complete commitment, and forging forward continuously, despite obstacles.  

Q. But how do you know that your commitment is complete?  I mean, if you did nothing but sleep for eight days after you finished your script, that hardly indicates the kind of commitment that suggests hard work and fortitude.  

A. Maybe not.  But it shows how much work went into that script, and why an eight day crashout would be warranted.   And besides, there’s a universal nature to all of this that plays upon my very laziness, the very burnout of which you speak.

Q. How so?

A. It’s like this.  Whenever I sink, whenever I crash, whenever I begin to feel that the whole project is random, and senseless, and pointless, and useless, and doomed to failure from the start, something happens in the Universe that alerts me back to the program.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Take for example when this demo came about.  I had all but given up on the project.  I had turned my attention to other things, more tangible, lucrative ventures.  But at that very moment of disillusionment, the sound engineer appeared, willing to provide his services for free.   This revitalized me.

And then, the money for the singers manifested at the exact time when we could do the studio work, and I could actually pay them.   Saving up for months to pay competent, trained singers, actually worked.  It was frustrating having to scrimp and save, while former associates of mine, people with money to spare, were only laughing at me and scoffing at me.  But they too were a provision of the Universe.

Q. How so?

A. They provided the Resistance.  Without resistance, there is no creation.  Without an enemy, there is no battle.

Q. Then this whole thing is a battle?

A. Yes. I am at war.

Q. At war with whom?

A. With you, to be truthful.

Q. Why me?

A. Because you always question everything I do.  

The Questioner is silent. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup Seven

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I have a very good idea, yes.

Q. Then why have you summoned me?

A. Time for a tune-up.  Missed last Tuesday, just needing to operate more effectively.

Q. Effectively?

A. You heard me.

Q. Is there something about the way you’ve been operating that is particularly ineffective?

A. Well – maybe not about my own modus operandi.  But about my work, which in essence is the product of my operational procedures.   Take my piece in question: Eden in Babylon.  The script, while effective in many places, is extremely ineffective in certain spots — as has recently been revealed to me.

Q. Revealed to you?  You mean, supernaturally?

A. No – not supernaturally.  This particular revelation was imparted on the part of earthlings.  But these were no mere mortals who conveyed the information.  I’m talking about a panel of MFA playwrights.   People who are definitely “in the know” when it comes to such concerns.

Q. A panel?  You don’t say?

A. I do say!  

Q. And when did you appear before this panel?

A. On Thursday night,  which was the scheduled reading and critique of Eden in Babylon here at the local One World Cafe.

Q. The scheduled critique involved a panel?

A. As it happened, yes.  

Q. Can you clarify this, please?

discussion-clipart-group-of-readers-hiA. I’ll do my best.  You see, it turned out that not many Actors were answering my advertisement for the upcoming reading.  This threw me into a minor despair, which I articulated to one of the Actors, who happens to have an MFA in Playwriting from the local University here.   

His response was to round up his own crew of fellow MFA Playwrights — people who critique scripts like mine all the time.  I was impressed with their professionalism, with the way that they expressed their observations honestly and eloquently, without emotional attachment one way or the other to my piece.

This helped me to detach myself from emotions that would have interfered with my accepting their observations reasonably.  As a result, I gained very much from what they had to offer, and I am wholeheartedly going about making the script more effective than it was before.

Q. Really?  How so?

A. You don’t expect me to answer that, do you?

Q. Why not?

A. I’ll give away the story.

Q. But what about all of us who are so eager to hear this story?

A. Then all of you are just going to have to make it possible for me to tell it now, aren’t you?

Q. Whatever are you talking about?

A. You know what I’m talking about!  Daylight’s burning.  We’ve got a show to produce.  

Q. What??

A. Kick it down, clown.  We don’t have all night.

The Questioner, presumably, is silent.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Good News

For the past week or so, I’ve been sitting on some pretty majorly good news as far as the progress of my musical project is concerned.   That I haven’t even brought myself to blog about it may seem a bit hard to believe.  But the news came out of the blue, and it shocked me — and I basically haven’t quite known what to say.

Friday before last, I was approached by a very reputable figure in the local Arts scene, someone who has his hand in a lot of different activities, and who is also a respected sound engineer.   Long story short, he offered me full use of his studio and his services in order for me to put together a demo recording featuring songs from my musical.   

singerHe also comes connected to specific singers and voice professionals in the field of musical theatre.  So he’s confident he can find the singers for me that my own less informed efforts have not been able to find.   The singers of course will need to be paid, but his own services will be provided as a gesture of one theatre Artist helping out another, for the overall sake of the Arts.

Since this has long been an important goal of mine, one would think I’d be overjoyed.  However, any elation I might have originally felt was quickly consumed by the awareness of how much professional preparation lay ahead of me.   Now I have to select three songs that will best demonstrate the musical score, and prepare the vocal parts for the specific singers involved, both in terms of written music, and of mp3’s for them to listen to.  In addition, I have to make sure that the instrumental tracks for the three songs are perfectly polished, so as to provide compelling accompaniment for the singers on the demo.

Once I have all that stuff prepared, I am to send it to the engineer, so that he can distribute it all among the singers.   Then the singers in turn do their homework, so that once we finally get into the studio, everybody knows their stuff, and the engineer’s time is optimized.  So – this could be a really great thing.

As far as the pay factor, the price I quoted for the engineer was $125/ singer.   Earlier, I came up with a $700 budget to pay the singers and get the other odds and ends of the demo together.  Right now, there’s $325 in that fund.  I’m only using four singers, so $500 is all I need to pay them.  That means I need $175 more.  If seven people each were to contribute $25 to this cause today, I would have all the money I need for the singers, right there.   

I also got another article published in the March edition of Street Spirit and you can click on the link for that.  I want to do more writing along those lines, having to do with homelessness and classism, as dealt with in the musical as well.   But for the present time, the unexpected musical calling is consuming me.  It might be a while before I fully surface.

So once again, if you feel you can help at all towards the rest of what I need to produce this demo, now would be an excellent time for you to consider doing so.  In the meantime, I’ll keep cranking out these parts.  Maybe it will all time out just right.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tune-Up

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Not exactly.  But I don’t think it’s relevant.

Q. So why have you summoned me?

A. Tune-up.

Q. Squeaky wheels, eh?

A. They’re the ones that get the oil.

Q. Are they?

A. I’m honestly not sure.  I’ve tried to believe that.  I’ve read the Parable of the Unjust Judge enough times to have figured it out.   Or the Parable of the Nagging Widow, or whatever they call it, depending on the emphasis.

Q. Do you empathize with the Judge, or with the Widow?

A. I said “emphasis” not “empathize.”  I don’t empathize with either of them.

Q. Then why are you trying to act like one of them?

A. Because I’ve been led to believe that it will work.

Q. What will work?   Nagging?

gavelA. Yes — or so I’m led to believe.  You know the story.  The widow appears before the Judge with some certain request that he at first denies her.   But she just keeps appearing, and showing up in Court, and reiterating her request ad nauseum, until eventually the Judge breaks down and grants her the request, just to get her off his back.

Q. And so you figure that if you nag everybody enough, they’ll eventually break down?

A. More-or-less.  That’s what I’ve been figuring, but it obviously doesn’t work.  I am either never going to get the money to do this demo recording, or I’m going to have to go about it some other way — because no matter how many times I plead, I still see the same hundred bucks in there that I saw a long time ago.   Sure it was encouraging when it first showed up — way back when — but it’s pretty damned discouraging to keep checking the fund site, only to find that nothing has changed.  I finished the musical almost a year ago and have been trying to move onto the next stage since then! It’s frustrating!!!

People set up “go-fund-me’s” for all kinds of things these days, and get the money.  Some of the causes aren’t even worthwhile, if you ask me — yet they still manage to come up with the bucks.  Here I wrote this entire musical, I’m only trying to get basic money together for the next step in the process, and nobody will help me.   Nobody.

Q. But some people have helped you on occasion, haven’t they?

A. Yeah, but they’ve helped me — not my project.   I keep telling people; I don’t need personal help anymore; I’m meeting my own personal needs, thank you.  I’m not sleeping in a gutter anymore; I’m not panhandling – I’m not begging for change on the streets.  I’ve tried to go about this whole thing decently and honestly, but where has it gotten me?

I set up a separate fund for this thing — or rather my friend Danielle did — and we still can’t get any money together.  I’ve been as honest as I can be; and that doesn’t seem to help.   What am I supposed to do?  Turn around and start feeding people a load of bullshit in order to try to get this show on the road?   That would fly in the face of everything I stand for; everything the musical is all about.

Q. Andy, have you ever considered that maybe this isn’t the time to produce your musical?

A. Painfully, yes.  Of course I have.   I’m a  Christian, and I figure God is closing the doors until a time of His choosing, not mine. 

Q. And do you not see His many blessings in other areas of your life?

A. Sure I do!  At times, I am even grateful for them.  But that doesn’t automatically put an end to my frustration.  I spent five years trying to get this script and score finished – through seemingly insurmountable obstacles – in order for it to come to this.   It makes me feel as though I wasted my time on some pipe dream.

Q. Where is your faith?

A. That’s the $64,000 question.   And I’m only asking for 1% that amount.   So – I’ll try this one more time, but honestly, that’s about all I can take of this.   All these stupid donate buttons go against my grain.  Not to mention, they soil the picture of this blog.  I’m about the least materialistic guy on the planet, and they stick out like a sore thumb. I don’t need the gavel of an Unjust Judge to validate my mediocrity.  I’m bigger than that.  I’m better than that!   I’m an Artist!!   I’m an Artist — and I hate money.  I hate what it does to me, and I don’t like seeing what it does in others.  I’m an Artist. Somebody else manage my damn money!! I’m an Artist! I want out.

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Limitations of the Divine

I truly abhor the process of having to search high and low for money to get this show packaged.   I truly do.   These are not the words of a scammer, a hustler, or a con artist.   They are the words of a frustrated, serious Artist who happens to hate money with a passion, and who prefers not to ever have to even think about it.   I do not live in a world of financial gains and losses.  I live in a world of Music, Art, and Writing — and whatever gains and losses there may be —  well, they basically come with the territory.

limitationSo hopefully what I just wrote on my Proposal Page will be written for the last time.  I’m bright enough to be able to discern that every time I make this pitch, I sound a bit more desperate.  But it’s like I said earlier, I feel like I’m racing against Alzheimer’s trying to get this show on the road.   I understand that $700 is a considerable chunk of change in just about anybody’s world, but if I could at least get something toward this venture, my spirits would sure lighten about the whole thing.

Otherwise, there are still positive signs of impending progress.  I heard from the lady at the University, who approved of my detailed character descriptions and suggested I also make flyers.  I found a zealous young fellow with a degree in Marketing who wants to help me with the flyers and other such details.  So maybe he can make monetary proposals that sound a wee bit more professional than the super-honest gush of laying my heart on the table that you will read on my Proposal Page.

But that gush is me – at the moment anyway – and I’m not about to change it.   I just want it to be over.  I want to get the money for the singers and the overall package, and get this damn show on the road.

Like I said, all other systems are go.  The workshop will probably begin within the next two weeks, with or without singing.  It will be a bit of a stretch trying to figure out what to do during all of the musical numbers, but you know, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  And God has a Will.  And a Way.

Problem with God is, he just doesn’t sign checks.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Another Article Published

Every morning I get up and make a pot of coffee, equaling four cups in my cute little coffee maker.

Then, I pour the entire pot into this gigantic cup I have, which holds one quart of beverage.

So, when I claim to be down to “one cup of coffee a day,” know that I am not exactly lying. However, I am not exactly telling the truth either, since the single cup is actually four cups worth. In other words, every morning I get up and drink a quart of coffee.

This, combined with forgetting to hydrate, might have something to do with why I had a splitting headache all day yesterday.  So I drank a lot of water throughout the day, especially last night before bedtime, and also in the morning.  The headache went away eventually – but it sure lasted a long time.

In a way, it’s a good thing I got the headache.  It served as a buffering force to keep me from becoming too overjoyed after receiving the shock of my life, and seeing that another one of my articles has been published, this time in Street Spirit. The thrill of having two articles published in two different places two days apart — after not having anything published for my entire life until five months ago — would have been too much for me, had I not been granted the annoying headache, which effectively distracted me from my budding over-elation.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised by this, because I had earlier sent reams of work to Terry Messman, the publisher, permitting him to use any of it that he saw fit, and edit it in any way he felt was appropriate. I made that decision after discovering that I completely trusted his editing, and also completely concurred with his vision. But I was still stunned by the sudden publication, partly because of its proximity to the previous publication, and partly because of the hugeness of the way that I was personally gifted by his use and placement of this particular article:

Breakthrough

Church1-248x300
Homeless Man Resting on Church Steps – Jonathan Burstein

For one thing, he gave me the entire back page, so that somebody could easily see my name simply by picking up a paper and flipping it quickly front and back. For another thing, he selected an article based on a blog post of mine that clearly led up to a plug for my musical and a request for money to help me move this project forward. Finally, the article selected was just about the most revealing thing I’ve ever written in my life.

And this is a good thing. There’s something about honesty that has power, especially when the honesty is consistent, and extended over a long period of time. I’m also finding that, in this world based largely on appearance and affectation, real gut level honesty is relatively rare. I think that we as Writers are fortunate in a certain regard, because when we sit alone at our desks and pour out the pieces of our passion, there is nobody there to filter or judge our words, to tell us that our beliefs are unwise or socially unconventional, to discourage us by telling us that we’re full of malarkey when we’re doing our darndest to get the salient truth out to a conceivable readership with whom those particular truths might resonate.

So anyway, I’ve been doubly blessed this week, and this coming on my having locked myself out late at night a couple days ago and felt forced to rent a hotel room for the night before finding my keys at the grocery store lost-and-found in the morning.  My Starving Artist status will be assuaged somewhat when I get the two paychecks for the articles. Hopefully it will be enough to pay my Internet bill and buy groceries, without which I’d have been totally strapped.

Speaking of which, the topic came up the other day at the Recovery Center where I volunteer, how there are two subjects that are considered taboo in our culture, and yet almost everybody has issues with both — sex and money.

Sometimes, when I talk about either of those subjects too much, someone will become really frustrated and even tell me to shut up — which reaction is probably a large part of why these subjects have become taboo.   We’re just not comfortable discussing them, and we’re not often comfortable hearing about them.

I say this — and yet there is a donate button on almost every page on this site.  Why?  Because I finished a certain musical a matter of months ago, and I am not able to package the musical and send it out to theatre companies, with a decent demo recording sampling some of the songs in the show, because I simply do not have the money to do so.

Believe me, I hate the sight of all those donate buttons, and I cannot wait till the day comes when I can joyfully remove them all!  The idea of promoting a project about which I am passionate in the same manner as one might sell a used car frankly makes me nauseous.  Once I get the money, can hire the singers, can buy a microphone, can make the demo, can afford postage to send out the packages, etc. etc. etc., all those obnoxious buttons will be removed, and I can breathe a sigh of relief, go on to the next stage, and hopefully never have to ask anybody for a buck and a half again.  You know why?

Because I don’t want any bucks.  I want to live a quiet, reclusive, healthy life for the rest of my days, as modestly as possible, until the day I die.  It’s not so much that I don’t like what money does to people, because I’ve met an awful lot of really nice rich people, as well as a few pretty mean and nasty poor people.   So it’s not that (in case anybody’s ever wondered.)

What I don’t like — is what money does to me.   And if you knew some of the whacked out decisions I have made on a couple rare occasions when I suddenly received a lot of money out of the blue, you wouldn’t like it either.  That’s why every penny of these donations goes to my friend Danielle, who knows how to handle money  — which is one great gift that I do not happen to have.

Another great gift I don’t have is the Gift of Brevity.  Therefore I will close.  But if you want to know how much money I need and exactly where it will be going, go ahead and fill out the contact form.  You might be curious as to my immediate budgetary needs, whether you personally can help or not.

Enough said!

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

The Charisma Monologue

There was a certain charismatic figure who dwelt within the Realm.
He had a charming smile,
a compelling style,
and hypnotic, dark green eyes.
His academic lectures and topical orations
received standing-room-only standing ovations.
His musical concerts were roundly applauded,
his literary works acclaimed and belauded,
his products and services widely promoted,
his slogans and sayings repeatedly quoted,
round and round the Realm.

But the more he gained in influence and clout,
the more the ruler of the realm felt threatened,
so he sent out a number of clandestine scouts,
to glean information as to what, after all,
this most mysterious figure was really and truly about.

And yet, all the while, in his secret spot of sacred seclusion,
the vibrant visionary kept valiant vigil,
and carefully crafted a culture of the future,
where no one would reign,
nor would any be ruled,
and no stigma remain,
for all would be schooled,
and taught to be equal in all the essentials –
not equal in power, or wealth, or credentials –
but equal in something far more germane;
that is to say, equal in rights.

So upon the completion of his grand design,
the famous folk figure then issued his claim,
arranging to meet with the ruler by night,
and to kindly submit without conflict or fight,
the plan for the realm that would set things aright,
but how he was shocked to encounter disaster!

For just as he ran up to greet that staunch master
Did handcuffs and clamps have him brutally bound,
And bayonets aimed at his heart bid him pause,
As the ruler declared: “How dare you defy the divine book of laws!
Down you must go to the depths of the Earth
Where you’ll learn not to doubt the full scope of my worth!”

But as our friend fell,
through all of that hell,
he still dared to gaze
at that hoarder of praise,
And left with the monarch a song to his shame,
that no measure of might could contest or defame,
for the plan he had crafted
would later be drafted,
to the glory and honor of the human name:

in a world where not one will look down on another;
in a world where we all will be sister and brother –
And destined to sing in one voice and accord
Before all who have called themselves Master or Lord –
In a resonant blast,
in a chorus resounding
beneath the most luminous, shining dark sky
On that night, when at last
freedom will be abounding,
On that night, Man and God shall be equally high!

“The Charisma Monologue”
from the new musical Eden in Babylon
Copyright © 2018 by Andrew Michael Pope. 
 All Rights Reserved.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Turns Toward Dawn

This has been a very strange and telling phase in my life.  While I’ve not seen myself make much headway in the areas where I have typically been placing my focus, I have noticed that progress appears to be taking place on a completely different level.   This is the second time in recent months when the desired progress toward the production of my new musical appears to be at a standstill, but yet an unexpectedly bright happenstance is seen taking place on an entirely different plane.

The first time was during August through October, when I saw five of my short pieces on the homeless phenomenon in America become published in Street Spirit, a Berkeley-based periodical dealing with such issues, distributed throughout the East Bay Area and in Santa Cruz.   (A sixth article, by the way, was published in the November issue, which unfortunately has not yet made it online.   The article is called The Class Gap, and is based on my blog post The Voices That Count.  The link on the title is to a pdf of the full page devoted to my story.)  The sudden opportunity for publication in the hitherto unexplored periodical coincided with a dry spell in my own efforts to persist in pushing my musical toward production.

Similarly, in the past two weeks, I really haven’t progressed at the desired rate with my usual push to produce the show.   But I have seen the community here come to embrace my piano playing on the local level, which is something for which I have been silently longing.  First, on Wednesday the 29th, I had the opportunity to play for the annual holiday dinner hosted by the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute.

There were probably close to a hundred people there. All nice people. I played jazz standards like I used to play when I had a regular piano job in the 90’s in the Bay Area.  I got paid for the gig in cash, and made decent tips, too.  I felt so good about it all, and was so appreciated, that it made me want to do it all the time. Imagine if only I could make that kind of money on a regular basis! I wouldn’t have to do anything else in life, other than rejoice and relax, I suppose. I mean, I’m sure that binding obligations would arise as usual, life being life. But it would sure solve a lot of problems.

The most flattering part of the night was when a critic named Donna from the Tuesday Night Critics Group showed up. She put a tip in my jar and said: “I’m the one who emailed you raving about your new musical.” Then I remembered that I’d met her briefly when I had shown up for critique one night. She went so far as to read the entire show and write to me in detail. It was funny too, because she had an idea for a device in the last Scene that I had to admit was a good one, and I wound up using it in the second draft that I finished on November 8th. She hasn’t read that version yet, but I assured her it was in there.

Then, last Tuesday, December 5th, I played the piano for the Community Event of Remembrance, when every year people in the community gather to commemorate those who have passed away in our lives throughout the past year. Usually the music is provided by whoever does the stuff at funerals, but for some reason they had to back out at the last minute. So I was called.

I believe I did a good job, despite myself. I think I selected appropriate music for the prelude and postlude, as well as an interim processional when everyone was approaching the tree to be given an ornament representing the one who had died in their life.  There was a tenor from the Evangelical Free Church who directed the hymns and sang special music at the piano. I was otherwise at the Baldwin grand piano, and messages were delivered by the priest from St. Mary’s, the pastor from the United Church, and my own pastor.  It seemed very well-coordinated, despite little rehearsal.  Moreover, it was a very meaningful event, where people were in no way disingenuous or full of affectation, but extremely real and genuine, authentic, and without hypocrisy of any sort.  Afterwards, I received a number of very kind compliments.  People seemed genuinely moved by my presentation, which was a little odd, considering how detached I felt from it all. But it was definitely an honor to have been given the opportunity, and it was good that I rose to the occasion.

Otherwise, I’m on the new computer now. I found one like it on Amazon — it lists for $875. It’s a pretty amazing machine, came with 8gb installed RAM and an Intel i7 processor, 2.8ghz. It’s a real blessing. Having a new computer is kind of like having the new apartment. It gives me a chance to start afresh, and not make the same mistakes I made last time. It’s also about as much better of a computer than my last one as this apartment is a better apartment than my last. So there’s a positive sense of moving up in the world.

One of the first things I did with the new machine was upload this you tube of my playing piano at Moscow First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday the 30th.  It came out surprisingly well, especially considering it was recorded using my pastor’s iPhone.  But in a way, that gives it a raw, uncut quality that I believe informs its artistry.  It’s amazing what kind of effect a fine piano can have on one’s musicianship.

 

Well, I need to get to church and sing with the Choir.   I wanted to make sure I got this stuff to you beforehand.   I did – so now I can relax!   Hoping you all have a blessed Sunday.  Take care, and God bless.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

About That Insecure Creative

“A successful writer is one who finishes what they start while striving to improve their craft. It’s as simple as that. And the only one who can stop you from doing this is you.” – Hugh Howey*

If any of my more regular readers got the idea that perhaps I was obfuscating a hidden agenda behind the seemingly innocuous postings of three successive morning “gratitude lists,’ then I must concede.   That idea is sound.   While trying to hold everyone at bay by posting my gratitude lists, I have secretly been absorbed in the task of cleaning up both the lyrics and music to The Oracle Sequence at the end of Act One of Eden in Babylon.

This is something that I can and must do. When I wrote that sequence, though I was “on fire,” I was also quite hasty in places.  And I knew it at the time.   I knew it — but I buried it beneath the sense of fiery inspiration that I permitted to delude me.  I found thrilling the mere fact that I was finishing the Act at all.   Add to that the sense that I actually stood a chance of finishing it in a dynamic way — a way that would intrigue and delight the audience, and give them all something to talk about during intermission — and believe you me, I was overjoyed.  So overjoyed was I, that I readily overlooked the rough spots, vaguely expecting myself to patch them up later (that is, if I remembered to do so, or even decided to bother).

But then, after I had the great revelation reported earlier, I found I could no longer overlook these glaring errors.  It was time for me to perform the logical clean-up, and not to feel bad about myself in the process.   So I set about to do so.   But I kept getting snagged.   Snagged, for reasons that themselves seemed trivial, if not maddening.  Maddening, in the degree of power I rendered them, despite their insignificance. 

For example, I gave one verse of very quickly spewed, poorly written lyrics to three of my strongest supporting characters.  If those had been real life Actors, playing those characters, I’d feel as though I had dumped on them for assigning them those lousy parts.  All three of those characters, as later developed in my second complete draft are worth more to the world than the lousy lyrics I threw down on them. They’re my babies — I need to bless them with better lyrics.

Sad-alone-cute-girl-playing-guitar-sunsetNot only that, but in my haste, I took no thought as to what keys all these different characters should be singing their bits in the Sequence.  Right after the verse I just mentioned, for example, the ingénue Taura begins to sing a solo to the main theme of the song “Oracle.”  All the lights should be lowered and all the previous frenetic conflict be dissolved, as she begins to sing this song of spiritual calling.   It needs to be her defining moment, where she sings to her guitar, as they all are gather in Nature, in the Outdoors, beneath the Stars.  This is only her second solo in the show — and it is the first one that features her voice en masse before the multitudes, rather than restricted in a romantic setting between her and Winston alone.  Obviously, this crucial performance of hers should feature her voice in its optimum range.  But alas, as I just now have confessed, I took no thought for such a practical matter, so infused was I with the creative fury at the time. 

As a result, Taura winds up having to sing this theme in the key of G, with notes much too high for the contralto whom I have intended her to be.  I cursed myself.  “What an oversight!”  I exclaimed.  Yet at the same time, I recall having furiously sped from one section in the sequence to another, overlooking every peccadillo in my path in the spirit of honoring the long-awaited arrival of the finishing of the first Act, which arrival now loomed imminently on the near horizon, a virtual, visible certainty of a happy event to come.

So I consoled myself with the memory of past faith.  I figured that if I had faith beforehand — way back when — even as I plowed over every glaring error in my path like a bulldozer — I could probably summon up that same faith, and use the present day as an occasion to atone fully for my earlier carelessness, and craft the End of Act One in a manner befitting a musical of this caliber.  

When I began to exercise this renewed faith, the landscape brightened considerably.  True, the lousy lyrics were the devil to replace.  Moreover, I had to change the key in that section, in order to create a key that could easily modulate into a better key to spotlight Taura’s voice during her solo.    But  then, with renewed faith, I realized that I need not be enamored to the music itself in the section where the lyrics fell short.  I now could write new music along with the new lyrics, and make that section more transitional, and less overt.  Ah!  It all began to come together, at last.

And it continues to come together.  What is the difference?  Only faith.  Only being open to new and better gifts from that great Beyond whence all ideas are formed.  And people may mock me and scoff, if indeed they pay any attention to me at all.  I hear their imagined voices already:

“Will you never stop messing with this thing?
It’s been years now, Andy!
Get off of it! Get real!”

It puts me on the defensive, to have to answer to such objections — real or imagined.  I want to say I’ll stop messing with it when somebody finally picks it up and decides to produce it — and not a minute before.  But that’s a line of malarkey – blatant baloney and balderdash.

I’ll stop messing with it when I’m finally tired of it, and when I finally abandon it.  That’s the naked truth, unveiled.  I pray this happens before someone picks it up, and not after.  If it doesn’t happen till after, I could be hell on any production staff unfortunate enough to have picked up my baby while still in the womb.  Let’s hope for an on-time delivery.  In my heart of hearts, I wouldn’t want it any other way.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

(* The Hugh Howey quote comes courtesy of  M. C. Tuggle — a blog well worth the read, by the way.)

The Spool of the Spirit

Haughty eyes and a proud heart — the unplowed field of the wicked — produce sin.
— Proverbs 21:4

It’s been pretty crazy in my world the past few days.    I’m feeling like I owe my readers some kind of explanation.  And, at the same time, I’m feeling that my readers probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Yesterday I freaked out totally over my aging computer’s refusal to cooperate with what I had judged to be an inspired fifteen-staff template for the accompaniment score to my new musical.  The very concept of this score is something that suddenly dawned on me in a flash, giving it the feel of revelation.  In an instant, a solution to two separate problems was revealed to me — both of them longstanding issues that had kept me at a disturbing standstill with regards to my major project.   For a long time, I had been stymied by a pair of dark realities, acting in concert, one with another.  That dastardly duo of dynamics would probably best be described as such:

(1) My inability to motivate myself to create, not only a gargantuan piano-vocal score (the p-v score to my last musical taking up 242 pages on a single 6.4mb pdf file), but even a much less tedious vocal score, which probably would have consumed 100 pages at the most.  

(2) My inability to create an attractive enough package, in terms of a listenable instrumental recording of my show tunes, to attract competent singers to work with me on a demo recording.

Because I saw myself become extremely frustrated over both these issues shortly after I finished the first draft of my musical on March 4th of this year, I did not want to repeat the experience after finishing a second, more polished draft only a couple of weeks ago.  I would not want the upcoming months to be like the months following the March 4th milestone.  Yet I felt the frustration start to churn inside my belly, causing brutal upset at a time when I had expected to remain inspired! And behind that frustration was confusion.

I was confused which way to turn.  It seemed on the one hand that, if only I had sufficient money, I could attract singers to my demo project, simply by letting them know I had the cash to pay them.  But I wasn’t coming up with such money, and I could not realistically expect to do so.  So I began to contemplate that my appeal would need to pique the interest of these as-yet-unknown singers, without my having money, solely on the basis of the quality of my work.  This of course is a much higher, if not loftier, artistic objective.  So I began to ponder how to pursue it.

Although I was not too astonished that I didn’t want to embark on another 250-page piano-vocal score, it somewhat disturbed me that I was equally unwilling to dive into a mere vocal score. even though this would be a much less arduous task.  At first, I attributed my resistance to sheer laziness.  This disturbed me.  No one likes to think of themselves as a lazy person, and I would hope that my prolific prodigy, at least with respect to my own Art, would already have been adequately proven by now.

I could feel the deep depression seeking to take root in my spirit.  It was an all too familiar, and quite unwelcome, almost terrifying sensation.

But then, at approximately three in the afternoon last Saturday, something wonderful happened.  As I played with the Finale music notation file of my song The Word from Beyond — the central song of the charismatic protagonist Winston Greene — I realized that I could solve both problems at once in a way that would not cost me any money at the start, and yet keep my enthusiasm for my work renewed.   This realization was based on the revelation that a piano-vocal score, much as it would seem a basic requirement to package the show, is simply irrelevant to the kind of show that Eden in Babylon is, in a modern, technology-driven era.

What, after all, would be the purpose of a piano-vocal score?  It would be for a rehearsal pianist to accompany the singers during rehearsals, and a conductor to conduct the orchestra during performances.  But does Eden in Babylon need a rehearsal accompanist?  No, it does not.   And does it need a live orchestra?   No — it doesn’t need that either.  So why bother?

Many shows are rehearsed these days using a rehearsal CD of an accompaniment similar to that which the singers will hear during the actual performance.  Also, many shows are produced using a recording of a live orchestra.  I’ve seen such shows at theatre companies such as the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.  The singers themselves provide the live element, and usually the audience cannot even tell that the orchestra is “on tape. “

In such performances, the role of the conductor has been altered from that of tradition.  The conductor now conducts the singers on stage, usually wearing a head-set, with which he or she merely listens to the orchestra on a recording.  

As I remembered this modern fact, I saw how it applied nicely to my own new musical, and how I could employ my expertise with Finale music notation software to inform a superior production.  For with Finale, I can replicate the sound of a pit orchestra, using the sounds of the Garritan Personal Orchestra that comes with the software.  With only a few more instruments to the template, and I would have my fifteen piece pit orchestra — without having to hire or pay a single musician.

So I set about to create the fifteen staff template described in the previous entry.   Unfortunately, however, the result of my inspired fury will live in the annals of infamy.

icarus fallingMy archaic computer simply could not handle the stress of the added instrumentation.  As it complained beyond repair, my sense of inspiration plummeted to new depths of despair.  I likened myself to Icarus, who dared fly ever higher and higher, and finally too close to the sun.  As a result, his wings were scorched, and he fell unsupported down to the Earth.  His highfalutin plans now “toast.” 

As my computer collapsed, so did I myself collapse in kind.  For what are our computers, really, but extensions of our own selves?  My self-collapse turned quickly into rage, as my class issues were aroused.   

“A rich man,” I thought, “could very easily replace his broken computer.  But me?  This could set me back for months!”  A bizarre combination of envy and indignation engulfed my spirit.

So I called a sympathetic friend from my church for emotional support.   The upshot was that the fellow gave me far more than mere consolation.  He actually wound up offering to help me with the purchase of a brand new computer!

What an unexpected relief!   For now, the bizarre boulevard on which broken dreams are strewn shall neither sport nor boast my own dreams so abruptly spawned.  For the spool of the Spirit on which such dreams are spun is a spectacle of wonder, cherished like a treasure buried deep within my core heart of hearts, in a place hitherto invisible to others, and now, in a way most mysterious, somehow becoming unearthed.  With the emergence of supportive friends in my life, the energy with which I go about constructing the Template of My Dreams need not be aborted or delayed.   I can move forward still, and mount the music of Eden in Babylon in a manner befitting the marvel that I have inwardly dreamed it to be.

I can easily extract the vocal score from the much larger score that I’ve already endeavored to build.  It will be nothing compared to the larger edifice in which it rests.  If people chide me for going about this the “hard way,” they know nothing of labors of love.  Yes, it will be a lot more work — but it will be a work of wonder that I attack with passion, not a work of drudgery that I avoid with dread.

I can also again rejoice in the miracle that is Moscow, Idaho in my life.  Back in Berkeley, people would understandably look at me and shrug, thinking: 

“Andy sure has a problem!  How can we help him to solve it?” 

They would shake their heads at a loss, and I would shake mine with them.  But here it is a completely new and refreshing dynamic: 

“Andy’s got something to offer! How can we help him to offer it?”

If you can feel the force of such a huge dynamic difference, then you can feel the fact of a former futility transformed to new promise, and purpose, and joy.   I wouldn’t trade my life today for my life of many sorrows past, for all the riches flaunted by every wealthy fool on Earth.    

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The Template of My Dreams

There is a lot of pent up frustration inside me right now.  My computer pretty much crashed earlier, and I lost it emotionally. I’d just gotten geared up to use a new template I’d created for the instrumental accompaniment score to this most recent release of Eden in Babylon obviously the winner in my book. With added instruments from the original score, it amounts to two drum sets (midi trap and electronic GPO kit), Fender jazz fretted bass, clean Gibson electric rhythm guitar, distortion Ibanez electric lead guitar, solo viola, string section, Steinway grand piano, Hautwerp all stops organ, tenor sax section, trombone section, trumpet section, harpsichord, and flute solo.

I was gleeful as I created a new sound for Winston’s central number, The Word from Beyond until all of a sudden BAM! I overloaded the system entirely and soon was faced with a total crash.

I was able to recover my file, and start over after I let the machine cool down a bit, but things were pretty dicey there for a while. The old 2011 Dell Latitude was distinctly complaining. I, meanwhile, freaked out, as I said. Screamed and yelled and cussed. I was pretty pissed.

While I was still angry, I called a friend at my church for emotional support.  After a lengthy conversation, he agreed to help me with a new computer — although that was not the initial reason why I had called him.  He believes in me.  He feels that I truly need a new computer by now, and that my project is of value. I sent him my tune in its current condition. (I don’t dare add the singing to it — even my own measly voice — at this unstable, highly tenuous stage.)

So, when he asked what my requirements were, I decided to err on the side of caution.  I woudn’t want to get a computer with similar specs to the current one.  So I shot for bigger and better than that.  Boldly, as it were, I asked him to get me a Windows 10 machine with 6gb RAM and at least a dual core 2.7ghz processor, hopefully one with a wide screen.  I asked this huge boon of him in a spirit of necessity — because as far as further future Finale music scoring is concerned, this puppy is toast.

“The Word from Beyond”
from the new musical Eden in Babylon

Copyright © 2017 by Andrew Michael Pope.
All Rights Reserved.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Another New Development

There’s been another new development — possibly even a breakthrough – insofar as my goal to produce the new musical Eden in Babylon is concerned.  

It looks like there’s a very strong chance that the University will permit the use of their Theater Arts students in a reading of the script, to be held at some point after the 14th of January.   

This came about when my assistant Danielle asked me if I had ever thought about simply walking into the Theater Arts Department with a hard copy of my script, and asking if they had any ideas as to how to expedite a work-in-progress production.  I had to tell her honestly that the thought had never crossed my mind.   For one thing, I really didn’t have a script with which I was completely comfortable until a little over a week ago.   Nor was  the first coil-bound copy of the script created until six days ago.   So it seemed like an idea whose time was ripe.

The reception I received at the Department office far exceeded my expectations.  The Media Relations Assistant turned out to be a wonderfully warm and supportive person.  During a very pleasant and informative chat of about a half hour or so, I was advised of the Department philosophy: 

“Plays are not meant to be read —
they are meant to be acted, directed,
and produced.”

So while they would not read my play further than a quick skim, I was assured that if I sent them a email letter of intent with script attached, my email would be forwarded to all undergraduate and graduate Acting students in an effort to encourage their involvement.

group-reading-2The MRA also told me that my having a large cast (27) would actually work to my advantage in this context, because students are typically much less intimidated with the larger-cast projects than if, say, it were a cast of two.  She said that they generally are enthused about the large group effort, and eager to participate, free of charge.

Because I had been expecting anything from a cold shoulder to a run–through-the-ringer, I found the brief encounter to be a catalyst to further inform my path.  It occurs to me that I might as well take the vocal score to the School of Music and ask the director of the jazz choir if there are any singing majors who would like to sing on a demo recording of the project.  it can’t hurt.  And who knows?  They might even work for free.

In general, I don’t feel the sense of postpartum that I felt last March after having given birth to such a huge baby.  At the same time, I know a few things about my bipolarity as it can manifest over the long-term.  If for no other reason than to stave off another period of deep depression and artistic frustration, I think it behooves me to optimize the current energy — and strike while the iron is hot.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!