Friday, 8 July 2011

Chris Port Blog #297. Oh! What A Lovely Musical

Oh! What A Lovely Musical

Link to free live webinar on 13th July 2011 by Songwriter on how to promote songs through social media.

Link to Facebook discussion thread at

Me: I just signed up for the webinar and I'd like to know are there any specific forums and/or web strategies you recommend I use to recruit composers for an experimental collaborative musical project?

For further details please see the following blog posts at Marty Gull:

#256. Back-of-a-fag-packet note to musical composers

Songwriting: Hey Chris!

This is really tough because you're not really looking for a collaborator in the sense of “Hey, lets get together and see what happens” - you're looking for someone to do a very specific job in the execution of your very specific vision.

So I see two possibilities:

1. Pay someone (probably the fastest and easiest)
2. Sell someone on why they should contribute to your vision

Have you considered paying someone? Do you have to choose #2?

Me: I wish I had private funds available to commission composers, but that’s not an option at the moment. There’s some interesting poker games going on with arts funding, but I need the music in place before I can sit at that table. So, unless a philanthropist puts up some venture capital (which I’m working on) then #1 is out for the time being.

#2 is more promising. The basic pitch to all you musicians/composers out there is “get your foot in the door”. It’s surreal, satirical, tragicomic, musical political theatre. It’s intertextual pastiche. What more could a young buck want?

As a writer, I’m drooling with the possibilities. I’m looking for musicians with a similar playful attitude. I’m not looking for one composer to score the entire musical. I’m looking for people to pick and choose whatever takes their fancy, then play around with it and PERSONALIZE it

I don’t actually have ONE specific vision. I have several. The whole point of the project is that it can (and should) evolve in different directions in different styles. Suppose a composer said “I really like the Ballad of Tippi Marsh, but I’ve come up with a completely different musical concept that doesn’t fit your lyrics”? I’d say “Great!” Then we’d have another direction to explore…

Just a reminder - this isn’t going to be some West End musical (in its current form, anyway). It’s something I want to see workshopped by top drama conservatoires and professional theatre companies (here and abroad). Think Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What A Lovely War transposed from the trenches to the education/entertainment industry.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the BOOK, and what people do with it. I’ll come to copyright/royalty arrangements with contributors according to what ideas make it through to the workshop phase. Because the profit angle is (at the moment) quite nebulous, I’m not expecting anyone else to put in huge amounts of time and work at this stage. I’m asking for a sense of artistic adventure, curiosity and… well, NAUGHTINESS basically.

To reduce it to a USP (Unique Selling Point) I’m looking for composers with a sense of fun. Preferably ones that drink and smoke and swear and argue about films and TV and “who was the best…?” a lot. No Gleesters need apply :)


  1. Additional comment on Songwriting's page!/SongwriterTips/posts/232506363438235?notif_t=feed_comment

    As an example of quick lyric turnaround and eclectic style, we've been having a bit of a shit/fan moment here in the UK over multi-billionaire multi-media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. One of his newspapers (The News of the World) has been up to all kinds of despicable things (see and for brief examples).

    I'd been working on a serious, hard-hitting political song about Murdoch's media empire for a couple of weeks. It was just bloody tedious. Then a friend casually mentioned an old children's TV programme called "Rupert the Bear". It has a catchy little title song. I put the two together to see what happened. Within an hour I had the scathingly cheerful "Rupert the Shark" (which was far better than the epic angst anthem I'd been working on). I need some original "Rupert the Bear" tunes please!

    Rupert the Bear​=vLrMLPHJ7iI

    To "Rupert the Shark"
    Rupert the Shark
    © Chris Port, 8th July 2011

    There’s a little shark
    And he’s swimming through the dark
    Looking up at you
    People in the park
    Petrol loves a little spark
    He’s your Fu Manchu
    There’s a billion Chinese to be sold
    TV Stars from Hong Kong
    Start with Wendi and her government
    Might sing along

    Oh, Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Everyone buy his news
    Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Governments play along
    or you will just lose

    There is Becca Brooks
    Little Jamie Murdoch too
    And they’ve made their bones
    They are Rupert's hacks
    And they're listening to you
    So I’d lock your phones
    There's a mega deal not far from here
    And they call it News Corp!
    Where you'll meet a little emperor
    Or start a war…

    Oh, Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Everyone buy his news
    Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Governments play along
    or you will just lose

    Oh, Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Everyone buy his news
    Rupert, Rupert Murdoch
    Governments play along
    or you will just lose

    Rupert, bloody Rupert

  2. Songwriting: Yeah, I figured we were talking #2. (There's a joke in there if you look for it).

    OK we still gotta work on your pitch. Focus on what you can offer them:

    Are you really offering them a foot in the door? What door exactly is it?

    Can you really promise workshops in top drama conservatories and theater companies?

    Do you have a history of success?

    Why should a composer want to collaborate with you?

    Get that stuff figured out, that's going to be the stuff that gets them to the point of reading your work.

    Me: I can't promise anything. All I can do is give direction and overview. I'll go away and think about your suggestions. I suspect that I'm looking for composers who are already knocking on similar doors (or hitting brick walls) from different directions. My target composer is an oddball type, bursting with ideas who needs something to hang them on. The thing that's probably going to catch their attention is something brief and quirky. Hmm, I need to work out a quirk...

    A sort of Terry Gilliam with tunes instead of cartoons...