Macbeth | Music for a Broken World

Macbeth | Music for a Broken World


(UNSETTLING, DISCORDANT MUSIC) WITCH: Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis. MACBETH: And such an instrument
I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools
of the other senses, LADY MACBETH:
The smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia
will not sweeten this little hand. (CACOPHONY) MACBETH: Though you untie the winds
and let them fight against the churches. They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, but, bear-like,
I must fight the course. (DISCORDANT HORN) ORLANDO: The very first time we all met up was kind of hilarious and fascinating. And one of the things that became clear was that any experience that you’d had
playing other instruments was going to be helpful,
but it wasn’t going to be the whole thing. (RUMBLING) We’ve moved on to the bipolarphone. Another sound which kind of
emerges out of that and kind of… lifts off from… – LETTY: A high one might do that.
– Yeah. (HIGH, PIERCING NOTE) MARC: So you play as long as possible – on the springs.
– Yeah. And then comfortably move
to your clarinet position, I think. I think music in theatre
is quite a specific project, from no music at all
or one instrumentalist up to a large-scale orchestra, and it all really depends on the story and on the director’s take on that story. Rufus was describing
a world in the future, a post-apocalyptic kind of world, shaken by catastrophe and by war, which features a lot of plastic.
There is a lot of steel, there is kind of an industrial feel to it. Bringing that together, you are already
describing a kind of instrument. You are already describing
a kind of sound. We started thinking about how can we use what is in this particular world
to build instruments? What would the musicians
of this world play? Let’s start with the horn. LETTY: That was my first trip
to the music room in the National Theatre. It was definitely a kind of, like, ‘Whoa!
What’s going to go on here?’ experience, in that everything
was really kind of baffling. And is there one
that we could…? So we can compare them all. – And then…
– Once more. (HORN-LIKE NOTE) The more it gets coiled,
the easier it is to play. Simon had got all these little bits
of things to try, and we didn’t really know
what any of them would sound like or whether they would work. (PLAYS SOME NOTES} That was definitely
like being plunged into a totally other environment
in a very exciting way, but with no idea of what the outcome
would be. (LAUGHS) This feels, like, really similar,
but obviously fairly different. (CLEAR, HORN-LIKE NOTES) That kind of pitch is very effective,
and I could maybe… (PLAYS SHORT, SHARP NOTES) (PLUCKING AND DINGING) (WHIRRING) SIMON: The first job of a musician
is to listen. When you apply yourself
to a newly made instrument, what’s exciting about it is the dialogue
you have with the object in your hand. (REVERBERATING SCREECH) Because of the physics
of the way these things work, if you go very low, inside that sound, there are all sorts of possibilities
that are much higher. And they’re not particularly stable. They’re quite difficult to control. Your ear guides you
to learn to control them and to manipulate them. And that’s a really enticing process
for a creative musician. (REVERBERATING, RASPING DRONE) That’s great! SARAH: You know it’s very fragile, and I think
that’s really rather wonderful. It’s really lovely to be playing something
that isn’t conventional, and you have to really, really work
in a different way to get the best out of it. A rhinoceros or something,
but a kind of ancient rhinoceros. SARAH: To be given the space to do that
is really great. Absolutely great. (GURGLING AND BUBBLING) That’s it. Just experiment
with how you tilt it. I’ve got my own personal fountain!
(LAUGHTER) ORLANDO: For me,
it was a completely different way of thinking about composition. Normally, I write for
instruments that I know. In this case, it’s more a question
of listening very carefully to what Simon’s instruments do and somehow incorporating that
into the music that we made. That’s an amazing sound! (FEEDBACK-LIKE DRONE) (TWANGING, HUM) SIMON: I think one
of the important things about the instruments made for Macbeth is that they slide very easily between what’s seen as more traditionally musical and more traditionally sound design. And morph from one to the other. In fact, the distinction
starts to dissipate. – I can get the same pitch as that.
– Lovely. MARC: For us, the question was,
how can we capture that excitement of a one-off kind of sound
that kind of happens in the moment?
How can we put it in a production? And for my feeling, the trick that Simon
played was the springs. (REVERBERATING WHIRR) It’s a thing that is
a very personal thing to him. It’s an instrument that he uses in his
gigs, in his concerts as a percussionist, and it was the key for us to say,
‘OK, that thing we can control’, and it is very visual
and we can blow it up in scale. That’s the goal
of this kind of experimentation. (CHIME) (DISTURBING, DISCORDANT RASPING) (FEEDBACK-LIKE DRONE) (DEEP, RESONANT HUM) (VOICES ON STAGE) Find out as we go along… – And does it come out when Sarah starts?
– I think it might do… What I know is inside the instrument
is only that much. There’s also that much
that the player knows is inside there, and then there’s this whole load
of other stuff that you discover together. (PLINK) Every little surface
has got something in it. (DING) (CLUNK, DING) There’s some little bells at the top.
(DING) You offer up an instrument
as a sort of gift to the player, and the player brings it to life. (DING, CLANK) (LOW, REVERBERATING HUM) (HUM FADES OUT) I think we’ve found an ending. (PLINK)

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