• The Origin of Trouble

    Over the last two years I was asked to compose music for some amazing projects. One of them however, stood out amongst others for its emotional story. The Origin of Trouble tells the story of a broken family; director Tessa Pope looks for answers to find out why the relationship with her father has been so troubled.
    Late August 2015 I was asked to compose the music for this project. Straight away, the teaser of the movie was shot. The director gave notes that it should be quick, light and most of all funny. I choose to write for a small chamber orchestra, produced with ‘bad’ samples and a few accents played on small percussion instruments. It appeared that it worked out very well and it gave exactely the mood that it needed. Even though it was different from the strategy I used later on in the movie, this theme was recycled and made it to the screen eventually.
    Like every other movie, the score starts with a plan. A good plan is half of all the work there is to be done. Really, this sounds cliche but its so true. So before filming, I started to plan my strategy. The director explained the feeling she wanted to create, and I instantly felt it. As I knew by reading the synopsis and the history of her family, I knew that things could get emotional. On the other side, by knowing the happy and light style the whole picture would get (titles, shots, quick editing ect.), I suspected that I needed to write music that would touch the space between those two contradicted emotions. I never had to change this strategy but I had to change the orchestration though.

    The orchestral score, that wasn’t able to touch the emotional side of the story, made space for guitars. Choosing guitars gave the freedom to cover all the emotions I wanted to give to the story. I don’t know exactly how I started to pick guitars but I know that it was inspired by Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith and Bon Iver. They all give their music a sort of oblivious and eternal feeling. Their sound is sober, but the emotional weight their songs bring is huge.

    I threw overboard the orchestral part, and started writing interludes for the 8mm footage inspired on Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Should Have Known Better’. Silvan de Smit played the classical guitar, and I played the Ukelele during the studio session. Because the story gets darker, I wrote the second and third theme in a lower key, and left out some instruments to make it more sober. Mind the synthesizer (korg 800ex) giving the pad sound and adding to this ‘longing back to those days’ feeling. Luckily It wasn’t removed in the mix (director joked: what does this sound tell us? an incoming alien invasion?).
    I was able to buy a second hand bad tuned mandolin of ebay, bought a Höfner Ukelele and wrote ‘You and Me’, to enforce the romantic line in the beginning of the movie. This mandolin was also used in the main title called ‘Our Home’. Because sudden changes in the production, the movie got on hold during the second week of the editing process. Because the studio was already booked, I was still writing the theme for a movie that wasn’t edited yet, the night before recording! Luckily this worked out well (fix it in the mix), and I was able to record the title song on a resonator guitar in open E. Mind that the credit theme at the end of the movie is also the same theme used in the opening sequence. This is part of the same strategy; to connect the beginning and the ending. The extended theme of the Origin of Trouble – ‘Our Home’, that I recorded with Selle Sellink (artwork by Roel Meijering) is now on Spotify and iTunes!

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  • ZeGame App and OST release

    A few months ago I expressed my enthusiasm about ZeGame. Especially the virtual reality experience was amazing! The joy of scoring for this game was that indie feeling we had while creating it. Just with the three of us (Jesper, Selle and me) doing Skype sessions, talking hours about glitches and improvements. No major studio sessions, but exploring the limits of the FM8, Massive, Slim Phatty and Korg EX-800). There was no hard deadline so we had all the time to involve both sound design and music in one audible creation. By bouncing our creations towards each other the sound became much more than sound and music separated from each other. A good example is the third world, where you can hear the sounds of the ocean and the sound of the whales being part of the score.

    Last week, the game has finally been released on all major platforms. Tomorrow the score will be released on band camp, and eventually the theme will be released as single on Spotify. Hopefully it will get some extra bonus worlds or an expansion pack. If not, I sincerely hope to be part of this team in the future to work together on a new game.

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  • Wall of Sound Lecture-Recital

    Phil Spector (1939) had a enormous influence on pop music in the second half of the twentieth century. While working in the Gold Star studios in the 1960s, he developed a special recording technique called the wall of sound. It was basically a formula that made use of harmony and music technology in a way to mask definition in the whole. By doing so, it became difficult to distinguish instruments from one another as they form a certain density. In Walking in the Rain (1963) and Be my Baby (1964) by The Ronettes one can clearly hear this effect.

    Over the last year and a half, New Hansen tried to reconstruct the wall. What will happen when we look beyond the wall of sound? It will be explained how Spector built his wall, but more interestingly, it will  show how to create a wall of sound yourself. Recording instruments exactly the way Spector did more than fifty years ago, we now have all the bricks to rebuild the wall, and to control each part separately to define the instruments and see it become a whole. With this valuable information, we can answer the question whether it is still possible to recreate Spector’s wall of sound with today’s technology.

    Tuesday March 15 10:30-11:15 in the Blue Note room at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Entrance is free.

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  • In Kropsdam is iedereen gelukkig (TEASER)

    In three weeks the shooting for ‘In Kropsdam is Iedereen Gelukkig (2016)’ wil start. It’s a short movie and dark comedy about a farmer called Lammert.

    Lammert lives in Kropsdam, a small village in the eastern part of Groningen. He is a warm-hearted singel farmer accompanied by his pigeons. His quiet life is suddenly disturbed when he is accused to deal with an energy company to place a huge windmill on his property.

    He notices that the village is treating him differently; gradually he becomes an enemy. And although he doesn’t want to do anything with windmills, the question is; will he manage to convince his fellow villagers of this.

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  • Microphone placement in Born Healty Commercial

    In this commercial, that has been released this afternoon, we were looking for a fragile sound to express the happiness of the future parents. In an early stage we decided to choose the neutral sound of the piano accompanied by music-box and string-quartet. This version suited the best and to go for the best quality I recorded a grand piano with four microphones.

    Obviously microphone placement is an important aspect of scoring for visual media. In the studio I decided to go for prominent room microphones as I wanted to catch the ‘dreamy atmosphere’ of euphoric young parents that just gave birth to a child. In the mix it appeared that this sound gave a different feel… the close microphone placement that was caught in earlier versions gave a feeling of being present in that babyroom. That was the sound that we wanted. So both tracks had the same music, but had a different feel. In the end we choose for the close miked piano.

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  • Virtual reality composer

    Today I was invited by Jesper, creator of ZeGame, to join testing of the game on the HTC Vive. The virtual reality goggle is still in development by HTC/Valve and only a few game developers have gotten themselves a prototype. I was stunned when I first experienced the digital world after putting on the glasses. After you put on the headphones there is no connection with the ‘real’ world anymore. We started with ZeGame that had an excellent control system. I was able to walk around the digital blocks now. The view of the puzzles were so much more clear this way. It’s already clear on the phones and tablets, but it just gave this experience of being there now! Also swiping on the z-axis was able without rotating the camera, but just to ‘touch’ the blocks and swipe them towards yourself. The environments were also stunning, and I frequently stopped playing to enjoy the world above and around me. The excellent sounddesign of Selle really helped me to be in this unreal underwater world full of whales and ZeGame blocks 🙂

    The reason for my visit was to check the finished music I composed for the game, but I ended up playing with the goggles for a very long time. Such a great experience! This video shows me, being totally not in the ‘real world’ enjoying the ZeGame underwater world.

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  • Watch ‘The Wild Wild West’

    Exactly one year ago I started the music production of ‘The Wild Wild West’. It’s a promo short-film for the Nederlands Film Academy. You can see a lot of filmgenres, therefor the music needed to be written in different styles. I wrote +/- 15 cues for a total of 14 minutes film. An important message of each scene was the specific feeling I wanted to give to it. For instance; the western scene. Cliche’s are motivated, so I had the option to go with an Ennio Morricone string-ensemble. Instead of this, I took a key feature of western movies: the harmonica (played by Antonio Molina Moya) , and made it quite cliche, but suspenseful. To adjust this feeling, I added percussion instruments, but underneath it a very deep layer of thick synthesizer pads. Not really Westernish, but because the high speed and the lower threshold of acceptence in this movie, the audience is able to accept strange sounds more easily; a classic cliche combined with a modern instrument to increase the feeling of suspense. Thanks to all the amazing musicians that played the score of this movie:

    Clarinet: Marco Danesi Harmonica: Antonio Molina Moya Sopraan: Luc Ket Sax: Federico Pascucci Trumpet: Mark Nieuwenhuis Trombone: Salvoandrea Lucifora Drums: Tristan Renfrow + Tom Rutgers Basgitaar: Adriano Matcovich Guitar: Mirko Montaldi Add. brass: Felix Rehault Voc: Daniel Cornelissen – Tijn Sikken – Jeffery Heuvel – Julia Notenboom – Jamille van Wijngaarden – Emeline Bakker Add. brass productie: Samuel Hébert Productie Piano: Feau Voc Production: Paul Nieuwenhuijsen Strings: Naree Park

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  • ZeGame almost released

    The game we scored the last 3 months is almost finished. At the moment it’s at Steam Greenlight, waiting to get on Steam. ZeGame is a beautiful puzzle game with complex but rewarding puzzles in three dimensions. Discover the new surroundings in every world, each having their own unique look and feel. A big part of this feel is expressed in the combination of sound design and the 16-bit retro indie music. Soon available for iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux en Windows. Check out the trailer here:

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  • Blauw Filmpremiere – 20 november

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    BLAUW

    Peter (45) tells his story. Emotionally, he tells his story about a traumatic event in the past that still influences his life. The unpredictable father, his anxious mother … it doesn’t stop. Leading role by Marcel Hensema.

    Music score played on an Epiphone Les Paul and Fender Deville Combo.


     

    BLAUW

    Peter (45) vertelt zijn verhaal. Hij zit geëmotioneerd op de bank. Een traumatische gebeurtenis uit het verleden, beïnvloedt nog steeds zijn heden. De onberekenbare vader, zijn angstige moeder… het houdt niet op. Met Marcel Hensema in de hoofdrol.

    Kom op 20 november 2015 naar de niet alledaagse filmpremiere: https://www.hetkopland.nl/stil/geef je op via rsvp@hetkopland.nl

     

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