Inside the “Scoring Notes” theme

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You hear it at the start of every Scoring Notes podcast episode. But have you ever wondered who wrote the theme and how this bouncy tune came to kick off every discussion we have about music notation software, related technology, and the “interesting individuals in our field who create music with these products, as well as the talented people who create the tools themselves”?

The answer to the first part of that question is easy to answer. The theme is composed by yours truly. Here it is, without the typical voice-over:

 

However, its origins have a backstory, as one might say in the theatre.

The backstory

And it’s to the theatre we go. The Scoring Notes theme first began as the opening music to a 2015 play called The Inn at Lake Devine, adapted by my wife, the talented Jake Lipman for her production company Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions. Jake based the play on the book of the same name by Elinor Lipman (no relation to Jake).

Jennifer Dorr White, Andrew Spieker, and Jake Lipman in The Inn at Lake Devine

The charming and poignant novel about young people growing up and falling in love amidst changing societal norms is full of references to music. When Jake adapted the story for the theatre, music was essential to the storytelling. Rather than envisioning a full musical, Jake and Elinor agreed that a “play with music” — think Our Town — would suit the modest scale of the tale.

Although the tale was modest, the production demands were anything but. In all, I created 93 separate music and sound effects cues for The Inn at Lake Devine. Some were short effects, but others were newly composed or arranged music, including accompaniment for brief musical numbers featuring the actors singing.

Music and effects for The Inn at Lake Devine

As our music budget was literally nothing, I both composed new music and made extensive use of public domain material. It was also an artistic decision, as the old-fashioned music helped convey an outward veneer of wholesomeness that belied the societal issues churning just below the surface. A pivotal part of the story takes place around Christmas, and so songs like “Silent Night” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” make appearances.

Other tunes in the show enter at key moments and persist as recurring motifs. “Heart of My Heart”, “In the Good Old Summertime”, and new music I wrote to the hymn “Be Still My Soul” all appear as full musical numbers in the show, and their melodies form a trio of hooks upon which many of the short interstitial cues are based.

The opening music to the production serves as a mini-overture of sorts, tying these themes together in just a few seconds. The Inn at Lake Devine enjoyed a successful limited run in 2015. Of course, theatre is ephemeral, but the music lives on.

So, when I needed a way to begin the podcast in 2020, I was very happy that Jake allowed me to re-use “1-01-01 Act 1 Opening” as the Scoring Notes theme (after all, a very short version had already been in use as the tag for the instructional videos and NAMM Show dispatches we were posting from time to time).

The tunes

Oh yes, those melody fragments? Here’s where you’ll find them, along with their sources:

“Heart of My Heart”, in the clarinet and viola:

“In the Good Old Summertime”, in the violin:

“Be Still My Soul”, in the horn — this was a new tune I wrote (it is often set to Sibelius’s Finlandia):

 

What about that jaunty piano rhythm? It actually doesn’t appear elsewhere in The Inn at Lake Devine, but the tale of two young people from different cultural backgrounds falling in love reminded me of another story — a West Side Story, to be precise. So a little homage to Lenny ties it all together:

(Bernstein’s “Cha-Cha”), for reference:

 

Get the music and support Scoring Notes at the same time

If you enjoyed this little diversion into the Scoring Notes theme, you might be wondering if you can obtain it for yourself.

Surprisingly, and to my delight, many podcast listeners have written in and asked about this. I’m all too happy to oblige!

The score and parts to the “Scoring Notes Theme” are available from Notation Central. Instrumentation is clarinet, horn, piano, and string quartet. Perhaps we’ll have a contest for who can vamp the longest.

We’ve set this up a way of showing your support for the Scoring Notes blog and podcast — the minimum price is $10, but you can contribute more if you like. By downloading the music you’ll be helping out Scoring Notes and getting a musical souvenir!

One download gets you the score and all parts — and, yes, I created them using our Scoring Express templates.

When Jake listens to the beginning of a Scoring Notes podcast episodes, she tells me she still gets that nervous lump in her throat, associating it with The Inn at Lake Devine and anticipating the first stage entrance of the evening. Hopefully when you hear the theme, you only feel enjoyment and excitement at hearing an insightful discussion about music notation software and related technology.

Enjoy!

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