Ben’s been working on the soundtrack for several months, based on the lyrics in the script and the research and development period we carried out with Benji last spring. But this was the time to really pull all of those workings together, and to find in their midst the true, beating heart of the musical language that will play such an intergral role in the telling of this heartbreaking tale.
Here’s Ben himself, on how that week worked out:
“The music week allowed Benji and I time to go through all of the music (the songs were all written by this point) and explore how the tone / feel of the music aligned with that of Benji’s overall vision of the play. We read through the script from the top and talked about the moods / intentions / subtext behind each scene and how the music could be used to reinforce these ideas.
We experimented with the arrangements of the songs, trying the songs on different instruments, at different tempos, etc. Benji was keen for the music, wherever possible, to have electronic elements and to further use my voice to add layers of vocal harmonies. When writing the music I wasn’t sure how much space there would be for these layers of my vocals. I was mindful that I didn’t want to distract too much from the cast’s singing parts and from the narrative, so it’s useful to know that Benji didn’t see that as a problem. This allowed me more opportunity to work these ideas in.
With the aim being to create as much of the music live as possible (using the loop pedal to build layers), I played the songs live and built up and stripped back the layers as I would during the performance, working out the feasibility of performing these arrangements.
Benji is keen for the music to continue, in the most part, throughout the whole play. We worked out which instrumental pieces worked best underneath the spoken dialogue and adapted these to work with each specific scene. We talked about using ambient sounds (such as hospital sounds, traffic sounds, etc) and where these could be best placed. We also talked about using found sounds to work into the arrangements, such as playing kitchen utensils to build up a percussive loop which would then form the backdrop to a song set in the café.
I found the music week very helpful indeed, as did Benji I think. It allowed the opportunity for us to look closely at both the script and the music, and look at what direction the music needed to take. Now I have a clear idea of what is needed for each song and I am in the process of re-recording all the songs with their new arrangements."