Over the past week I’ve tried to compose the music for ALGORITHM myself. It’s working, it’s good enough, but I’m not blown away like I was with Zoe’s music. I’m not sure if it’s because I had Zoe’s music, or something like it, in my head the whole time and it’s something I can’t recreate, or if I’m not a good enough musician to do it, or maybe I just haven’t spent the time I need to really find the sound that’s perfect.
I know I originally had symphony music transposed to piano in mind, but that’s too melodic and tends to crowd the soundtrack so that the voices can’t really be heard. Then, I went to with more traditional symphony pieces, but the feel I wanted, and the fact that I couldn’t actually talk with Mozart to get him to lower the violin track or increase a melody in the 12 measure, made all the music I was able to choose sound too similar. People were getting bored with the movie because of the sameness of the music.
The music I have been coming up with, and it’s pretty much the same kind of music I come up with whenever I try to compose without first using the guitar, which is the instrument I’m best on, tends to sound electronic, almost industrial. That’s a radically different feel from the classical, complex mathematical vision I originally had.
It’s also evokes a very different emotion while watching the scenes. Other than the original intro track, which is powerful and deeply foreboding, the music first picks up just before Agent Wallace punches Hash. With Zoe’s music, and with the traditional symphonic pieces I had as temp tracks, there was a lightness to Will’s introduction. With my music, that lightness is gone.
Thematically, that’s consistent with what Will is in the beginning. He’s a bad guy, doing bad things. And, the current music kind of tells you that. There are two problems with that:
1) It’s judging Will;
2) if people don’t like Will from the beginning, they might not be interested in his story, which is really what the movie is about. With light music, there’s a sense of playfulness, creating emotional empathy with the way Will sees the world.
Another big reason I’m not happy with the way the music is coming out is because I was really resistant to industrial music or electronic music, or heavy rock and roll is because I know a lot of hackers and not one of them is really into that kind of music. There really isn’t a style of music they all like, because, like everyone else, they’re people. But, it’s not rock.
* * *
Basically all of these negative sentiments about the music I’m writing stem from the feeling that I’m creating music like the early 80’s sci-fi and not music that’s timeless, which means ALGORITHM will be a movie stuck in a certain time. That means it will have a shelf-life.
The root cause of this problem is the electronic nature of the music.
I watched CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER this weekend. I listened to the soundtrack and found something fascinating. It actually confirmed a theory I’d been building since early last week. It’s not that electronic aspects of the music are bad. Why not keep the lessons learned from the past and incorporate them? The cure to making music that’s distinctly electronic from sounding like it’s anachronistic is to add tracks to the music that aren’t part of the electronic repertoire. Adding instruments that are traditionally considering a part of a symphony instantly breaks the electronic mold.
I also listened to Depeche Mode’s Ultra album yesterday. It’s been a favorite of mine for some time. And, it’s also very electronic. Or, at least, that’s what I thought until yesterday. When I listened to it again, I heard actual drums, actual guitar, layered on top of electronic tones. So Depeche Mode did the same thing, making Ultra still feel like it fits with music today.
* * *
I spoke with another singer/song-writer yesterday; she does a lot of work for television. She suggested I try and contact the chair of the music department at one of the local universities and ask if they’ve got someone with promise.
I like that idea. The college student wouldn’t come with pre-conceived notions of how the music business is or should be. Instead, they’d probably just be stoked to be a part of an actual project.
There are two problems with this:
1) with the time constraint I’m currently under, I only really get one chance. If that composer fails, I’m screwed;
2) I don’t feel it’s ethical to hire another composer when I’d probably cancel them if Zoe finally does come through. I haven’t yet told her that I can’t wait anymore and I’d have to do that before I hired another composer.
So, I’m trying another solution. A friend of mine was a professional musician, and he’s coming over to help me compose the music. He’s good. Both of us together probably aren’t as good as Zoe Keating, but we’re better than I am on my own. Hopefully it will be enough.