Scene & Heard – Music For American Theatre 1999 – 2002

Leave it to Barbara Truex to create more musical havoc in America. First it was turning hide-bound, feather strumming dulcimer players on their collective ears by introducing jazz nomenclature and outrageous ensemble arrangements into the folk vernacular. You could almost see the frost forming on their shoulders while they listened to her play.

And now this: Scene & Heard: Music for American Theatre. Not music for American musicals…that’s been done already, thank you. Not music for American film…that’s post-scoring and Barb has always been into creating vital interactive stage experiences. No, this is the kind of music specifically designed to support an actor’s performance. It is not ornamental or “incidental”, and it doesn’t compete with the playwright’s intent to communicate, or the actor’s ability to transport an audience. Barbara’s compositions allow an actor to pause mid-scene and reflect…or to improvise if the phone cue is – horrors! – inexplicably late. It’s the kind of music that doesn’t overwhelm the moment, but encourages the audience to become both visually and sonically challenged by the play’s content.

This is truly American Music: it liberates you. Voices are not explicit, they’re implied. Action may be taking place, or perhaps not. You get to decide for a change. You can read scenes out loud with the score. Or, if you prefer, just imagine you’re part of an opening night audience. “Welcome to Scene & Heard: Music for American Theatre. Please remember to turn off your pagers and cell phones during the performance….” And I might add, like everything else that Barbara Truex does, be prepared to listen to American Music in a brand new way.

Vincent Pasternak 2002

“Truex, a composer and arts administrator…is one of Maine’s few theatrical sound designers and may be the busiest. … For “Repossession,” a black comedy about two brothers caught in a morass of inertia and dysfunction, [Director Joan] Sand wanted music suggestive of both the Midwest and the circus. … The theme Truex came up with on her banjo-ukelele was a three-part song, in three-quarter time and a minor key, that evokes Kurt Weill as well as the big top.”

Doug Hubley
Casco Bay Weekly, Portland Maine June 10, 1999

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