Music Composers Unite!
I'm a mostly self-taught composer working on an opera that sets a prose text. The time signatures change wildly to reflect speech rhythms. I am writing it for now in piano/vocal with lots of instruments indicated textually. I came to a measure where I have vocal line and bass accompaniment, but no treble line. The measure is in 13 32. The treble line has a 16th note downbeat for a chord with the other lines. I decided that for the rest of the measure, I wanted the treble line to be three steady pulses, all the same length, without a rest. I think this may require a tuplet to write properly on the staff in the given time signature, but this is a moment where my training isn't up to the task I have in mind. If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it. There are tuplets throughout the score, but in this particular case, I'm having trouble measuring it out properly.
Can we see the score as best as you have been able to make it match your goals?
My scanner is in storage, so I'd need to get to a library branch that offers scanning. I wrote three eighth notes, but that's too many beats, while three dotted sixteenths is too few. Double dotting would still leave me short.
13/32 is not the most friendly of time signatures especially when working w a group.. It is just a tad over a beat and a half for the measure...
There are different ways to approach this, but not seeing the score, I first would posit shaving off one of the 32nd notes, and making it a 3 eighth note measure.. offering the obvious subdivision
…or you could make the 3 beats - 4 - 32nds , + 5 - 32nds, + 4 + 32nds… or some such… but this seems to be an unnecessary complexity… if you are working w performers, it will be a vulnerable spot..
The time signature is determined by the vocal line, which is a sixteenth, a dotted sixteenth, a dotted eighth, and an eighth. The words are "back of her neck." The full sentence is "The back of her neck begins to throb."
That's the challenge of setting a prose text as an opera and not wanting it to sound forced. The character who sings this portion is a first person minor narrator. This recit starts in 3 8. After 3 measures it goes to 2 8, 9 16, 2 4, 3 8, 4 4, 9 8. 2 4, 6 8, 9 16, 13 32, 3 16, 15 16, 21 16, 25 16, 4 4, 13 8, 3 8, 3 4, 4 4, 3 4, 2 4, 3 4, 23 16, 17 16, 9 8, 5 4, 19 16, 2 4, 4 4, and not yet specified. The music follows the natural rhythm of the text rather than the other way around. Kind of like Steve Reich's Different Trains, only sung rather than spoken.
Yes, and/or perhaps the rhythms should be lengthened (of the whole section) by double for easier figuring.. as I said..13/32 is Not a friendly measure to figure - especially as you mention (in another post, ? where you say that You are having trouble reading your own rhythms to sing)!!) that the time sig. is shifting a lot
"The music follows the natural rhythm of the text rather than the other way around. "
Yes, I get that… but one's task, arguably, as a Composer - is to translate that in such way, that it is not so hard to figure on the fly for the players… otherwise - trouble ahead…
but, if you are convinced - then by all means, put a tuplet on a 13/32 measure in an ensemble context. good luck!
How should I write that tuplet for the effect I want?
"especially as you mention (in another post) that You are having trouble reading your own rhythms to sing!!"
Here is Your quote from the other post:
"the music is difficult enough that even if I tried to record only one line at a time, it wouldn't be in the correct rhythm), and I'm not the greatest sight-singer, either (writing is not memorizing, especially when I haven't looked at a portion in a while.."
I didn't say that. I just said I'm not that good at sight-singing in general, and that others have had issues with my handwriting.
Yes, you did… here is the whole quote:
From the 'attorney's post'..
am working on an opera based on a copyrighted sources. The owner of the copyright is Marvel Comics. I have written four times for permission to use their content but have not gotten a response. Clearly, they're not going to pay any attention to me. I'm not passable on any instrument except my voice (the music is difficult enough that even if I tried to record only one line at a time, it wouldn't be in the correct rhythm), and I'm not the greatest sight-singer, either (writing is not memorizing, especially when I haven't looked at a portion in a while), so I can't present them with anything but sheet music and a libretto that's maybe 70% complete. Changing all the names solves nothing, because I am setting, for the most part, the original text (I don't even credit myself as the librettist, just with arranging the text and writing some additional). The primary author, to my mind, is a genius, and, when he was alive (he passed away in 2008), he hated adaptation, for which one can hardly blame him if one has ever seen how far the films based on his comics strayed from what he did (including name a racist security guard after him). I know Lionsgate owns the film rights to the lead character of the opera, which has kept him out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for now, although he has been mentioned, and one of the principle characters (who did not appear in that film) appeared in Iron Man 3 (despite never having appeared in an issue of Iron Man). I don't know if that means Lionsgate owns the right to any potential operas based on the material until they sell the option.
You didn't even respond to my suggestion:
"or you could make the 3 beats - 4 - 32nds , + 5 - 32nds, + 4 + 32nds… or some such… but this seems to be an unnecessary complexity…"
I must move on to other things now. Good luck.
Again, no I did not say I was having difficulty reading my own rhythms. I attempted to teach myself piano many years ago, but only got so far. The coordination was a problem for me, and my parents never got me piano lessons even though I begged for them. They thought some video tapes would help me when what I really need was a coach. It has nothing to do with reading my own rhythms.
Feel free to disregard this post, if you like.
Personally, I might tend think that setting prose to music is a problem. Consider how many different ways there are to say most any line in Shakespeare. The actor gets to say the line just the way they feel it should be said. If you set that line to music, it will get based on how you (not the actor) would say it. What's natural rhythm for you might be less so for a singer. Good song lyrics can also be read aloud. Prose was never intended to be sung.
I'm not saying you shouldn't try it. I'm suggesting that you shouldn't try to be so literal and use so many odd meters. This needs to be fun to listen to.Make it musical.
Just my opinion.