The definitive guide to writing music for the stage, by the Composer-in-Residence at the Donmar Warehouse.
Music has played a vital part in drama since the earliest days of theatre. For composers, writing music for the stage is an opportunity to exercise their utmost creativity and versatility: a good musical score will both support and enhance the play it serves, and can lift a prosaic moment into something quite extraordinary.
In this book, Michael Bruce takes you through the entire process – from initial preparation, through composition, rehearsals and recording, and finally to performance. He covers everything a composer needs to know, including:
Getting started – spotting when and how music might be used in a play, doing research, considering form and content
Building a 'sound world' – finding and using source music, creating incidental music, choosing the best instrumentation, scoring, utilising technology, writing music to accompany song lyrics
Working on the production – understanding the composer's role in rehearsals, collaborating with key creatives, employing actor-musicians, getting the show on
Recording – knowing when to record, booking and working with musicians – and the studio engineer, running a recording session
Also included is key practical advice on how to get work as a theatre composer and build your career.
Throughout the book, the author draws on his own experience of creating music for a wide variety of plays at the Donmar Warehouse, the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway, including detailed case studies of his work on The Recruiting Officer, Coriolanus, Privacy, The Winslow Boy, Noises Off and Strange Interlude, illustrated by online recordings from his scores.
An essential companion for all composers – amateur, student or professional – Writing Music for the Stage is also invaluable reading for other theatre professionals, including directors, playwrights, producers, actors, designers and sound designers – in fact, for anyone seeking to understand how music helps to create worlds and tell stories on stage.