Ep3. (in three parts) – The Lydian chords, the “Don’t Rain” rhythms and The Resultant Vamps
It’s quite the dilemma: I don’t want to sound like a pop song, but I don’t want to get too avant garde. So I’ll put a #4 on my major chords. Yes, a Lydian fourth should do it. A Lydian scale is exactly like a major scale, but with the fourth degree up a semitone. It opens up the sound, and makes what I’m about to say sound significant, theatrical …
Narrator: I’ll never forget the summer of 1972. That was the summer I learned how to …
Yes, yes, this show is writing itself now.
OK, rhythm. I can’t have this scene-setting arpeggio play forever. I’ll use the rhythm made famous by Jule Styne’s opening vamp for Don’t Rain On My Parade. That’s a great little rhythm.
And when I put that rhythm, a little chopped up, together with my Lydian chords, with a few extensions to fill in the harmony, I can make a little vamp like this:
Narrator: The world was changing. Well, the outside world anyway – in our town, nothing ever changed …
Perfect. It’s all coming together now. But I need something with a little pop/theatre flavour to it, that I can build my vamp into a song for my hero/narrator. So I’ll start with the #4, but finish the vamp with the natural 4, and that’ll allow me to use the subdominant and dominant chords. It’s as fatuous as pop, and as pretentious as theatre!
This can run for a while under the dialogue until it reveals itself to be our hero’s “I Want” song. I’d really like it to do well outside of the show itself, so I’ll keep the lyrics really mainstream, really broad in their appeal. And uplifting, too; shows should be uplifting.
Best of all, that vamp, when I slow it down, can be the love ballad.
Total time spent on music and lyrics: seven minutes. And it just screams musical theatre!
Audio demonstration here: