In Progress – End Times

From New Shorts composer, Ruby Fulton:

“End Times” is one scene from Adam’s Run, a larger work that I’m collaborating on with Baltimore writer and news reporter Baynard Woods. It is the near future and the weather has become completely unpredictable. One day it may snow while the next is 100 degrees. In this landscape, two reality television programs vie for the most watched programs in the world: Julie Shore, an existentialist Weather Woman, and the Reverend Billy Noble, a fundamentalist televangelist.

Baynard and I recently collaborated on KETAMYTH, a short opera about the dissociative drug ketamine, with texts in ancient Greek and Latin. It is exciting to now be embarking upon a larger work together and we are delighted for the opportunity to workshop a small portion of it with Experiments in Opera, as fuel for the work ahead.

One of the challenges to the libretto was figuring out how to set a quote from the iconic Woody Guthrie song, “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Ya.” I listened to the original tune about ten thousand times. Then, I set the words in three different ways: in the style of the Weather Woman, in the style of the Preacher, and in the original Woody Guthrie style, where both voices sing together. And finally, I spliced all three versions together, determining the proportions of the three materials with a numerological system which made perfect sense at the time, but which I cannot seem to figure out again after the fact!

Another challenge was determining how to incorporate two canned sound effects tracks, a laugh track and an amen track, specified in the libretto. I decided to use the tracks as samples which will be triggered by the drum set. In the true collaborative spirit of opera, I am working with two coding friends of mine in Baltimore, Patrick McMinn and Jonah Beram, to build a sampling system for the drum-triggered tracks. I recorded the tracks late on a Friday night in Baltimore with a 9-piece band that Baynard and I both play in, the Barnyard Sharks.