A Finished Score

I finished the score for Kimberly Prendez’ debut film “Until Next Time” this week. It’s a beautiful period piece that lent itself to an “old school” style of scoring, more John Williams than Tyler Bates. Not that I can write like either of those composers; it’s a comparison of styles. 

I had seen the rough footage (almost all 3 hours of it) two months prior, so the images on the screen resonated in my head for almost 8 weeks while I tried to compose a rough sketch of the score in my head prior to writing. One thing I do when I’m embarking on a new project is active listening. I cull my huge score collection (that grows larger every week, iTunes loves me as a customer) and find something that’s similar in style to what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve got an mp3 CD in my car that’s a mix of around 200 cues from various scores; often I’ll use that. I stop listening to rock and hip-hop and immerse myself into score music, searching for elements of a random cue that will spark an idea for the score I have to write. I’m not looking for melodies or specific progressions, it’s more of a style thing. One of the first projects I ever scored was a sci-fi film that ran about 30 minutes long. I listened to David Newman’s Serenity score on repeat in the car and on my Palm T/X for a week straight before diving into the score. It was the first action cue I had ever written, and I credit David Newman for sparking what came out of my fingers.

For Until Next Time, I didn’t listen to anything specific, although Zimmer’s Pirates: At World’s End score comes to mind, only because it hasn’t left the car since it came out. I’m always nervous right before I start writing. Composers know this well, it’s the moment when self doubt sneaks up behind you and tries to drop an anvil on your head. What the hell was I thinking?! Can I even write?! It happens every time, sometimes for just a brief moment. Then I pick a section of the film, usually the beginning for a short film, loop the video, and the second my fingers touch the keyboard the doubt is gone, slinking back into the darkness, and things start to flow. It’s the part of the process where time ceases to matter, and if there’s an interruption it feels almost like being woken up from a deep sleep; I’m disoriented for a few seconds.

The themes for Until Next Time really just appeared while I was writing. They’re subtle, but they’re there and it happened almost subconsciously the first and second times, and then I realized I had a theme. The main character of the film is visited by three suitors, and I gave each one a slightly different feel. I used three solo instruments; a cello, a violin and an acoustic guitar. The string sections that orchestrated the harmony weaved in and out of all three instruments, the violin being predominant.

And here, and ONLY here at this blog, I offer you three exclusive cues from the score. They haven’t even been posted on my site yet!

I Walk Alone functions as the opening credits music, and moves into the first scene of the film.

Intervention is a cue that marks a pivotal point in our heroines journey of loss.

Vision on the Beach is a cue that takes us from the last scene through the end credits.

Feel free to check them out; I’ll keep the blog updated on the film’s release. It will soon be on it’s way to Sundance, all I need is an excuse to go this year; this film could be that excuse.

As always, thanks for reading.