Film Work Reel
This short reel represents a cross-section of some of my work as a film/multimedia composer and audio producer working primarily within a community of “B Film” producers and directors. I am contracted as a freelance composer by various companies and independent filmmakers to provide music and auditory assets for trailers, feature-length films, and many other commercial applications, as well as clean and enhance degraded or poorly produced audio.
Although I am usually bound by a director or distributor’s vision for the musical and auditory content, I have made a name for myself by providing exciting and compelling compositions that hit all of the marks required by the client while still expanding upon the referenced style with new techniques and soundscapes. An example of this is the distorted instrument sounds to simulate the urban decay setting of the film opening to Empire State of the Dead. I employed glitched and distorted electronic sounds in the Sharks of the Corn trailer to simulate the rustling of the cornfield as the characters run through it. Lastly, the soaring brass section’s open-voiced strings and cuivre quality give spaciousness to the Sandworld trailer. The choice of theremin and vibraphone in the Wangmagwi trailer is an archetypal nod to Bernhard Hermann’s sci-fi scores.
Lost In Translation
“Portraits at Play,” produced by San Francisco Arts in Education and conceived by Interdisciplinary Conceptual Artist Seyed Alavi.
This movement performance piece was described as “A Multi-Disciplinary Exploration of the self in “Portraits at Play.”
This performance piece accompanied a visual art exhibition in which the students explored the self by posing with 3D-printed figurines of themselves for portraits in a statement about the self. I was asked to write a piece of music for movement work that would reflect the visual art.
My interest in archetypes and the contained nihilistic approach to composition led me to take a ‘caged chaos’ methodology in supporting rhythmic content. I chose to work off the idea of conflict and the nature of the inner turmoil involved in transitioning to adulthood. I overlapped percussion phrases of unequal lengths that generated new combinations at every repetition, allowing me to depict the tumultuous nature of young lives in transition effectively.
A technique that I am fond of when composing this dark and chaotic tone is to use the recognizable phrasing of one instrument interpolated into the sound of another. For this, I incorporated guitar phrasing on the main melodic content by triggering the synthesizers with guitar. The result is a slightly disconcerting, obvious, but effective addition of unease.
“Encounters With The White Whale” to be performed on the Syracuse Stage Plaza Connective Corridor Installation
This installation resides in the plaza in front of Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Drama Department in Syracuse, New York. It was created as a part of the Connective Corridor, connecting the city of Syracuse to the University by SynSyr, and City Woods in collaboration with Black Lagoon Productions, my company at the time.
I was contracted for two years to devise a methodology to provide velocity-sensitive samples for each designated show in the Main Theatre of the Syracuse Stage Complex for two seasons.
In the plaza, there are 40 red bricks with a pressure sensor under each of them calibrated for the weight of each brick. The weight of the brick changed as they were stepped on, a sample was triggered pertaining not only to the step but to the degree of change, essentially becoming velocity sensitive sample-based playback unit. After triggering, the sampled sound played through speakers at the entrance of the building.
“Encounters With The White Whale” is a composition written to be performed on this sample synthesis platform by 10-40 performers and a conductor. This piece corresponded to the first show of that season, Moby Dick, and was performed live at the plaza featuring students playing the pavers under the direction of Timothy Bond, Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage.
The piece depicts a seafaring journey gone awry aboard a 19th-century vessel overtaken by weather and runs aground in shallow water. After the crew frees the ship, the journey ends with a triumphant return to port.
The use of auditory archetypes is the basis for this composition. In these samples, I referenced many films/cartoons (Carl Stalling style) to depict the journey.
The video contains the prologue of Syracuse Stage touring youth theatre production, “Metamorphan,” By Lauren Unbekant – a play loosely based on Franz Kafka’s short story, “The Metamorphosis.” The show was seen by thousands of elementary school students.
My role in this collaborative effort with the director was to create an additional character for this performance consisting of musical content and sound design.
Instead of writing each musical cue and then handing it off to the director to be choreographed, I worked in reverse. The Writer/Director, who was also a Movement Theatre Artist, scored the movement with a metronome. Later, I attended rehearsals as each section was prepared and wrote rhythmic and melodic motifs into the pre-existing structures that evolved from the rehearsal process. I composed the rest of each musical cue as the structures were solidified. I took this approach to allow the movement to evolve as the director naturally saw fit without the music influencing it, enhancing an already strong work.
I utilized odd phrases and slight tempo adjustments to mold the music to each performer’s natural rhythm and to keep the cohesion developed in the rehearsal process, as this story was about a bullied young boy in foster care who transforms into a super sports beetle. Stylistically, I employed an upbeat EDM/Glitch style to grab the attention of a young audience and to depict the sporting element, but also a sound design-heavy approach which included samples that I took of scurrying beetles, rhythmically quantized to act as percussion instruments.
An additional theme of the play touched on fitting in at a new school and the feeling of impermanence as an orphaned adolescent facing bullying and inadequate home life. For this, I leaned heavily into immersive sound design for the harmonic and rhythmic support and granular synthesis to break apart tones and samples and metamorphose them into something new, much like the transformation the main character underwent.