Two more musical books, hot off the press, to tell you about on this August bank holiday - and get you in the mood, perhaps for musical work next term.
If you are a music theatre student - or a musical practitioner - maybe wanting to be the next Lloyd Webber, then you might find Julian Woolford’s excellent How Musicals Work: and How to Write Your Own a useful source of information.
Published by Nick Hern Books, the book outlines the creative process from hatching the initial idea and developing a structure for the work, through creating the book, music and lyrics and on to the crucial process of writing. Then [Woolford[(http://julianwoolford.net/), who has written and directed many musicals and lectures at the University of London on the subject, gives practical how-to advice relating to getting a musical produced, generating future productions and sustaining a career.
The book is very much a learning guide and I particularly enjoyed the practical exercises such as ‘fantasy casting’ my ideal musical - I’d have Richard Briers rather than Albert Finney as the Old Gentleman in The Railway Children. The template for working out what you want in your characters is brilliant. There is very some very insightful guidance about analysing and managing multiple locations too.
How Musicals Work does not assume high levels of prior knowledge and is good at explaining some pretty basic concepts such as time signatures, orchestration and harmony - which brings us neatly to my second musical book: the new (sixth) edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music edited by Michael and Joyce Kennedy and Tim Rutherford-Johnson.
From A, as the note of the musical scale orchestras usually tune, to Polish soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara, it deals alphabetically with composers, conductors, performers, directors, writers, journals, works, orchestras, venues, festivals, musical terms, styles, forms, instruments - and more. Thematic entries cover topics such as absolute pitch, film music and historical periods. Like How Musicals Work, it also tells you about voice ranges, musical clefs, what a minor third is and a great deal of other pretty basic stuff.
It’s succinct, accessible and an ideal starting point for introductory information as well as being fun to dip into. I especially like the 200 weblinks taking you, for example, to an individual composer’s website or to a resource such as the Royal Opera House’s online collections. These links are regularly updated on a companion website.