Silent Comedy/Horror: "Strings"

Caitlin Richardson of Route 78 Productions, wrote, directed and produced this short comedy/horror film, Strings. In this story, a hard worker is abused by his over-the-top terrible boss. Then he figures out how to take revenge. This is a fun silent film; the soundtrack is solely my music, consisting of piano, violin and bass. This project gave me the opportunity to compose an extremely sarcastic music score--so much fun!

WARNING: This film contains some very graphic visuals, that may be distressing. It also contains flashing strobe visuals that might cause distress. It is not for young audiences.

"Three Bittersweet Cues"

Filmmaker Victor De Almeida of Phoenix Works Films asked me to score a few short scenes from a bittersweet drama film titled "The Ashes You Left Behind". In the film, a couple reunites many years after a bitter divorce. The occasion is the funeral of their daughter. They relive their lives, traumas and emotions.

The video below shows three separate cues, from different scenes in the film. I usually subscribe to a philosophy, that the instruments used to perform the music should not overwhelm the scene. Since, in this case, all three scenes take place in a house, I chose to use only small ensembles, For example, in the first cue, I decided to use a trio; piano, bass clarinet and violin.

The mood in the first cue is somber, so it starts out with a slow, simple duet between piano and bass clarinet. The objective is to set up a very somber mood, to help the audience understand the couple's unspoken emotions. After the bass clarinet plays a theme, the violin repeats it.

In the second cue, I decided to lighten the mood slightly with a slow jazz trio ballad, with piano, bass and violin. The piano and bass are not at all difficult to mock up as virtual instruments. The jazz violin, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely.

The third cue is nostalgic. The ex-wife undresses and starts a bath, while the ex-husband looks on. Here, I chose a nostalgic, romantic approach, with piano, bass, and vocalist.

"Midnight Snack" Cooking Scene

A filmmaker asked me to score a short scene from a satirical film titled “Midnight Snack”. In the scene, a man starts cooking, but becomes more and more upset as his meal doesn’t progress the way he had planned.

The filmmaker asked that I start the music in a conventional style. As the scene continues, the music style should gradually become crazier and crazier, no holds barred. What fun!

I decided to score the scene as a jazz trio; piano, bass and violin. Now, the piano and bass are not at all difficult to mock up as virtual instruments. The jazz violin, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely.

"Interrogation Day"

Davide Dolfini wrote and directed this short film. Initially I scored the film in a jazz trio style; piano, bass, and percussion. After listening to it, Davide asked me to make the score a bit more dramatic. So, I added a trumpet with a Harmon "stem out" mute from Aaron Venture's Infinite Brass virtual instrument library. I also made the percussion somewhat more, well, "percussive". I did this by adding a dose of parallel compression to the percussion track. In parallel compression, the audio stream is side-chained and strongly compressed in parallel. In addition, the parallel stream has an EQ boost in the low and high frequencies, and then added back to the original stream.

At some points in the film I had the music stop abruptly. The intent is to make the following dialog stand out in starkness, emphasizing the dramatic moment. The final result is this short story with a nicely dramatic music score. I hope that the drama added to the film heightens the emotions felt by the viewer. 

China Strikes: Episode 1

I composed the music track for a series of machinima videos using a cinematic jazz + orchestral idiom.

0:00 - 0:39 Suspenseful music
0:42 - 1:12 Diegetic music that the director supplied, and wants to be retained in the video.
1:13 - 2:18 Suspenseful music with the main theme played by a sax and then by a muted trumpet.
2:18 - 3:23 Suspenseful underscore
3:23 - 4:16 Return of the main motif, played repeatedly by an electric guitar.
4:17 - 5:02 Percussion, then supplemented by sax playing a motif.
5:03 - 6:40 Electric guitar playing a soulful riff,.
7:01 - 8:06 Guitar duet playing Italian-style music
8:07 - 10:00 Soulful jazz band with background vocals.
10:01 - 11:12 Cinematic suspenseful music with background vocals.

Dramedy: "Small Talk"

This short film was produced and directed by Alan Wood of Milepost 42 Films, and written by Jake Teeny . It is a dramedy, meaning, a combination of drama and comedy. If anything, it leans toward the side of comedy. A writer is invited to his agent’s home for dinner — under false pretenses! It turns out to be a blind date with a school teacher. And the writer is upset and keeps putting his foot in his mouth! I had a lot of fun composing the music score for this film. I chose an upbeat jazz-trio style; piano, bass and drums. The music in the introduction sets the tone for the film, giving the viewer some expectations for what to expect.

"Hairball" Jazz

Jonathan Hawes, the director of a wacky short film titled "Hairball", asked me to compose a score with the jazz style of a temp track. So here is a very nice jazz theme played by a stage band. The theme stands up quite well by itself, without the accompanying film.