Wrap on Sunny in PA

Today was a big day working on Sunny, for we were covering a lot of my material. I'm lucky that, somehow (really thanks to Charlie Day) I have a job that I have always wanted. I get to work with lots of people, I get to connect with them, and I get to see things I have a hand in creating come to life.

Best Bar in Philly

I've also been lucky this year in the projects I've been composing for.  So far, my two main projects (Caucasian Chalk Circle and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) have amazing casts: Casts that show up and blow me away not only with their talent, but clear evidence of preparation. They listen to music I've given them when we're not together (and it shows) and then on the first run the music sounds great and exciting. They all sound good and I find it enormously satisfying.

It was also the first time I was on set with Artemis-both of us have worked on the show since first season, and we've worked on a few other theater/comedy projects together, but never been on set together. It's been awhile since I've seen or hung with her so it was great to catch up.

As always, it's sad to walk away from the show-as an actor or musician, or whatever you do that you love, you wish you were doing it again tomorrow and pray to god you get to do it at least once more.

Anyway, as usual, I can't say too much, but this season is promising to be an excellent one and a another step forward in ambitions and comedy for the show.   Find FX on those DVR's!




I did the music and sound design for this terrific play at the Meta Theater in Hollywood called "The Laughing Cow" by Jessica Abrams.  A little about the play:

If a Scream Happens Inside The Cubicle of a Hollywood Studio, Does anyone hear it? This is just one of the questions answered in Jessica Abrams new work. The starlet with a secret, angling for a comeback. The downtrodden assistants, vying for a break. Welcome to Hollywood, where everyone has a story. Some get to tell it, some don't. But when the general counsel of a family entertainment company expresses his political opinions and gets flagged by the FBI, decisions must be made and lives must change Jessica Abrams’ television writing credits include The Profiler for NBC and Watch Over Me for Fox/MyNetworkTV. Her play The First To Know was read in the MaD Play Reading Series last April, and her solo piece If I Look This Good, Why Do I Feel Like Sh*t? was read at the ExAngeles Writers Collective’s A Month of Sundays Reading Series this past October. She was a guest artist at the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in 2010

We also got a pretty nice review from LA Weekly in addition to being pick of the week, with a nice shout (though not by name) to my work:

“...there are nice touches: The set-change music is the whir of a photocopy machine, on which the too-smart-for-their-jobs women regularly take out their frustrations.”
— Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly

You can see the rest of the review here:

The producers and the production team were great, it was a lot of fun to work on and had a lot of new challenges.  Here are a couple of things that I did for the production.

The music for the show was one of the most but challenging parts.  I was brought in a little over a week before the final dress rehearsal and there were limited run throughs.  The show contains about 25 scenes all with set changes.  The changes moved fairly quick but there was no way to get a final time on each one (nor would I necessarily try and lock those in with such limited time).  So I had to attack the problem in two ways:

  1. Music Composition - Design each music cue so it can be looped from multiple points in the music with a clean ending
  2. QLab Program - Program the show into Qlab using the vamp feature

Music Composition

Here is a theme for the character Rebecca.  She actually has six or seven scenes, so I created multiple versions of this cue (varying up the instruments, adjusting the mix, etc.).  Here are two of them:

I used tighter sounds (such as xylophones or string plucks) and limited reverb so I could loop the body of it, or just the vamp at the end.  I had to commit where the vamp would go in Qlab for the show, but doing the recordings like this let me fine tune it all the way up to opening night.  Eventually, I'd see that the cue ran between 8 to 12 seconds (where it would just need an end vamp) or it would run 15 to 25 seconds (where the body would need to loop).

Here's another example which was used for two scenes that took place in The Desert.

This cue I used some softer instruments with more sustain, but you can tell that they never sustain past a measure of four allowing me to do clean vamps in either the body or just the end.  As it turned out, the first time I used it it just had the end vamp.  The second time it needed the full body.

QLab Program

This is where the fun began - the Devamp Cue.  This is by far one of my favorite cues in the QLab tool box.  It allows you to run an infinite loop and than trigger that loop to finish the loop and go onto the next cue, or play out the cue.  You need to rent the audio license for it, but it is well worth it.

The settings are incredibly easy to use and are setup almost as if you were conducting a pit orchestra for a musical.

As usual, I found myself singing the praises of QLab to the producers who were blown away by it's power.  We ran projections in addition to the sound effects and music.  All in all, there were over 225 individual cues called in the show either by the stage manager or automation (One sequence ran across a scene for over four minutes and contained over 20 continuos cues).

One more weekend left for the show!  Check it out at the Meta Theater and you can get tickets here: