I really enjoy composing music for live theater. It’s a great challenge to quickly tap into the artistic intent of a director, and compose music that really works with the production. The styles are up for grabs: jazz, orchestral, acoustic, electronic…that’s part of what makes this so fun.
The examples below are about fifteen years old, so the audio production quality is nowhere near what I’m capable of with today's technology. For some current examples of my non-theater music, please check out my electronic jazz band. I also create soundtracks for online videos and animations; you'll find examples on my multimedia page
Il Teatro 450, San Francisco, April-May 2000
Set in a near-future world, “Henceforward…” is about the compulsion of a technology obsessed composer who records his family in order to make his music, appropriating their most private moments for his compositions. This production won three Dean Goodman Choice Awards.
This play was of particular interest to me, because it is about a composer, and we hear several of his compositions during the course of the play. I recorded the actors’ voices, and composed music based on those recordings.
Love Music: Throughout the play, the protagonist records audio samples on which to base his great “love” composition. Towards the end of the show, he uses a single recording of his ex-wife saying “love” to build his piece. Since this play is set in the future, I actually recorded actress Oonagh Kavanagh saying and singing love several different ways, simulating the use not-yet-invented forms of audio processing to turn a single spoken word into an array of sounds.
Laugh Music: I used a single laugh as the basis for another one of the protagonist's compositions.
Jon Lukas’ sound design and music add intriguing layers to the production without overpowering the intimacy of the playing space.
The digital video…is crystal-clear and hilarious, as are a variety of sound effects, including personalized cell phone beeps (the phones themselves are the size of a pencil) and Jerome’s fragments of musical composition
Il Teatro 450, San Francisco, April-May 2001
“Life During Wartime” is an edgy black comedy about the paranoia and corruption that lurk beneath the slick surface of suburban America. This production won nine Dean Goodman Choice Awards.
Originally we planned to use transition music before each scene, but thanks to some ingenious staging and solid pacing, music was only necessary at the start and end of each act. Still, setting the right mood and sending the right message was important. I created several jazz pieces (with programmed bass and drums) to bring the audience in and out of each act. Phillip Greenlief plays tenor sax.
Opening Music: This piece starts the play off with energy and momentum, but leaves room for the dark undertone that unfolds as the story progresses.
End of Act I: This piece transforms an intense dramatic moment that ends Act I into a lighter but still somewhat downbeat mood.
The Next Stage Theater, San Francisco, October 2000
“Little Murders” is a dark comedy about a highly dysfunctional family dodging random bullets and reality in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
I joined this production less than three weeks before opening, so I did not have time to see many rehersals or explore the script in depth. Still, through meeting with the director and trying a few ideas out, I was able to quickly come up with effective music and sound effects.
Dark theme, small ensemble: Act II opens with a dark theme, first heard here with (sampled) flute, cello, and piano.
Il Teatro 450, San Francisco, April 1999
At the time I created this music, I had no synthesizers and very little recording equipment. I made the best use of what I had: guitars, hand percussion, and some limited computer-based recording. The music highlights an underlying Jewish theme of the play.
Opening Music: A guitar and percussion version of a piece that I had also been working on for solo piano.