Behind the scenes: The making of Shakespeare’s score

These two plays in particular, Twelfth Night
and As You Like It, really lend themselves to that kind of lyrical expression. The language is so beautiful, and we got really
excited by some of the composers that we were talking to, like Rinde Eckert and Sam Misner. We looked at my body of instruments, and picked
out a mandolin, a ukulele, a banjo ukulele and a traditional ukulele. They’re not exactly period but they do answer
to a more local musical life, as if the music is coming from that society. I have a beautiful red accordion, which is
one of my most prized and oldest instruments. And Tim specifically asked for that particular
instrument when we first talked. There have been a lot of composers that have
tackled these texts. You’re not looking to outdo anybody with anything. You’re looking for your particular soulful
way in. What I think of as very simple and beautiful,
so it honors the depth of the text. So once I got here, I wrote the songs at home,
and then I sent recordings to Tim and Carolyn, and once I got here, and we got into rehearsal,
it was basically figuring out, Ok, you play guitar, you play, oh you play bass! Great! We have a bass! So I think I’ve been arranging it in rehearsal
and kind of drawing on what strengths people have that I didn’t know about or adding harmonies,
that’s been a lot of fun is hearing the cast kind of embody the songs, and she’s roughly
setting it in the 1950’s-60’s, mid-century, modern. Not really specific, but that general time
period in America. I don’t want it to be one genre or the other. That time in American music’s very much a
mixture of blues, and rock and roll was just starting, but the difference between folk
and blues and country, there wasn’t much of a difference, it all intermixed. I would hope that when we hear this music,
they don’t think, their first thought isn’t ‘Oh, this is Shakespeare with modern music
put to it.’ My goal was to make it feel seamless, this
is a song that could’ve been written today, and it was!

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