The 2016 SETC conference will be in Greensboro, NC from March 2-6. On Thursday, March 3 at noon, I will be giving a workshop there called Creating Songs from Shakespeare: Music Construction for Non-Composers.

The first Shakespeare I worked on was Hamlet at the University of Georgia. I was an assistant director with director Ray Paolino, but we needed melodies for the songs that were written into the script. As I had a musical background, Ray suggested I create those melodies and work with the actors on music. It got me to thinking: What happens if there is not a person with composition skills on a Shakespeare production? So many of his plays contain lyrics to songs, but we do not have music to go with them. How can this be created if there is not a composer on the team?

Since then, I have worked on several more Shakespeare productions as a sound designer/composer, and all of them contained songs in the text that required music. I have enjoyed creating the music for these productions, but as a teacher it has always stuck with me that not all theatre sound students have the background to quickly create a melody for a production.

With that in mind, I have worked to create strategies for song creation within a Shakespeare production. In the workshop, we will focus on keeping things simple — using the text to guide us to the rhythm and the melody to construct songs that work within the world of the production.