As I mentioned in my first blog, I intend to put together the first comprehensive contemporary musical theater repertoire catalogue. This catalogue will include over 150 writers, five of their most well-written songs, and give teachers access to their contact information and how to purchase their scores.
In order to get a better handle on the scope of this project, I’ve been trying to figure out what information would be most helpful to teachers looking for new musical theater repertoire, and how to best collect that data.
I’ve had a fairly easy time setting the parameters of what’s to be included, and have articulated that in an outline for writers interested in submitting materials. Here are some of the things I came up with:
- I’m only interested in collecting solo songs at this point. I believe that’s what most teachers are looking for, and those wishing to discover further repertoire options will still be able to use this catalogue as a great jumping-off point.
- I will consider all different genres of song, from legit to pop/rock, as long as the craft is at a high level and the vocal writing is appropriate. I realize everyone will have a slightly different view on the latter point. I do consider belt appropriate (so long as it’s done in a healthy way), and will include repertoire of that nature.
- I’m going to ask composers to show a wide variety in their writing, and select songs that are good for auditions (meaning no lead sheets or incredibly intricate accompaniments).
Things I will not accept include:
- Songs that put unreasonable demands on the voice.
- Songs over 5 minutes long.
- Musical scenes with dialogue (i.e. – no soliloquies).
That was the easy part. The real test was figuring how to collect all the information in a format I could manage.
My friends Korland and Lorene both suggested Google Docs. After a lot of trial and error, I figured out what questions I wanted to ask the writers and created an exhaustive e-mailable form which, when filled out, automatically downloads into an excel spreadsheet. I had to create two different forms: one for composer/lyricists or composer/lyricist teams, and another for writers (either composers or lyricists) who intend on submitting songs with multiple collaborators.
Each form asks for the writer’s contact information and bio, then acquires detailed information about each song. For each of the five songs, submitting writers will need to describe the song type (i.e. dramatic ballad, comedic up-tempo, patter song, etc…) and voice type (i.e. legit soprano, Broadway baritone, etc…) from drop-down menus, then give a fuller description of the piece in a space provided. This will help me accurately categorize the submitted materials. The writers will also let me know if and how their music is available for purchase – either in a published book or online – or if they’d like to be contacted directly about their songs.
After the form is completed, I will ask the writers to e-mail me a headshot, PDF of the scores and accompanying recordings. Once they’ve done this, I will confirm their submission is complete.
Before the writers electronically sign their submission form, I outline several things for them:
- I will follow up with any questions I have about their submissions.
- I will be equitable to each writer and song. If there’s a song I don’t feel is appropriate, I will contact the author(s) directly.
- The writers will have an opportunity to see a draft of the catalogue prior to the conference and make any necessary changes. They will also receive a pdf of the finalized catalogue.
- I reserve the right to sell the catalogue on my website at a later date in order to cover administrative costs.
- This project is traveling to the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) National Conference in July where voice teachers will be able to peruse music samples and scores in electronic form. At no time, however, will I sell the writer’s music or allow teachers have direct access to their submitted scores and recordings. The point of this project is to get writers paid for their great work.
I’m still fine-tuning all of this, and doing a couple dry runs to make sure the information correctly downloads into the spreadsheet. I hope to send out a personal invitation to musical theatre writers in the next week or so.
And then, I’ll brace myself for the flood! I have a feeling I’m going be inundated with submissions!
In the meantime, my next blog will take us to Colony Records, where voice teacher Lorene Phillips and I will chat up some of the sheet music gurus about what contemporary musical theatre songs and scores are currently available.
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Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.