Musical Hat Draw: “Stars”

Welcome to the inaugural, experimental, Musical Hat Draw! For this round, the theme is “stars”.

If you have a favourite poem about stars that you’ve always wanted to hear set to music, or if you’ve written about stars and wonder what your poem might sound like sung, the Musical Hat Draw is for you.

How it works:

  1. From today until midnight BST on 11th September, you can send me text suggestions on this round’s theme, “stars”. Please leave a comment on this post or e-mail artsyhonker at gmail dot com.
  2. On 12th September I will assign numbers to the texts, put the numbers in a hat and shake it about a bit. Then I will draw a number from the hat, and set part or all of that text to music. When I’ve finished, I’ll draw another one. I’ll continue with this until I’ve spent 12 hours composing, or I’ve run out of texts, whichever is more convenient.
  3. In the next few weeks, especially if I have any remaining numbers in the hat, I will revisit the project as and when I can, reviewing and revising the existing pieces, and composing more as I go along.
  4. In early October, I will have a Musical Hat Draw Sale! I’ll write a short description of each piece of music I’ve written, along with who sent me the text, and name a price. You can sponsor a piece by sending me some money and saying which piece it should go towards; when the price is reached, I’ll put it online. As is my usual practice, this will be under a Creative Commons license: free for anyone to download and share. You’ll be mentioned as a sponsor on the score, and in the blog post and tweet about the music, unless you ask to remain anonymous or specify a dedication instead.

I’ve just set “Winter Stars” by Sara Teasdale, so please don’t send me that one unless you think I should do another version; it may end up being the same tune, arranged differently.

I am already working on a setting of I always tried to write about the light by TJA Thurman, but I’m only going to include that in this Musical Hat Draw if they give me the go-ahead to do so.

A stellar fingerprint

More information:

Where and how do I submit texts?
So that I have everything in one place, please submit texts in comments on this post, or e-mail me (artsyhonker at gmail dot com). Please include the full text, and the source, in your comment or e-mail: I don’t want a hat full of dead links!
What kind of texts are you looking for?
I tend to write music best when there’s strong imagery in it; I love word-painting. But I’m experimenting, here, so I’m actually up for just about anything. It might be your favourite poem related to the theme, or it might be a hymn where you love the words but hate the tune and want a new one. I’m happy with poetry or prose. If it’s very long, I might only set part of it, or I might break it up into segments, in order to make it affordable.

The texts must be either a) already out of copyright or b) your own work, which you are happy for me to set under either a CC by-SA or CC NC-SA license (please specify). Otherwise, I can’t put them online, and that means the model doesn’t really work. If you have questions about copyright for this project, please do e-mail me.

If the text is not in English, please include a public domain translation; if it is not in English, German, Latin, or Spanish, please include a transliteration.

If I send you a text, do I have to sponsor that work?
No, absolutely not! You don’t have to sponsor anything. Sending me texts is absolutely free.
I want to send you my own poetry to set, but I want to get paid, too.
E-mail me and I’ll see what we can work out! I’m very happy to include a fee for you in the price I set for the finished work.
What kind of music will it be?
That really depends on the prompting text, but I’m imagining most of these as smaller-scale works: they might be folk tunes, hymn tunes, or works for smaller choirs.
Will there be a recording?
I’ll always try to include a computerised mp3: in most cases for these I’ll use robotic clarinets or flutes, as I usually do. In some cases I may be able to record the work myself, in which case I’ll do that too, but I don’t have a lot of technical resources in this area.
I want to sponsor something, but I can’t decide which piece I like best.
There will be a Hatter’s Choice fund, and any unspecified contributions will count toward purchase of a piece of my choosing.
Can I sponsor part of a piece?
Yes, you can sponsor part of a work if that’s what fits your budget! I’ll keep the sale page updated with the totals for each work.
Wait, don’t you already get paid for your music through Patreon?
Yes, but not enough! I get paid per work there, so I don’t want to write too many works per month, because that would be a burden on some of my patrons. So I’m trying this to see if it gives people who’d like to contribute less regularly a chance to help me out; it also gives me a chance to experiment from time to time with instrumental music or arrangements, though to start with I’m sticking to vocal music with texts. If I get paid for a piece through the Musical Hat Draw, of course I won’t put it on Patreon as a paid item: that wouldn’t be fair.
What if some pieces don’t sell?
I’ll sit on them until I can sell them another way. That might be recording them and putting them on Bandcamp, or it might be entering them into competitions if the texts are relevant, or it might be my usual venue of Patreon. If a piece is part-sponsored as of the end of the sale, the contributions for that will go into the Hatter’s Choice fund.
I missed out! When are you doing this again?
I’m not sure! But I hope it will become a regular thing; watch this space.

2 thoughts on “Musical Hat Draw: “Stars”

  1. Well, if nothing else, you’ve prompted me to get started on a poem that’s been knocking around my head for ages… If I get it done by the 11th I’ll throw it in, and if not I’m sure I’ll think of something else starry.

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