Characters: Saladin (Sally) and Electra (Aleck) from Mark
Twain‘s short story, The $30,000 Bequest.
The story is part of a collection called $30,000 Bequest and Other
Stories published in 1906. According to Buffalo
Library, the title story was written in 1904. In it the author is not only playing with the
influence of money, but probing the dynamics of a marriage.
In terms of voice-work, the town the couple are from,
Lakeside, is a small rural community in the far west of the USA. Musically, I decided to adapt the characters’
lines from Chapter 2 as this is where the couple have found out about the money
they are to inherit from Uncle Tilbury and are getting ahead of themselves in
planning how to best spend or invest it.
The energy as the characters bounce off each other was very appealing. There are a few different tunes going on in
this piece; one is the pencil-tapping melody I call the ‘logic’ tune, but there
is also a ‘romantic’ tune, which is when the couple throw caution to the wind.
I’ll publish the lyrics in a separate post for those who are interested.
From classic writing, I thought I’d go with The Raven, by
Edgar Allan Poe.
So why this poem for the first animal challenge? Because it is another classic piece (written
in 1845) and combines an audiobook style with the chance to enhance it with the
sounds of a raven.
The text can be found on Bartleby.com, whilst an audio recording read by Christopher Walken can be heard on SoundCloud.
Let’s look at the words first. According to the Wikipedia entry, the raven ‘visits a distraught lover, tracing man’s slow
fall into madness’. The story itself is
a supernatural journey of torment. Add
to this its complex rhythm and meter combined with with internal rhymes, there’s
a lot to work on here.
The other part is of course, the animal noises. Not only is the raven ever-present, it speaks
in human tongue, crying out “Nevermore”. You can hear how different the raven sound is compared to the caw of the crow. They are in fact incredibly talented at producing voices,
which I wasn’t expecting! There’s even a clip of a Raven saying “Nevermore”!
So, with this background, it’s time to combine the animal
sounds with the musical rhymes of Poe’s poem.