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Behind the Scenes: The Echoes of the Hammer Musical

The Reformation story is filled with intrigue, daring escape, and edge-of-your-seat suspense! Perhaps you’ve heard this story many times. But never like this! With Echoes of the Hammer: The Musical you’ll enjoy a celebration of God’s work in the remarkable life of Martin Luther. We sat down with composer David von Kampen and lyricist Lisa Clark to learn about their musical-making experience.

David von Kampen, Composer

What was your first thought about creating a musical about Martin Luther?

I wondered if we could pull it off. Regardless of the topic or target audience, all musicals depend on having a great story and songs that drive the story forward. Lisa did a great job finding the moments that needed songs.

Which Echoes song was your favorite and why?

Any time multiple characters are singing in the same song, it was fun to find the music of their different perspectives.

What does your creative process look like?

It all starts with the lyrics. Lisa always sent me lines that were very rhythmic and musical, so it’s not hard to find an accompaniment that fit the feel of the song, and then set the words melodically.

What would you want people to know about work that went into the creating the music for Echoes of the Hammer?

A specific challenge with these songs was making sure they could be sung by young, untrained voices. Easy music can actually be harder to write well than difficult music!

Lisa Clark, Lyricist

How did you come up with the lyrics?

Brenda Trunkhill, the editor who got all of this started, gave scene and song summaries, and I went from there. Carolina VonKampen, an intern for CPH last summer, did a lot of great research. Many of the things that were said by John Tetzel and his cohorts, for example, were almost straight out of the history books. The rest of it was just having fun with the creative process!

Which came first, the scene or the lyrics?

Both, sort of. Scene summaries came first, based off of Luther: The Graphic Novel, Echoes of the Hammer. But the scenes themselves didn’t come until after the songs were finished.

How do you go about breathing life into your lyrics?

In my opinion, music is the best way for words to come to life. This was one of my first collaborations with David, but I’m familiar with his work, and I knew he’d be able to handle anything. So that freed me up to have a little more fun with rhythms and intentional inconsistences than I sometimes do for other texts. It was incredibly fun to hear the tunes carry my texts to a new level.

Which Echoes song was your favorite and why?

I don’t have a favorite necessarily, but it has surprised me that “Dr. and Mrs. Luther” sometimes makes me tear up! When I wrote it, it was not only a tribute to a couple that has impacted families for centuries, but also a testimony to God’s work in marriage and particularly in a marriage with a pastor.

Who do you get feedback from? What does your creative process look like?

My creative process for writing hymns and texts for music is very different from my process for writing devotionals or fiction. For this genre, I often fill my head with words and ideas related to what I want to write. Then I just let it all spill out, editing “in real time” as I go, writing by hand. A little while later, I’ll type it out, making a few more tweaks. After that, the text is often close to the end result.

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