Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The Sonorous Image
I started reading Daniel J. Levitin's excellent book "This Is Your Brain On Music." It is highly recommended for anyone interested in music whether you are a fan, or a performer or whatever. Music affects us all - there's physics involved here - and you can learn about it in this book. One thing that has struck me already is a story he tells of introducing someone to rock music (see page 51). As I've grown up very musically literate, it was fascinating to hear how Levitin came up with a list of 6 songs to capture the essence of rock music.
Here was his list:
1) "Long Tall Sally" Little Richard
2) "Roll Over Beethoven" The Beatles
3) "All Along The Watchtower" Jimi Hendrix
4) "Wonderful Tonight" Eric Clapton
5) "Little Red Corvette" Prince
6) "Anarchy In The UK" Sex Pistols
(This was the mid-90's)
What was interesting was that the entire conversation turned to "sonic impression." Timbre is the word that best describes this. Aaron Copland called it the "sonorous image." This is the defining element of modern music. In the last hundred years, as music has exhausted the possibilities of pitch, chords, harmonies and perhaps even rhythm, timbre, or the unique palette of sounds creating this sonorous image, has become what makes music fresh and new and interesting. Before Little Richard and the Beatles, we didn't bang on the piano and yell out the words. Before Jimi Hendrix, we didn't think of feedback as a musical color. Well, John Cage was teaching us to think of everything in the environment as part of the performance, but the masses of society began to tune out from the mental exercises of serious classical composition in the early 20th century.
Music, to most people alive today, is about a sound. Metallica's treatment of an A chord is literally a different chord than that same chord played by Alicia Keys. It's all orchestration - coloring - different instrumentation. It's the reason the producer has become the king in pop music. We'll save that discussion for another day.
So what does this have to do with music in film?
In my role as a film composer, I need to create music that A) communicates the story B) is congruent with the way the story needs to be told C) provide some kind of uniqueness in "sonorous image" to help brand the film.
The sonorous image for a "early 20th century coming-of-age story" should be very different than a futuristic sci-fi picture. Of course melodic themes and that ethereal concept of the "composers voice" enable one to recognize the film score, but the unique palette and the way it is constructed is a big part of it.
I haven't seen the film Iron Man yet but I heard a bit of the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi on XM Radio's Cinemagic program. It blends a rock band with a full orchestra. Here's a clip.
As some of you may noticed, my posts to this blog have become quite erratic as work goes up and down. It would also help if you like this blog and want to see more of it, to send an email - encouragement goes a long, long way.
Monday, January 07, 2008
When creating anything of merit, there is a phase of wild creativity where all ideas are golden, thrashed about and recorded somewhere. After that time, comes the Editor's time. This age-old process is proven to be the model. Rushing into the Editor role before having properly gathered all the fresh crops of creativity is guaranteed to give stale, clichéd and very un-inspired ideas- no matter the art or medium. It's like a sculptor trying to perfect the rock's details before she even knows what she's creating.
With graphic design, you often end up with far more visual information than is necessary or desired to communicate the idea. Putting on the Editor's hat allows you to whittle it back to the most efficient manner of telling the story. Music for film is the same way. How best to communicate the emotions of the storyline with the least amount of effort?
Seth says that over the last 27 years, every film that won for Best Picture also won for Best Editing.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Well, I took part in my second RIPFEST where we create something from nothing extremely rapidly with people you've just met. It's an exhilirating experience and highly recommended. Check out the RAW IMPRESSIONS
website for more info.
After they've gathered 5 teams worth of film crews including directors, producers, actors, dps, editors and composers, we're given some rules, locations, permits and a structure to focus on just creating a new short film in 16 days with a screening at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City at the end.
Our theme? Second Chances.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I was interviewed in a recent issue of the Toledo Blade regarding my role as Executive Music Producer on a new 24 minute Christian film, Transgression.
“What I liked about this script was that it didn’t offer an easy, pre-digested answer. There is room for expansion and discussion,” Mr. Ingkavet told The Blade.
Transgression had “a thoughtful script with a powerful message of mindfulness. Being a spiritual person, I am naturally attracted to projects that are not just adding to the mind-pollution media cloud,” he said.
See full article
We just finished our first weekend of Abandon at LaMama and wow...it's like dreaming lucidly and vividly and intensely for 70 minutes. Yes I did write the music, and still, sitting through a performance is like something else. I am so proud and grateful to all involved.
As I explained to my father last night, you can approach this like an abstract painting. There is a storyline, though everyone will experience it differently.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Many of you know that I've been working like mad to finish a 75 minute score for theatrical production called Abandon opening next week at LaMama ETC. The piece is very multi-sensorial and was birthed from a collection of about 75 visual collages made by the writer/director/artist Matthew Maguire. Maguire is also the current head of the theater program at Fordham University at Lincoln Center here in New York and started his career in a very abstract style similar to Ping Chong, and Meredith Monk among others at La MaMa ETC. 6 actors interact with these living collages brought to life in video by Zbigniew Bzymek on 3 screens which form the back walls of the stage. And throughout is my music. It's very dark, abstract, erotic and incorporating elements of butoh and modern dance and yet still tells the story of Helena, a woman with an intense fear of love and it's consequences.
The process has been quite intense and exhausting and I'll share some behind the scenes process in the next few days. I need to still finish the score. Here's a sneak preview of a music cue
To purchase tickets click here
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I've posted the slides to my presentation here:
I talk about the uses of music to picture, what it can achieve (and not) and how to communicate between Visual and Aural creatives while using examples from my work in feature films, commercials, animations and shorts. The clips can be found elsewhere on the site.