Tag Archives: instrumental music

Everything’s Coming Up Rosies: the musical, Part 2

Back in early 2015, I was the Composer in Residence for Opera Colorado’s Generation OC – Page to Stage program. As part of this program, I worked with the theater department at Elizabeth Middle School. They took the play Everything’s Coming Up Rosies by Christina Hamlett, (which takes place during World War II) and turned it into a musical. Here are the third and fourth songs I wrote for their lyrics.

In “It’s Men’s Work,” Roy and Carl (trumpet/trombone) have too much work to do in their factory, so Roy’s Wife Faye (horn) offers to help, but they tell her that it’s ‘men’s work’ (it’s dirty, she wouldn’t like it, etc.). She tells them all of the experience she has taking care of children, cooking meals, sewing socks, volunteering, washing laundry, etc… running the ‘business of home.’ With all the men going to war, there’s work that needs to be done, but who’s going to do it?  It’s women’s work!

In “Chorus of Rosies,” Vivian (flute), her friends (oboes), and a woman named Rosie, are now working in a factory. They sing while they work, including a chorus of ‘We can do it!’ It’s hard, dirty work, but they are independent women, working as a team, who are just as good as men. They are serving their country by being tough and strong to keep the factory moving until their men are brought home. They stop abruptly when Carl walks in with a message for Vivian…

Tune in next month for the final two songs!

Everything’s Coming Up Rosies: the musical, Part 1

Back in early 2015, I was the Composer in Residence for Opera Colorado’s Generation OC – Page to Stage program. As part of this program, I worked with the theater department at Elizabeth Middle School. They took the play Everything’s Coming Up Rosies (inspired by Rosie the Riveter) by Christina Hamlett (which takes place during World War II), and turned it into a musical. Here are the first two songs I wrote for their lyrics.

“The Happiest of Happy Days” starts with a group of girls (oboes) laughing and reading their friend’s diary about a cute boy named Frank. After scolding her friends for reading her diary, Vivian (flute) prepares for her wedding to Frank in two weeks. She’s getting butterflies wondering if she should wear her hair up and what she should use for her ‘something blue’ when her father walks her down the aisle in her grandmother’s dress. Nothing could ruin her perfect day!

Frank finds out that he has been drafted and has to leave in three days for basic training. In “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You,” Frank (cello) tells Vivian that he doesn’t want to leave right after getting married. He understands that it is difficult for her, but he has to go. Vivian (flute) tells him that she doesn’t want him to leave before they’ve gotten married. She understands that it is important to him, but she still doesn’t want him to go. What about all of their plans and dreams? Frank tells her that he can’t stay while they’re at war and that he has to do his part to keep her safe. They can get back to their dreams when he comes home, because good things are worth waiting for. He will take her love with him and think of her every day while he is gone. Vivian agrees to let him go, but only if he promises to come back. Frank promises to come back if she will wait for him. She promises to wait for him, and they can finally say goodbye to each other.

Tune in next month for the next two songs!

Music from an Opera about Mummies that was Never Made, or ‘Ramses’ the Stand-Alone Composition

During my undergrad at the University of Rhode Island, I read the book The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice. I had the overly optimistic idea to compose an opera based on the book and began working on some musical themes. For many reasons, the opera never happened (if you know Anne Rice and think she might be interested, give her my info), but I had this short piece to show for it. Originally, it was written for rock band and strings, but I recently rearranged it for rock band, choir, and full orchestra.

Music from the film ‘Aura’

In the summer of 2017, I scored the short film Aura by Linh Ngo for the Denver 48 Hour Film Project. I recently condensed the music to create a short, stand-alone soundtrack for the film. Here is a synopsis of Aura so you can read along while listening to the music (in the media player).

A woman walks into a board room and puts a gun on one end of the table, and a second gun at the other end. She takes a seat at the middle of the table and adjusts her makeup. When we see her face in the compact mirror, it is in black and white, with a white glow. There is a flashback to a week earlier.

While she is walking outside, she runs into a male friend of hers who she had lost touch with. He confesses to her that he misses having her in his life, and she sees a similar white glow around him. A day later she meets with her female friend and sees the same white glow around her.

Our main character goes to see an oracle, and the oracle tells her that if she sees the color blue in someone’s aura, then that person is her soulmate, but if she sees red in the person’s aura, then that means that she has met her greatest enemy. Our main character has seen both, but doesn’t know which is which because she is colorblind. The oracle gives her a reading and tells her that in a week, she will be together with her soulmate and mortal enemy, and there will be death, but upon death, the aura is so bright that even someone who is colorblind can see its color.

Returning to present day, in the board room, our main character answers the door to first her male friend, and then her female friend. She has them sit at each end of the table, by the guns. She tells them both that her enemy will try to kill her today and that she hopes her soulmate will save her. In an instant, they each pick up a gun and fire! Our main character is unharmed, but she sees that both of her friends have been shot dead… and both are glowing blue. Reeling from the revelation, our main character picks up one of the guns and shoots herself in the heart. As she lies there dying, she sees her face in her compact mirror… and her face is glowing red.

(When I am composing a piece that deals with colors, there is a ‘spectrum scale’ that I use for color associations. For the colors of the auras in this film, I used the note G for the color red, and the note D for the color blue.)

Music from the film ‘Synthia’

In the summer of 2015, I scored the short film Synthia by Linh Ngo for the Denver 48 Hour Film Project. I recently condensed the music to create a short, stand-alone soundtrack for the film. Here is a synopsis of Synthia so you can read along while listening to the music (in the media player).

A father is playing on swings with his  daughter (in her late teens or early 20s) who is reluctant because she thinks she’s too old. We see that something is not quite right in the sky behind them. They are startled and turn around to see a giant alien spaceship. Flaming debris begins to fall around them as they run into the house. Once inside, the father starts packing as the daughter begs to know what’s going on. He only insists that they have to go, RIGHT NOW. She goes to pack some essentials, but on the way to her room, stops at a closed door that gives her a troubled feeling. She opens the door, and inside, there is a life-sized doll, missing an arm… with her face! As she is investigating it, her father interrupts her, telling her that she shouldn’t be in that room, but then he notices an alien creature outside the window, so he runs off. She follows, and when she gets to the kitchen, she comes face to face with the creature her father had seen outside. The creature studies her for a second, but then pushes past her to get to her father, who shoots it with a shotgun.

When we see them next, the father is wearing a white lab coat, and he is running diagnostics on his daughter, who is actually a replicant. When he is satisfied with her status, he permanently disables diagnostic mode and reboots her.

Her human personality returns, and she is confused, with only vague memories of the recent past. After a heartfelt moment between father and daughter, there is a huge explosion in the house that sends them running back outside where they are ambushed, and her father is fatally wounded. With his last bit of strength, he touches her face, looks into her eyes, and whispers, “save us.” As she cries over his body, we see that the distant sky is filled with a massive aerial battle of jets vs spaceships… and the spaceships are winning.

Music for a film about sumo wrestlers who join a college football team

A few years ago, I auditioned to score a film about sumo wrestlers who join a college football team with a lobster as their mascot. I composed a marching band ‘fight song’ for The Lobsters (listen for the sound of their claws clicking), as well as a taiko drumming theme for the sumo wrestlers. The track I submitted features: The Lobsters’ Fight Song, The Sumo Wrestlers’ Theme, The Sumo Wrestlers’ Theme with added drumline (signifying the conflict between the sumo wrestlers and the football players), and The Lobsters’ Fight Song with The Sumo Wrestlers’ Theme played simultaneously (signifying that they learned to work together).

P.S. I didn’t get the gig.

Nerds That Geek Theme and Nerds That Speak Theme

A while ago, I composed a theme for the Nerds That Geek website, as well as a theme for the Nerds That Speak podcast. They sound similar because the main rhythms I used are Morse code for the letters ‘NTG’ (-./-/–.) and ‘NTS’ (-./-/…). So far, you can hear the Nerds That Geek Theme used in interviews from Denver Pop Culture Con 2019 here (Interview with Dacia Arnold at DPCC 2019) and here (Interview with C.R. Richards at DPPC 2019). Stay tuned to the Nerds That Geek podcasts page for upcoming Nerds That Speak podcasts. In the meantime, you can listen to the two themes in the media player.