Category Archives: Music

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?

Stay tuned!

It’s been ages since my last blog post, lots has been happening behind the scenes (expect a few announcements soon).

I’ve also started composing music again and contributing on the VI Control forum (which has many insanely talented members and high-profile film composers such as Hans Zimmer and Charlie Clouser). The forum really is an excellent place for upcoming film composers to talk online, I’ve learned a lot since joining.

For me, composing brings a tremendous buzz and sense of joy. That said I’m glad I’m a hobbyist: when you are not feeling ‘in the zone’ it can be absolutely debilitating. Composers often question their abilities and suffer other problems such as sleep deprivation and stress. There is a recognised link between creatives and mental illness, especially composers. Even some of the greats like Bartòk, Mussorgsky, Schostakovich, and Tchaikovsky are believed to have suffered mental disorders of various descriptions. My broken finger has allowed me to take a break (bad pun) from composing and to rediscover it. Once the joy wears off I’ll step away from keyboard again. But for now – all is good!

As I’ve not posted for a while, I will share a new tune each day this week before making a ‘big announcement’. Stay tuned!

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2017 Review

So here we are at the end of 2017, what a year it’s been – not easy but busy at least!

The big achievement this year was finally getting our short film Emmi out there. This has been quite a ride: we have been selected at 28 film festivals, winning best film at two festivals, being finalists at two, being semi-finalist at two more with a further ten or so nominations.

Emmi Poster October 2017

What is particularly nice is that both of our main performers (Amy Harris and Natalie Martins) have both received multiple nominations for their acting (Natalie winning one of hers at the Gold Movie Awards). In particular it’s been interesting visiting film festivals, hearing reactions to the film, meeting lots of interesting people and watching other films along the way. I’ve seen some really good films but one especially stands out: The Silent Child (just found out it has made the Oscar shortlist, truly deserved), if you get the chance to see it is really worth it!

All the jet setting around has been somewhat at the expense of creativity and this is the area I look to rectify in 2018. I look back to find that prior to this month, I’ve only composed four pieces. One of them was was a quick temp score for this:

Over the last week I’ve already equaled my output from the past 11 months. At the bottom of this post is one of these tunes which was composed one afternoon. This tune was inspired by my children and their mixture of excitement, sleeplessness, incessant badgering and sense of wonder in the run up to Christmas. Speaking of family, it’s been quite a tough year all in all. One of the highlights however has been the introduction of this little fella (great to have another boy roaming the house with me).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune below (let me know if you like it) and hope to have more to share over the next year. Wishing all of you the very best for 2018, let’s make this a good one!!

The Enchanted Forest

Happy New Year! I spent the majority of my Christmas break catching up on  film watching with the girls. This was mostly a combination of Disney, Harry Potter and Fantastic beasts and where to find them.

My youngest now wants to be a unicorn roaming around in a forest whilst my eldest keeps chanting the “three unmentionable curses” at me all day (thanks very much J.K. Rowling)!

Watching their imaginations grow, I felt inspired to write a piece of music which celebrates these fantasy worlds.

(Direct soundcloud link here)

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!