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At the beginning of June, I participated in theSpitfire Audio | WestWorld Scoring Competition where I had to score a chase scene from season 3 of WestWorld. When I tried to upload it to YouTube, for some reason it had none of my music (maybe because I used YouTube’s new uploader). Since I uploaded it right at the deadline, unfortunately there was no time to fix it. Eventually I did get the version with my music uploaded (using YouTube’s older uploader). I hope you enjoy it!
Since the beginning of April, I’ve been auditing the “Computer-Based Media Arranging” class at DU (remotely), taught by David Hanson. Here are the highlights of the assignments that I’ve done so far.
One of our earliest assignments was to write four melodies, based on different situations. Our next assignment was to add harmony to at least one of those melodies.
Melody 1. “A Man on a Bike Finds an Injured Baby Girl Raccoon…” – This was based on a scenario that my wife came up with. “A man is riding a bike… he comes across an injured baby girl raccoon… he gently puts her in his backpack… and races to the animal hospital! She is going to be ok… so he takes her home to live with him.” The solo cello plays two different melodies (one for the man and one for the raccoon) which gradually merge. This was one of my melodies that I added harmony to. I added low string accompaniment below the melody for the man, and high string accompaniment above the melody for the raccoon.
Melody 2. “A Conversation Between a Man and a Computer” – This was a scenario that I thought of, inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Written for piano, I used a 12 tone row, and upon each completion, transposed it up a half-step, to increase tension. The middle voice represents the man: C Major pentatonic, and after the initial note C, the notes spell out D-A-V-E (for the ‘V’ I used the note G which is ‘V’ or ‘5’ in the key of C, so D, A, G, E) are placed in that order. The notes in the extreme low register are the beginning of the melody of the song “Daisy Bell” in the key of F# (this represents the ‘human side’ or ‘soul’ of the computer. All the other notes of the row are played as fast as possible in the upper register of the piano, short and dry (this represents the machine-like, computational aspect of the computer). I really enjoyed how this worked on its own, so I didn’t add harmony to it.
Melody 3. “Innocence Amidst Danger” – This prompt came from our textbook. “The childish innocence of a mute Indonesian child at play in a dangerous place.” I chose a ‘tuned gongs’ sample library in Kontakt that was able to adjust the notes to Slendro/Pelog tuning. Initially I created a simple melody that playfully explored the notes of the scale. When it came time to add harmony, I added more of the tuned gongs underneath to fill out a little bit more of the gamelan atmosphere.
Melody 4. “A Cat and a Bird” – Another prompt from my wife. A cat wakes up from a nap. It hears a bird outside. The cat stalks the bird, but when the cat attacks, it just scares the bird and it flies away. For the cat, i used an octatonic scale (C, C#, D#, E, F#, G, A, Bb) and the bird is the fully-diminished 7 chord that is the complement of the cats’ octatonic scale (B, D, F, Ab). Again, I was happy with this on its own, so I didn’t add harmony.
Our next assignment was to write a minute-long theme for a contemporary detective show with a heavy backbeat (using the theme song for the show Bosch as an example). My first example was close, but not quite there yet, but after some tweaking (a better drum sample library, a better bass sample library, some better string parts, etc.), I’m much happier with it. Ladies and gentlemen, the next hit streaming series: Detective Backbeat!
What have I been doing during the “shelter-in-place” you ask? Between bouts of anxiety, I scored Emil Acevedo’s (Virgeo Studios) LEGO stop-motion short film Conan vs Zombies! It is truly a metaphor for our times! You are Conan! Crush the coronavirus! See it driven before you! Hear the lamentations of the coronavirus! While wearing a mask and/or staying home!
I also included the stand-alone score in the media player in case you want to listen to that by itself.
At Denver Pop Culture Con 2019 I was doing media coverage for Nerds That Geek, and on Sunday evening I attended the panel hosted by Sebastian Jones of Stranger Comics (here is the article), and then bought a bunch of their paperbacks . Once the dust settled from DPCC, I had a chance to read ‘The Untamed’ volumes 1 and 2 and ‘Niobe,’ and I loved them!
What was especially exciting was seeing that there was a ‘Stranger’s Theme’ melody (written by Jens Engelbrecht & Sebastian A. Jones) written out at the beginning of ‘The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer’ (volume 1) . I was inspired to write a few arrangements of the theme, and I sent them to Stranger Comics (unsolicited, which is super annoying, I know, but I figured I’d take a chance). My best-case scenario is that they don’t have a composer for the ‘World of Asunda’ HBO show, and they love my work and pick me. Or maybe Sebastian gets a kick out of them and listens to them for inspiration while he’s writing. Or maybe the email never gets opened. Either way, I’m glad I followed my inspiration and have some music to show for it. Speaking of which…
I wanted to be able to share these pieces, but since I didn’t write the melody, I don’t want to make it look like I’m trying to take credit for something that isn’t mine. In the versions that I’ve posted, instead of the actual ‘Stranger’s Theme’ melody, I’ve reduced the melody to just an ascending and descending scale, so that I can still use the chord progressions that I composed (they were not included with the melody in the comic) as well as my orchestrations. I think what’s left is different enough from the source material to be considered “inspired by.”
There are scenes from the comics that I drew inspiration from when I was writing the different sections, but the music doesn’t necessarily follow the story chronologically. The titles I’ve chosen are vague descriptions of the scenes that I had in mind.
At the end of last year, I scored Emil Acevedo’s (Virgeo Studios) LEGO stop-motion short film Captain America Vs Trump: A Bernie Sanders Tribute. Originally, I created my own temp score using a mashup of Imperial March and Hail to the Chief, as well as The Avengers Theme and Captain America’s Theme. I then changed and simplified the themes so that they are technically different, but still recognizable as the original themes. I also included the stand-alone score in the media player in case you want to listen to that by itself.
Sorry this is late, but you know how December is…
Back in early 2015, I was the Composer in Residence for Opera Colorado’s Generation OC – Page to Stage program. As part of this program, I worked with the theater department at Elizabeth Middle School, under the direction of Jody Urbas. They took the play Everything’s Coming Up Rosies (inspired by Rosie the Riveter) by Christina Hamlett (which takes place during World War II), and turned it into a musical, with a libretto by Cherity Koepke. Here are the final two songs I wrote for their lyrics.
Faye tells Vivian (flute) that Frank’s parents just received a telegram, and Vivian assumes that it is because Frank is coming home early. When she finds out the truth, she realizes that she has to say one final “Goodbye” to him. She still sees his face and hears his voice, so it seems like this isn’t real, which is why she can’t say goodbye. She kept her promise and waited for him, but he promised to come back and now he will never will. How can she say goodbye to him? They were supposed to be together forever, but now she will be alone forever. She wishes that she could see him one last time so that she could say goodbye.
“Bringing Our Boys Home on a Wing and a Prayer” is the rousing finale about all of the strong women, with star-spangled hearts, who are sacrificing and doing their part. They are taking care of business, working in factories, and keeping the home fires burning, to support the men who are working hard off at war.
On Sunday, Nerds That Geek posted Episode 28 of the Movie Mumble podcast: Rocky. Listen as Zeke, Joel, Scott, and I “settle in to watch a true sports classic, one revolving around a down and out amateur boxer, who gets the chance to fight for the heavyweight title.” As a prelude, listen to the all-new “Movie Mumble: Rocky” theme in the media player.
On Sunday, Nerds That Geek posted a Special Holiday Episode of the Movie Mumble podcast: The Santa Clause. Listen as Zeke, Joel, Scott, and I unleash our “holiday cheer upon the world by taking a moment to examine a Christmas themed movie that just so happens to be Zeke’s favorite.” To get in the spirit, listen to the “Movie Mumble: Christmas” theme in the media player.
On Sunday, Nerds That Geek posted Episode 27 of the Movie Mumble podcast: mother!. Listen as Zeke, Joel, Scott, and I “dive into a unique motion picture revolving around a couple who find their love pushed to the test when strangers arrive in their home.” As a prelude, listen to the various themes in the media player.