Friday, April 23, 2010

MT-Land and You, part I

For collaborative pianists, ignorance is never bliss, especially when it comes to repertoire. On the other hand, the reams upon reams of existing repertoire ensure a pianist can live lifetimes without learning it all. 'Standard repertoire' is a body of literature much easier to scale, and in academia, beginning pianists generally do so within a few years. Musical theatre rep differs, however, in that classical voice teachers generally stick to, well, the classics. This usually gives the average CP student a minimal amount of exposure to a very marketable field. For further exploration, try this:

The easiest way to learn a lot of MT standard repertoire is through the collections called Singer's Musical Anthologies (there are several). Checking out audition websites like this and that can show you what singers are singing a lot. Also check out the following composers - I've listed their shows and popular songs in parenthesis:
  • Jason Robert Brown - Songs for a New World (Stars and the Moon, I'm Not Afraid, King of the World), Parade (You Don't Know This Man, Old Red Hills, It's Hard to Speak My Heart) and The Last Five Years (I'm Still Hurting, Shiksa Goddess . . . really, the whole thing). Also check out Wearing Someone Else's Clothes just because its good
  • William Finn - A New Brain (And They're Off, Sailing), Elegies (Infinite Joy, I am There), 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee (I'm Not that Smart, My Unfortunate Erection, I Speak Six Languages)
  • Stephen Flaherty - Seussical (Notice Me, Horton, Alone in the Universe), Ragtime (Your Daddy's Son, Wheels of a Dream) - also be aware of Once On this Island, Lucky Stiff, A Man of No Importance and Dessa Rose
  • Adam Guettel - The Light in the Piazza (The Beauty Is, Light in the Piazza, Love to Me), Myths and Hymns (Hero and Leander, Migratory V, Awaiting You), Floyd Collins (How Glory Goes) and the song Baby Moon
  • Andrew Lippa - Wild Party (Look at Me Now, Life of the Party), YAGMCB (My New Philosophy) - also check out jon & jen
  • David Shire - Closer Than Ever (Miss Byrd, What Am I Doin'?, If I Sing), Starting Here, Starting Now (Crossword Puzzle, Autumn, I Don't Remember Christmas), Big (I Wanna Go Home, I Want to Know, Dancing All the Time) - also check out Baby
  • Steven Schwartz - Wicked (Most of it), Children of Eden (Spark of Creation, Lost in the Wilderness), Pippin (Corner of the Sky, Extraordinary), Baker's Wife (Meadowlark, Where is the Warmth)
  • Jeanine Tesori - Thoroughly Modern Millie (Not For the Life of Me, What Do I Need With Love, Gimme, Gimme) the Girl in 14g, Violet (Let it Sing)
  • David Yazbek - Full Monty (Man, Breeze off the River), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Here I Am)
  • Maury Yeston - Nine (Guido's Song, Unusual Way), Titanic, Grand Hotel (Love Can't Happen)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Musical Episodes of Note

Musical episodes on TV amuse me. Quite a few have been made with varying degrees of success, and for some reason I was motivated to list my favorites.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Once More, With Feeling episode was great, and is very popular among Whedon fans
  • How I Met Your Mother's 100-episode musical Suits, featuring the talented Neil Harris
  • Glee does Van Halen's Jump
  • Daria even has a musical episode, which seems so odd for their main character
  • I wasn't that impressed with Scrubs' version of a musical episode, and think J.D's daydream scene was more entertaining
  • Six Feet Under used musical moments to lend insight into the characters. Well done ones include David's fantasy life, Claire's work daydream, Claire's head over heels moment
  • That 70s Show tried - probably the Turtles cover (:55) was the best of that bunch
  • Family Guy does a lot of musical bits, and You've Got A Lot to See stands out
  • Monsters, Inc's scene is the most heartwarming. It's in the closing credits - skip to 3:13 to watch their musical, "Put That Thing Back Where It Came From, Or So Help Me!". The restaurant scene reminds me of some high school performances I've been to, actually.
I read that even House, among other unlikely shows, will have a musical episode - which no doubt would feature a love duet with Cuddy and a power ballad about Vicodin. Just what we needed.

Occasionally there are episodes featuring the performers just singing - these are my favorites:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our Patron Saint

Our Lady of Perpetual Diet Coke

The patron saint of pianists, Our Lady of Perpetual Diet Coke, often intervenes in practice sessions and rehearsals. She bestows energy and vitality upon her devoted followers who make pilgrimages to her shrines.

Natalie Dee is awesome.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Musician Meets World

I find the ancient Chinese curse, "May you have an interesting life" the most accurate saying in relation to a collaborative pianist's lifestyle. Our ever-changing musical partners and venues can be many things - but they are rarely boring. When a gig meanders into the ridiculous arena, I am occasionally reminded of a Friend's episode*. Mainly I'm thinking of the scene where Rachel, struggling to work in her chosen field, is complaining to Monica who is also struggling to work in her chosen field. A quick summary of the interaction, taking place at a diner where Monica works:
Rachel comments: "Oh god, I hate my job, I hate it I hate it - oh, I want to quit - but then I think I should stick it out - then I think . . . why should such a person stay in such a demeaning job just because it is remotely related to the field they're interested in?"

This earns a sharp look from Monica, currently wearing huge false boobs and a blond wig (as required for
her present job), who replies, "Gee, I don't know Rach. Order up! I got a Yentyl Soup, a James Beans and a Howdy, hold the Doody."

Their conversation earns a giggle from an eavesdropping customer who sympathized, "I've been there - I had to sort manikin heads at Manikins Plus" . . . (
the scene continues).
Monica's acute awareness that talent, training and experience are currently utilized doing [insert inane gruntwork] is a genius moment, while the costume highlights her plight beautifully. At some point or another, most working pianists have been there (gruntwork = $$ = good). In situations like these, the best way to keep a good attitude is to find some way of amusing oneself. I like thinking of dumb TV sitcoms, for example.

*Incidentally, this was in the same episode which shows Chandler feeding jello shots to his dog statue. This has nothing to do with anything. I just find it endearing.