Saturday Morning

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Theme From Whatsitcalled

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Sunday Night

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Scoring Competition

This is my entry for the Spitfire Audio / HBO Westworld Scoring Competition 2020. A four-minute car chase scene from Westworld Series 3 Episode 5 was provided. The music on the version of the scene that aired was Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Of course I immediately thought, I can improve on that. Just kidding, but the competition was a nice excuse to hone these skills and come up with something interesting.

My composition takes advantage of the anatomy of diminished chords. Diminished chords create a sense of tension, they sound fairly discordant in isolation. Within a composition, this tension is usually resolved when the chord changes to a more conventional major or minor chord. Diminished chords can be really effective within a chord sequence, creating depth and interest, but the diminished chord is usually a supporting character, it’s rarely the star in its own right. For this sequence, I decided to build everything on a single diminished chord, only straying from it once or twice.

The diminished D uses the notes D, F, G# and B. Each of these notes is 3 semitones apart, this 3 semitone interval continues up and down the keyboard in both directions to create different voicings of the same chord. It is the bass notes that define the root of the chord. So the diminished D becomes a diminished F, diminished G#, or diminished B if you change the bass note. In a sense, these are all the same chord, it’s all the same notes just with different bass emphasis. The bass note riffs (played on layered string pads) jump between these alternate root notes, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. In the background, the timpani pulses like a war drum, alternating the D note in two octaves. BOM-bom-BOM-bom!

For the car chase, I extracted as much tension from the diminished chord as I could. It never resolves, it only changes form. The one exception is the moment when the homing missile is fired. The music ceases for a moment, the missile misses the car. As the missile flies into the air and turns around again to seek its target, I added some other chords around the diminished chord, then I return to the recurring motif just before the missile hits the car. Another beat of silence, and the return of the ominous long bass note as we see another pursuant car emerge from the flames of the destroyed car’s wreckage.

I’m fairly happy with how this came out. Whether or not it leads to paid work scoring for HBO or a collaboration with Ramin Djawadi, I can at least take solace in the fact that I kicked Wagner’s ass. I’m sure we can all agree on that.

Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender

I’m posting this thirteen years to the day after I saw Joanna Newsom’s solo performance at Green Man Festival.
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BANG goes the TV

The album GIVE ME A SINE came out in 2015, but I’ve only just got around to making a video for the song Bang Goes The TV. It’s a video mashup. Subscribe on YouTube to keep up with new videos (as and when).

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Explosions In The Sky – All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone

This instrumental post-rock album came out in 2007, but I only heard it after I saw Explosions In The Sky at ATP in 2009. Continue reading

Wintergatan

I saw the marble machine video when it came out in 2016. Like a lot of people, I was blown away. It now has over 70 million views on YouTube. I’ll embed it below in case you are the person who hasn’t seen it.

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Any Joy – Cycles

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