Sophomore composes for Shakespeare
His fingers fly across the piano, strum the ukulele and punch the keyboard of his computer. He’s been singing since he was born, composing since he was three and taking piano since he was seven. He has released SoundCloud singles, mini-movies and now, musical compositions for the fall play, “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Robin Tucker, Decatur High sophomore, does it all.
“I’ve never really had one passion,” he said. “I’ve kind of done everything. I want to combine them all into something amazing.”
Lynn Hosking, Tucker’s drama teacher and director of the fall play, noticed his talent: both onstage and behind the piano.
“His creativity and musical background are what make him good,” Hosking said. “He’s very creative on stage and extremely giving.”
Tucker has been producing music and films since 2012. Despite his long-term relationship with behind the scenes work, he also enjoys being in production. This year, he auditioned for the fall play and tied with another cast member for the character Balthasar. This led Hosking to give him the musical position.
“He earned [his position],” Hosking said. “I knew about his musical background, so that’s why I gave it to him.”
He has extensive experience, with over 33 original tracks published on SoundCloud. Outside of music, he has produced two Star Wars podcasts and three short films. Tucker hopes to add a Harry Potter video series and Computer Based Imagery (CGI) television show to that list.
His “for fun” productions have been diluted by the start of school. Instead, he creates video accompaniments to school projects. “Jane Ridley,” one of Tucker’s short films produced last spring, was an addition to a creative writing assignment in literature class. Sonia Karkare, Tucker’s friend and crew member of the play, helped him produce the film.
“He’s really fun to work with, not overbearing as a director,” Karkare said. “He’s not a perfectionist but he wants to get things right.”
Karkare has not been working with him as much recently, but notes how well the music seems to be coming for the play.
“At first, I didn’t really get it,” Karkare said. “I thought it was kind of out of place, but now, I think it sounds really good.”
One of the reasons Tucker struggled to make the music fit was because the play features a wide range of emotions.
“[“Much Ado About Nothing”] is very dramatic,” Tucker said. “It’s extremely sarcastic, really funny, a little sad at times, but generally it’s a comedy.”
Tucker’s work was heavily influenced by the tone of the play, but also by his idols: Howard Shore, a Canadian composer, and Patrick Doyle, the composer of the 1993 film version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The play features two of Tucker’s compositions: “Sigh No More” and “Heavily”.
“The first song, [“Sigh No More”], is a twist,” Tucker said. “I interpreted Doyle’s version and made it more poppy.”
He had more difficulty with the second song.
“The second song, [“Heavily”], I didn’t have anything to work with,” Tucker said. “So I came up with the tune. It’s a pop ballad, which is what I like to do, so I put a little of me in it just as far as I write.”
Because this is a play, not a musical, the compositions won’t be played by a band. Instead, electronic versions that Tucker recorded on his piano and edited on computer programs will be played on the speakers. His music will be accompanied by a live quartet of singers, including Robin himself.
Although it is far from what would have been played in Shakespeare’s time, the music makes sense in the production, which spins a modern twist on a traditional Shakespearian play.
“I don’t know much about composing, so I can’t speak to that,” Hosking said. “I just knew I liked it when I heard it.”
Tucker is eager to hear how the music will turn out.
“I love writing things for people,” he said. “This is one of the first times that I’ve written something that will be performed, so I’m really excited to hear it and see what happens.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” will premiere Thursday, Oct. 20. The show will run three times, with the last show on the 22.