De Profundis (Theatre Soundtrack)

Megarrity, David (2015) De Profundis (Theatre Soundtrack). [Inter-arts]

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This creative work is an original soundtrack for the multimedia performance adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, led by David Fenton and Brian Lucas and produced by Metro Arts.

Intermediality offers unique challenges to the composer creating towards live performance.

Given the text-based nature of the piece, and the prevalence of screen content, music had a distinct role to play in supporting the intermedial performance environment.

Drawing from Oscar Wilde’s own writings in the initial stages [“...richer cadences…more curious effects” “…the cry of Marysas” and the “deferred resolution of Chopin”] , the deliberately risky compositional process experimented with improvised location recordings and found sounds, random and fragmented assemblages of vintage recordings, rough methods and obsolete recording technology, and the sonic kinship of the hissing sibilances of the sea, theatrical applause and the crackle of antique recording devices (which had just been invented in Wilde’s time) worked into wefts of sound.

As the soundtrack emerged, is was clearly resistant to ‘concepts’ imposed from the outside, and as the field of possibilities expanded and engaged in dialogue with the other elements of the performance (live and projected) certain pieces were selected by the director and curated into the emerging work.

Thus leitmotifs emerged, rather than being imposed from the outset, with a particular through line holding: if it was too obviously like ‘music’, (which is usually used in theatre as emotional lubrication and narrative signpost) it didn’t work, and if it sounded like avant-garde sound-art, it was too grating and detracted from the primacy of the text. As a composer I worked this sweet spot inbetween these two poles as well as serving David Fenton’s curation: he determined which compositions to incorporate, reiterate and omit as part of the process of writing text, action and image and the compositional process responded with organic elaborations and variations on these selections.

Musical resolution was mostly deferred until the closing stages of the performance. The soundtrack was present for the duration of the show, and Artshub reviewed the musical component thus: “...the score by David Megarrity is a refined, understated ambient scaffolding.” It premiered at the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, on 22 April 2015.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 90704
Item Type: Creative Work (Inter-arts)
Refereed: No
Additional Information:
Other Contributors:
Role Contributors
  • David Fenton
  • Brian Lucas
  • Ray Pittman
Funders: Brisbane Powerhouse, Australia Council for the arts, Arts Queensland, Brisbane City Council
Material: Recorded music
Measurements or Duration: 67 minutes
Location: From date: To date:
Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse 2015-04-22 2015-05-02
Additional URLs:
Keywords: intermediality, composition, theatre soundtrack
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Music Composition (190406)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 David Megarrity
Deposited On: 24 Nov 2015 03:50
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2016 02:41

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