Barbeque Man Unleashed:
The Greatest Professional Wrestling Work of All Time
(Ballet/Piano Concerto with Action Figure visuals)
Barbeque Man Unleashed is a ballet/piano concerto with action figures depicting the legendary rivalry between professional wrestlers Barbeque Man Jr. and Baron Banks Gentry. The music's in two sections/wrestling matches, and reflects changes in wrestling story lines I saw growing up, from family-friendly morality plays as a kid to more adult/racy content during the so-called WWE ‘Attitude Era’ from my teenage years. The ballet features electrifying entrances, devastating bodyslams, chair shots, crashes through broadcasting tables, and toilet submersion. I made a miniature wrestling arena and my brother, Gray, did the photography. Samir Arora edited. This was my dissertation in music composition at Duke University.
The contrasting entrance themes for the two wrestlers clash, resulting in overlapping key centers, rhythms, and tempos. Themes are establish in Part 1, and for the most part the music mimics the action on the screen. Part 2 has a more free-flowing, continuous form with greater independence from the choreographic action. I tried to fuse various musical styles: high modernism, cartoon music, Hollywood blockbusters, and Southern popular music. Though none of the borrowed tropes are immune from parody, they are valued equally in terms of emotional weight for the story.
Like a lot of music I love, wrestling is not monochromatic and relies heavily on timing. Wrestling matches can go from serious to comedic in an instant, playing with emotions and failing if viewers get too familiar and comfortable. Viewers are supposed to feel angry, surprised, sad, happy, disappointed, scared, and amused, and sometimes in no particular order. You can’t categorize great wresting matches by a singular sentiment.
Ultimately, my joy for professional wrestling is based on watching skilled performers create unforgettable stories through semi-predetermined choreography. The same can be said for music. - Paul
For more in-depth notes, click on the PDF: PDF of the condensed score: