jueves, 28 de julio de 2011

Not funny!

I'm glad I've overcome my "sick" ambition of proving to the (Indonesian) audience that I have written more music than just "Dalam Doaku", or that there are pieces of mine which I myself believe to be better than that. Dalam Doaku, for me, is just a product of lonely nights in a Belgian hotel and a kind of self-therapy for my bad mood. I write what I believe, my music is part of me and just let the audience have their own opinion. As usual when one's being honest, some people don't like what you say (I am grateful that in this case it's the other way around). In a much bigger scale it has happened in the history too: The Spanish Joaquin Rodrigo is remembered by one movement (not even the whole piece) of his "Aranjuez" Guitar Concerto, and many people know Rachmaninov through his one short piece, the Prelude in C minor.

So I have stopped trying to make my pocket opera in progress, Laki-Laki Sejati (LLS), an attempt to convert the audience of Dalam Doaku to like this instead. To start with, LLS is a duet for soprano and mezzosoprano, whose colours when combined wouldn't be as tear-jerking as a duet of male and female being in love with each other. There are indeed some "romantic" arias in LLS, especially for the young girl, but those are expressions of craving of love and dreaming of an ideal man, so the love is, shall we say, unreal.

LLS is a comedy, so I am confronted with the issue: how do you make music funny? You can be funny with words or gestures, but in music? And is "funny" an adjective which means you should laugh to? Even in comedies you have different kinds of humor: cheap humor, slapsticks, and even satires base themselves in humor, a black one that is. And then you have the British ironic humor, the Latin over-the-top exaggerating ones and I think I start to understand the Indonesian ones. And why is it that comedians usually are depressed people (the famous example is Pagliacci the weeping clown; and you know Rowan "Mr.Bean" Atkinson just came out of a long depression period, right?) ?

The key is, I think, incongruity. Things are not in their right places or their right moments, incorrect proportions, strange situations. In German, the word "komisch" reflects it perfectly: it doesn't have to be funny, it's just about something wrong, incongruent and strange while in English, "comical" is indeed funny.

So I think that's the key to make the music "funny". In my opera, you'll hear the girl blindly in love, singing 3 arias consecutively. Each aria is just normal, but put together, I hope they will sound "unproportional": too much, over the top. No operas before have asked the same singer to sing 3 arias, real ones, one after the other. Not even in Broadway musicals. And that is just one example of making incongruences in music. I am having fun in doing some research on this. I don't have a bassoon to play that "Sorcerer's Apprentice" tune nor a tuba imitating an elephant, but I am sure I can do it with just two fantastic singers and my poor old piano.