About Once upon a time...
Once upon a time... is a series of short instrumental works exploring relationships between words and music. Each work is introduced by a speaker. The work is an ironic melodrama parodying the children’s story books such as the John and Betty series in which the image augments the text.
In Once upon a time… popular cultural memes are used to decontexualise contemporary notions of the nuclear family. The result is an inversion of the traditional approach to storytelling where the message is conveyed through the music.
Using semiotics, rhetorical devices and phenomenology the work remixes musical clichés to create a series of parodies and miniatures through the guise of a children’s storybook about a family such as the John and Betty series..
Its music voacabulary relies on standard clichés and patterns found in the silent movie melodrama form and simple tonal music progressions.
These vocabularies are:
Diminished seventh chord tremoli
The cycle of fifths
19th century piano parlour music and forms in the style of Franz Schubert
Gestures such as glissandi, snare drum rolls.
Creating amateur performances through the use of written out mistakes, rhythmically incorrect passages, tempo shifts, etc.
These familiar musical signs combined with the banal images of family life create a dark humorous non linear narrative. Furthermore, the vocabularies are mapped onto 20th century composition techniques and styles such as irrational tempo relationships ('Bedtime'), pointillism ('Dinnertime'), post-minimalism ('Here is the father', 'Children saying goodbye'), simultaneity ('Son leaving home'), and postmodern allusions to neoclassicism and quotation ('Here are the children' and 'Daughter's wedding day').