Designer Spotlight

Music Direction

Paul Stovall

Story of a Music Director

When I signed up to be the music director for Tuck Everlasting, little did I know that I would be essentially helping to create a cast album from scratch. This project had a pretty tight deadline and required extensive planning months before the first day of music rehearsals. In a usual rehearsal situation, pre-COVID 19: I would be in the room with the actors, playing the accompaniment and giving vocal instruction. But in this situation where we were using Zoom, it would have been impossible for me to play the piano and hear the actors' voices in time due to latency and other technical issues that come with virtual conferencing. To overcome this minor obstacle, I created piano tracks (pictured below).

The actors could play these from their end so that when I was working with them, I would not only be able to hear their voices, but also the piano track that was "accompanying" them. Because I was using recording software to do this project, there was the challenge of tempo changes and moments where the music was out of time, which required the use of tempo maps and click tracks that the actors would listen to in order for them to stay with the music.

In a normal live performance situation, I would be the one following the actors while playing the piano when it came to music that was not metronomic. But in these special circumstances, everything was flipped, and the actors needed practice singing with a click track that would sometimes change tempos during the middle of a song. After I would work with the actors on their songs, they would use their mobile phones to record themselves and wear headphones/earbuds to isolate the click track recordings (example below).

The actors would then send me their recordings which I would then clean up with various audio software plug-ins and EQ's.

Since everyone was socially distancing and recording themselves in their own homes, it took some time to align all of their tracks together so that they sounded like they were singing together in one room. But it was worth it in the end, when I would hit play in the recording software and hear their voices singing together and witness for myself the magic that was being brought to life by them.

Bonus Photos! 

My music _studio_.jpg