Sunday, February 13, 2011


Hey y'all! So, I'm back! Had a scary week last week but all is good now and I can post and post and post...

Today's post is about a short film I just scored. I was hired to edit the film but I needed to have some kind of music to edit to for most of it, given the material. So, I set out to write a temp score. I figured it wouldn't be a waste of time because (A) I would learn some techniques/instruments (the story is based in India) and (B) at the very least, I could post the music here, regardless.

Well, they enjoyed the music so much that they're keeping it. So that's fun!

I'm going to let you guys hear the music in its entirety and explain where they belong in the film (so ... SPOILER ALERT! ). Sit back and enjoy the ride!

The first cue starts at the very beginning. The film is about "Sati," and we open with a definition of the word.

Right after a fancy little fade out of the definition, we BLAST IN to the main character, Dhuma, being thrust toward a fire by an older woman (her mother-in-law). You'll definitely figure out where this plays out in the music as it's pretty quiet until massive Taiko drums kick in.

The Struggle

Once it slams in, it's in super slo-mo of Dhuma struggling with her mother-in-law to not be thrown into the fire. I used a plugin I have called "Voices of Passion" to create Indian female vocals. The other elements in the music are a distorted Bansuri (which is an Indian flute) and some other distorted instruments to create a very eery vibe. The second drum roll is snapping out of slow-motion and the third and final drum roll is where Dhuma breaks free.

The Chase

Once she breaks free, it's time for the run of her life. I had to come up with some music that would keep a steady pace yet still give us some time to take in what's going on. It kicks in to heavy Taiko drums and Tabla (an indian drum). Additionally, I have strings playing a low tremolo during the first part before the drums take us to an Indian vocal with the same eery soundscape from the beginning of the film. During this, in the film, we see a close up of Dhuma's face as she's running in slow motion. I really tried to hammer in that this is life or death, as if the next step could be her last.

There's also a Sitar playing a fast version of what I deemed to be Dhuma's theme. Since it's a short film, there's not a lot of time to establish themes for anyone but this little downward melody was something that felt right when I was writing music for her.

I actually incorporated this theme with the distorted (synth-sounding) "instrument" in the very beginning, under the definition. It plays while the EQ'd Indian Voice sings in the background. It's very subtle, but I tried to bring it in wherever I could to just give a string of familiarity throughout the score.

Dhuma finally gets far enough away from her mother-in-law to hide behind a tree and breath for a moment. It's at this point in the film that we go to a flashback.

The Bedroom

We find Dhuma and her new husband in a bedroom together as the mother-in-law says goodnight to them both. It's their wedding night and the groom is anxious to consummate their arranged marriage. This was a difficult scene to score. Essentially what happens is, Dhuma is pretty uncomfortable with the situation and despite his cheesy one-liners and "calming" words, Dhuma is not too thrilled with the arrangement. She's a virgin and wants to take it slow. He politely obliges, but not for long, and soon the scene turns to rape.

I started out writing a coherent score for this but it just wasn't working. Everything seemed to either get in the way of the scene or tell a different story than what was actually happening. I was sitting there playing with the Sitar sample I have. I was messing around with EQing it and I was just playing random melodies as I adjusted it to be the sound that I wanted. Then it hit me that that's what the scene needed. It needed the music to not really be sure of itself. I set some drone sounds to my liking to lay an undertone for the ominous scene and then I just recorded, throughout the entire scene, me just playing random melodies with no tempo to be held down to.

The piano has more of a locked down melody but still no tempo. I wanted the piano to be low but something that just pulls at you, like you just know something's wrong. When it starts to get intense I start playing the piano melody off key to really help sell the danger and uncomfortableness.

The Memories

We come back from the flashback to Dhuma still hiding behind the tree. She looks back and sees the mother-in-law catching up to her. She runs...

This last song (not including the credits) plays over the entire end of the short. As she runs (and falls) she remembers everything leading up to this very moment.

For this final song, I have it fast and intense while she runs and then it blasts to a quiet section where violins play at a high register and the Bansuri has a sad, almost ... lagging, pace to it. I used the Bansuri just to accent the sadness of the memory.

The music kicks into a little groove where she's remembering everything else. I wanted it to feel like it's a tragic victory as she's remembering all these things leading up to the current moment. The groove has a cluster of strings rising near the end as the mother-in-law is revealed behind her.

The struggle brings us back to the present and the strings peak and leave us only with an ethereal soundscape.

Ironically, my favorite cue for this film was cut. And that cue was the credits. It was just, I thought, a very beautiful, simple song that carried the emotion of the entire film as you watched the credits at the end. No problemo, though, because I can at least share it with y'all.

The Credits

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment. Let me know what you think. I had fun with this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment