A Summer in Winterbury

A Summer in Winterbury

John Romanos wrote and directed this stunning film about an elderly stranger who arrives at an isolated farm town with a brutal past. Will his lost memories be the key to the town’s redemption, or drive them further into despair? The film serves as an allegory, examining when it is morally right–or wrong–to seek revenge.

My goal in scoring this film was twofold: (1) Underscore the sense of foreboding and despair felt in many of the scenes, and (2) Help to unify the story with music in a somber tone throughout. While the film is rather dark, it is spiced with a few touches of mild humor.

To further these goals, I repeated a main melody, transforming a simple rhythmic motif to underscore the mood of each scene. Not every scene contains this melody, but by sprinkling this “leitmotif” throughout the film, it maintains a subliminal sense of unity. This unity is also helped by restricting the musical palette to a limited set of instruments. I also added some of the sound effects that emphasize surprising points in the story.

The entire film is located at the very bottom of this page. But before proceeding to view the film, you might want to read this post. Here, I identified eight clips where the main melody is repeated. The melody is never repeated exactly, but instead it is transformed to meet the emotional needs of each scene.

Clip 1

There is a brief introduction with a strumming guitar solo. Then Clip 1 introduces the main theme with the bass clarinet. I chose this somber tone to warn the viewer about the upcoming tragic story.

Besides that, the music evokes an unsettling feeling. Why? The meter is in 12/8 time, which means there are 12 8th note beats per measure. But rather than accenting the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th beats in the usual way, the guitar accents the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th beats, creating a very uneasy, disturbing mood.

Clip 2

As “Old Man Time” approaches the town, a cello repeats the theme.

Clip 3

The music clip transforms from a threatening to a patriotic mood, as the character Earl Archer gives a rousing speech. The melody is played by the horns, and rises to a high tessitura (pitch).

Clip 4

Old Man Time provides first aid to the wounded boy. A guitar plays the main theme, accompanied by a threatening-sounding accompaniment.

Clip 5

Old Man Time claims to have a familiarity with this old house. The house has been abandoned and locked up for half a century. As the people enter the house, the music becomes very creepy, while a bass clarinet plays the melody.

Clip 6

The creepy mood continues as shadows of the four men proceed across floor of the hidden room.

Clip 7

The theme is played in a somber mood, as cellos play the melody.

Clip 8

The hanging of Old Man Time is accompanied by an instrumental reprise of Clip 1. The melody is played by an unusual combination of bass clarinet and bass flute, creating a distinctly stronger but still somber tone. They are accompanied by tubular bells, symbolizing death.

Full Video

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