Composing for Ayckbourn’s Sisterly Feelings

Written by Paul Chamberlain

Sisterly Feelings requires music for start and finishes of acts, there are no cues in the script. (Not even a brass band!)
This is the 23rd play so could be an opportunity to use these numbered intervals.

The opening is at a funeral and AA writes “Ralph has apparently said something recently and has now paused reflectively”.
This made me think of writing something less sombre (minor key) and more reflective (major key).

Ralph’s theme at the opening melody starts with F9, Dm, Cm, Bbm and F. The makes use of the intervals of a 2nd and 3rd.

The two main characters, Abigail and Dorcas need a theme each. When they are played depends on which act is performed.

I wanted to use clarinet for Abigail and flute for Dorcas.

Abigail’s theme is in 6/8 and starts with a tritone arpeggio for tension, on the nd piano, which resolves to C9 with E in the bass. The clarinet theme again uses 2 and 3rds. Harmonically it moves chromatically down from F to Db where it rests.

Dorcas’ theme is based on two chords; Bb maj7 then C9 over a Bb. Harmonically this is more static but rhythmically it is syncopated. There is however plenty of movement in the melody on the flute.

The end of the piece is Ralph’s theme but this time played on the clarinet, then the flute and then together. The piano finally plays the opening melody again thus returning the music to the opening.