The party music

This week I have been exploring the party music for the pool party in the movie. You can do two things: license music, or create your own. Since  we are on a composing exercise, the only way to go is creating my own.

This is harder than expected. I like melodies. I can think of a melody and then play it on an instrument. That decision is very clear for me: the melody line, and which instrument should play it to get the desired effect.

For the party music I wanted a basic house tune. And this definitely is not something I am very good at. You are looking at creating a sparse, repeating set of bars, and add effects, instruments and whatever other elements you can think of to make it sound not boring. At least one thing will not be achieved. It will be either boring, it will have the wrong combination of instruments, or will have too many instruments, sounds and noises included that the actual song will be completely lost.

Here is a minute of what I have so far in its raw, unmixed form:

It is somewhere, but whether it is good or will become something good remains to be seen. It will need a lot of work and listening to other house producers to get some inspiration and a feel of what should and should not be done.

As far as composing for the movie goes: it is completely separate from the movie score itself. It has no relation to the characters or the stories. As a piece of music, it pretty much stands on its own. And in that sense, you might as well pick a piece from any producer and put a new soul in the spotlight.

With that in mind, the party music may not make it on the final album. Do what you are good at, and let others do the rest.

Do what you are good at, and let others do the rest. Share on X

As always, let me know what you think about the piece in the comments.


Exploring moods

In week two I have been exploring moods. The first piece is for a melancholic mood that as a theme I can use for different characters and different parts of the movie. Have a listen to the excerpt below, and as with last week’s theme, it is a very rough, unpractised piece that has not been cleaned up or mixed well. Right now, we’re still sketching, creating outlines.

There are several places in the movie where this could be used, such as the long walk home, the cold night at the front door, and the life’s story of one of the male characters.

The other theme I have been exploring is one for the nightmares. First I had a deep bass sound, which got mangled a little, but even with that sonic variation it sounded, well, boring. Lifeless. Not very scary. It needed a pulse, either with negative space (kind of like sucking the sound away), or with the addition of a heartbeat. I can increase the frequency of either the pulse or the gap to simulate the increased heart rate as a result of a rise in adrenaline levels. Have a listen to the theme below, again in its basic, unmixed, unfinished form.

Play around with the EQ to create some sort of “Pwooaaap” sound (you know the one, right?) and add more grit at the end of that “Pwooaaap” and you can intensify the sound and feeling tremendously.

That said, I will be the first to admit that it doesn’t sound that scary, but I want to point out that the impact will be very different when played on a screen together with the picture.

Which brings me to another weak point of this method of learning: you really do not know what the final piece will look, sound, or feel like. You can imagine it, but since it will all be only in your head, you will adapt the image you have up there and there is a good chance you will miss the mark.

Side-stepping a little here: I believe this is a very good example that shows how the actors, the director, the editor, and the composer all put in their bit to create something that is bigger than the four individual bits together. Don’t you agree?

Anyway, I will continue. There will be more next week.


Starting composing

First week, first obstacle: the theme I had in mind does not fit the movie anymore! Disaster!

Or not. Let’s step back a little.

Before I started writing the script I had a line in mind that I thought could work well as a theme for a movie. It could be re-used multiple times for multiple scenes or moods. But since I had no movie to write the music for and I did not want to randomly write a couple of tunes, I started writing the script. I had one idea for one scene, and I was convinced I could come up with a few more scenes based on that one scene. The few-more-scenes turned into a full-length movie script, a story with characters and moods.

This is when ‘disaster’ struck, because the theme I originally had in mind did not seem to fit the movie anymore. I had gotten a better insight in the movie and what emotion the music could add to it. In brief: disaster?

Perhaps, perhaps not. It is just how it goes. Things develop, evolve, change. However, after a few tries I discovered that the original piece could still be used. It is still a good theme. You can find the rough idea below, live recorded without any practice. And no, playing the piano is not my forte.

Listening to the theme I have now and trying to plot it against several scenes in the movie, I can see that some scenes can take on a different character. And this is where, in my opinion, the flaw of my approach comes to light: I am the writer, the director, the editor, and the composer — that sounds a bit like Robert Rodriguez, but without having an actual movie.

On one hand, being writer, director, composer, and editor closes off creativity, as there is only one person with one idea, not multiple people bouncing off ideas against each other. On the other hand it can give you too much freedom and may lead to losing coherency: you can move all over the aural spectrum without having anyone to keep you in check. The moods, pace, energy, everything may change from one scene to the next.

That said, I will keep composing and post the results and progress. The conclusion now is that the idea is still good. And as a reminder for myself for later: as long as you keep trying, ideas will appear and evolve. Keep going. A disaster is hardly ever that. At least not when it comes to writing music.