“I strongly believe that sound design and music have to operate hand in hand with each other,” explains Lindsay Jones. He serves as sound designer and composer for Jeremy O. Harris’ buzzy drama “Slave Play.” The artist earned two Tony nominations for his work, in the Best Score and Sound Design of a Play categories. It’s a fitting outcome for the first time nominee as he believes his work in sound and music “feels like a very natural marriage.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The Best Score category at the Tony Awards is unique this year in that the race is filled out by music from plays. Jones says that the discipline of scoring a drama “requires a tremendous amount of sensitivity” to match the emotions depicted on stage. He adds that his music has “two main functions.” First, transition music that keeps the energy flowing from one scene to the next. Second is music which “supports the actors’ performance in a way that doesn’t overshadow it, but gives you additional emotional context.”
For “Slave Play,” some of that emotional context comes from the “Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy” which the main trio of couples undergo in the first act. Jones wanted to create the sounds of labor that one would find on a plantation. But he added “this distant piano” that filtered through, as if coming from the main house, to give the act a “haunted feel.”
Jones began his career as an actor before falling into composing and sound design “completely by accident.” He continues to use his actor training in these disciplines, especially the concept of “listening and responding in the moment.” “Music is my most honest response” to what the play has to say, notes Jones.
The Tony Awards eliminated the sound design categories for several years before industry outcry made them rethink their decision. Jones is happy to have them reinstated because of the conversation that moment provided. “I truly believe that sound designers are artists,” says the designer, “The biggest misconception about the job is that it’s just a bunch of buttons and levers.” He hopes that people realize the emotional core of sound work in the future. “There’s a tremendous amount of artistic craft, and heart, and soul that goes into the job.”
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