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Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?

CapriUni 15 Sep 11 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,999 15 Sep 11 - 09:45 PM
CapriUni 15 Sep 11 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,999 15 Sep 11 - 10:25 PM
Jeri 15 Sep 11 - 10:29 PM
CapriUni 15 Sep 11 - 11:55 PM
Crowhugger 16 Sep 11 - 12:26 AM
CapriUni 16 Sep 11 - 03:15 PM
GUEST 16 Sep 11 - 03:55 PM
CapriUni 16 Sep 11 - 04:39 PM
Genie 16 Sep 11 - 09:56 PM
CapriUni 16 Sep 11 - 10:51 PM
Crowhugger 16 Sep 11 - 11:31 PM
CapriUni 17 Sep 11 - 01:53 AM
CapriUni 18 Sep 11 - 07:03 PM
CapriUni 19 Sep 11 - 11:35 PM
CapriUni 13 Apr 15 - 07:07 AM
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Subject: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 02:42 PM

A definite work-in-progress; I'd like help with the scansion and making it singable (I fear each line is too much of a mouthful). And I have no idea whatsoever about a tune.

But here are the lyrics:

Oh, we once were citizens of a fine town
It had taverns and churches and parks with playgrounds
All the people were handsome, the buildings were, too,
Then the monsters came in, and they spoiled our view.

Oh, the monsters were ugly, the monsters were strange
With different bodies, and different brains
We asked where they came from, but they didn't know
We asked when they're leaving, but they wouldn't go.
So we led them away with a gentle tut-tut,
Out into the forest, and locked our gates shut.

Oh, we once were citizens of a fine town
It had taverns and churches and parks with playgrounds
All the people were handsome, the buildings were, too,
Then the monsters came in, and they spoiled our view.

We kept to this policy year after year:
The handsome inside, and the monsters out there.
The experts all told us: 'twas the kind thing to do
For the monsters are nothing like me or like you
Then the experts would finish, with a gentle tut-tut:
"The monsters are happy to stay where they're put."

But out in the forest, outside our fine town
The monsters were talking about our playgrounds
To sing in our taverns and our churches, too
The monsters insisted it was their just due.

And so they came back, with their ungainly walks
And made lots of noise, with their squeaks and their squawks
They said they were people, and didn't we know.
They said they were born here, and they wouldn't go.
We told them: "You're ugly!" But with a tut-tut,
They claimed they were citizens, and planned to stay put.

Now the monsters are running all over our town,
They shop in our stores, and play in our playgrounds
We have to sit next to them, in our church pews.
It's unfair! For they're nothing like me or like you!




Now, the storyteller in me wants to make the build up between the exile and the return. But the part of me that wants this to be sung by someone other than me, in my shower, wants to keep this song short.

If I shortened the verses, could I get away with adding one or two?


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 09:45 PM

"But the part of me that wants this to be sung by someone other than me, in my shower, wants to keep this song short."

Two of us in your shower is gonna make it crowded,, but the acoustics should be great.

I messaged you.

Best regards.

BM


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 09:55 PM

Not That crowded, 999; I've got one of those extra large, roll-in wheelchair showers... ;-)

I got your tweaks! Thanks!

Any suggestions for a key signature? Which mode best conveys irony?


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 10:25 PM

"I got your tweaks!"

OUCH!

###################################

CU, when I was doin' the tweaks I was was humming the melody to "Only a Hobo" to help get a handle on the scansion. I love the lyrics, btw.

IMO, anyone writes like that doesn't have to worry about irony. The words literally speak for themselves.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 10:29 PM

Party in CapriUni's shower!

The part of me that lives in a Star Trek fantasy wants the inside-the-townspeople to have an epiphany and realize what they'd been missing. It'd probably be too cutesy and too much of a fantasy.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 11:55 PM

Jeri -- When you went from "Party in CapriUni's Shower!" to Star Trek fantasy, I was expecting some sort of transporter (or maybe Holo-deck) joke ^_^

And believe me, living in the real world, 21+ years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I'm still wishing that the "Townspeople" would wake up and realize what they're missing.... Which is why I left that ending out of the song. What matters is that the audience gets it.

My aide also works as an aide for a five-year-old (with more severe C.P. than mine), and accompanies him to kindergarten. The tales she tells of how the children in the "special needs classroom" are treated just makes me want to cry and start knocking heads together. The teachers and aides are all kind -- up to a point. But they just don't seem to realize that these kids are kids (and not baby dolls or pets), who hear everything the grownups say about them, and understand a lot more than the grown-ups think.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:26 AM

Oh yes, you've certainly got the story, don't we know. Gotta sleep right now but tomorrow I'll get in touch.

And CapriUni, I also noticed that in your latest post, (15 Sep @11:55p) the closing reality-check surely sounds like the core of another song!


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 03:15 PM

Crowhugger -- one song at a time! Also, I'd want to talk to the kid in question, and ask his permission before I wrote a song based on his experiences.

In the meantime, just a bit ago, an online friend and fellow wheelchair user posted the following to her blog, making the point directly, and in prose, what I'm trying to make obliquely in song.

On Understanding

(Quote) You have to understand, they tell me. You have to understand.

I leave these interactions and the follow-up conversations feeling bad. Why am I so angry? I think. The person meant well. They just freaked out when they saw me. Anyone would.

But then it occurred to me: people are telling me to understand that my very presence is so monstrous as to be panic-inducing. I am supposed to understand that just by existing, I send people into paroxysms of fear. Surely I, with my freakish freakish use of a scary scary chair on wheels, should understand that.

I mean, you don't run into disabled people every day, after all. Folks just aren't used to us.

But there's the rub: you SHOULD run into disabled people very day. We are, after all, one quarter of the population. However; our medical, employment, economic, and transportation systems all conspire to keep disabled people off the streets and skyways -- and to confine us to our homes, institutions, treatment centers.

Panicking when you see me forcibly reminds me of how hard society has worked to keep people like me away from 'normie' eyes. I am transgressing, just by daring to go to work for a living. Or enjoy the zoo with my family. Or buy groceries. And that's hard to take. (Unquote)


(She's also a musician; I've invited her into this thread)


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 03:55 PM

"a song based on his experiences"
I'm surprised by your sense of needing to consult him. Does it mean you have never, yourself, experienced people talking about you, how you move or how you learn, as if you weren't there? If you are that fortunate, I still would have gathered that yet you've experienced enough parallels to create a darn good message in the framework of that kind basic story.

FWIW there is no rule about writing one song at a time. Songwriters everywhere put away drafts for hours, months, decades sometimes. But maybe I just mention that because I am most comfortable as a "40-gallons" writer--that's how much has to gush or drip out before I can boil off a single gallon of syrup.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 04:39 PM

Guest (16 Sep 11 - 3:55 pm) --

You're right: I have experienced those things, and I could write a song based on my experiences. But if I were to write a fresh song, with fresh anger inspired by stories about this kid's life,* it's just a matter of respect to ask for his input -- especially since he is so rarely consulted on things that matter.

*(surely, you've experienced that, too: sometimes, it takes witnessing injustices done to others in order to recognize injustices suffered by yourself)


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: Genie
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 09:56 PM

Capri, check your PMs.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 10:51 PM

I did, Thanks, Genie! I'll take your suggestions into consideration


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Subject: My mistake followed by my next mistake:
From: Crowhugger
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 11:31 PM

CapriUni, that anonymous post at 3:55 p.m. today was yours truly sans cookie. I duly followed that post with a correction note that it was me, but either I clicked a wrong button or the post had some quirky disappearance. Smooth eh?! Not.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 01:53 AM

Crowhugger -- I thought it might be you, but I didn't want to presume -- at least, not in print.. er, I mean pixel. ;-)

In the meantime -- on the tune front: I've figured out that the chorus (at least) fits with the A-part of that old chestnut "The Irish Washerwoman," slowed down and put in a minor key, and with just a bit of syllable/dot tweaking.

The verses, being six lines, instead of either eight or four, is a bit trickier to work out, melody-wise, so I may end up making it eight, by adding a couple lines of lyrics, so that I can more easily include the B-part.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:03 PM

Okay, here are my more polished lyrics, with the tune, this time (I hit upon "Irish Washerwoman, in a minor key). It actually turned out longer, instead of shorter, because the melody gave me the room, so I decided to use all of that to fill in some blanks in the story.

I'll be happy to discuss particular lines, metaphors, word choices and the like here, in public. I love group discussions of language. I find it sparks all sorts of creative ideas.


Lyrics:

1:
Oh, once we were citizens of a proud town.
It had taverns and churches and parks with playgrounds
All the people were handsome, the buildings were, too,
But monsters arrived, and they ruined the view.
The monsters are ugly, the monsters are strange
For they have different bodies, and have different brains
When we ask them the reason, they claim not to know
We tell them to leave, oh but they will not go.

And they are too different; they should not stay here
And we're very good people, we try to be fair.
So we led them a-way with a gentle tut-tut
Out into the forest, and locked the gates shut.

2:
It hap-pened again, and we did just the same.
And be-fore long, our small town had earned a great fame
And so many would come to learn just what we do
To keep all our mon-sters safely out of view.
We kept to our policy year after year
With the handsome in-side and the mon-sters out there
All the experts agreed 'twas the right thing to do,
For mon-sters are nothing like me or like you.

"They know that they're different, they know that they're strange
And this policy keeps them from hatred and shame,"
Then the experts would close with a gentle tut-tut:
"The mon-sters are happiest right where they're put."

3:
But out in the forest, outside of our town,
All the monsters were talking about our playgrounds
For to sing in our taverns and our churches, too
The monsters decided it was their fair due.
And so they marched back with their ungainly walks
And they made lots of noise with their squeaks and their squawks
And they said they were people, and didn't we know?
They said they were born here and they would not go.

We tried to be patient, we tried to explain
That the forest was better-- so dark and so green
But the monsters ignored all our gentle tut-tuts.
They claimed they were citizens and they stayed put.

Reprise:
Now monsters are running all over our town.
And they shop in our stores and play in our playgrounds
And we have to sit next to them in our church pews.
It's dis-gus-ting! They're no-thing like me or like you.

ABC notation for the score:

To hear the tune, copy the text below (starting with X:1, and ending with the closing square bracket), and paste it into the text window at

ABC Convert-A-Matic. Then, click the "submit" button. This will bring up a

new webpage; click the MIDI music file link.

X:1
T: Monsters in Town! (tentatively)        
C:Ann Magill
M:3/4
Q:1/4=150
K:C#min
G2 E2 C2| C2 B,2 C2| C2 E2 C2|E2 G2 F2|
E2 F2 D2| D2 B,2 D2|D2 F2 D2|F2 A2 G2|
F2 E2 C2|C2 B,2 C2|C2 E2 C2|E2 G4|
G2 F2 E2|F2 D2 G2|F2 E2 C2|C2 C4|
z4 G2|E2 C2 C2|B,2 C2 C2|E2 C2 E2|
G2 F2 E2|F2 D2 D2|B,2 D2 D2|F2 D2 F2|
A2 G2 F2|E2 C2 C2|B,2 C2 C2|E2 C2 E2|
G4 G2|F2 E2 F2|D2 G2 F2|E2 C2 C2|
C4 z2||G2 c2 A2|A2 E2 A2|A2 c2 A2|
c2 c2 B2|A2 B2 G2|G2 E2 G2|G2 B2 G2|
B2 B2 A2|G2 A2 c2|c2 G2 c2|c2 F2 c2|
c2 E4|E2 F2 E2|F2 D2 G2|F2 E2 C2|
C2 C4|]


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Subject: RE: Monster Song (?) from CapriUni -- help?
From: CapriUni
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 11:35 PM

Crowhugger has been doubly gracious in her critique of this song -- first, by going through it line by line, and finding places where it could be strengthened, and second, by inviting me to respond to her critiques and questions publicly, in this thread, and for that I give her many thanks (many, many).

Before I respond to her points on (a few individual lines) I want to answer her overarching question of what my goals are for this song, and where I want to take the Listener, on this journey:

In English Major Lingo, the "Storyteller" of this song is what we call 'an unreliable narrator' -- S/He sincerely believes everything S/He says, but at the same time, is so thoroughly blinded by prejudice that S/He can't even recognize that S/He's spewing utter nonsense. I expect most listeners to start out siding with the storyteller, by default, because that's what they expect to do, when they hear a song sung in first person (which is why I deliberately chose to write this in the first-person plural). By the second verse, I want the audience to start questioning the storyteller's reliability. At the end of the song, I hope the audience is cheering for the "monsters'" limited success (and, through questioning the Storyteller's prejudices, start questioning their own). If I leave the (privileged) listener (who may not have thought about these ideas before) with a slightly uneasy, questioning, feeling (Rather than Knowing a Truth), I'll have succeeded.

She asked if perhaps the forest is a metaphor, and it is -- for the isolation, either physical isolation (in terms of Asylums and Institutional homes -- which were built far from population centers, and surrounded by vast spreads of land, so that the buildings could not be seen by the "general public") or emotional/intellectual isolation -- that comes when you're denied access to the community and to your own voice. I had originally considered people trying to lock the monsters in closets and under the beds (other traditional monster habitats), but I ended up going with the forest, because that connotes the far more "alien" nature with which the Storyteller views Her/His subject (and also, it leaves far more space for the listener to fill in the blanks as to what the monsters look like, in the beginning of the song).

Now, on to individual lines and words that you brought up -- ust a few of them (my song lines in bold, her questions & and comments in italics, and my answers in plain text):

Oh, once we were citizens of a proud town (I changed it from "fine" because "proud" seemed, to me, to be a stronger sound, and more likely to be heard)

(Citizen is a legal construct)

Yes, just so. "Citizen" also denotes legal rights, which were not granted to the disabled in America (as a legally defined minority, entitled to rights on a federal level), until I was almost 13 years old. "Citizen" is also used in political speech to denote who belongs and who doesn't, and thus is often used (At least, around this neck of the woods, just a bit south of the Mason-Dixon line) to stir up feelings of gung-ho patriotism. ("A citizen of the United States," etc). And it's for those two reasons I deliberately chose the word. Plus, it was a perfect fit anapestic tetrameter I was hearing the in my head.

Then the monsters came in, and they spoiled our view.

(Phrase suggests monsters deliberately ruined / contaminated / stained / fouled the view.)

Ah, good point. Based on your comments, I changed the line to But monsters arrived and they ruined the view -- also, since births are often talked about as a baby's "arrival" (which isn't deliberate, either, on their part), and at the end of the song, the monsters mention they were born into the community, so by changing "came in" to "arrived," I hope to forshadow that, a bit.

With different bodies, and different brains

(DIFFERENT. Is that all it takes to be ugly and strange?)

Sadly, based on my life experience (and based on online conversations with others in Disability-centric fora): YES. Don't ask me why; I couldn't tell you. But I've had parents scoop up their toddler children and shield them from me with their bodies when shopping in the mall, when I've done nothing more threatening than get too close while using a wheelchair (and "too close" is greater than five feet). I've had able-bodied people stare at me with expressions of open hatred when I'm just going about my business in a public space. I even, once, had a delivery driver run away from me when I came to the door and called for his assistance (he'd put the package I needed on the ground, where I couldn't reach to pick it up, easily). If this strikes you as a logical disconnect, and the Storyteller's/Community's reaction seems all out of proportion to an actual threat, then my song is a success -- because that is precisely the point I am trying to make.

In the more snarky online communities I frequent, the phrase "Being different AT someone" is in fairly common usage, as if simply being different in someone's pressence is a deliberate attack on the value of their "normality" (as in this sample sentence: "He started yelling and swearing at me because I had the audacity to be different at him.").

The experts agreed 'twas the right thing to do

(A specific expert will give a clear picture)

Actually, though, I'm using the plural "experts" as a synecdoche for all of those who have had a hand in shaping public policy toward the Disabled since the 1800s: doctors, educators, clergy, legislators, psychologists, et alia; over the last couple of centuries, people in these professions have come up with theories on how to deal with "the threat of invalids and the feebleminded" (actual phrases used in nineteenth century pamphlets on public policy), based almost entirely on their own fears and prejudices, and then, quote each other to support their beliefs. So it's really the whole social system that I'm protesting, here; pinning it on a single "villian" who got it wrong would be misleading, I think.

But I did realize that simply repeating the opening chorus/stanza immediately before this line went counter to my goal of presenting this as a pattern of actions, through history. So I wrote an entirely new one, to express the passage of time.

It's unfair! They're nothing like me or like you (Though I changed that to It's disgusting! They're nothing... to liven up the rhythm a bit, and to create a fresh rhyme in the middle of the line)

I love your quirky ending ... but ...found it abrupt and I don't know quite how to suggest softening its sudden turn.

Thank you. Hm. I'm not sure, either... except... maybe... How's this for an idea?

I'm now using (a slightly modified version of) "The Irish Washerwoman" as the tune for this song, and the recurring passages that end with "tut-tut" are taken up with the B-part of that jig. ... But only half of the B-part. What if, in the full arrangement of the song, the rest of the part is played between the description of the "monsters" doing completely normal things as part of the community, to give the audience room to visualize it, and the final line about how disgusting and different they are (and how obviously mistaken and bigoted the Storyteller is)? That certainly wouldn't "Soften" the irony, but it might make it less abrupt... Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Monster Song - covered by P. M. Adamson
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Apr 15 - 07:07 AM

I posted a link to this video some months ago, when it was fresh, but then the Mudcat Crash happened, and this post hadn't been cached, yet. So I'm adding again.

Personally, I really like Mr. Adamson's arrangement, and singing, here: The Very Sad Tale of Monsters in Our Town (YouTube video)

Thank You, P. M.!


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