The music of Like You Like It is a theatrical 1980s pop/rock score and should be approached with an ‘80s mindset. Most of the time, the music is meant to sound not like a specific ‘80s song, but rather an amalgamation of several ‘80s pop songs at once. My attempt was to create a score that would have the listener wonder if they had heard this song before or not. In other words, I was trying to write music that sounded familiar and brand-new simultaneously — not to mention dramatically serving the scene on stage.
To draw inspiration from the music of this era regarding vocal stylings, synth patch choices, and guitar effects, listening to 80s music goes without saying. The canon has a wider variety of styles and sounds than one may expect. Some suggestions of artists to listen to are: Van Halen, Alphaville, Toni Basil, Peter Cetera (and Chicago), Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, El Debarge, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, The Go-Gos, Pat Benatar, Def Leppard, Rush, Whitney Houston, Journey, Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson, Kenny Loggins, The Waitresses, Bow Wow Wow, A-ha, The Tubes, Yes, The Clash, The Cure, The Police, among many others.
The orchestration has a fairly normal pop/rock configuration: Keyboard 1/Conductor, Keyboard 2, Guitar, Electric Bass (with round-wound strings), and Drums. However, if for some reason you are unable to use the full orchestration, it is advised at the very least to use the drums with the piano. It will help drive this energetic musical.
PERFORMANCE NOTES FOR INDIVIDUAL INSTRUMENTS:
Obviously, different productions will have different resources available. This score has been orchestrated with a multitude of patch changes. Performance software such as Apple’s MainStage can change a pre-programmed patch with the pressing of a pedal. The ideal situation is to have both keyboards using performance software that would easily change patches quickly. However, considerations have been made for productions that don’t have that luxury due to limited resources. Throughout both keyboard parts, some patch changes will say “Optional patch change” and sometimes “Optional”. “Optional patch changes” are more timbral icing on the cake and won’t really be missed if those passages need to be played on the current patch instead of the optional one. The ones marked “optional” usually mean that those passages don’t need to be played. The reason they are there is that it reflects the audio from the studio cast album where time was taken to color the songs in more detail.A synth patch list has been included in hopes to help the synth programmer find similar sounds. The list includes the name, the patches used on the studio cast album, and sometimes some songs that have a similar synth sound for reference. For what it’s worth, the sounds used on the recording came from Logic/Mainstage, Native Instruments (Kontakt, Massive, FM8, Reaktor, and Battery), a Roland JV-880, Roland DR-660, and a Roland JX-8P. Many were factory presets and a few were edited/homemade. The JX-8P was used a lot, especially a patch called “-P23 Poly Syn.” You may be able to find some emulators online for these.An attempt was made to make certain that all pitches were written in their correct octaves unless otherwise noted.
Ideally, the bass was written for player to double on electric and synth bass (for that more authentic ’80s sound). Since that configuration is more likely a luxury, the synth bass parts have been written in the keyboard books in case you want a keyboard to take on that duty. The final, and least preferable, option would be to have synth bass played on an electric bass. A five-string and a fretless bass are sometimes called for as well, if available.
The score was orchestrated with a programmable set of effects pedals for quick changes in mind.The definition of “Clean guitar” means no distortion. It will list other effects besides distortion. Most of the times, a clean guitar will have some chorus and reverb on it.In the song “Be with Me,” the character Orlando could play the guitar, but the part is indicated in the guitar book so Orlando can simply pantomime.
In an ideal performance, the drum set would be an electronic/synth drum set, such as the Roland V-Drums, so that it can recreate all the electronic/synth drums sounds as well as acoustic sounds used throughout the 1980s. An acoustic kit with an Octapad has been successfully used as well.
Usually, the bass, guitar, and Keyboard 1 have the chord changes written along with the notes. If your production happens to employ the talents of a guitarist or bassist who cannot read notated music but can read chords, the band should be able to play a fairly good representation of the score. The other reason for the chords is simply the nature of pop music which allows room for taking liberties when playing. The chords include slash-chords in bass and guitar; however, that doesn’t mean that when the bass and guitar have F7/G, for example, it’s required to add the G in the guitar, or the bass need to play an F.
There have been two camps regarding the approach to the vocal technique used in this show. Since it is a musical, one can argue that proper vocal technique and intonation would be the best approach. However, since we want this to sound as ‘80s as possible without ruining the quality of the performance, approaching the score with some of the more colorful vocals may be a better idea. Listen to the singing on these above-listed recordings. Not everything is beautiful; not everything is in tune. Often there are pop grace notes, scoops, and drop-offs. As with the instruments, I highly recommend your singers to listen to the vocals of the ‘80s. Each artist has a unique sound. I think having a little bit of that, as well as a rocker’s attitude, will help keep the sound of Like You Like It fresh. That being said, I do think it would be best to sing properly in large choral sections.
Regarding choral writing, the writing of the pop harmonies was approached with a high and tight sound in mind. Listen to “She’s a Beauty” by the Tubes, “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, or even “Photograph” by Def Leppard, (or anything by Journey) for example, and you will hear to what I am referring. Usually when I am music directing this show, I will have the tenors sing the bottom voice up an octave to achieve this effect.
A note on Rosalind’s vocals: Although she sometimes sings high, it will be more satisfying if she has some bottom to her voice. This will also help when she is playing “Corey.”
Ultimately, this is a pop/rock score. There is room for the free spirit of improvisation — within the limits of the score — both with the band and with the singers. If the bass player feels the need to add a few filler notes, try it out; see if it works. I say that you should think of it as if it were a rock concert: fun, free, and full of energy.