I’m Carol Dorman and many years ago I decided to write a musical. I wrote some dialogue for the libretto and about three or four songs. Then I stopped. Maybe it was lack of inspiration, perhaps a bout of writer’s block or simply life getting in the way. But although I stopped writing the musical, I didn’t stop writing songs. Many songs.
Now, I’m not a musician at all. I have a reasonable singing voice but don’t play a ‘real’ instrument. Sure, I tried learning piano and teaching myself guitar but for some reason couldn’t ‘get’ the whole playing-in-time thing. Ask any member of the band I used to sing with and they’ll confirm I pretty much sucked at keeping time as a vocalist too! Still, it was always fun.
So when it comes to songwriting what I do is simply sing as I write. Melodies and lyrics tend to arrive together for me. I like to think that songs are always out there just floating around somewhere looking for someone to land on and give them voice. Without the technical know-how the way I keep a record of my songs is to record my voice onto ye olde cassette. That’s how I’ve done it for years. I have the big box full of ancient cassette tapes to prove it!
Back to the musical …
Skip forward a few decades to about six months ago (around June 2012). I figured it might be nice to dust off that box and see what was on all those old tapes. Most of them weren’t labelled so it was a matter of loading the trusty cassette player (they do still exist, by the way) and actually listening to them. As well as the somewhat cringeworthy stuff there was also a lot of surprises. Many of the songs that I’d written over the years without giving a thought to the musical, actually fit in well with the story.
So now I have up to 30 songs with lyrics and melody that no longer have to be written for the musical … (Of course I wrote many more songs but 30 is about all that fit the musical’s story)
After discovering these songs—or rediscovering since I’d forgotten all about some of them—I started on the nuts and bolts of the musical. So far, it has a basic structure; characters and the songs they sing; ideas for scenery and setting; and the skeletal outlines of the three Acts.
Well, enthusiasm and passion aren’t going to overcome the enormous gaps in my knowledge. So I’ve started the quest for a collaboration with a ‘real live music person’—someone who knows how to turn a pretty melody and decent lyrics into something other real live music people can understand.
In the meantime I’m reading anything I can find about how to write musicals and getting back into constructing the libretto.
So, stay tuned …
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Feel free to leave your comments or suggestions; I’d love to hear them.