Category Archives: Midi

Speed scoring

So far this week I’ve only showcased stand-alone music tracks. As a filmmaker, the area which interests me the most is mixing music to picture. Below are a couple of recent examples of this. I’m not seasoned by any means, but these exercises made me appreciate the pressure film composers find themselves under. Music is generally added as one the last element in a production, usually just at the point when energy, money and time have all disappeared. Worse still, everyone seems to love the music when they hear it, but before long they want to start changing things – often people with little-to-no musical knowledge. It’s little wonder so many composers suffer exhaustion and mental disorders!

My first “speed scoring” effort was for a composing competition. I basically only had a day to create the tune. I’m pretty happy with the result considering the time constraints. This said I was a little miffed when they decided to change the goal-posts and extend the deadline by several days (this was just after I submitted the track). There is no denying this track would have greatly benefited from the additional time to improve the clarity of the mix. This said, it was still a useful exercise even if I wouldn’t rush out and do it again.

My second ‘speed-scoring’ experience came about when I was asked to make a video for an art exhibition. Once again, everything was left until two days before the opening (I only had an hour to prep, film and interview everything, after which the window of opportunity was gone). As if the lack of preparation for filming wasn’t stressful enough, the next problem was finding some music to edit against. I decided rather than spent the time trying to find the right tune – why not just write one? Which is exactly what happened.

I hope some of you will tune back in tomorrow for an exciting announcement!

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Eye Spy Part 2

Here are a couple of new tracks which probably fit together in the “spy mould”.

His Name Is Bond

The first track ‘Clever Girl’ was intended as an underscore building piece. I had some procedural/hacking montage going on in my head whilst composing, one where the main character is cracking a techno-conundrum or uncovering vital evidence. This one came together quickly – helped by the fact I was exploring some of my downloaded Noiiz libraries (recommended to anyone who likes playing with musical loops). I changed some loop pitches and distorted + mangled things for a more grungy feeling, the majority was still composed in a traditional manner.

(direct link: https://soundcloud.com/satorious/clever-girl)

The second track is actually my most recent track, one which clearly has a James Bond slant. I was just noodling away at the keyboard for fun and this was the end result. I’m going to confess I’m not really a huge fan of the last couple of Thomas Newman Bond scores. He is great at the subtle stuff, but not so great at giving Bond a confident swagger (unless he falls back on David Arnold’s orchestration of The Name’s Bond, James Bond). There is of course usually an exception to a rule, this being the opening track to Spectre. Anyway, I really wanted to bring back a bit of that cool John Barry/David Arnold swagger. Enjoy!

(direct link: https://soundcloud.com/satorious/his-name-is-bond
if you haven’t already, check my other Bond track out here)

Tiny Steps

Following on yesterday, I present a small track called Tiny Steps. This was written for my wife’s birthday and also to demonstrate Spitfire Audio’s British Drama Toolkit to other composers. The flute and piano melody were added in later, the lead instruments in the toolkit aren’t really expressive enough (but they are great for sketching ideas down quickly).

In contrast to Tiny Steps, I’ll also share another track called Attack Of The Kroutons (thanks to Jim Gwilliam for the lofty naming). For some reason I’ve not this shared this older track before. It was intended as some sort of B-movie monster dance track – along the style of Brainbug – Nightmare (which I’ve always been a fan of).

This track is really a companion piece of sorts to Diggin’ Dirt, one of my earlier tracks. As a track, it was an absolute pain to mix. Being honest I’m not entirely happy with end-result! Perhaps the fact it’s not right lends it more authenticity to the original source inspiration.

I rather like the idea of filming a cheesy music video (ala Brainbug) to accompany this, and perhaps giving the the track a nicer mix (being as I’m now a little better at mixing than I was a year ago). A future project perhaps?

Bourne Again

Last week I watched the new Jason Bourne movie. With no James Bond film on the foreseeable horizon – this seemed the next best thing (aside from The Night Manager).

In terms of Bourne, I’m in the minority who is not a fan of The Bourne Ultimatum (which most people consider the best). Whilst I can appreciate it on some levels (eg. the excellent Waterloo sequence) I’m a far bigger fan of the first two (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy). Both of these films have the heart and humanity of Marie (Franka Potente) which is contrasted nicely against the duplicitous cunning of Abbott (Brian Cox). These characters are both sorely missed in the later installments. The new film (which isn’t a strictly necessary addition to the series) plays like a greatest hits album but with slightly different renditions. It’s fun, familiar but not as good as the originals – but that’s not to say it’s not still enjoyable.

I’m also a massive fan of the musical scores from the first two Bourne movies. John Powell’s score for Identity was rather unique at the time – mixing throbbing percussion, atonal electronics, stabbing staccato strings against occasional acoustic elements. Supremacy expanded on these themes in the best possible way and introduced some new material (‘To the roof’ being my personal favourite). Much like the films, by the third installment everything was feeling familiar (in fact they even dropped cues from the first film over the top of some parts). The most recent (Jason Bourne) score is credited to both John Powell and David Buckley. I was sad to learn that John Powell’s wife died earlier this year, I suspect this is why David Buckley has also been involved this time around. He does a good job of weaving together some of Powell’s familiar themes.

I decided for fun I’d also like to try to emulate John Powell’s style and create an imaginary Bourne score. Had tremendous fun writing this! That said it tested my playing ability (the end is some of the fastest track work I’ve done – probably a rebellious response to the torn ligament in my index finger I’m still nursing). Hopefully fans of these scores can have some fun trying to see how many of the original themes they can spot!

World Domination

There are only a couple of weeks until the new Bond film is released and I’m now at that ridiculously hyper but impatient stage. One of the things which keeps me going is analysing some of the score before seeing the film, but so far we haven’t had a peep out of Thomas Newman (or from his other spy score for that matter – Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies).

I therefore decided to write my own take (something contemporary but classic – without real orchestra/brass – just to make life difficult).

russian satellite killer
Being as the title is Spectre – I was clearly thinking along the lines of Volcano lairs, deadly satellites and “laser beams” with this one. Enjoy! Click here to listen to it on Soundcloud.

Mood music

A while back I planned to take a break to do some composing. This didn’t entirely go to plan and various other distractions intervened. On the very last day I managed to set aside a bit of time and compose two new tunes. The two tracks could not be more different from each other.

Starting off from a gloomy position (compounded by the fact I had less composing time than I would have liked), I created a sad violin/flute piece with a mild Celtic vibe.

Soundcloud link to The Lament Of Life

Feeling invigorated I decided to write something a little more up-beat! The next track feels like the shorter sibling to my recent Super-powers track and was designed to be in the style of an action/chase trailer.

Soundcloud link to They’re Coming For Us

Hope you like one of them, interesting how mood can affect your creativity.

Honour and Virtue

Recently I’ve been trying out some of the solo instruments from new start-up Aria Sounds. I hope to have a video review of some of their series up on this blog soon – but meanwhile here is a piece I’ve created using the Solo French Horn whilst experiencing “a Bruckheimer moment”.

king-alfred-89120_12802
Listen on soundcloud.com