Creating music for a stage play is a unique experience for any composer, especially one who comes out of the film and live concert world such as myself. To compose for a modern-day classic such as Driving Miss Daisy – tenderly realized by this truly stellar director and cast – is all the more humbling and gratifying.
I have learned that live theater walks a unique line between the worlds of composition that I am most comfortable in. As in film, the score is subservient to the needs of the plot, and technical production aspects as well. But just like live concert music, a score written for theater needs to work in live space – it needs to feel like it is there with you in the room, almost as another live dramatic character. The score may, in subtle ways, influence the actors’ performances, just as their wonderful performances initially influenced the compositions that make up the score.
For Driving Miss Daisy, I took a quiet musical approach (with a bit of Daisy’s feistiness sprinkled throughout as well!) to what is ultimately a warm and deeply intimate piece of drama. Before beginning the composition process, I sat in on early script readings with Mary Lou, Willie, Brad, and Mitch – absorbing their pacing, lyrical gait, and vocal interpretations of the words on the page. While the score in this Daisy production is sparse, it does need to tread carefully on an emotional level, and I wanted to make sure that my musical ideas could support and intertwine with – and not get in the way of – the emotional tapestries being woven by these wonderful actors. Concepts of warmth and intimacy guided my choices throughout the score creation process, from choosing ensemble size and instrumentation, to the manner in which the score was mixed. With this cast and production team, writing original music for Driving Miss Daisy was an absolute joy.