Monthly Archives: March 2010

Music links

A Danny Elfman interview on Alice and Wonderland. There’s a great nugget onĀ  why he doesn’t start composing based on a script:

And what I discovered over the years is that every time I started early and wrote music , none of it ever survived, not a note, when I actually saw the movie. Because what I came to understand is that there’s so many ways to shoot the same script.

Music critic Jay Nordlinger on Samuel Barber, “A Romantic in a 12-Tone World“. Atonal music has been very fashionable for a very long time, but I see it as a long-outdated form of futurism. Like flying cars, or everyone wearing aluminum suits. If you agree, you’ll like the article. Nordlinger writes:

I called Barber “great.” Great like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven? No, of course not. But if we are more liberal in our attribution of greatness – yes, indeed.

And some guy is claiming to have produced a soundtrack to an abandoned Tron sequel called “Rise of the Virals. If nothing else, the album cover looks cool. The composer has been kind of to post come cues here. There appears to be some debate as to how true this is. I think the lead sound on track #1 sounds kinda Dark Side of the Moon-ish to me.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello

As I’ve developed this blog and my music web site, I’ve gone through a couple of iterations on how to design a site oriented on music. Here are some tips based on my experience.

Focus 98% on One Thing Only
This should generally be your best demo. Put it front and center. If you’ve got a music video, great, put the Youtube embed of it on your home page. If not, just an image and a music auto-play will do.

Everything else – your extensive discography, your Twitter account, your bio, photos, tour dates, press clippings and film credits – put those in the 2% part of the design.

A great example is Swedish popstar Robyn’s website. No mistaking what she’s all about when you see it.

Music Players
This can be tough. I’ve tried a number of things. My favorite is a $12 Flash Music Player available on ActiveDen. It’s pretty flexible. I discovered it on composer Felix Bird

‘s web site. It’s awesome. You will need a web person who can handle Flash to implement it, but once set up its easy enough for non-techies to maintain.

Wimpy player is popular and widely used, and but I found it very brittle when trying to customize it. Mixpod is a free site that creates an embedded music playlist, but many users have problems with uploaded tracks refusing to play back in the player. YouTube isn’t bad, but if you’re not doing a music video it’s a little awkward to present your music with a still photo in your video.

Site Designers

Best I can say – ask your friends for a designer and find someone you get along with. For a band’s music site, an individual is best.

Now my plug for you NoCal folks: if you are looking for a Bay Area web designer, I had a great experience working with Amy Lee at Sequence Mediaworks. She’s a musician herself. What I like is the “portfolio” Javascript implementation – basically we embedded a series of YouTube and Flash-based music players in a sideways-scrolling list. This was my version of putting 98% of the emphasis on the music and nothing else. You can see it on my film music demo site and my wife Aliona Kazakova’s artist web site.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello

Post-production is still wrapping up, but Contractor’s Routine will show at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival on April 17th. Saturday night, 9pm. The director Yuri Tsapayev plus cast and crew will be attending.

Cinesource has an interview of Yuri about the film.

Shot and produced almost entirely in San Francisco, the film follows a carpenter Jacob Borchevsky struggling to tamp down his psychological turmoil – personified in his mentoring alter-ego Esau – before it explodes into irreparable cataclysm. Tsapayev, who wrote, directed, and produced the debut indie is presenting his film – still without distribution – throughout the festival circuit. With impressive acting performances and skillful direction talent, the film is an obvious choice to be picked up by a leading indie distributor.

More here.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello

Not a shocker. Even though The Hurt Locker was racking up awards, everyone talked about how they cried during Up’s 4-minute sequence showing of Carl and Ellie’s life together, and the music was prominent.

Up’s score is refreshingly old-fashioned – prominent themes, exhuberant instrumentation, and unafraid to express the emotion of the characters. There are musical allusions to classic films like the Wizard of Oz. The music breaks through. So many Hollywood scores are like wallpaper – tasteful wallpaper appropriate to the scene – but very few connect emotionally like Up. I’ve been a fan of Michael Giacchino ever since he scored the PS2 video game Medal of Honor: Frontline.

The Hurt Locker‘s score, by Marco Beltrami, is practically the opposite. It’s restrained to the point of being sound design as much as it is music. Dissonances and middle eastern modes make the deserted Baghdad streets dangerous and alien. Beltrami’s scores can be very restrained (including the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma). Both films have characters who are strung out, thirsty, without sleep, and near death. His minimal style suits scenes of such exhaustion.

One hears complaints among composers that we’re in a very “cool” period for film scores – meaning that directors don’t want melodies, or anything that might be showy or obvious. Perhaps out of fear of condescending to the audience. Or perhaps out fear of sounding corny. The Hurt Locker, and also No Country for Old Men, are very much in this camp.

Either way, these 2 composers have styles that were well-matched to their respective films.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello