20-20: A Choral Suite “2: Shopping”…explained

Since its length is only 45 seconds, you’d think I would have completed this movement quickly. But (besides the usual procrastination) I was held back by the lyrics. Writing music to go with pre-written lyrics is hard! When I was writing popular songs years ago, the music and lyrics generally were created together, from one idea (usually the “hook”), and the entire song’s music and words were written more-or-less at the same time. (That’s not an absolute, but more frequently than not.)

Here, I wrote the lyrics almost completely without much of a sense of what the music would sound like. The beauty of writing your own lyrics, though, is that as I put notes on a page, I could modify the words slightly to match the melody that seemed to flow. Of course, besides making words and music work together, the vocal lines need to be comfortable and accessible to both the ear and the vocal abilities of a real human. I did my best! But that 45 seconds took two months to produce!

I also, as always, took some liberties with tonality. But mostly, I focused on being humorous with lyrical and musical direction. “Humor” in this setting can come off as trite or boring, especially with repeated performances. But this movement, hopefully, serves a purpose in the overall goals of the suite, so I’m hoping a possible audience will find some entertainment in it, in the context of/in contrast to the seriousness of much of the rest of the work.

Listen to it here.

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