Tag Archives: instrumental music

“Toys in the Attic” and “Assassins” for Orchestra

Toys in the Attic and Assassins were my last two pieces from my Berklee Online 2022 Spring semester. They were my two projects from Orchestrating the Film Score with Live Sessions. Similar to Lunar/Solar in Composing the Orchestral Film Score, I had to submit evidence of the various stages of composing a film score which would be recorded by a live orchestra, however in this class there were two recording sessions: one for strings and another one for woodwinds, brass, and percussion. I had to pick “scenes” to score, and I chose a horror movie scenario for the string session and a montage for the woodwinds, brass, and percussion session. Again, I had to submit a sketch, a mockup, a score, a full set of parts, and a Pro Tools session for each piece for the remote recording session with Budapest Scoring. I will also be editing videos of the recording sessions for these two pieces once I have more time.

Here is the scenario I chose for my string session: “Teen ghost hunters searching the attic of an abandoned mansion, looking for signs of a young changeling poltergeist that’s been encountered by several late-night visitors. All of a sudden, every toy in the attic springs to life, and the kids run for their lives!” I ended the piece with music that is supposed to signify that the kids have been turned into toys by the changeling poltergeist. I also had to make it a “hybrid” cue by including sampled instruments or synths. I included snare drum, bass drum, and prepared piano.

For my woodwinds, brass and percussion session I chose a “Montage of professional assassins preparing for a hit.” I chose to take an “Assassin’s Creed” approach to the scenario. This cue also had to be “hybrid” with the addition of sampled strings, in order to make it a full orchestral cue. In previous recording sessions, I noticed that the drums tend to be very boomy and bleed into all of the other microphones, so I had them muffle the drums with towels (except for the timpani). This gave the drums a dry, punchy sound which I liked and it was much cleaner when mixing afterwards.

Genre Reels

In my Berklee Online Spring 2022 Semester Professional Film Scoring Skills 2 class I had to create reels for a variety of genres to show potential clients. I had to have a total of five reels: a general reel, a horror reel, a comedy reel, an electronic reel, and a fifth reel that was my choice. By the end of the semester, each reel had to have at least eight tracks. The first assignment was to put as much of my preexisting music as was relevant so that I could get feedback from my professor. Some of my tracks were too long (they shouldn’t be any longer than two minutes), some of my mockups were not up to par, and some reels just didn’t have enough tracks in them. I worked to implement this feedback throughout the semester.

Circus Clown (my rescore for He Who Gets Slapped), and A Date with a Ghost, (my score for Date) were two tracks for which I created new and improved mockups. A Mouse and an Elephant and Quirky Waltz are two brand new tracks that I composed to meet the requirements for my comedy reel.

Most of the tracks I’m not going to post because they are either short clips taken from one section of much longer tracks or a slightly shortened version of a track that was a little bit over two minutes. If you are interested in listening to any of these tracks in their “new forms” you can follow the links here: Classical/World/Electronic Hybrid, Cold and Hollow, Dracula’s Tomb, Electronic Groove with Drops, Floating in Space, Haunted House (from Complements IV), Lobsters, A Prophesy of Auras (from Aura), Sci-Fi Car Chase, Space Shooter, Suspense (from Complements IV), and Synthia. If you want to listen to any of my complete reels you can follow these links: Classical/Rock/World Music Hybrid ReelGeneral ReelHorror Reel, Comedy ReelElectronic Reel.

The Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air

At the beginning of October I participated in Video Game Music Academy‘s, 7 Days of VGM. The goal is to “write at least 2-4 bars of new music everyday for 7 days straight.” It starts on the 7th of every month, and October’s theme was “The Elements.” Every day a different element was presented, along with a short phrase to use as a composition prompt:

1. Earth (Song of the Earth Mother)
2. Fire (Burning Destruction)
3. Air (Soaring on the Wind)
4. Water (Peace and Tranquility)
5. Wood (Lost in the Forest)
6. Metal (Forged of Steel)
7. Aether (Mysteries of the Void).

Unfortunately, I got a late start and also had a few other hang-ups throughout the week, so I wasn’t able to do the last three, but at least I was able to finish the first four, more common elements. Originally, I posted them on social media in the order that they were presented by VGM Academy, but here I’ve presented them in “ascending” order: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. I hope you enjoy them!

 

Everything’s Coming Up Rosies: the musical, Part 3

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.

 

Everything’s Coming Up Rosies: the musical, Part 2

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 third and fourth songs I wrote for their lyrics.

In “It’s Men’s Work,” Roy and Carl (trumpet/trombone) have too much work to do in their factory, so Roy’s Wife Faye (horn) offers to help, but they tell her that it’s ‘men’s work’ (it’s dirty, she wouldn’t like it, etc.). She tells them all of the experience she has taking care of children, cooking meals, sewing socks, volunteering, washing laundry, etc… running the ‘business of home.’ With all the men going to war, there’s work that needs to be done, but who’s going to do it?  It’s women’s work!

In “Chorus of Rosies,” Vivian (flute), her friends (oboes), and a woman named Rosie, are now working in a factory. They sing while they work, including a chorus of ‘We can do it!’ It’s hard, dirty work, but they are independent women, working as a team, who are just as good as men. They are serving their country by being tough and strong to keep the factory moving until their men are brought home. They stop abruptly when Carl walks in with a message for Vivian…

Tune in next month for the final two songs!

Everything’s Coming Up Rosies: the musical, Part 1

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 first two songs I wrote for their lyrics.

“The Happiest of Happy Days” starts with a group of girls (oboes) laughing and reading their friend’s diary about a cute boy named Frank. After scolding her friends for reading her diary, Vivian (flute) prepares for her wedding to Frank in two weeks. She’s getting butterflies wondering if she should wear her hair up and what she should use for her ‘something blue’ when her father walks her down the aisle in her grandmother’s dress. Nothing could ruin her perfect day!

Frank finds out that he has been drafted and has to leave in three days for basic training. In “I Can’t Say Goodbye to You,” Frank (cello) tells Vivian that he doesn’t want to leave right after getting married. He understands that it is difficult for her, but he has to go. Vivian (flute) tells him that she doesn’t want him to leave before they’ve gotten married. She understands that it is important to him, but she still doesn’t want him to go. What about all of their plans and dreams? Frank tells her that he can’t stay while they’re at war and that he has to do his part to keep her safe. They can get back to their dreams when he comes home, because good things are worth waiting for. He will take her love with him and think of her every day while he is gone. Vivian agrees to let him go, but only if he promises to come back. Frank promises to come back if she will wait for him. She promises to wait for him, and they can finally say goodbye to each other.

Tune in next month for the next two songs!

Music from an Opera about Mummies that was Never Made, or ‘Ramses’ the Stand-Alone Composition

During my undergrad at the University of Rhode Island, I read the book The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice. I had the overly optimistic idea to compose an opera based on the book and began working on some musical themes. For many reasons, the opera never happened (if you know Anne Rice and think she might be interested, give her my info), but I had this short piece to show for it. Originally, it was written for rock band and strings, but I recently rearranged it for rock band, choir, and full orchestra.

Music from the film ‘Aura’

In the summer of 2017, I scored the short film Aura by Linh Ngo for the Denver 48 Hour Film Project. I recently condensed the music to create a short, stand-alone soundtrack for the film. Here is a synopsis of Aura so you can read along while listening to the music (in the media player).

A woman walks into a board room and puts a gun on one end of the table, and a second gun at the other end. She takes a seat at the middle of the table and adjusts her makeup. When we see her face in the compact mirror, it is in black and white, with a white glow. There is a flashback to a week earlier.

While she is walking outside, she runs into a male friend of hers who she had lost touch with. He confesses to her that he misses having her in his life, and she sees a similar white glow around him. A day later she meets with her female friend and sees the same white glow around her.

Our main character goes to see an oracle, and the oracle tells her that if she sees the color blue in someone’s aura, then that person is her soulmate, but if she sees red in the person’s aura, then that means that she has met her greatest enemy. Our main character has seen both, but doesn’t know which is which because she is colorblind. The oracle gives her a reading and tells her that in a week, she will be together with her soulmate and mortal enemy, and there will be death, but upon death, the aura is so bright that even someone who is colorblind can see its color.

Returning to present day, in the board room, our main character answers the door to first her male friend, and then her female friend. She has them sit at each end of the table, by the guns. She tells them both that her enemy will try to kill her today and that she hopes her soulmate will save her. In an instant, they each pick up a gun and fire! Our main character is unharmed, but she sees that both of her friends have been shot dead… and both are glowing blue. Reeling from the revelation, our main character picks up one of the guns and shoots herself in the heart. As she lies there dying, she sees her face in her compact mirror… and her face is glowing red.

(When I am composing a piece that deals with colors, there is a ‘spectrum scale’ that I use for color associations. For the colors of the auras in this film, I used the note G for the color red, and the note D for the color blue.)