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Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Hallam London

Created by Hallam London with 0 Comments

One day Hallam London stumbled upon a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. When he decided to turn some of them into songs, he could build upon many different experiences—as a singer, guitarist and writer. He had studied Jazz Voice at the Dresden University of Music, had written songs for theatre plays, and had played the guitar in a pop band and in rock musicals and experimented with free improvisation as well as in a bizarre vocal duo. And last but not least he had founded the cosmofonics who toured all of Germany playing Hallam’s original songs.

Having found Shakespeare’s sonnets only accidentally, his fascination for them grew quickly. This fascination—paired with the wealth of his experiences—lets Hallam write stunning pop songs: unconventional, artful and yet gripping and catchy.

‘Just as an arresting song or an astounding theatre play, a beautiful phraseology causes sudden feelings of happiness in me. When reading Shakespeare this happens quite often. Besides, I’m fascinated by the incredible variety of images in his language. He seemed to never run out of them, and they always cut right to the point.

‘Furthermore, song lyrics often bore me—in fact, only a few don’t. The lyrics I wrote myself also didn’t meet my own standards, so something else had to be found. The internet is abundant with song lyrics free to be used, but almost all of them were put together from hackneyed phrases—leaving me with an uneasy feeling of familiarity. And, lacking even tender traces of imagery, there was no magic in them at all. In Shakespeare’s sonnets I find this magic—the magic that is essential to let me grow musical ideas.’

Hallam is currently working on a longplay album and a live show. As a teaser, he released the 5-track-album
‘The Winter EP – Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ in August 2012. You can find it on many download portals and on
hallamlondon.bandcamp.com

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Will Power cropped

Caliban’s Speech by WIll Power

Created by Will Power with 2 Comments

Will Power is an award winning Playwright, Performer and M.C. Along with a small select group of others, Power helped to create the popular performance art form known as Hip Hop Theatre. His plays and performances have been seen in some of the world’s greatest venues including Lincoln Center (New York), The Sydney Opera House (Australia), The Battersea Arts Centre (London), Royce Hall (Los Angeles), and many others.

In this commission Will Power explores the lyricism of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, bringing these rhythms into the twenty-first century by fusing them with the contemporary beats of hip hop.  Will’s fascination with the percussiveness of language will share how you can get to the dramaturgy and character of Shakespeare’s work through the rhythm of his language.  Having grown up with hip hop and exploring the intersection between hip hop and theatre in his work, this commission will create a fusion between Shakespeare’s meter and hip hop lyricism.  Check out this video which shares his process and collaboration with composer Justin Ellington.

Justin Ellington is a composer and Grammy award winning producer based in New York by way of Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout his career he has worked with stellar artists in both theater and the recording industry. As a composer his work has been heard on stages around the world most recently in the critically acclaimed Broadway production of OTHER DESERT CITIES, which earned a Tony nomination for Best Play.

If you’d like to remix this track or create your own piece to appear on myShakespeare get in touch with us. Please email sarah.ellis@rsc.org.uk for more details.

“If music be the food of love, play on” -William Shakespeare

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Shall I Compare Thee

Shall I Compare Thee by Christof R Davis

Created by Christof R Davis with 0 Comments

Shakespeare is a hugely important influence on so many aspects of arts and culture, and is a veritable goldmine of inspiration and source material for composers. This setting of his sonnet “Shall I Compare Thee” exemplifies just how relevant Shakespeare is to us today. When you think of all the current pop songs where a singer uses similes and metaphors to describe their true love, and then note that Shakespeare was doing exactly the same thing lyrically over 400 years ago.

The choice of this particular sonnet for this musical setting was an easy one – it lends itself so perfectly for musical treatment, both in the flow of the text and in the imagery of the content. The accompanying piano part has a repetitive pattern which runs throughout the setting, and through its simplicity allows the vocal line and the text to come to the fore.

More than any other writer, Shakespeare has influenced artists, filmmakers and composers from one generation to the next, and as such is a towering figure in cultural history.

Christof is currently working on a wider selection of choral settings of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which will hopefully premiere in 2013.

Christof R Davis is a composer of music from Birmingham in the West Midlands. He writes music for film, stage and television alongside choral and instrumental work. To date he has written music for two feature films, countless short films, 3 stage musicals, music for video games and television, a wealth of choral work and several instrumental/orchestral works. He was educated at the Royal Northern College of Music and also works as a musical director, performer and music educator.

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Why Lie Speaks

What’s His Name by Chloe Why Lie Speaks

Created by Chloe Why Lie Speaks with 1 Comment

This is a track inspired by William Shakespeare and who he is as a man, and if we actually know the man behind the plays and poems. When studying Shakespeare I have always found that we learn a lot about his plays and poems but not a lot about him. This is when I decided to do this track without mentioning his name throughout but only his work. This is Shakespeare coming together with Hip-hop with myself trying to find out his name and asking if you as a listener actually know William Shakespeare. Or do we just know his work, who is this man?

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Tom Harrison

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 by Tom Harrison

Created by Tom Harrison with 5 Comments

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 is as relevant today as it ever was. In 2012, in a world of high-definition and glossy magazines with Photoshopped models telling us what we should be attracted to and striving for, I think it’s important to remember to look for inner beauty first and foremost.

One afternoon earlier this year, I had an encounter with a young women that brought the above concept crashing to the forefront of my mind. That night I sat down with my complete works and found the sonnet, the opening lines of which had been ringing around my head as I walked home here in Los Angeles. I sat at my keyboard, turned on my memo recorder and in a very “In the Air Tonight” sort of way I just sang it down once, completely improvising the strange chord progression. After some editing, I started piling up acoustic guitars and vocals, I wanted the opening to sound a bit like a secco recitative, the guitars imitating a harpsichord, borrowing a musical idea from the Baroque but marrying it to a modern soft rock sound. The song closes with a climax as the singer comes to the personal revelation that his love is “as rare as any she belied with false compare”, that she is as beautiful as any photoshopped supermodel plastered on a cheap magazine cover. I gave the song the title “Goddess” because Shakespeare has re-defined that word for me in this sonnet. You can download this song for free, Shakespeare in 2012 can follow you from the kitchen to the car stereo; one of the things that attracts me to the sonnets is that they are divorced from theatrical performance, they can and should belong throughout our every day lives. They are eternal, meaningful, beautiful and relevant.

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