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Thread: Who picks the music?

  1. #1
    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    Who picks the music?

    I originally asked this question on the Shibutani thread, but it's so off-topic there that I decided to begin a new thread.

    Who picks the music that skaters use for programs.

    I'd assume that the skaters themselves have the final approval (or maybe they don't?) but surely they get ideas, input, and maybe direction from others. Coaches... choreographers... maybe their federations...

    So, what's the process for determining the program music. And, if it's a different process for different skaters, I'd like to know what that is with specific examples.

    In Max Aaron's case, he said in his TSL interview that he picked Carmen himself; but that the choreographer suggested lesser-known selections for the beginning of the program. Suggestions that he apparently took.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Here is an article about the process by which Lori Nichol selected the Azerbajian music for Michelle Kwan's 1997 Taj Mahal program. Nichol has access to a vast musical library and is assisted by a long-time musical consultant. (If I am not mistaken I believe Nichol's husband is a classical guitarist).

    http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories...hellekwan.html

    I remember reading that for the 1998 long program, Lori selected one of her personal all-time favorites, the little-known William Alwyn Harp Concerto Lyra Angelica. Seventeen-year-old Michelle was unenthusiastic about it, but allowed herself to be talked into going with it by Nichol and Frank Carroll.

    Later in her career, after separating from Nichol, Michelle chose music that was more to her own liking -- war horses like Tosca, Aranjuez, and Scheherazade. I have wondered if music issues might have played a role in Michelle reaching out to different choreographers after 2001. Nichol was just too sophisticated and when Michelle got old enough, as she put it, "to take control of my own skating," she went in a different direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Here is an article about the process by which Lori Nichol selected the Azerbajian music for Michelle Kwan's 1997 Taj Mahal program. Nichol has access to a vast musical library and is assisted by a long-time musical consultant. (If I am not mistaken I believe Nichol's husband is a classical guitarist).

    http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories...hellekwan.html

    I remember reading that for the 1998 long program, Lori selected one of her personal all-time favorites, the little-known William Alwyn Harp Concerto Lyra Angelica. Seventeen-year-old Michelle was unenthusiastic about it, but allowed herself to be talked into going with it by Nichol and Frank Carroll.

    Later in her career, after separating from Nichol, Michelle chose music that was more to her own liking -- war horses like Tosca, Aranjuez, and Scheherazade. I have wondered if music issues might have played a role in Michelle reaching out to different choreographers after 2001. Nichol was just too sophisticated and when Michelle got old enough, as she put it, "to take control of my own skating," she went in a different direction.
    I remember how excited I was to find that article about Nichol's selection of the music for Taj Mahal. In large part, my love for Kwan as a skater was due to the unique music she skated to, and Nichol's choreography. I was sorry that when Kwan broke away from Nichol and Carroll, she went with more conventional music choices. Interestingly, Nichol herself seemed to pull back a bit for her other skaters. Kwan may or may not have had as advanced musical tastes as Nichol, but she sure was able to express the music like no one else. I always thought of her as Lori's muse.

    I think Sandra Bezic is also inspired in her music choices. I'm counting her choices for both Olympic-competitive skaters and for Stars on Ice.

    In terms of who chooses music for a skater, I assume that the younger the skater, the less input he or she has. I'm wondering whether a really top-class choreographer such as Lori, Sandra, or the others can claim some sort of contractual right to choose the music, or whether this matter is negotiated with the coach as well as the skater. Or does it differ from case to case?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I think Sandra Bezic is also inspired in her music choices. I'm counting her choices for both Olympic-competitive skaters and for Stars on Ice.

    In terms of who chooses music for a skater, I assume that the younger the skater, the less input he or she has. I'm wondering whether a really top-class choreographer such as Lori, Sandra, or the others can claim some sort of contractual right to choose the music, or whether this matter is negotiated with the coach as well as the skater. Or does it differ from case to case?
    For Tara Lipinski's Olympic music, Sandra Bezik later said that she and Tara did not see eye-to-eye at all. Bezik wanted her to skate to something more substantial and not so Disney-ish. Fifteen-year-old Tara was adamant. In the end Bezic decided that it was more important that Tara skate to music that Tara loved and related to, rather than to impose a more sophisticated choice from above.

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    It's a different process for different skaters.

    Johnny Weir answers the question "How do you pick your music?" in his 6/17/13 blog entry for TeamUSA.org: http://www.teamusa.org/Team-USA-Wint...e-Beat-Goes-On
    Excerpt:
    Music selection has always been, like every other aspect of my life, mine and mine alone. I don’t take requests like a wedding singer; I don’t settle for something I half-like; and I don’t believe a person can give a performance that touches the audience without understanding and loving their music. While I have listened to suggestions from my coaches and choreographers over the years, and sometimes looking back, should have taken their suggestions, I believe in searching for that goosebump piece and making it work.
    Lori Nichol talked about her music selection process for Carolina Kostner and Mao Asada in this article from 2013 Worlds (there's also a quote from Marina Zoueva near the end): http://web.icenetwork.com/news/artic...&vkey=ice_news

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    Thanks for the link, Mathman. I enjoyed reading about the process. I'm sure I've mentioned way too often how I thought Michelle's programs were never quite as magnificent after she left Lori (they were very good, but...). A long time ago I read, in an article about choreography, that the opening move is so important - when you want the audience to settle down and be totally focused on the skater(s).

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    Article from April 2012 about the process and challenges of finding program music - includes quotes from John Kerr, Adam Rippon, Jonathan Cassar, Ashley Wagner, and Paul Parkinson: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/artic...&vkey=ice_news

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