Music his servant Ariel to gather spirits and magical


I used Sibelius to create a short 8 bar piece of music for
my coursework. In his plays, Shakespeare uses music to represent magic. Hence,
many of the fairies and feys in his plays speak in song and rhyme. This can
even be seen in The Tempest itself, as in Act IV Scene 1, Prospero introduces
the performance of a masque from spirits of the Earth: ‘I must use you in such another trick, go bring the rabble o’er whom I
give thee power, here to this place.’ (Shakespeare & Kermode, 1994, p.
95-97). Prospero orders his
servant Ariel to gather spirits and magical beings to perform for Miranda and
Ferdinand, as he is soon to relieve him of his services. The performance of
said beings is in verse and rhyme, preceded with the stage direction ‘soft music’ (p. 97), which is evidence
of music representing magic in Shakespeare.

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I chose to use a
flute, lute and treble and bass viols in this piece, as they were common
instruments used at the time. This can be seen in an excerpt from the pamphlet
‘An Entertainment for Elizabeth I at Elvetham, 1591’, which says: ‘After this speech, the Fairy Queene and her
maides daunced about the garland… with the musicke of an exquisite consort,
wherein was the Lute, Bandora, Base-violl, Citterne, Treble-violl, and Flute…’.
(An Entertainment for Elizabeth I at
Elvetham, 1591, 1591)

I converted my Sibelius file into MIDI, so that I could
transfer it into Logic Pro X. However, Logic does not include the Viol, an
instrument preceding the string family, as a usable instrument. Therefore, I
changed those instruments to a viola and cello, which have similar ranges and
tones. They also would still fit into an Elizabethan consort today; The Oxford
University Press released an article which discusses the types of instruments
used in Shakespeare plays: ‘… this
‘ideal’ consort consisted of one bass and one treble bowed string instrument, a
woodwind instrument, a flexible gut-strung plucked instrument with a wide range…’
(Duffin, 2016)

Finally, I
chose to make a separate music track with just the flute line. This would be
used to signal to the audience that the piece is beginning, and to establish
that not everything about the storm is as it seems.

Sound Effects

To make the
creaking of the boat, I recorded myself squeezing a wicker basket using the
Zoom H4N recorder, and then boosted the low-range, and reduced the high-end
frequencies in Logic Pro X. This created a more authentic, deep creaking sound.

An issue I
encountered was with the recording. The sound was very heavily panned left, and
was very quiet. To fix this, I boosted the volume of the sound after EQ, and
positioned it to the right to centralise it within my stereo headphones.

I decided to add the creaking as a preset to the piece, so
that it begins playing during the audience taking their seats. I chose to do
this to create the ambience of a swaying ship, and to help establish that the
first scene takes place at sea.

I sourced
thunder, wind and waves crashing from the internet, using an online SFX library, I did this rather than making them myself, because I found that
none of the sounds I created sounded authentic. I tried dropping metal trays
for thunder, recording wind outside and throwing water against walls for waves,
along with other experiments, but to no avail.

As these were the sound effects that continue throughout
most of the piece, I wanted to make them fit the scene without looping. To work
out the length of the scene, I read through the piece with some of my
coursemates, taking gaps for relevant movement and breathing between lines. The
scene came to approximately 2:47, so I edited the sound effect to be just over
3 minutes to give leeway to the actors.

For the whistle, I originally used a real whistle and
recorded it. However, I did some research into the kinds of whistle used by a
Boatswain, and realised that my sound was incorrect. I watched a video called
‘Sounds of the Bosun’s Call – 2010 Sea Scout Manual, 11th ed. Video 2’ (Dan
Maker, 2010), which demonstrated different whistles used by boatswains, and found
that the tone was very different to that of a traditional sport or policeman’s
whistle. As a result, I searched online to source a suitable sound, and found
one on YouTube (ProSound Effects, 2016), which I used in my piece.

To create the crash
and subsequent splash from the ship being wrecked at the end, I recorded breaking
wood and used similar sound effects sourced online (Sound Effects HD, 2017) (The
Hollywood Edge, 2015) to create a loud, cacophonous wrecking noise and splash.
I did this because I found that my initial sound effects weren’t enough to
establish the massive boat crash. I used multitracking to overlay multiple sounds,
and automated the volume of the splash to cover up the unsuitable ending of the




Cue Sheet

To help
understand the order of the cues before I inserted them into QLab, I created a
cue sheet on Excel. Palmer (2000, p. 223) describes cue sheets as ‘vital
documents to ensure that all of the relevant sound information is written down
logically and in a form that is easy to read’.

When writing
the document, I realised that a few cues could be performed by actors onstage
with practical props; I wrote this in the notes of each relevant cue, as this
is how they would have been done in the Elizabethan Era. I also included
offstage vocal lines, as these could be recorded and added to the cue list if
necessary. One reason for this was if the show had a small cast, and there was
not enough people to do the lines offstage.

I also noted how my speaker
would be controlled; I decided to link them into small groups so that they
could used for different areas of the stage: the C1s work 2 separate areas
behind the audience, the AX8s work from the stage and sky and the E12 Subs work
below the stage to create ambience and below deck sound.

QLab Track

After writing up my cue sheet, I inserted the files into my
QLab Track. The initial names of the files were different, so I changed them to
fit with the cue sheet. This was to make it easier to follow the sheet, as the
names of the cues would be the same. I looped the ‘Creaking Ship’ and
‘Thunderstorm and Wind’ sound effect using the infinite loop button, as this
means that they will continue playing, even if the actors go over the set time
that they were edited to be.

Speaker Plot

When writing my speaker plot, I had to decide where the
ideal placements for each speaker were. I chose to house my E12 Subs below the
stage, as the boosted bass from my creaking would sound as if it was coming
from the stage. I placed my Control 1’s behind each of the sets of seating, and
the AX8’s on bars in front to create immersive sound for the audience.


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