Harold and The Purple Crayon – Part 1b (Day 75)

Harold posterOkay, I probably overwhelmed you with all the musicological commentary in my last post, so I’ll go easy on you today. This music is for the remainder of Part 1 of The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon – the part of the show that follows the story line of Crockett Johnson’s original 1955 story.

In this section, Harold draws a mountain and climbs to the top of it. (This is the easy, swinging 5/4 section, which builds up like a round as he climbs.) He slips off the mountain and falls, but quickly rescues himself by drawing a hot-air balloon. (The falling is depicted by a recurrence of that 5/8 figure from the Prologue, and the return of the swinging 5/4 motif shows he’s out of danger and borne aloft in the balloon.)

In the next section, Harold grows nervous as he draws more and more windows and feels more and more lost, and the music follows suit. When it comes time to ask a friendly policeman for help, the mood relaxes, and the music eventually makes a transition to the “Coming Home” theme I introduced in the first measures of the Prologue. Before that theme reaches its final cadence, however, there is a recurrence of the mysterious music from the Prologue, as Harold sees spooky objects in the shadows of his bedroom.

The procedure I used to create the score for Harold was new to me at the time, but I’ve used it with each of my Enchantment projects since then and it seems familiar by now; I’m using the same procedure, in fact, for The Brave Little Tailor, which is currently on the drawing boards. The director and the cast create a version of the pantomime and stage action working to temporary “dummy” music. Once they are satisfied that the stage action tells the story satisfactorily, this working version is recorded on video. I then approach the composition of the music like a film score, loading clips into either Finale or Garageband and composing music that follows the action beat by beat. The tempo and mood of each beat are supported in the music, and the changes correspond to transitions that occur in the action. I can then review these working versions of my score with the director and creative team to make sure they’re happy with the direction I’m taking. Along the way, I determine what sort of instrumental combo I’d use, a decision based on both artistic and budgetary considerations, so that I can orchestrate the cues and plan for them to be recorded. Once the tracks are recorded (with some overdub wizardry) and edited, I bring them back into the rehearsal room for final tweaks and sound effects. Since the music and sound also had to coordinate with the digital video that Robbie Molinari was creating, there was a great deal of back-and-forth of versions in Adobe Premiere, and Dropbox was a crucial application in our workflow. Meanwhile, the actors learn to adjust the phrasing and execution of their movements to the audio and video world they now inhabit. The work was painstaking and detailed, so that the finished product could play with utter naturalness and seeming spontaneity.

Tomorrow, Harold travels to Mars, where he encounters some scary Martians. Stop back tomorrow for more music and more magic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *