music

Orchestral composition | Side project | Fate Approaching

A couple of years ago I decided to teach myself as much as I could about MIDI orchestration and dive into Composition a little more. After years of trying to understand more about it I went through the Evenant trailer music course which actually simplified a lot of things for me and mostly taught me to concentrate on specific elements at different moments in the Compositional process. Eventually I had a few tracks published through Chroma Music specifically tailored towards Trailer Music, namley the track ‘Wonder’:

Since then I started writing some tracks for EOS, some of which ended up moving away from the very Trailer heavy style and into a more melodic, listenable set of tracks which we decided would be better out of the trailer world and so I’m slowly releasing them into the wild over the next 6 months as a challege in mixing for myself and producing my own work. The first of which is this track, Fate Approaching, available on Itunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp.

Sound Design Scrapbook #15

SOUND DESIGN

https://www.asoundeffect.com/randy-thom-screenwriting-for-sound/

I really enjoyed this article from Randy Thom about the use of Sound as a Storytelling tool, especially his thoughts on early collaboration and inspiration for Sound or Visuals coming from one or the other. In Theatre the time scale of creating a show and it’s Sound Design is quite different to film, but we also occasionally come across the same points he raises here, scripts that define sounds very specifically can sometimes be less ‘Sound friendly’ than initially thought. The more evocative stage directions, and especially those that suggest we need to relate the emotion of a certain character to the audience, often prove to be more inspiring.

It brings up a couple of thoughts around devised work and working in rehearsals. I’ve done a lot of designing in rehearsal rooms as I love get inspired in there and throw ideas in. Devising lends itself to that style of process, there are opportunities to experiment and explore ideas with an essence of freedom, we’re creating a piece together from the story level up and from a Sound perspective, we are relatively quick at changing content and trying ideas on the spot, in comparison to say trying to immediately change part of the Set Design. In any process it depends on how a Director would like to use Sound in their rehearsal, but I do think that scripted work can still have this level of exploration, even without specifically scripted sound ideas.

In terms of pre-production phases in Theatre I think it’s perhaps in short workshops where we get the opportunity to offer what Sound Design can be used for to a Writer and Director, sometimes just through conversations, but to be able to try an idea on the fly in front of them, can effect what comes out of the writing too. One example I think of is a show called The White Bike Written by Tamara Von Werthern, Directed by Lily McLeish. I absolutely loved the script before we had begun and Sound would be needed throughout, but after a week long workshop Tamara took the script away and began using sound as an inspiration of what she could allow an audience to feel through the main character, so we came back to it much more on the same page as one another, more descriptive thoughts about how a sound might be affecting the character from her perspective.


BBC PROMS: THE SOUND OF SPACE

BBC Proms are always inspiring but this in particular was awesome to get to hear. I couldn’t get to the live performance, but this is still up for 10 days so wrap your ears around this:

BBC Proms, 2019: The Sound of Space: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007f52 via @bbciplayer 


MUSIC | AVA - WAVES

I had the pleasure to briefly meet Aisling Brouwer and Anna Phoebe of AVA at the latest Spitfire Audio event recently which led me to their beautiful album Waves. An incredibly powerful mix of Piano, Violin, Percussion, Electronic elements and Soundscapes making such a rich instrumental world in each track.


MUSIC | BON IVER - i,i

The latest in Bon Iver was out this month and it’s been on repeat for a little while now…

The Unreturning Trailer

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of combining two styles work - Theatre and Trailers - and worked on a short score and Sound Design for Frantic Assembly’s The Unreturning trailer.

The show is Directed by Neil Bettles, Designed by Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Designed by Zoe Spurr and Costume Designed by Lily Arnold, an awesome team! I Sound Designed the show and it’s now on a UK tour having just finished at it’s third venue the Liverpool Everyman picking up some great responses. Next up is the Traverse in Edinburgh. It arrives in London in January as part of the second half of the tour, so catch it there if you can. The show is ace and I can’t recommend it enough!

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Here’s the trailer made by Tea Films and a version of the audio seperatly for anyone interested. I used Spitfire Audio’s Chamber Strings, a bit of Omnisphere for the simple synths and percussion and Cinesample’s Tina Guo Acoustic Cello, one of the most playable VST’s I’ve tried!


Scrapbook #7

YOUTUBE

Paul Thomson of Spitfire Audio has started his own Youtube Channel with an offering of some super detailed videos already! Here’s a intricate look at Reverbs…


MUSIC

Olafur Arnalds released his latest album re:member last month and it’s went stright onto my monthly playlist. It’s another beauitful album. He’s also been working with a generative mechanism where his piano plays itself based on the notes he plays initially, looks like it’s triggered from some Ableton fun, you can here it in action on the album and see it in the video below too. Excited to see him and his team live later this year again!


PODCAST

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Tonebenderspodcast.com did a brilliant interview with the award winning sound team behind Arrival, one of my favourite cinematic experiences last year. Check out how Sylvain Bellemare & Bernard Gariépy Strobl work…

The Unreturning - UK Tour Sound Design - Frantic Assembly

The last few months I’ve been fairly flat out concentrating on Sound Designing  Frantic Assembly’s The Unreturning with Director Neil Bettles Directing a completely awesome company in one of the most collaborative processes I’ve been involved in for some time, it was such a delight to be part of and I felt very lucky to be involved.

This was a bit of a dream working process for me, being in the rehearsal room from day one (for 3 out of 4 weeks of rehearsals) and being part of the creation process even before that with Neil, Andrzej Goulding (Set and Video Designer), Zoe Spurr (Lighting Designer) and Lily Arnold (Costume Designer) and the rest of the team, it’s exactly how I love to work.

The show opened in Plymouth on Monday 24th September and will be on tour around the UK, you can find the dates on Frantic’s website here, and info on the whole team there too.

Bit of rehearsal action in London

Bit of rehearsal action in London

I’m half way through writing up a bit of a series about the equipment and processes I use for workshops, rehearsals and how I use Ableton and QLAB in those situations. I used a similar set up in rehearsals for The Unreturning and eventually programmed everything into QLAB, but will wait to go into detail about that until I’ve finished.

There was a lot of content to create for the show, we recorded the excellent actors for some part of the Sound Design too, and worked with a bunch of different music tracks. It was an extremely good example of how to integrate Spotify into the process, as I suggested in a previous post, it can be such a useful way of collaborating and evolving a musical palette. Our playlist started with Anna Jordan (Writer), who added some tracks as she wrote the piece, which allowed us into her world and how she was feeling about the piece. Then Neil added as he read the and I joined, threw in my own thoughts and we all continued to add to the playlist even up to the final days of previews, it was part of my job to then expand on this and integrate some of the musical palette into the show.

I like to be part of the rehearsal process early on as I enjoy working with everyone in the rehearsal room and allowing the whole team to influence parts of my Sound Design process, and I hope the Sound Design can influence decisions in other departments too, its fair to say it’s not always possible to be around full time, but it’s always super interesting to see what inspiring ideas come out of that collaboration.

Scrapbook #6

INTERVIEW

Mary Anne Hobbs interviewed Ryuichi Sakamoto on BBC Radio 6. Talking about how he began his life in Music and his process. "Spontinety is my faith"...


APPLE

Apple have released an updated Macbook Pro which is able to house 32gb RAM and up to 4tb SSD drive... it comes at a steep price though!

The more samples I've been using recently, the more RAM I've been needing. I'm hoping that one day it will be the portable version of a nMac Pro I've been waiting for, but for now its a movement in the right direction

https://www.macrumors.com/2018/07/12/apple-launches-2018-macbook-pro-lineup/


SOUND DESIGN

One of the shows I Sound Designed which transfered over the NY to St Ann's Warehouse is now available to watch online as part of Donmar Warehouse's initiative to get these shows out to a wider audience. This was the third piece in a Trilogy of Shakespeare plays led by an all female cast of women around the concept of a female prison. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0696f99/the-tempest


INTERVIEW

Jason Graves, the award-winning composer of the Dead Space soundtracks showing his studio and some interesting instruments he's used to create the unique sound of Dead Space...

 

 

Scrapbook 3

PODCAST

Twenty Thousand Hertz released a super interesting podcast a couple of weeks ago featuring the Data Driven DJ. They talk to Brant Guichard, a man who has heard "The Music" during his seizures since he was a young boy. Taking his EEG readings during a seizure and splicing up a mixture of Imogen Heap'sHide and Seek’, philharmonic samples and experimental percussion. The Data Driven DJ (Brian Foo) created this beautiful piece by using the readings representing the seizure to control the dynamics and intensity (That's a huge over simplification) of the layers...


INTERVIEW

Native instruments posted an interview with Ben Frost talking about the methods he used for this new album The Centre Cannot Hold.
 


NOISE

After living in NY for the last two months, I returned home to a strong awakening of how loud it was there. Not just the hustle and bustle of people, but vehicles, sirens, advertising... it reminded me of this article which describes the high dB levels we encounter on the London Underground system... In essence, get yourself noise cancelling headphones or ear protection for the commute!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-42791299


Scrapbook 2

SOUND DESIGN

I still haven't managed to see it yet, but came across a cool breakdown of the multiple layers of audio in a scene from Bladerunner 2049


FREE SOFTWARE INSTRUMENT

Strezov Sampling have been giving away this beautiful Duduk vst, I've been trying out in a track or two and it's very easily playable and has slotted in around the rest of my template pretty quickly.

Free Duduk VST


MUSIC

As I put Yo-Yo ma into my 1st scrapbook, I carried on listening to his works and to "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" album and found some awesome live studio performance videos.


FREE APP

I came across this Mini spotify player that sits in your notification centre, pretty neat and just stays open, links to the album art of Spotify and will open spotify when you hit play if it's not already there!

 

Scrapbook 1

MUSIC

Awesome live performance from Homay and Oliver at Spitfire here

The piece 'As Before' was developed from an idea that Homay had conceived a while ago, with her performing on the grand piano and Oliver laying down some live loops using the Spitfire sounds combined with a stereo delay.

I came across this documentary 'The Music of Strangers' led by Yo-Yo Ma which is about the beginnings of the SilkRoad Ensemble a few months back and its very much worth a watch for so many reasons, it delves into a world of musical and cultural collaborations....


FREE PLUGIN

For those familiar with PaulStretch, you might have seen this update to a plugin version of the Extreme time stretching software.

https://www.kvraudio.com/product/paulxstretch-by-xenakios


SILENCE

I supported a Kickstarter campaign for a film called 'In Pursuit of Silence' a few years ago and they recently shared a bunch of 'silence' related articles.. One pointed to a new film called Sancturies of Silence which looks really interesting and it must have been a fun one to be part of.

Also this New Yorker article By Amanda Petrusich, on the world generally getting passively louder...