I’ve been playing through the Breitkopf collection of 371 Bach chorales, which set these short four-part choral pieces to keyboard. It’s as if you could download the dailies from Citizen Kane and recreate the edit in Final Cut.

Bach’s chorales are a how-to coming directly from the master. They are drawn from hundreds of Bach’s works. They are harmonizations of simple melodies. Any given melody has many possible harmonizations (indeed some melodies are harmonized multiple times in the collection).

Bach used chorales in his teaching, providing his students the melody and bass parts with the assignment to fill in the alto and tenor.

Playing through all 371 chorales reveals patterns. Bach’s stock phrases become readily apparent. Unusual modulations really stand out. You see a lot of “tips and tricks”, so to speak.

Most importantly you learn balance, which is always so hard to define and pin down (and which, by the way, is

probably the real secret to all well-constructed music, no matter the style).

Here’s one of the more famous chorales, “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” – this is in four parts, with the choral parts doubled by the orchestra:

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
The spotting is telling – when the fight begins, it’s pathos, and we hear battle music.

The moment the first joke hits, the pathos is over and the comedy begins, and the music drops out.

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
Hey, it’s summer, holidays are coming up in both America and the US. Why get work done when you can read the entire Inception script online?
Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
Film Music Magazine included No Place On Earth in their June soundtrack picks:

…”the main feeling that “No Place On Earth” evokes is a hauntingly beautiful nostalgia for a past.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello

My soundtrack for No Place On Earth is now available from Varese Sarabande Records. Check it out on iTunes and Amazon.

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
I’ll be updating this post with coverage and reviews of No Place On Earth opening in theaters.BBC segment about the film, with footage and interview with director Janet Tobias.

No Place On Earth New York ShowtimesFull list of showtimes and upcoming cities, including greater NYC, LA, San Francisco and San Jose on April 12th.

LA Times and OC Register reviews, plus an LA Times feature on cave explorer Chris Nicola.

Print interview with director Janet Tobias.

Battleship Pretension blog’s review: “indescribably touching”.

Rotten Tomatoes review roundup.

ABC News segment on the film with survivor interviews and many glimpses of the film:

The official trailer:

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello

Finding the most entertaining angle on one of the world’s dullest sports, “The Short Game” has built-in word-of-mouth that should help it break out of the docu sandtrap and roll down the fairway. The eight golf champs featured in this “Spellbound”-style saga are among the most competitive on the planet. They practice constantly, run circles around Tiger Woods’ records, have won hundreds of trophies — and on the rare occasion when they miss a shot, you just want to pinch their cheeks. 

I’ve noticed that describing the film as a “golf documentary” isn’t the most exciting way to put it. But after watching the kids in the film one really does want to take up the game.

Austin Chronicle:

The mantra of multiple sports documentaries featured during the South by Southwest Film Festival that all follow a form of American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s so-called “hero’s journey”: They are called to adventure; cross the threshold into a new world; face tests, allies, and enemies; and return home changed. 

That’s a keen observation that sort of goes along with the idea that there are only seven basic plots in all of literature and storytelling. (I have the Joseph Campbell book by the way, it’s a scholarly and challenging read.)

Finally, Twitch Film:

Packed with some of the most charming seven and eight year-olds ever captured, Greenbaum takes us into their lives and dares us not to fall in love. Of course it isn’t enough to just setup a camera and hit record and both Greenbaum and editor Billy McMillin do a remarkable job of crafting a concise narrative, no easy feat with eight different kids to follow.

Documentaries can be just as entertaining as any narrative film if you have the right subjects. I haven’t seen any of them, but I suspect that is the secret to recent films like Searching for Sugar Man, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and The Queen of Versailles.

UPDATE 3/15 – Austin Chronicle:

The film is full of kids who still play like kids off the course and demonstrate a calm beyond their years when the round begins. While a cast of characters this large could easily hinder a doc’s focus, it works perfectly in The Short Game to give both a global view and to show how sports can be a Zen-like calling at any age.

UPDATE 3/15Playmaker Online:

Greenbaum not only picked great kids to feature, but the documentary is paced and shot incredibly well. There’s no fat to trim. And the game is treated on such a grandiose schedule that you’d think that this documentary was about pros playing in The Masters. There are sweeping helicopter shots when the kids practice, high frame shots when the kids are hitting out of the bunker, and the action of the tournament is narrated by a guy who sounds just like Dick Enberg.

(Here are some highlights from my additional music in the score):

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
From The Hollywood Reporter:

What does training involve, you may wonder?

The Hollywood Reporter here exclusively hosts a clip from the film, which shows the many activities taken on by the young golfers to train for their big competition.

Click on over to those guys to see it.

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
Deadline Hollywood is the first out with the trailer for The Short Game.It’s scored with music from the picture – the second cue you hear in the trailer is one of mine (ironically the name

of the cue on our cue sheet is “Google Me”, given that I used to work there):

Update: And here is the one sheet…

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello

I composed additional music for The Short Game, which is premiering at South By Southwest Film Festival Sunday, March 15th at 6:30pm. I will be at the screening, so if you’re in Austin this weekend, give me a shout.

The Short Game is in the Documentary Feature Competition this year. 8 films were selected from 905 submissions. From the film’s description:

“The Short Game” follows the lives of eight of the best 7-year old golfers in the world as they train for and compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf. The annual tournament held at golfing mecca Pinehurst, North Carolina, brings in 1500 young golfers from 54 different countries and determines who will be crowned golf’s next phenom.

Updated 3/6/12:

SXSW trailer posted on
Coverage and Sneak Peek video at Hollywood

The majority of the score is by Mark Mothersbaugh. My contribution is 8 cues, about 13 minutes of music. Here are a few of my contributions:

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello