So the inspiration for this blog comes from how much joy I've gotten over the last month listening to the BMI Workshop Songbook podcasts here. And there are many reasons why I absolutely love these. First of all, the Broadcast Music, Inc. workshops help cultivate talents that continually contribute new, exciting works from new composers. Second, this collection of podcasts features the talents of 20 writers/songwriting teams, with composers and lyricists like Andy Monroe and Jack Lechner, Maury Yeston, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green, Barry Wyner, Joy Son and Jill Abramovitz, Michael John LaChiusa, Beth Falcone, and Jeff Blumenkrantz. With all this creative talent, there's a wealth of vocal talent from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Victoria Clark, Gavin Creel, and Christine Ebersole. Perhaps my favorite parts besides all the music are the great interviews, which are really more like conversations about the craft of creating a musical. And through these conversations, a lot of interesting ideas are raised in many of the podcasts, from the difficulty of obtaining rights to adapt popular source material to how 9/11 created a sense of community in one of the classes. If you enjoy the music, you can also buy the Songbook on CD here.
In speaking of process, I revisited Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's Freshman Experiment website the other day and am continually amazed by the scope and ingenuity of this venture. Through two college Freshmen's blogs, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk created songs based on their subjects' experiences, almost all of which are now fan favorites. Through the blogging done by all parties, it's also easy to chart the evolution of the songs as lyrics are tightened and ideas are formed.
For another great resource for hearing about a journey of a show through grassroots promotion, check out MTI ShowSpace's Vault for videos from Pasek and Paul as they discuss the process of creating and getting productions of their song cycle Edges, much of which was done while they were still in college at University of Michigan. It's a fascinating story of how they were able to bypass the Off-Broadway dream by taking the show on the road on a non-equity bus tour and managed to get a slew of college performances long before their first professional production.
And to top off this theme of songwriting and creation comes more Jason Robert Brown blogginess. In this two part blog, JRB gives examples of some lessons he goes over with USC students, from a list of examples of different musical theatre songwriting techniques to how to construct a cheesy disco melody.