Skagit Impressions Three from the Gary Brown and Conrad Askland project. Farmland photos of Skagit County, WA by Gary Brown with music by Conrad Askland.
This third impression includes my composition “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.” This is a five layer composition for use in video game adaptive scoring. Each of the five layers are complete unto themselves, but also layer to create different levels of tension. In a gaming environment these different layers would be triggered in and out by player actions and states of being.
For the Skagit Impressions Three video, each layer builds sequentially. Starting with layer one – then layer one plus layer two – then layer one two and three and so on until all five layers are playing together.
In the video below, I show how this same music might be used in a gaming environment. The layers are used for the different states and actions of a character in the video game Uncharted 3.
Skagit Impressions Two – Music as Water. Photography by Gary Brown. Vocal by Leisha Skinner. Music and Melody by Conrad Askland (ASCAP).
This is the second in the series for the “Gary Brown and Conrad Askland Project” where I take the photography of Gary Brown and create music to accompany his photos. We do this to express our impression of the natural beautiful landscapes and farmlands of Skagit County, WA. This is also the are famous in the spring with tourists for the Skagit County Tulip Festival. There are many photographers that take photos during the tulip season, but Gary Brown takes photos of these landscapes all year long so you get to see different hues and variations of the landscapes.
ON THE MUSIC
The music I wrote for this, which I call “Music as Water” was part of a weekly assignment for a class on Songwriting for TV and Film that I took with Berklee College of Music. The assignment was to write for the least number of instruments possible, with the option of adding a vocal. I chose a piano and vocal arrangement. There is an original piano track and then I added some light fills in the top octave in between the vocal lines.
The music stays in Cm (natural minor) and floats in a 12/8 time signature. When we recording the vocal, we experimented with several different vowel sounds. At the final mix I found myself enjoying the natural “Ah” sound, so that is what you hear in the final mix.
Here is the music as it could work as sync placement in a television series:
“Where None Would Go” (Gettysburg Memorial Song) is a piece I wrote to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. This song released July 4, 2016. Words and Music by Conrad Askland. Vocalist: Leisha Skinner. To a variation of the melody “Shenandoah”.
I was inspired to write this song after spending many hours of discussion on the Civil War with my friend, Joe Bowen. He is a scholar of American History where he studied the Civil War at Harvard College. He will setup battle tactics and battle strategies on tables using napkins, playing cards, cups – whatever is around – to really immerse me in details of the Civil War. The conversations usually start with prose, then get into historical details and facts of the battles and politics of the time, then end with philosophical musings, anecdotes and quotes from soldier’s letters.
Photography of Skagit County, WA farmlands by Gary L. Brown with piano music and nature sound field recordings by Conrad Askland.
Gary Brown is known locally as one of the premier photographers of surrounding landscapes in the Skagit County farmlands of Washington State in the US Pacific Northwest. He also does excellent live theater photography and has been photographer for many theatrical shows that I have been involved in locally. A few months ago he took me out on a photo shoot with him to hunt for different sunlight, shadows and cloud formations after a local rain shower. It was incredible to get a sense of how he views our local land through his lens.
These are questions I received about my musical “Romeo and Juliet”. My musical version of RJ premiered in January 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA. Directed by Joe Bowen and presented by META Performing Arts. The challenge set for this production was to score the entire musical using only Shakespeare’s original text. No watering down the words. No slang and updated lyrics. And no hipster modern setting. We set the set and costumes to the original Shakespeare time period of the late 16th century. It was a very challenging project and extremely fulfilling. Here’s a link to check out original musicals by Conrad Askland.
How have you adapted the themes of the play to adapt and suit the modern day audience and politics?
Yes and no. In my rendition, I use Shakespeare’s original words. For the premiere run I requested period costumes and sets (1590’s). Of course, a future company could choose to change that approach, but to me those considerations are superficial. To my personal taste, those changes detract instead of adding to the production. Musically, I scored the show in a combination of North American Broadway style and light opera. So it was the music itself that was tailored to a musical theatre crowd while the text and presentation was true to the period in which it was written.
Los Dorkos perform Americano Pharaoh (The Donald Trump Song). I wrote the song and produced it for them and it was so much fun to work on. I’m interested to see reaction to the song. It’s a novelty song and like with musical theater, you never quite know how it’s going to land until you put it in front of an audience. Humor is a fine line between what is funny to one and not another. So here it is, just released today – let’s find out what happens…
The Project Management song by Conrad Askland.
I wrote this as part of a Project Management class I took with Berklee School of Music. I am currently working on some massive long term projects and took this class to refine my skills in project management. It was well worth it and I highly recommend the class. I’m pretty sure this is probably the first dance song ever written about Project Management.
I am very honored to be included in the book Music Direction for the Stage: A View from the Podium, by Joseph Church and published by Oxford University Press. This textbook also includes a forward by Alan Menken.
Most people know me as a music director, pianist or conductor for live shows and recordings. But what is very dear to my heart are my new musicals. These have all had an amateur 3 week premiere run to work out all the script, score and technical elements. They are all currently unpublished and await a professional run and agent representation.
I hope you will contact me either about agent representation of these musicals, or about performing them with your theatre group. I am very excited to see what other groups will do with these new works!
Romeo and Juliet the musical
Overview: Set entirely to William Shakespeare original text. In over 400 years there has never been a successful musical version of Romeo and Juliet using only Shakespeare’s original words. I believe this could be the first.
Reviews: “Revolutionary music”
For more info visit: http://www.RJmusical.com
PAN the musical
Overview: A retelling of the Peter Pan and Wendy story by JM Barrie. A new Peter Pan musical with classic score and updated for contemporary audience interaction.
Reviews: “Askland creates magic again”
For more info visit: http://www.PanMusical.com
Witches! the musical
Overview: The Salem Witch Trials come to life in 1692 Massachusetts.
For more info visit: http://www.WitchesMusical.com
Thank you to Marla Bronstein and Entertainment News Northwest magazine for their cover story on the premiere of my third full length musical: Romeo and Juliet.
Read the full article on the ENNW website at http://issuu.com/ennw/docs/ennw-january_2015
My upcoming musical theater opera, “Romeo and Juliet” was written with an Akai LPK25 two-octave USB keyboard. What? Muahaha, yes! In retrospect kind of hard to fathom, but there she is. I did all the music composition and beginning orchestration sketches in the Officer’s Bar of a cruise ship on my off time. The Akai LPK25 keyboard has convenient octave switching buttons on the side so I was able to easily navigate through bass and treble parts for fairly effortless composing. It was only a little tedious when doing soprano vocal lines; that’s when I really wish I had that extra octave. But hey, writing an opera on a two octave keyboard that fits in my computer bag – I’ll take that! Thank you Akai for an awesome product!
After the run of my latest musical, “PAN” (http://www.PanMusical.com), I’ve escaped to Europe and the Bahamas to perform, reflect and work on new projects. I love the different musical influences, especially Rome, Italy and Greece where I stumbled upon a concept for a new musical theater work that is dark and engaging.
Now in the Bahamas, I can’t really say that the musical influences of the tropical islands apply to my projects much, unless you need Reggae or club dance music ideas. But it’s good for relaxing and I’ve enjoyed the beaches and tropical locations with my compadres including Nassau, Belize, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Honduras and Jamaica.
So, to current projects: Yes, it’s true that I am working on a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
At present I am totally immersed in the writing, editing and revision process for several musical theater shows. It is exciting, depressing, grueling, tedious and ultimately the most fulfilling of all possible worlds for me. Several other writers have bared their souls on the writing process so I thought I’d share a little of my own experience.
Entertainment News Northwest Magazine October 2012 issue. Cover photo of Witches! the Musical. Photo by Lindsey Bowen. Visit the Entertainment News NW website at: http://www.ennw.info and read their article on Witches! the Musical by Laurel Larsen here: http://www.ennw.info/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/October-2012.pdf
World Premiere Oct. 19 – Nov. 3, 2012 at the Historic Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, WA. Presented by Theater Arts Guild. Directed by Jane Skinner. Book, music and lyrics by Conrad Askland. For tickets go to: http://www.lincolntheatre.org/performance/witches-musical
Witches! the Musical World Premiere October 19 – November 3, 2012 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA – USA. LincolnTheatre.org
September 7, 2012 – Mount Vernon, WA
Interview with Conrad Askland – writer of “Witches! the Musical”
Why did you choose the subject of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials?
Originally I had picked a different subject. But while researching that other project I ran into a major problem with the plot that ruined the project for me. That plot problem became my new focus for a different project which I started working on, and may be my next project. During that process I realized it was just too big to attack for my first full length musical. So I started over looking specifically for an existing story, a topic I felt hadn’t been done well as musical theater in the past, and that incorporated children.
Auditions for “Witches! the Musical” June 5-6, 2012 at the Historic Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, WA. Show dates will be Oct. 19-Nov. 3 at the Lincoln Theater. This is a world premiere show about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. For more info and audition signups visit http://www.WitchesMusical.com.
Produced by TAG – the Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County.
I really want to quite smoking. I’ve been smoking for 26 years at a pack or 1.5 packs a day. Today was my quitting day. I made it 7 hours. Was dizzy, disorientated and thought about smoking almost every second. I’m smoking a cigarette now as I write this.
I don’t want to die from a smoking related disease. I have a lot more music work to do. Any tips from people that successfully quit smoking?
Conrad Askland’s Haunted Mansion Sound Effects released October 17, 2011.
This was a very fun, exhausting and scary project to work on. The fun part was I improvised a lot of different creepy pipe organ, harpsichord and piano music to create a feel I liked for the different Halloween themes. My favorite part was playing a lot of JS Bach style pipe organ bits interspersed with the expected Halloween tritone movements.
August 28, 2011 was the 3rd anniversary of Cirque Du Soleil’s ZAIA show in Macau (SAR), China. Above is one of the new promotional posters. You can click it for a larger view.
Cirque Du Soleil ZAIA band
Maria Elena Medina (cello, viol), Olivier Milchberg (guitar, plucked strings, flutes), Gabriel Cloutier (singer), George Manz (key 2), Conrad Askland (bandleader, key 1, accordion), Rose Winebrenner (singer), Darrin Johnson (drums), Eduard Harutyunyan (percussion), Justin Wilman (violin, recorder).