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 fictional professional wrestlers Barbeque Man Jr. and Baron Banks Gentry. It's in two sections, or wrestling matches, and reflects changes in wrestling story lines I witnessed growing up, from family-friendly morality plays as a child to more adult oriented and racy content during the so-called WWE ‘Attitude Era’ when I was a teenager. It features electrifying entrances, devastating bodyslams, chair shots, crashes through broadcasting tables, toilet submersion, and lots of other wrestling-related stuff. I made a miniature wrestling arena and my brother, Gray, did the photography. Samir Arora edited. It was written as part of 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. I establish the themes of the two principals in Part One, and for the most part the music mimics the action on the screen. Part Two has a more free-flowing, continuous musical form with greater independence from the choreographic action. I tried to fuse various musical styles/techniques, such as serialization of pitch and rhythm, collage, cartoon music, Hollywood blockbusters, and Southern popular music (including several styles of country music and gospel). Though none of the borrowed tropes are immune from parody, they are all valued equally in terms of their emotional weight in telling the story.
Like much of the music I love, wrestling relies heavily on timing, but it’s also not monochromatic. Wrestling matches can go from serious to comedic in an instant, playing with emotions and failing if allowing the viewer to get too familiar and comfortable. Viewers are supposed to feel angry, surprised, sad, joy, disappointed, offended, 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 highly 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:
On Cassowaries and Piñatas (2019)
Cassowaries are large flightness birds known for their dangerous kicking ability
I went to a Bird Fair at a flea market and while on the way decided to make a song and video about it. I later made this version for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest.
The Magic Word (2016)
Jurassic Park revisionist history. This song is about Dennis Nedry, who stole dinosaur embryos from a corporation in 1993 and, contrary to popular reports, survived and collected 1.5 million dollars. I directed and edited the video. And my dad even played the role of Dodgson! Features the wonderful Debrissa McKinney
The Barbeque Man Dance (2015)
Boogie-woogie in stacked signatures of 13/8 and 4/4. Directed, shot, and edited by Jeremy Seifert.
Combine. 2nd movement- Records - For Two Piano and Effects Pedals (2005)
Ever since seeing Grandmaster Flash give a musical demonstration of hip-hop record spinning in 2005, I have been fascinated by the idea of taking two distinct musical materials and overlapping and crosscutting them to create something new. My first attempt at this was Combine, in which I wrote two separate piano pieces and, using effects pedals, treated them as if operated by an imaginary turntable performer. The first movement, Harvester, was based on the rhythm and construction of Harvester engines I heard growing up at my grandparents' house in rural western North Carolina.
Into the River and Through the Wood
1st movement - 'Suspension' (2007)
Prepared Piano and 3 percussionists
A lot of my music is based on favorite memories of sounds from childhood, like power tools and listening to music while snorkling in the bathtub at home. And, of course, the sound of the shark rising out of the water at the end of Jaws!! That was amazing hearing the frequencies submerged and altered above the surface.... Growing up I had a VHS copy of Jaws recorded off TV that I played in the background while practicing piano and doing homework. Good times. Anyway, I took the song 'Over the River and Through the Woods' and pretended to submerge and shred it with a chainsaw. I used weather stripping (putty type) on the piano strings for doubling pitches, quarter tones, and bringing out certain harmonics. The upper piano part shows what is played, the lower shows what is heard. Probably the only time I'll write in a score, "Like an underwater fart rising to the surface..." For the love of hydro-acoustics.
The Magic Word - Etude No.3 (2015)
Jurassic Park/Dennis Nedry Tribute
for 2 vocalists, 2 keyboards, 2 percussionists, electric bass
I saw Jurassic Park the first Friday morning it came out in June 1993, and it was the most memorable movie I've saw in the theater as a kid. I saw it probably 4-5 more times that summer and played the hell out of the JP pinball machine at the local arcade, also wrote a piano arrangement of the various themes. About this song:
"Ah ah ah, you didn't say the magic word"
This song is about Dennis Nedry, the Jurassic Park 'computer security' character played by Wayne Knight. Nedry is the book and film is killed by a venom-spitting dinosaur, Dilophosaurus, while trying to smuggle dinosaur embryos out of the park in a Barbasol can. This song imagines he survived, collected the 1.5 million reward for the embryos, and wrote a diss track to his former Jurassic Park employers. Nedry sees himself as some kind of lady's man. The lyrics are all Jurassic Park-related, now with sexual innuendo. This recording also features the wonderful Debrissa McKinney. The score is written in 4/4 and 5/8, but it's a little more like 13/8 over 4/4, sometimes 7/8.
I later made a found footage music video for it with CGI dinosaurs and all my childhood JP memorabilia.
Finale to Barbeque Man Unleashed:
The Greatest Professional Wrestling Ballet of All Time (2012-2013)
For Lewis: Etude No. 1 (2014)
My first attempt at rhyming in multiple stacked time signatures. Told from the perspective of a man who was told by a guy named Lewis in group therapy that he would never have his own dance. In 13/8, 4/4, and 7/8.
Smell Like Teen Spirit (For orchestra)
I altered Kurt Cobain's original vocals and rewrote the rest. I've always thought he had a beautiful voice and wanted to hear what it'd sound like in a diffferent context. I made the video featuring stuff from the 90s.
That's No Moon. It's an Alanis Morissette Remix.
(Remix of Ironic)
I altered Alanis Morissette's original vocals to a minor key and rewrote the rest. I wanted to make a remix reflecting my interests when I first heard the song, mainly Star Wars and Schubert's Winterreise. The video reflects how the second verse of the song reminded me of Porkins from Star Wars.
Van Halen's Runnin' with the Devil
I kept David Lee Roth's original isolated vocals and rewrote the rest.
The Rite of Sprung
Mashup/Remix of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with Petey Pablo and Lil Jon's
"Freak-a-Leek". Not safe for work.
Teddy Roosevelt had to Regulate
R. Kelly's Ignition (Original Version)
Summer of 69 (Guys from School Remix)
Mr. Perfect's Theme - Jazz Piano Version
Mr. Perfect was one of my favorite wrestlers when I was a kid. His theme music was really good. One of these days I want to write a theme and variations on it and called it "The Perfect Variations."
Wie du Willst (Any Way you Want it)
Journey's Any Way You Want It with J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, with added orchestration, other stuff
Danzig's Mother rewritten for swing/big band
Looks like a Silent Night
An arrangement of Silent Night
A Call to Prayer
Remix of Montell Jordan's 'This is how We do it'