Over the first two days our pupils get to experience a taste of what the other groups are doing at Sound and Music. In the film group pupils finish at a different rate so we asked them to tell us about their experiences, here are their comments …
Our task was to compose a 34 second long piece for cello in order to accompany a short clip of a boy approaching a boat with a tiger in. The task was good fun as we had to compose for a brief rather than from scratch so we had to establish a suitable mood. I wrote a series of chords ascending chromatically in order to build the tension and used the advise of the tutors to play with the extremes of sounds to help bring out the effects.
Writing for this short extract of film was extremely tough as my mind went blank as soon as our time to compose began, despite being given a very engaging and dramatic scene. Not being a string player, I felt I struggled to bring out the best of the instrument, and to capture the most dramatic moments. I think the hardest part was just starting and getting something down, but once I did I found the challenge was to finish in the time pressures. This was great as it allowed me to challenge myself and see what I could do outside of my comfort zone.
After the taster session for film music I realised how much I was reliant on my ear. Having the restrictions put in place (only using a cello) I found it challenging to hear in my mind how it would sound playing the notes that I had written and this really tested my aural skills. The tutors were helpful and offered great advice on how to tackle the task. I was reminded of how stunning a live cello sounds when recorded. Watching 30 seconds of music I had written come to life alongside the scene from Life of Pi was fantastic and has made me feel more confident and enamoured with my dream of composing the theatre and film.
I found that writing for film was both stressful – writing for solo cello for a clip in only half an hour – and at the same time very rewarding. I was really proud when our resident cellist described my piece as ‘fun’ which is significantly better than the response I had expected! Having time limits really pushed me as a composer. Because I’ve mainly composed in school, I’m used to spending over a year on one piece whereas over this week I’ve often had to write music within very short periods of time. This has pushed both my experience and creativity a great deal.
The film workshop was even more enjoyable than I had expected. Since we were writing for a cello it was okay to do it on paper and work the notes out by ear. Writing at such speed was really tough and when I heard it played for the first time, it sounded slightly different to how I had imagined it. I also found it tought to communicate the tension that I wanted to bring out. I was really pleased with the final effect and overall it was really fun and very different technically to the Jazz course.
Writing for film was very beneficial as it forced me to write more for the purpose of the screen instead of what I would have liked. We were given very clear guidelines which we had to follow. I found the timings challenging, hitting the exact points in the film (which weren’t necessarily at the start of a bar, or even on a beat!) I ended up using these points as where I should build to or release from so that I could through compose more easily. Despite being out of my comfort zone I really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from it.
Creating film music was a very intense but exciting experience. It was very interesting to experience the pressure of having to create a piece of music in a short amount of time and have it performed by a real musician. I found it slow to start with, but very enjoyable as the music started to flow as you wrote down your first idea!
During the film taster session I wrote a solo cello piece for a clip from the film Life of Pi. I wrote a high motif which I did with and acciaccatura pattern which I cut to lower rougher chords as the tiger appeared. I enjoyed having my piece recorded and being able to hear it played by a live musician so quickly before being able to watch it back with the film.
I enjoyed composing music for film, and was inspired by composers such as Bela Bartok who’s music was used in The Shining. I would love to have spent more time working on the piece as I wanted to sync up the hit points more closely with the film. But it was a real experience working to a tight deadline as many film composers have to.
Having never composed for string instruments or film before, the composition for film taster has been really enjoyable and a useful experience, giving me an insight into composing with time restraints and using my imagination to bring the film to life. I really enjoyed it as I’d love to be a film composer in the future but have had very little experience.
Writing a piece exactly 33 seconds long in length with a requirement to meet certain hit points in the piece particularly dramatic was a new experience for me, but still very enjoyable. The Film for which we were composing was the Life of Pi, in which the character finds a tiger in his lifeboat for the first time. We composed for solo cello which presented challenges as (generally) we were restricted to a single musical line. Despite this and the rather limiting time factor I was able to incorporate a melodic motif with which I was rather pleased with especially with the cellists superb interpretation of it.