Re-made Appalachian folk tales for Narrator, Chamber Ensemble, and original animation ala Peter and the Wolf.
Strange Tales from Appalachia (as told by Meemaw and Pawpaw and Them)
By J. William Adkins
Narrated by Michael Bishop
About the Project:
The aim of this Kickstarter project is to produce a soundtrack recording for Pammanottus (Strange Tales from Appalachia vol1 part1), scored for Narrator, String Trio, Flute, Piano, and Percussion. This work combines storytelling, music composition, visual arts, graphic design, animation, acting, Appalachian cultural heritage, children’s stories, and multi-cultural influences in a multi-media format.
The finished musical piece will be approximately 20 minutes in length. The funding will be used to hire the six musicians needed to learn, rehearse and record the score in a professional studio facility in Charlottesville, Va.
I have recomposed a collection of existing Appalachian stories that have been passed down via oral tradition. My reworking incorporates diverse influences from multi-cultural sources ranging from the the writings of Kenji Miyazawa and Pu Songling to Gabriel García Márquez and Breece D’J Pancake.
Musically, it may be easiest to think of Strange Tales as a contemporary “musical drama”, whose predecessors include Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Stravinsky’s L'histoire du soldat. The compositional style employed in Strange Tales was inspired by the traditional Appalachian music I grew up with, as well as music by Toru Takemitsu, Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky, and Béla Bartók. My musical style is best described as “George Crumb meets George Jones“.
Michael's Narration (sneak preview!)
About the Rewards:
Because of the upcoming holiday, I will rush to send any print material (autographed) associated with your reward level (cool and unique Christmas present for yourself or for a friend), excluding the musical score, if applicable, because the score is in production. The rest of the reward (soundtrack, digital assets, etc) will follow in April 2013, post Springtime production.
5X7 Autographed Print
PDF of the Illustrated Story:
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The most obvious challenge is the combination of so many different creative and technical disciplines.
Musically, it's difficult to combine "indigenous" music (in this case from my Appalachian background) with classical music in an effective way. However, I am uniquely qualified to do so. Not only have I composed successful classical concert pieces with similar instrumentation, but Appalachian and Country music feel like my native tongue. Having grown up in West Virginia, I have played traditional folk and country music for years. I have also studied contemporary concert music that involves the synthesis of indigenous and classical music. I am excited to try my hand at bringing these elements together in a way that derives from my own experience.
The union of all of these elements feels natural to me. I have drawn and painted since I was a child, and have been playing music for just as long. I look forward to combining these elements in a way that honors my cultural background.
I also have extensive experience with computer music and digital media, as well as on-the-job training in web and graphic design which has contributed to my design of the digital paintings for this project (as seen in the short animated clip featured above). In fact, my discovery of digital painting is one of the initial sparks for this project.
Lastly, I have always been a big fan of Weird Stories. I hope to add some original ones for some future weird kid to enjoy.
Yes. To create the artwork, I use a pencil and piece of paper first, then I might ink the drawing some, or paint them with watercolors. Then I digitize and bring in to Photoshop, where I do more painting with a Wacom drawing tablet. I use Adobe After Effects to animate.
Hmm... well, if The Brothers Grimm scare you, then yes, it's scary. But it's also VERY funny.
Very carefully. I tend to work on large-scale forms first, but I always have certain pitch/harmonic material in mind from the beginning. With this particular piece, I fashioned the musical form around the pace of the narration - which I wrote while thinking of musical form... Inception. In the exact middle, there is a "Noctourne" [sic] (I always have to throw in a Noctourne). Someone asked me if there are "secret codes" in my music, and the answer is YES.