Consequences: Composing from different character perspectives

The first track on my album Journey is called Consequences and comes from my score for the feature film Sasquatch (2016). Writing this piece taught me a lot about character points of view and I’d like to share with you what I learnt. To avoid major spoilers, I’ve changed the names of the characters, but you’ll still find a few minor spoilers ahead. Be warned!


MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

During the film there is an accident with a gun and someone, lets call them Brian, ends up shot and bleeding out in the arms of John. Standing around them are two of their friends, holding each other.

From John’s point of view (and the nearby friends) the scene is obviously very sad. And this is the point of view that the music takes. However, initially I had scored this from the point of view of Brian. As Brian speaks his last words, he is not afraid. Instead he is almost hopeful. He lost someone very close to him, but sees death as an opportunity to see them again, and reassures his friends that he will be alright. So we have the same scene, with two different points of view and approaches. My first approach was to score the scene from Brian’s perspective, which you can hear below.

However, a week before we had to submit the final version of the film, I was asked to rewrite the music from John’s perspective. And thus the piece was born in its current form.

The final version, which I called Consequences, is a lot more minimal in it’s approach. And I was amazed at how strongly the music was able to say so much with just a few simple notes.


Write Like Mozart (Week 3)

This weeks big topic was non-chord tones. Basically notes which appear in the piece but which aren’t in the chord. For instance, a C Major chord has the notes C, E and G in it, so if the note D appeared during the duration of that chord then it would be a non-chord tone. But you can’t just shove any note in as there are obviously guidelines for how non-chord tones should be used. I won’t bore you with the details, nevertheless if you are interested in the details and want to know more about non-chord tones then there’s a great book on the iBook Store which can teach you all about them.

Basic Harmony and Musicianship
by Joe Procopio

Basic Harmony and Musicianship

The assignments for this week weren’t really compositions but more like arrangements, as we were already given the chords and the voicing, and then we had to arrange them using the given repeated rhythm. Although I altered the rhythm ever so slightly for the last couple of bars, just for a bit of fun.

Part 1

Mozart W3 A P1

Part 2

Mozart W3 A P2

Part 3

Mozart W3 A P3

Writing Like Mozart

If you love learning then you should definitely check out Coursera. It’s a website which hosts short online courses, normally of about 6-8 weeks. It’s a great place to learn from home and has a nice variety of topics you can choose from. There’s “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution”, “Fundamentals of Global Energy Business”, “Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory Of Relativity”, “The Music Of The Beatles”, and many more, all from a host of well known universities. I found out about this great website when one of my friends showed me a TED Talk about it. I’ve embedded the video at the bottom if you’re interested.

Anyway, I found a great course that is relevant to me called Write Like Mozart: An Introduction To Classical Music Composition. I’ve just finished my first week and I’ve already learnt a lot. If you read my previous post then you’ll know I had to brush up on my theory knowledge to do the course. But I managed to catch up quite quickly, and when I did, I was able to start the video lectures and exercises.

Now what is great about this course is that at the end of each week there is an assignment and each weeks assignment is a composition. I thought this pretty scary at first, but then thought it makes perfect sense. As the course leader says, it’s called Write Like Mozart for a reason. However, it is only the first week, so you don’t exactly have to go and write a symphony. Instead you’re given a chord sequence and a melody and then it is down to you to voice the other three parts.

Mozart Assignment 1

There were a lot of restrictions for this weeks assignment though, for instance all the chords must be in root position and the music must be homorhythmic and homophonic, which means that each voice must have the same rhythm. The end result sounds pretty basic, but it was definitely worth while doing, and was a good place to start. Here it is, complete with the audio:

Mozart Assignment 1 Completed

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