In the summer of 2004, my family made a short film for a film festival and I, as the music major in the family, wrote the score. Now, seven years later, I’m rewriting it. Why? Partially because I need the practice scoring, and the video is handy. Partially because when I wrote it the first time, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, having never written that much music before, having never written for film before, and having never had any orchestration or composition training (unless you count Music Theory I-III). So I decided to see if, having achieved a Master’s in film composition, I could do a better job this time around.
I spent a LOT of time revising this cue after the first writing. It’s interesting, trying to revise your own music yourself and trying to figure out how to improve it, instead of relying on a teacher to give you advice. I listened to John Williams, listened to James Newton Howard, stared at my music in Sonar, opened it in Sibelius and put them side by side, and just messed with ideas between the two. I’ve never done that before…I doubt my old laptop would even have had the memory to support such usage! I also remembered that there is such a thing as a reverb effect….I think that helped the overall sound a lot, since even a little reverb really helps to gel the sounds and give them an atmosphere so they sound like they are actually being performed in a space instead of being MIDI sounds flying through a computer.
I started with a scene near the end of the movie, so it won’t introduce itself very much. Basically, Joshua Kooper, the main character, has spent most of the movie trying to find his wife and kids while trying to keep the government convinced that he has been “reformed” to their way of thinking, as opposed to the Christian seeking to keep his country from falling apart that he was seven years previously when they captured him and stowed him in a R.E.S.C.U.E.S facility to brainwash him. In this scene, Joshua has finally been reunited with his wife and is discussing the future. He says he needs to find the other patriots; his wife begs him not to leave her again since she just got him back. He then comes into the living room late that night for an anguished prayer session–he doesn’t really want to leave again, but he feels called to fight for the country’s survival.
The video didn’t bounce right in Sonar–the audio was lined up incorrectly–so I just have two versions of the audio, one with dialogue and one without. The one with dialogue is 30-60 seconds longer since I included some of it on either side of the music for some context.
Ahhh….I finally get to post a new piece again!
My Roland Edirol UA-25 EX USB AudioCapture (isn’t that an exciting name?) arrived last week, along with its bundled copy of Sonar 8.5 LE…and then I subbed the next two days, so I had to wait till Friday to start playing with it. And then had to figure out why it would only play every other note and only a few instruments. And then yesterday, had to figure out how to get the audio out of Sonar while still sounding like it was supposed to. And today had to discover how to use envelopes for various elements in an equalizer so I could eliminate hiss without making the full sections sound muted.
But after letting this piece sit for almost two months, waiting for the new technology I needed to be able to hear it in all its glory, it’s finally done!
This cue is for an envisioned scene — envisioned only, there are no plans so far as I know for anyone to turn these books into movies, and they sure haven’t asked me to score them! — at the opening of David Weber’s book “On Basilisk Station.” The scene opens in space, watching a shuttle approaching the huge space station orbiting the planet Manticore, then cuts inside the shuttle to Nimitz, a treecat, sitting on Honor’s lap. The camera pans up to Honor’s face, at which point she stands, thinking excitedly about her new command on her first hyper-capable warship, and exits the shuttle. As she walks along, she thinks a little uneasily about her mentor’s seeming discomfort while he told her about her new ship. Nimitz bites her ear to get her to stop worrying, and she smiles, thinking happy thoughts again. She arrives at the “gate” and stares in awe at “Fearless,” the light cruiser of which she is now in command. Tearing her eyes away, she walks over to the sentries at the boarding tube, gives them her orders & credentials, and enters zero-G to travel to the ship.
PDF Score: Honor Harringtonv2
Well, another week gone by, and still no way to produce mock-ups…In the meantime, here are some more “old pieces” from Composition II: Music and Movement.
To try to relate music to movement, we used the eight basic efforts and four “drives” from the Laban movement theory. They are derived from the continuums of space, time, weight, and flow, basically…The usefulness is by noting which characteristics the action has (pressing, flicking, wringing, dabbing, slashing, gliding, thrusting, floating) and then looking at the definition of each for where it lies on the continuum so the music can be written to possess those qualities. Confused yet? Yeah, the only reason I was able to list what I did was b/c I pulled out my old Laban for All book. It was a little mind-bending when I was in the class; after not thinking about it for several years, I definitely can’t explain the theory right.
First, Vision drive: “weightless” Revolves around time, space, and flow. In this little scene created & performed by a couple of CCC Laban grad students, a little girl is running from something in a dream. She discovers a sentient tree that calms her down and sends her back into a peaceful sleep.
Video: .mov file
Or, for those of you would like music only, you can listen to the .mp3here
And, of course, the score 🙂 :Vision Dance
Next, Spell drive: “timeless” Revolves around weight, space, and flow. In the first scene, created & performed by CCC Laban grad students, a girl loses herself in the story she is reading. She meets a creature or two and a fairy before wandering back to reality.
Video: .wmv file
And the .mp3 for those of you who want it
And score: Spell Dance
Finally, another Spell drive. This scene (created & performed, once more, by a CCC Laban grad student) is a bit odd…the girl catches a bird, crushes it, and eats it, after which she transmogrifies into a bird herself. Like I said, weird. I didn’t actually do this one for an assignment–it was something to keep me busy and writing later during the semester.
Video: .wmv file
The .wav file
And score: Spell Transmogrification
Thanks for reading/listening!
I finished cleaning up the score for my newest choral & piano piece based on Psalm 40 today (I limited to myself to SATB–four parts only!), but since I still don’t have a solution for Sonar, the printed manuscript will have to sit in my binder for a bit longer while I start on the next project (haven’t decided what yet…). Of course, Sibelius has decided to start acting up now. *rhe* Nothing much–I just can’t set the Devices to use the MIDI input from my keyboard (it locks up when I try to close the dialog). Which means I have to “type” in all my notes instead of playing them in–that means typing “A” on my laptop keyboard for an “A”, a “3” to stack the note a third above an “A”, and a “4” to stack a note an interval of a fourth above that to get an F chord in first inversion and then using Ctrl-up or down to adjust to a different register if necessary instead of simply hitting all three notes in the correct octave at the same time. Slightly more time involved, but it works.
Since I finished a piece and didn’t feel like deciding just yet what I’ll start on tomorrow, I decided to take the time to hunt down a few of my old .wav files. Ah, when I knew how to score! When I could make a mock up without even trying, hardly! *sigh* Of course, maybe if I had bothered to PRACTICE more during the last three years, I’d still be able to, neh?
First, the final assignment for my Dramatic Scoring class my first semester in grad school: Lydie Breeze. The scene was NOT something I wanted to watch twenty gazillion times (necessary for writing good score), but I managed to write a pretty decent piece, anyway. I’m not sure whether or not I should be horrified that I did such a good job… Since I don’t like the dialogue that came with the live recording at the concert, I made a MIDI mock up while listening to the live recording and trying my best to match it. *happy sigh* I LOVE my muted string samples!! Oh, if only I could make mock-ups like that all the time…
Listen to the wave
And, of course, the score 🙂 :Lydie Breeze
Next, the piece that, with Lydie Breeze, I submitted for the ASCAP/Mancini scholarship competition: Motorcycle Chase. This one was third semester, Music & Movement. The assignment was to take elements from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Don Davis’s Matrix score, both of which we had just studied, and create a one-minute action piece. I had fun with this one. 🙂 I never cleaned up the score, since the assignment was purely for the audio, but here it is if you’re brave: Motorcycle Chase And the .wav
Last one for today, and then I’ve got to go make supper. 🙂 Also from the Music & Movement class, a chase scene from Bullitt. This was composed to an actual scene, but I can’t find the video on my external hard drive…so music & score only, I’m afraid. Same story on the score, so again, if you’re brave: Bullitt And the .wav