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And Then There Were None – Concept for the Piano Suite

As a part of my work with Theatre Britain, I am regularly called upon to provide original music for use in plays. Since this is a company that exclusively produces British theatrical works, Agatha Christie is to be expected in the rotation. The first one I did (last year) was The Mousetrap, which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I’ve always deeply enjoyed working with this theater group and it was thrilling to see how effectively they produced that classic play. This year they are putting on “And Then There Were None.” (Running three weekends starting March 5 and ending March 22 if you’re in the North Texas area…)

As I was reading through the script in preparation, I had a blinding moment of inspiration. Now, I consider myself a fairly jaded and pragmatic composer and have more or less lost my faith in Pure Inspiration, but Sister – this was it. I don’t think I’ll be spoiling what I’m sure you realize is a murder mystery by revealing that throughout the show, characters die. I noticed that at each transition, either between scenes or beginning/ending an act, there is a different number of people who are still alive. It starts with 10 at the top of the show and gradually dwindles down, sometimes by one and sometimes by two at a time. It didn’t take me long to decide that it would be rather clever to make this grim data into a thread connecting the musical pieces of the show. My weapon of choice was the meter. For the overture I chose 10/8 because there were still 10 people alive. At the end of Act I, a character dies so the closing number for Act I is in 9/8 (which, incidentally, I opted to subdivide as 2+2+2+3 rather than the standard 3+3+3). I won’t spoil things completely by revealing what meter the curtain call is in (although I can assure you it is not 0/4 time).

I’m so fond of this particular set of tracks that I intend to create a piano suite based on the work. Naturally most of the tracks are only 15-20 seconds in length so I expect to be able to expand somewhat on my ideas. Here is the opening piece of the set. Hope you enjoy it!