Saturday, October 29, 2011


Hey, y'all! I'm finally back again. It's been a hectic ... HECTIC past couple of months. Not a lot of sleep. But its all kind of winding down now, and I can finally get some more blog posts up.

I just finished scoring a 30-minute short film called "LACUNA" and now that its almost done with post (coloring and mixing) I can blog about the music! This was the most music I've written for one project to date. I also extended my practice of working a theme throughout the score since there was more time to let it grow and change.

So, without further ado ... SPOILER ALERT! ... have a listen!

The first cue kicks us straight in. It's called Lacuna's Theme because it's ... just that: Lacuna's theme. This sets the theme that will creep it's way in throughout the entire score. The strings are fast and tension filled as our two main characters walk until they collide with one another and it stings out. The flute is playing Lacuna's theme throughout.

I chose the flute as Lacuna's instrument, because ... well, there's no technical reason. It just felt right. I also chose the Clarinet as Marshall's instrument (he'll be introduced next) and throughout the score the two instruments compliment each other as do the characters.

Lacuna's Theme

After they bump into each other, Marshall sees that she got blood on him as she turns the corner. He runs after her and tries to help her.

He tries to convince her she needs to go to the hospital, but she says it isn't safe. She asks him to "Call Julian" (which is the name of the next cue ... because I'm so creative and clever). He calls Julian, who tells him to take her to his apartment and make sure not to be seen by anyone.

Marshall's theme is introduced here slightly as his and her themes play with each other as if the themes, like the characters, were having a conversation.

Call Julian

He grabs her things and throws her arm around his shoulder. The trip to his apartment is told through blackouts. Images keep popping up from Lacuna's perspective of her walking (with Marshall's help) as she removes her wig and glasses. Our last few images show him picking Lacuna up (her perspective still) and carrying her. I created this cue that was kind of not attached to any sort of tempo. Sounds go in and out and I play one note on the piano in an unsteady rhythm that grows in speed the closer we get to our destination.


As soon as they get to the door of his apartment, it swings open, revealing Julian on the other side. Marshall asks how he knew where he lived and Julian ignores him, telling him to put Lacuna on the bed.

Julian gets to healing Lacuna as fast as he can. Marshall demands to know why she can't go to a hospital and Julian stops working on Lacuna to tell Marshall that if he doesn't agree to be her caretaker, he'll leave her to die. He agrees and Julian continues.

I had the music go fast here to play along with the tension in the scene. I play a little of Lacuna's theme in beginning, almost as if it/she is fading away. There's a point where the drums stop for a second, which is where Marshall thinks and makes the decision to look after her.

Healing Lacuna

After Lacuna is healed, Julian leaves and we come into the next day where Marshall is cleaning Lacuna with a wet washcloth. This is where Marshall's theme comes in. As I mentioned before, I used the Clarinet as Marshall's instrument. It doesn't have a huge presence in this cue (kicks in half way through) because I wanted to start with the harp. He just got dealt quite a hand and we were going into such a delicate scene that I wanted to start off with the harp. I tried this originally with a clarinet in the beginning but if just felt like too much.

Since Lacuna's theme goes up, I wanted Marshall's theme to go down, so later when I play their themes together as one, they link up like a nice little puzzle. It took me a while to find a good theme for both of them that would speak to who their character was but also compliment the other if played together.

Marshall's Theme

The next day, Lacuna wakes up with a jolt and Marshall calms her down. He brings her some toast and water.

After she finally feels comfortable with Marshall's story about Julian fixing her up and telling him to look after her, she goes for some toast. Marshall goes to help prop her up on some pillows so she can sit up while eating and drinking.

The opening piano part kicks in when they're in a full embrace as he's holding her up. This cue really played with the dialogue of their themes. I have her theme start it off when she breaks the tension and says her name. Then his theme comes in when he tries to find out why she couldn't go to a hospital. Their themes bounce off each other but not quite hitting together as they don't know each other very well.

She avoids answering his questions by reaching for the water. After drinking it, she fakes falling asleep and he gets the hint and walks away.

I have part of his theme play when he realizes she's "sleeping" again and then her theme comes in when she opens her eyes, looking away.

Let Me Help You

After she actually falls asleep, we go to night time, where she has a nightmare. Flashes of a woman in shock come in and out of focus as she struggles and moans, grabbing the sheets, etc. I did a lot of "sound design" scoring with this one. There's an underlying viola playing underneath it all, that I felt helped carry you through this nightmare with her. I also tweaked a piano to sound like it was underwater sort of to give that "ethereal" vibe to the dream. The sound design stuff starts going away once Marshall's voice comes in and slowly the nightmare images fade and we're left with nothing but the piano and viola ... and then just the viola as Marshall tells her its OK.


The next day Lacuna's out of bed and Marshall makes breakfast. They talk and Marshall continually dances on the line of what he can and cannot ask Lacuna. She asks him what he does and he tells her. After a while it gets a little tense but there's still some playfulness.

Marshall asks Lacuna, "Do you have any hobbies, or am I not supposed to ask?" He smiles and she laughs and it's his opening to get some information out of her. It plays cute and flirty for a few moments until he gets too deep and she withdraws.

This was a tough one because the scene has all these different emotions going on. They're joking, then it's tense, then there's empathy, then there's flattery (he calls her "Una" and says she has to eat something when she tries to leave, causing her to smile at the nickname).

So I made the piano kind of just play nicely in the beginning, get tense, with a pad underneath emphasizing that something's wrong and then to Lacuna's theme when he makes her smile.

A Little Q & A

Later, Marshall gets ready to go the store and before he heads out they get to talking about Julian. He mentions that it seemed as though, if he didn't look after her, Julian would ... and then Lacuna finishes his sentence with, "Kill me? Yeah. He would've."

This shocks Marshall. They get into a deep discussion about what she does (without actually giving away what she does - very allusive). I had some big moments in this conversation to accentuate with music so I had the harp keep the cue going underneath and I used different instruments to tell the story as it unfolded. This was actually the last score I wrote for the film. I put it off for so long because I constantly kept trying to figure out just how to make every moment count. I'd score a scene and then go back and watch this scene, takes notes, rinse, repeat...

There comes a point in the conversation where Marshall walks up next to her and she confesses that she sometimes wishes she could stop doing the job she does.

This cue incorporates Lacuna's theme throughout since she's telling a piece of her story. The music swells when Marhsall goes up to touch her arm. She pulls away and he sadly walks away to grab his things and head off to the store.

Does It Help Someone

When Marshall gets back from the store, there's a knock at the door and Marshall goes to answer it, but Lacuna knows better. She gets to the door just in time to slam it on the intruder's arm. She brings him in and they duke it out. He tries shooting her a couple times but she finally gets the gun out of his hand.

I decided to have Timpani Drums running steady under the piece as the strings and flute carry a melody during the chaos. I used Taiko Drums to emphasize when some kind of action was happening (i.e. a punch, kick, slam, etc.). It crescendos to an epic sting as Lacuna walks over to the gun (after breaking the intruder's nose and arm) and shoots the intruder in the head and chest with no hesitation.

Lacuna falls to her knees after the intruder is dead (and bleeding out on the floor). Marshall is speechless and horrified. I used a solo female vocal for Lacuna's theme to sort of lament that she's back in the game, just as she was getting "comfortable."

I did an altered version of Lacuna's theme on the flute (with crescendoing strings following) and then I bring in an alternate version of Marshall's b-side of his theme. This is the first I hinted at playing their themes together at the same time, which is the bigger idea of the score throughout.

Crisis Of Conscience

The cue ends when Marshall gets a phone call on his cell phone. He answers and it's for Lacuna. She gets her instructions from her "Handler" and as she hangs up the next cue comes in.

This was a quick one. It just accents the pain that Marshall's going through. His job is to give life and hers is to take it. It's just a stripped version of Marshall's theme. I wanted to get into the sadness Marshall is going through so I took everything away from his theme save for a few instruments.

She walks over to him and wipes the blood off his head, apologizing for bringing him into this life and he says he just feels sorry for her.

The cue comes to an end with a deep bass drum and a roll of the cymbal as someone comes in the door behind her and she whips around aiming the gun.

They Sent Him Here

It's Julian at the door. After he and Lacuna have their talk, she walks Marshall into the other room while Julian "cleans up."

In the other room, Lacuna finally tells Marshall everything and opens up about being a killer. She talks about how the person she was supposed to kill was a woman (same age, same height) and how their roles could easily have been reversed. She hesitated for a split second and it allowed the woman's bodyguards to get a drop on her. She took them all down but it made her question everything she's done.

It gets quiet and Marshall goes to wipe the blood off Lacuna's face, and she finds comfort in his hands. This was another delicate scene where I start off with the harp. I felt like it helped get into the darkness/sadness of her story. Then the piano comes in and I play her whole theme while she tells the story. Once Marshall goes into wipe the blood, his theme comes in (in it's entirety).

She snaps out of it and says "Julian should be done by now" and leaves. As she does it, I did a sad alternate version to the end of Lacuna's theme.

The Target Was A Woman

Later that night, Lacuna can't get to sleep. She wakes up and goes to Marshall's bed.

After some time passes, she wakes up and walks back out to her bed in the other room. She reaches under the bed, pulls out a bag and undresses. The next morning, Marshall awakes to find that Lacuna has left and he finds a note on the table.

Lacuna's VO reads the note for us and tells Marshall she can't stay but wishes she could. She'll never forget him. As he reads the note, we see her walking away from the building in a new (black) wig.

This cue is long (4 minutes) as it plays over multiple scenes. Throughout the whole piece, I kept it very simple and basic. I wanted their themes to play very plainly by themselves to help tell the story of them separating. I open with some piano chords to give the feeling of longing. When she walks into Marshall's bedroom, we hear his theme played on the clarinet and when she wakes to go change, her theme is heard on the harp.

I chose the harp because I wanted to give the feeling of her quietly sneaking out and I felt the flute would be too "present" for that. When Marshall finds the note, I play his theme again and then Lacuna's theme again on the flute as her VO reads the note and then both of their themes together at the very end. I used the cello to bring a certain sadness to the fact that she has to leave. Marshall's theme is mixed in low (on the clarinet).

Lacuna's Goodbye

For the end credits, I slammed into a fast paced cue to bring us back to where we were in the beginning. Lacuna out in her element. I felt like it was a nice bookend. You'll hear an altered version of Lacuna's theme in the beginning and then it turns into it's own melody. After we slam out, you hear her theme once more before the credits fade out.

End Credits

Thanks for reading ... and listening! Leave a comment if you'd like. Let me know what you think. I really enjoyed incorporating themes throughout this score. I should have more posts to come. Stay tuned...


  1. Awesome, as usual. FYI you might want to change the name of the last music clip, it should be End Credits, not Lacuna's Goodbye. I almost didn't listen to it because I thought it was a duplicate of the one above it. But I loved it all. Great job!

  2. Ha! Thanks. Guess I missed that. Glad you liked it!