Throwing Away Songs

19 Feb

As i’ve said on occasion, if you’re not prepared to work day and night on a song, spent days perfecting it, obsess over it, and then throw it away when you realize there’s something that would work better, then you will suck.

However, it’s not always an easy or clear decision.

We have finally reached the first song in The Dieselpunk Opera that i believe i shall be tossing out and replacing with an utterly different song.

In The Steampunk Opera i did this twice: the Voodoopunks song in Act 3 was originally UTTERLY different (i still have the original around somewhere) and of course Elysium Nights was written to replace a completely different song called Lost Night’s Lullabye. (Maybe i’ll post these tomorrow). There’s still a few people who prefer Lost Night’s Lullaby to Elysium Nights.

I am… was a song and a half away from completing the 2nd Act of the DO when late at night, just before bed, i suddenly had a pervasive flash that i should completely throw away one of the most important songs in the Act and replace it with something so utterly different… so utterly different that i might just be a complete idiot. But then i woke up in the middle of the night and thought of an entire verse of lyrics right then and there, and figured i should best follow the trail of obsession.

The song is Constance’s big song near the end of Act 2. Often in an Act i will do a big character reveal song, a song that’s about the character’s inner depths or them in a moment of crisis. Annabelle’s Lament in the Steampunk Opera for instance, Priscialla Considers or in the 1st Act of The Dieselpunk Opera: Having Left. It comes very late in the 2nd Act and is a song i knew would be a challenge well before i even started composing the 2nd Act.

Well, i wrote a song. It was not only pretty but the big crescendo near the end is the most passionate moment of the DO so far. And yet i’m trashing it. For a song that does not contain a moment so passionate (doesn’t fit the feel.). So what, i must be barking mad, right?

Maybe. But… here’s the thing. The 1st version is very pretty and gets very passionate. It’s an exact cross between Annabelle’s Lament and Having Left. Like… an exact cross. It treads familiar territory. It operates completely within the bounds of this personal trope i’ve developed, where my character reveal songs all sound very similar. It was a good song, but it really was an exact cross between Annabelle’s Lament and Having Left. Which is not necessarily bad, mind you. I do it well. It’s a hallmark of my opera style. But it’s also fast becoming cliche.

And the song was potentially sort of cheesy, but i’m writing rock operas, i mean, there’s no aspect of what i’m doing that someone doesn’t think is utterly cheesy. It’s hard to know exactly where i’m finally crossing the line.

The new song is radically different. It’s still low key, it’s still very character depth oriented, but it stylistically approaches the moment of character depth in a very new and fresh way, not to mention a way very consistent with a Dieselpunk feel. It’s… a different approach and it’s potentially utterly awesome, but in a different way.

I’m toying with the idea of sending both versions to the people who will be listening to the demo. I’ll include the 1st version as an extra so they can make up their own minds which is the better choice in case i’m just an utter idiot (which is a very real danger i must always take into account).

Anyway, it’s worth bringing this up. Every single opera will have some song or two that needs replacement. And by replacement i mean an actual full finished song that gets tossed out and a new one written from scratch. We have finally arrived at one for the DO. Otherwise i’m at the end of the Act.


Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Throwing Away Songs

  1. Patrick Plonski

    February 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Fascinating stuff, thanks for sharing!
    I wonder how many songs Leonard Bernstein threw away, or if his genius was bright enough that *he* didn’t need to.

  2. Reggie Lutz

    February 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks for this window into the process. As a writer I have thrown out several short stories and a novel and a half. So glad you talked about this in the blog.

  3. Dan Kowalski

    February 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Can’t wait to hear it! You have no idea how badly I want to be one of those five who gets the demo, but what ever happens happens and it will be great! Good luck in your writing!

  4. Cherries Jubilee

    February 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    The good thing about all this is, even though you have rejected the song…it is still around and can be used another time – revised and maybe just looked at for inspiration on another project.


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