Music For A Play

Two years ago I wrote the music for the play “Rodina” created by the Norwegian theater production company Last Ink. I thought I’d share the some of the process of that with you.

I was brought on board pretty early in the process and before rehearsals began, I started playing with musical ideas based on a very rough script. The actual content of the play was developed during rehearsals in Stockholm. So I brought a travel studio and set up shop at Dramatiska Institutet where the rehearsals were happening. It was a very organic process where I would watch the two performers work on the choreography and then go back to my room and write. Then I’d bring the demos back to try out with the performers. There was no dialog in the piece, everything was communicated physically through acrobatics and dance. And because there was no dialog the music became almost like a third character. Being used to scoring films, where the timings are usually pretty set by the time I start working, this was an entirely different process. Even though the actors rehearsed every move, the timings would still differ slightly every time they performed the scenes. So instead of hitting specific points, I had to find a general feel of the scene and translate that into music. And I had to memorize how their scenes where developing to get a guide to roughly how long the music should last and where it should turn. What was interesting about it was that the music became an entity of its own. It wasn’t slaved to picture in the way it is in film. In film the picture sets certain limitations to the music. It directs the tempo and sometimes forces the music to change time to fit perfectly. But in this process the music could more freely unfold because there were no absolutes. There was more of a mutual relationship where the music would direct the scene just as much as the other way around.

Working on a play also allowed my to go a little farther out there musically. There was room to play with less expected textures and musical turns. It was more about creating an original piece of art than trying to please an audience. This felt very rewarding and liberating as that sadly oftentimes is not the case. Especially after working with commercials where it’s all about selling and appealing to an audience.

I loved how being part of the developing process allowed me to involve the cast and crew in the music. There are foot stomps, voices, even a burp (!) from the cast and crew in the music as well as sounds from the props used in the play. An old radio plays a big part in the play and I used a lot of sounds from that radio as percussive elements. I also had some amazing musicians on board (including Arve Henriksen on trumpet).

Here are a couple of tracks from “Rodina”:

Power Trip

Who Broke The Radio?