The Lion and The Rat

As I was getting ready for the next post, I was thinking that maybe these blog posts are a bit too technical. I mean, maybe I shouldn't go into so much detail about how I wrote the music for these songs and just stick to the basic information. I could just describe the scene, maybe talk a little bit about the chords or something, but keep it light, you know. With that in mind, I have implemented a color coded system so I can talk about the geeky stuff, and not bring the rest of you to tears. So, whenever you see a big block of red text, that's the really nerdy stuff. If you skip it, you won't miss anything. But if you want to read it, it's there for you. Deal? Deal.

So, song number three in this little musical thingy is called The Lion and the Rat. After Nicholas's dream sequence, his boss, Charles, comes in and yells at him because the opening is such a failure. Charles gets angry also because Nicholas put a bunch of "sold" stickers on the paintings, presumably to make it look like he'd sold some. Not fooled, Charles goes and looks for the receipts, when Nicholas tries to back out of his lie. An argument ensues, and this song is, basically, the argument. The song is a duet, but it doesn't kick off with both of the two characters singing together. Instead, Nicholas starts it off with the first theme, which contains little motives from the Something Special melody. Then Charles replies with the second theme, which also contains bits of the Something Special melody. Then Nicholas issues a final rebuttal, before launching into the melody of the song. All of this is the introductory verse. The whole introductory verse is in C major, which is V of F, the key of the song. Because Nicholas's melody starts on a b, and Charles's melody starts on a D, the melodies never quite feel centered and final. This makes it nice when finally, the introduction settles on a C7, and Nicholas comes in with the main melody of the song, which is in the key of F. Avoiding the key note like this gives a melody a kind of driving feeling. It never comes to a rest. This next part of the song is a call and response. The melody is broken up between Nicholas's statements, and Charles's rebuttals. It was important to keep the ranges separate, so Nicholas's replies are pitched high, so they sound really fruity and pompous, while Charles's melodies are low, giving them a bit of a growl. The form of this call and response section is ABA. The first A is in F major, and through a quick ii-V in the key of A, the B section moves up to A major. Because the key shifts upward, you can hear that Nicholas is a little agitated. Then, the B section ends with Nicholas singing a one-note melody on the note 'a'. Through this one note, I modulated back to F for the next A section.

The call and response part ends with Charles laying into Nicholas. Now, Charles's melody dominates, and Nicholas sings little protests against Charles's melody. But the two don't sing together until just after this, when Charles insults Nicholas. This last was the C section, which is in the key of D. To get to D from F, I had to do a really quick, sudden modulation through Eb7. But I think it sounds okay, because Nicholas is being smug, and the chord on that beat really sounds kind of sinister and disconcerting. At the end of this section, Charles and Nicholas start really arguing. And here is where they start singing at the same time. They sing two different melodies, each made of the themes that introduced the song. This part of the song is free form. The two just sing at each other, talking over each other until Nicholas says something that really makes Charles angry, and Charles fires him. The song ends on a manic dissonant chord as Charles yells "You're fired!" This last section moves from D to Eb, which I made happen through a common tone modulation off the note g in Nicholas's melody. Since g is IV in D and vi in Bb, all I had to do was have Nicholas sing a g, and instantly shift the tonality to Eb. So the key center of the song rises as the tension mounts. It moves from Eb, up to F, way up again to A, then to D, which is only one sharp away from A, and then rises back to Eb. The ending chord of the song is an AM7(#11), which is a really nasty chord. I think it's nice that the song ends with a scary, disconcerting chord as Charles is yelling "You're fired!" I want it to highlight the grim revenge that Nicholas is planning, which he hints at a few measures before the end when he sings "Let it burn, fine with me..."

So that's The Lion and The Rat. Now, this time, along with the sheet music, I have a demo of me singing both parts and playing guitar (there's also a standup bass). It's pretty low-fi. Singing both parts was hard because I'm a bass, and both parts are written for tenor. So my voice strains a bit, and I waver in and out of tune, but this track will give you the general idea. You can get the demo track here, and the music here.

More later!