Dracula Overture

conductor3.jpgHere it is, my new Dracula Overture. People have had emotional experiences listening to it. I wrote this for the Skagit Valley College Theater Department’s presentation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula at McIntyre Hall (Mount Vernnon, WA) – February 2007.

UPDATE – Check out the Dracula Overture Remix Competition!

I was asked to write music for the show less than 48 hours before it opened. Understandably many of the music cues were added on subsequent shows. This is the mix used on the closing show, February 18, 2007.

Dracula Overture by Conrad Askland – MP3

It’s pretty dang creepy. It’s an overture for Dracula, it should be. I did a rough sketch of it and got positive feedback from the cast so I did a quick orchestration and added in female vocals to round it out. Dracula’s castle is located in the Carpathian mountains – the cast jokingly refer to this song as the “Carpathian National Anthem”.

One thing I like about the intent of this piece – it sobers up the audience for the mood of the play very quickly. Interesting to me, when I first did a remix with the female vocals I brought all of the vocals down in the mix. It didn’t have the same effect, didn’t feel like the audience was in the mood of the production. I brought the vocals back up and it seemed to do the trick.

The heavy chant is derivative of the Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. I often pull ideas from the Rite of Spring when I’m working on darker pieces. Why? The Rite of Spring pretty much freaks me out. It should be noted that the Rite of Spring was dedicated by Igor Stravinsky to the Glory of God, he had a religious conversion late in life. But when Rite of Spring was first premiered it caused riots. The music is dark and is often used as a template for suspense and horror soundtracks. The theme of Rite of Spring is based on pagan dance.

Several people have asked me what language is being sung on my Dracula Overture. It’s just words I made up using percussive consonants and quasi Latin. I wanted to allude to Dracula and the struggle against good and the power of the crucifix. So I came up with the word “Drahko” to phonetically represent Dracula and the Latin “Christo” with an “o” on the end. There is also the word “Creya”, an allusion to the Creed and the Spanish “creer” (to believe). The end result should be nice percussive sounds that have the illusion of being Eastern European – and a little quasi Latin as a secondary layer of meaning for those familiar with Latin and the Mass. The most difficult part was to quickly invent words that did not remind people of English words. The intent was to create the feeling that a chorus from ancient times was singing.

Dracula is indeed a story of redemption. In this Steven Deitz version of Dracula, there is no cliff hanger at the end. There is no scene that says “Hey, Dracula might still be out there.” Dracula and his minions are completely destroyed by the power of faith in the cross, and the bravery that only love can fuel.

And I say all that partly as a pre-emptive excuse. It was my intent to write a dark piece, but the finished product is more ghastly than I had anticipated. This one time, I slightly regret having acheived my goal. My regret lies in this: my songs of redemption that give the whole production final repose and balance to faith have not been orchestrated. So listening to t he overture by itself is like swallowing a cup of salt….when it should be mixed in with the full meal. It does not make sense to me to orchestrate them now unless preparing a new production.

Perhaps there is an angel out there who will commission me to complete the entire Dracula as a full opera as it should be. I am well aware many have tried on this plot and failed, but those people were not me. šŸ™‚

Lyrics Phonetically
Drah-koh Deh Soh Lay Kree Vah
Eesteh Pray-ah-vah Kree-stoh
Say-yah Mee-ah-stoh Ah-krah Pree-ay-too-ah
Loh-krah Pray-ah-soh-lah-pay
Tay-ah Say Pray-goo-lah-tay
Vee-ah Pray-ah-toe-fay-ah Drah-koh-say-lah
Drah-koh Say-lah

Lyrics as Language
Drako De So Le Kriva
Iste Preava Kristo
Saya Miasto Akra Preatua
Lokra Preasolappe
Tea Se Pregulate
Via Preatofea Drako Se La
Drako Creya

9 thoughts on “Dracula Overture

  1. Okay, now you’ve got me sitting straight up in my chair, looking over my shoulder…this is not good, because I’m the world’s slowest morning person – strong tea and cigarettes while my eyes focus…instead my ears are at attention and my brain is scrambling to translate…went to your site, and ah-ha!…there it is, I missed it before, your explanation of the piece…you’re a very bad man, lol, because I’ve got the creepy willies happening here and on top of it, ‘con’ talk (can you speak it? Eg: Yeezoo ezare eza vezerezy bezad mezan thezis mezornezing) scrambling in my grey matter. Lol, a curse on you, as I can still hear the drum beat and
    voice like a clock in my head. Going to get more tea…and pull my very long hair into a pony-tail so no bats get stuck in it.

  2. Is there anyway to listen to your amazing, horrifying overture somewhere other than your site. i.e. an mp3 player, cd, etc.?

  3. Hey Jack/Drac,
    I think it’s only here on this site. Ironically I’ve had hundreds of CD’s on the market in the past – but the Dracula Overture is uber cool and not on any CD. Was done for a local theater production and only used once so not in circulation.

    I’m glad you like it. And glad you thought it was “horrifying”. Music is powerful, eh?

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