I'm a drummer in a band and we have been together for many years. While being part of the band gives me a lot of pleasure, it's an important part of my identity, playing the same tunes over and over again can dampen the fun, especially when I don't like some of the tunes. One of the members of the band (G) the one I have played with for the last 16 years, is a talented song writer and musician. Over the years he has created well over 20 songs and has talked about the idea of a musical about a couple's life journey so many of the songs have been connected in his mind as he has written them.
G retired a few months ago and, sensing that both he and I were at times a little fed up with the limitations of the band, I started to suggest new projects that we might get involved in. Firstly I suggested that we might by some recording equipment, which we did, but have not yet managed to make it work (that's another story). then I suggested that we might try work with a female singer to make different sorts of music - which are currently trying to make happen. Then I suggested that we might work on his songs to bring his 'musical' idea to fruition. Yesterday we had our first get together to go over the songs he had written and create a narrative: an old fashioned love story, the lifelong journey of two people, who get a bit lost and confused in mid-life before realising that their futures still lay together as they revisited where they had began their life together. It was great fun and over a few hours we batted ideas backwards and forwards until we had a rough story into which we could place over 20 of his songs. It was amazing how things seemed to fall into place and we could, with a bit of imagination, invent a story that seemed to work. Creating the story meant we had some gaps to fill with new songs especially at the front. We had to introduce the two main characters and begin the narrative. As we talked we hit on the idea of using the Eagles 'Hotel California' a song we both like and do well when we play as a band as a key part of the story and G's tribute song 'Return to Hotel California' and the latter became our working title as we created meaning around the idea.
After we had finished I wrote out the ideas and began to create new narrative around the Hotel California - Return to Hotel California songs while listening to the song as we recorded it in one of our band rehearsals. I sent the first draft to G to try and keep things moving.
The next morning I was buzzing and spent the first few hours refining what I'd written the night before. Adding more detail to the narrative and creating some images to make the ideas more concrete, while listening to one of our rehearsals of the song Hotel California. I sent the revised draft to G who was obviously sitting at his computer and we bounced emails back and forth while getting more an more expansive as we visualised where this might take us. We talked about musicians we might involve and even a drama group. I even found a venue where we could perform it! Perhaps we were getting carried away but I think we were trying to develop a shared vision of what the end result might look like. Without this how could we work towards it?
Then G emailed a few lines of the first new song.. I felt that we were being inventive/creative in our own terms and that we were feeding off each other.
The band playing Hotel California which features quite a bit in our new musical.
From your academic perspective and for our guidance you might like to google ... how to write a musical .. there is a lot out there. I'm sure it will be interesting to compare our approach .. almost a grounded theory one at present although we will be tainted by ones we know about
When I googled up How Musicals are Made: How To Write a Musical by John Kenrick
http://www.musicals101.com/write.htm. It was full of useful perspectives and advice. In asking the question WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO IT? these sentences caught my attention. Do you care so deeply about it that you must tell this story or die? Believe it or not, that's a very good sign......Your best bet is always to go with material you care about deeply, a story and characters that you believe in.
I have to admit that I do not care so deeply about the story or project that I would die for it. But I do care about wanting the pleasurable experience of working with my good friend (a talented song writer and musician) in ways that I know will be productive and creative - I already experienced this in the first 24 hours of our collaboration as we bounced and developed ideas back and forth. What I can see is that the situation holds affordance for our joint creativity. It's about putting myself in a place or space of high potential, so I can try and do something that I have not done before that will take me into new territory, and which will, I know give me a sense of fulfilment along the way as we accomplish the tasks that emerge, and when it has been accomplished. If the result makes other people happy then that's the icing on the cake. But fundamentally I am doing this for myself to invent something new and challenge, improve and satisfy myself in the process, as well as having fun on the way.
Already, I can see that from an initial idea 'wouldn't it be fun to do this' we have begun co-constructing an ecology through which we will achieve something that we both value. Something that is growing from the shared circumstances - people, events, projects, materials, interests - of our lives.