Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Music of the Circus

Have I made it obvious enough yet that I wrote a book about a circus? If not, let me reiterate:

I wrote a book about a circus. No, I won't bore you with a buy link… but if you're interested, it's over in the right sidebar.

Music is a huge portion of the whole circus experience. Of course, the biggest, most famous piece of circus music is far and away 'Thunder and Blazes' by Julius Fucik. When we think of circus music, it's normally 'Thunder and Blazes.' There are a few other pieces ('Barnum and Bailey'sFavorite' and, mainly during trapeze acts, 'Sobre las Olas.'), but 'Thunder and Blazes' is the key piece.

There's also 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' by John Phillip Sousa… but it's more than a little infamous in circus history. 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' was played during emergencies. Once the performers heard those first few measures, they knew the act was done. Time to get the audience out and start tearing down the big top. Something is very very wrong.

Of course now, circus music has evolved even further. We have things today like Cirque Berzerk and, of course, Cirque du Soleil. They have composers dedicated to aiding the feeling of a show. From the darkness of Alegria to the sheer, unending intensity of Kooza. It's an evolution, and I love it. Rather than borrowing music, which aided the wonderful and very piecemeal feel of the classic circus, we now have a sleek feeling, a unity of concept as the circus arts are reinvented. I can't get enough of it. I tried to adopt a similar idea in Zirkua Fantastic. I leave it up to the readers to decide how well I did it, but I feel that, with a circus so long-lived as Zirkua, they would evolve to fit the modern times a little better. And that includes the music, exclusively provided by a single violinist.

What's your favorite circus or circus act (I personally love the Cyr wheel)? How does music work with the acts? Let me know, and subscribe, if you so desire.


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