You know what I realized today? The ensembles in musicals are actually some of the most talented people. I mean, think about it. They can sing, act, AND dance, all while maintaining a character they never got a name for. They often understudy multiple roles, and don’t get as much credit as they deserve. If you’re feeling down because you were cast in the ensemble, put that head up high. Your director casted you in the ensemble because they believe you can create that character. You do more dancing than the main characters most times. Sometimes, you do more singing and acting, often with harder vocal parts because you need different harmonies and melodies. You’re still talented. You’re still worth something. And don’t let anyone, ever, make you not believe that.


Now for one which I’m immensely proud of. This is an idea that I’ve wanted to do for a long time before I finished it a couple of months ago. It’s a 29-minute tone poem depicting three different scenes in Norway. I should make clear the weird irony that I am not Norwegian, nor have I ever been to the country – unfortunately – but I absolutely love the country. The three images of nature “shown” are Trollkirka (0:00), Geirangerfjorden (7:58) and Nordlyset (14:26) and I encourage you to Google image search them.

In the piece I’ve made extensive use of motifs. The first one that appears is in the celli and basses at the beginning, and I call this the traveller motif. This reappears in every section, but developed. In the 2nd section the melody has been turned into a waltz in the major. In the 3rd section it turns into a single chord that gradually builds. Another motif that any Norwegian will recognise is the Norwegian national anthem Ja, vi elsker dette landet, fragments of which are strewn throughout. The piece even ends with a harmonisation of the full national anthem in A-flat major, the parallel major to the G-sharp minor we begin in. Each section also has its own motifs, such as a very hidden obscure transmogrification of Here Comes the Bride used in the 1st section to represent the kirka (church) aspect of Trollkirka. Finally, I have striven to make every little bit correspond to a narrative in my mind, be it an episode of being chased by trolls, a display of the flora and fauna of the fjord, or the aurora borealis rising into the sky.

I’m most proud of this work because firstly I’ve managed to create 29 minutes of minutes which I don’t think get boring, and secondly I think the music does accurate represent the images I wanted to depict.

As a final note, good luck ever trying to get this performed: my percussion section for this is timpani, vibraphone, xylophone, tubular bells, triangle, crash cymbals, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, snare drum, bass drum, celesta and harp.

Richard B. (@you-had-me-at-e-flat-major)

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Bard Week: Making the Bard Feel Important

image source: The Luteist and Flautist by Matthias Stom

It’s rough playing the support character. You dole out buffs and heal up wounds and your allies thanklessly keep on fighting. Sure, the bard used to be a superpowered force of nature back in AD&D (so much so that they separated it from the regular character classes and put it in the back of the book along with psionics), but not so much anymore. The bard has its moments, but it is by and large a support class, which sometimes goes unnoticed by your allies or the DM. So here are some ways to fix that and make the Bard feel as special and important as they really are:

Magical Music

Have the bard be rewarded with songs! You can give them sheet music (you can find printable empty sheets online), or an mp3 file that you can play whenever the player feels like playing that song. You can have each song do something, maybe cast a cantrip or mimic a minor quality of a magic item (like making a dim glow or foul stench). Or alternatively, you can have the bard learn spells more like a Wizard with a “songbook,” being able to transcribe songs into their book that they can learn from other bards. You could have the song actually have a plot relevance by being recognizable or magical. For instance, a halfling village is unwilling to help non-halflings but when the bard plays a traditional halfling melody they picked up, they feel more at ease. 

In fact, I have a bard in the current game that I am running that learned a mysterious pleasant song early on. They believed they could use it to reopen the sealed Feywild portals (the big quest they were on) but they needed to unlock their full potential to do so. Once they did, the song enabled the opening of such portals and effectively gave the PCs a fast-travel option if they didn’t mind faerie-related encounters.

Give them an Audience

Keep reading

Imagine Loki performing a spell on Thor after their parents leave for an event on Vanaheim, but the spell is wrong and he accidentally turns Thor into a small toddler. Knowing the trouble he would get into if his parents found out about his spell, he is forced to care for toddler Thor until he can change him back, leading to a lot of mischief, though for once, not on Loki’s behalf.