A Stage Play by Bertolt Brecht, Translation by Peter Tegel
BAAL Transition Music composed, performed and recorded by Raelea Phillips
A University of New Orleans Theatre Production 2004
Copyright © Raelea C Phillips 2010. All rights reserved.
Dining Room into Baal’s Basement (Scene 1-2)
Here we leave a dining room setting of poet elites, prudish upper class appreciators, and a drunken Baal to a casual discussion between Baal and Johannes about the triumphs and discomforts of love. This discussion takes place in Baal’s basement. Based on the director’s wishes, I chose to leave this scene with a frantic pace; steadily increasing tempo then resolving into a mesmerizing, starry melody to identify the passion in discussion between Baal and Johannes.
I began this transition with the simple use of octaves in the left hand with a short repeated pattern gradually increasing tempo then moved into a light thematic melody with the right hand. The melody, which is heard throughout many of the future transitions, is a recognizable “Hush Little Baby” tune. The director and I chose this tune as Baal’s theme. This theme represents Baal’s few moments of contentment.
Baal’s Basement into An Inn (Scene 2-3)
Here we leave Baal kissing Johannes’s forehead, after advising against the indulgences of love, and move into an inn of card-playing drunks. Baal is among them spouting off his work of polluted poetry prior to the entrance of the play’s first mistress, Emilie.
To leave our basement scene, I composed a whimsical, mysterious melody followed by a strong, industrial mechanic pounding of rhythmic tones to portray the harshness expressed in Baal’s poetry and the grotesque filth of drunks at the Inn. I began this transition with an eerie and almost haunting melody in F harmonic minor with the right hand. This melody repeats and continues then fades out after overlapping the left hand hammering straight eighths in octaves at a steady rhythm.
An Inn into Baal’s Basement (Scene 3-4i)
Here we leave Emilie’s tearful moment as a result of drunken mockery from Baal and the ensemble. The scene cuts to black after Baal jerks Emilie’s head up from her hands and kisses her vigorously.
We then move to Baal’s basement where Johannes’s fiancée, Johanna, is crying regretful tears lying in bed with Baal.
To leave this scene I chose a mixture of angry and sorrowful sounds. This was to represent the meanness of Baal and the tearful pains of Emilie and Johanna. Along with the sorrow of these characters that were completely devoured by their love for Baal, I felt their confusion in loving him needed a chaotic, dissonant melody rather than a sad, slow melodic theme.
I began this transition with the left hand in octaves outlining the D Major and minor triads, then moved to the right hand playing fluttering triads in F Major, E-flat minor and D minor. The sound of dissonance created by the exchange of these chords helps to set a tone of empathy for the confused broken-hearted women.
Baal's Basement (Scene 4i-4iii)
Here we see the departure of Johanna after the realization of Baal’s contempt. We then move into a short interlude of music while Johannes’s ghost stands amidst Baal’s foulness and his acknowledgement of Johanna's presence. Baal, instead, runs to find another woman dragging into his basement innocent Sophie, where they dance and become acquainted with one another.
I composed a series of swirling, dazed and discordant sounds for the troublesome news of Johanna’s suicide and a dancing love potion that consumes the innocent Sophie while in the arms of Baal. This keyboard theme simply outlines an F minor triad.
Baal’s Basement into Whitewashed Houses with Brown Tree Trunks (Scene 4iii-5)
Here we see the bonding of Sophie and Baal. We then move into a scene with The Tramp in a drunken stupor followed by the arrival of a drunken Baal irritated by the sound of church bells.
This transition begins with a tormenting ripping effect and moves to an airy mood of delusion.
The theme starts off with octaves in the left hand outlining a C minor 6th. The keyboard sound chosen for this theme best characterized Baal’s emotional rape of Sophie. The transition moves into a lighthearted melody outlining an E-flat Major chord. It ends with the sound of church bells in which Baal enters holding his hands over his ears complaining,
“Not to mention ringing the bells when plants die!” This line is directed toward the live keyboardist which is the one unique acknowledgement of the musician as an actor.
As described in my concept, the director wanted live music for the purpose of aesthetically representing Bertolt Brecht as a playwright. You will notice the musician, myself, off to the right in the photograph of the Inn in Transition 15.
Whitewashed Houses into Spring Night Beneath Trees (Scene 5-6)
Here we leave the drunken conversation between Baal and Tramp and move to a romantic scene of lovers in the dissipation of rain. Baal and Sophie lie among the roots of the trees after making love.
This transition required a romantic but light, sweet melody instead of a heavy, sappy one. Being one of the simplest transitions, I chose falling arpeggios in the familiar sweet sound of a major key.
The melody begins at a steady allegro tempo and gradually slows until the rain stops into a dripping hush. The hush picks up with Baal lazily and sweetly saying, “It’s stopped raining.”
Spring Night Beneath Trees into A Club The Night Cloud (Scene 6-7)
Here we leave the two lovers to cuddle among the leaves and move into a nightclub where a singer named Savettka and a pianist are entertaining a drunken crowd. The nightclub owner, Mjurk, is arguing with Baal about his contract and obligation to perform after Savettka finishes her set.
This transition is unique because it is a vocal song with piano accompaniment. The director wanted a jazzy and somewhat sleazy nightclub song. I composed the music in A minor and used a poem written by Bertolt Brecht called “I Never Loved You More” for the lyrics.
I Never Loved You More
Poem by Bertolt Brecht [Translation]
I never loved you more, ma soeur
Than as I walked away from you that evening.
The forest swallowed me, the blue forest, ma soeur
The blue forest and above it pale stars in the west.
I did not laugh, not one little bit, ma soeur
As I playfully walked towards a dark fate --
While the faces behind me
Slowly paled in the evening of the blue forest.
Everything was grand that one night, ma soeur
Never thereafter and never before --
I admit it: I was left with nothing but the big birds
And their hungry cries in the dark evening sky.
Ich habe dich nie je so geliebt...
Ich habe dich nie je so geliebt, ma soeur
Als wie ich fortging von dir in jenem Abendrot.
Der Wald schluckte mich, der blaue Wald, ma soeur
Über dem immer schon die bleichen Gestirne
im Westen standen.
Ich lachte kein klein wenig, gar nicht, ma soeur
Der ich spielend dunklem Schicksal entgegenging --
Während schon die Gesichter hinter mir
Langsam im Abend des blauen Walds verblaßten.
Alles war schön an diesem einzigen Abend, ma soeur
Nachher nie wieder und nie zuvor --
Freilich: mir blieben nur mehr die großen Vögel
Die abends im dunklen Himmel Hunger haben.
The Night Cloud into Green Fields & Blue Plum Trees (Scene 7-8)
Here we witness Baal sneaking off. Mjurk, realizing his departure, ends the scene with a boisterous scream “Baaaaaal!” We then move to a more peaceful setting of Baal and Ekart getting acquainted.
The transition here involved a discordant sound followed by a melodious narcotic high. I began this transition by playing a dissonant minor 2nd of E and F natural to mimic the scream of Mjurk with the right hand. The left hand then plays octaves in E-flat Major using the I, IV, and V chords. The melody moves into the right hand bringing back Baal’s theme “Hush Little Baby” to soothe the listener into Baal’s moment of contentment while conversing with Ekart.
Green Fields. Blue Plum Trees into Intermission (Scene 8-Intermission)
Baal speaking to Ekart: “That’s because of the pale summer sky, brother. Shall we soak up the warm water of a blue pond? Otherwise the white roads that lead across the land will draw us like angels ropes up to heaven.” This transition is the first time we hear “The Journey Theme of Baal & Ekart.”
This theme has a warm and pretty melody unlike the dissonant disturbing transitions heard earlier.
It is played into the intermission between Act I and II bringing the audience down to earth after floating away into Baal’s poetic drunken delusional world.
Intermission into A Hut “The Journey Theme of Baal & Ekart” (Intermission-Scene 11)
Here the same theme is used again opening Act II with Baal and Ekart entertaining one another with poetry and nature. Approximately eight months has passed so the two have become well acquainted in their travels. Baal has also become more obnoxiously drunk these days.
A Hut into A Plain Sky (Scene 11-12)
Here we go into the “Chase Sequence” where Sophie enters pregnant and pleading with Baal to not run from her. The director and I decided on an accompaniment of “chase” music to give contrast to the other transitions. There were no fades or cut’s to black between these two transitions. We go from Baal and Ekart conversing to Sophie’s entrance then to an animated chase which begins in slow motion.
The chase lasts about 20 seconds then ends with Sophie falling…”My knees are giving way. Why are you running like a mad man?” I played a simple chromatic scale for approximately three octaves then fell with a glissando.
A Plain Sky into Brown Wooden Bar (Scene 12-13)
Now we hear the scream of Sophie’s “Baaaaaal!” as Baal and Ekart leave her in the darkness of the wood. They come upon a bar of ailing beggars bringing champagne for the exchange of a place to rest.
This transition begins with a discordant airy shriek to follow Sophie’s scream then fades into soft chords of wind. Brecht specified “Night. Wind…” I played an F minor triad with the left hand in the lower octaves of the keyboard. The setting used had various sounds of ripping wind which was easily manipulated by the pumping of the foot pedal.
Brown Wooden Bar into Country Road Willows (Scene 13-15)
Here we move out of the ailing bar and into the woods with just Baal and Ekart. Their travels together have become more intimate at this point of the play.
In deciding a keyboard setting and theme, the director and I chose to bring back Baal’s theme “Hush Little Baby” with a stepwise progression of the pitches in the melody. Baal’s contentment is the solace he has with Ekart’s companionship. This is expressed through his poem which he sings to Ekart. This recitation characterizes the pinnacle revelation of the play:
When she had drowned, and started her slow descent
Down the streams to where the rivers broaden
The opal sky shown most magnificent
As if it had to be her body’s guardian
Wrack and seaweed cling to her as she swims
Slowly their burden adds to her weight.
Coolly fishes play about her limbs
Creatures and growths encumber her in her final state.
And in the evening the sky grew dark as smoke
And at night the stars kept the light still soaring.
But soon it cleared as dawn again broke
To preserve her sequence of evening and morning.
As her pale body decayed in the water there
It happened (very slowly) that God gradually forgot it
First her face, then the hands, and right at the last her hair
Then she rotted in the rivers where much else rotted.
Country Roads Willows into Maple Trees in the Wind (Scene15-17)
Like Transition 11, there were no fades or cuts to black during this transition. Here the director wanted the music to accompany Baal and Ekart as they circled one another approximately 20 seconds.
I chose a variation of the “Journey Theme of Baal & Ekart” for this transition.
The chords I played outlined the same structure as the ending of Transitions 9 & 10 which is the theme that closes Act I and opens Act II.
The angelic resonance of the alternating C Major and A Major chords are a paradigm of the relationship.
Maple Trees in the Wind into Inn
Here we begin the eight year journey of Baal and Ekart ending with their arrival at an inn. Hence, I selected the journey theme again, except with a different keyboard setting.
The director wanted driving and decadent sounds that illustrated the feel of traveling.
Inn into A Country Road (Scene18-20)
Here we see the murder of Ekart by the hands of Baal. This too can be considered another pivotal point of the play. We move to a scene of cold and wind with two police officers searching for Baal.
The director suggested the music needed to echo Baal’s last line after he killed Ekart.
I chose a keyboard setting that emulated a human voice and played the downward series of G to F after Baal looked to the audience and whispered “Ekart.”
This setting had soft windy tones that followed the human voice in which I utilized, again, the foot pedal to create a surge of windy sounds.
|A Country Road into Hut in the Forest |
For the final transition the police officers exit and we see a dying Baal lying in a hut where men are playing cards and drinking before leaving for work. The sound of nature’s fury was more important for this transition than music.
The keyboard setting chosen was simply a storm of thunder and rain. This best represents the death of a drunken poet named Baal.
Directed by Philip Karnell
Scenery: Kevin Griffith
Costumes: Tony French
Lighting: Scott Cally
Sound Design: Raelea C Phillips
Stage Manager: Jessie Tyson
Cast of BAAL
Baal -Michael Aaron Santos
Ekart -Joe Billesbach
Sophie/Ensemble -Kathleen Johnston
Mjurk/Piller/Ensemble -Scott Gannon Patton
Johannes -Jai’ Wayne Hodge
Johanna - Katie Betz
Emilie/Ensemble -Raelea C Phillips
The Tramp/Mech/Ensemble -Michael Harkins
Luise/Ensemble -Lisa Picone
Savettka/Ensemble -Tiffany Dawn Patrick
Lupu/Ensemble -Ryan Bruce
Gougou/Ensemble -Rachel Hogan
Pscheirer/Ensemble -Jared Gore
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