Sunday Soundtracking is a weekly look at what I’m listening to from the film, television, and video game score world. It’s my effort to keep myself well educated in my craft and explore things that are new and re-explore some favorites. As a film composer there is more than a lifetime of score work for me to explore. Here’s to making a dent in the list!
I’m kicking off my first Sunday Soundtracking with one of my favorite scores. It’s one that’s stuck with me ever since I heard it. I have to admit that I’m always partial to anything Harry Potter, but after exploring this soundtrack, for what is probably several dozen hours, I’ve determined that it stands on its own as a masterpiece and one of the best scores I’ve heard in recent years. Continue reading →
I’m excited to share a video that came out today. My brother, sister, and I were privileged to be a part of this a few months ago. My brother works at a place in Fort Lauderdale called C&I Studios that puts on a series called Live at C&I.
“C&I Studios is a media company that provides new media to the world. Our vision is to create inspiring art with exceptional quality to reach Humanity 2.0.” Continue reading →
It is a season of endings, and tonight, I had my very last session at the Berklee Film Scoring studio. It’s pretty much the closest I’ll get to ever going to Hogwarts because we use wands (batons). With any luck and divine providence I will get to keep doing this with my life.
I am feeling incredibly blessed, exhausted, and relieved after a massive project.
Huge shout out to my engineer Scott…That guy has gotten me through a large amount of projects in my Berklee career.
Now I am one step closer to admitting that I must pack up my entire house to move. Isn’t it easier just to throw all this stuff away?
I love remembering the small details of large events
I clutched my grande Starbucks coffee and arrived, needlessly, at 7AM. I laughed to myself, knowing this would happen. The perpetual punctual lady had found herself, yet again, in the throws of Berklee’s administration [de]organization. By this point that aspect of Berklee had become endearing to me, and I just sat in my robe and absorbed my caffeine with contentment.
The best way I’ve found, recently, to describe my last 3 years of Berklee is that it taught me things I didn’t know I needed to learn. In that way it made me a new and different person. I hadn’t known before what to study, learn, or do. What was before just a whisper has now become a full fledged burning passion. I just knew what I loved and that was the entry point. Berklee taught me how to participate in what I love in an unparalleled way. It was so strange to stand and wait on that cement floor with my dear friends and film scoring compatriots. Anything would have felt strange because I never expected how I would feel. Continue reading →
This has been one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done at Berklee. First of all, the game is so endearing it wasn’t hard to write cute, fitting music for it. The hand drawn art design of the game is a very inspiring world to live in. Secondly, it was refreshing to get outside of the orchestral world I’ve been trying to fit into for so long. I feel that writing orchestrally is a life long journey, and yet I have found how useful it is to stray away from that path sometimes.
This was my first time writing for solo trumpet and accordion. My friend Conor played a beautiful trumpet part. In an effort to make the music interactive I wrote multiple versions of the same track so that when the player enters the same environment again they don’t hear the same entrance over and over. I had Conor play his lines in multiple passes with different mutes. In mixing it I even combined them all into one track which created a terrific quirky trumpet sound.
Writing for accordion was a learning experience. I brought my accordion playing friend Donny into the studio with a part that was basically just notes and dynamics. He sat and showed me all the possible ways of playing with various stops in and out. I couldn’t believe the versatility of that instrument, and when I write for accordion again I will be able to notate more of what I want in the score.
I searched for a long time for sounds that would feel like they match the Steam Punk style of this world. I wanted actual steam which was easy enough to find and put in, but finding the right metal sounds took a while. I finally landed on using a sample of a prepared piano. A prepared piano is an instrument that has been altered on the inside to create something that sounds nothing like a real piano. There are metal pieces added to the strings, hammers, and innards. I quickly discovered that a prepared piano is sound design gold. The metal scrapes and boings are far more interesting than a simple metal anvil sound or even a knife clink. Because most people aren’t familiar with a prepared piano it is not easily distinguishable as one when it’s a part of a larger piece. I look forward to using this again in other scores that call for an industrial, metal sound.
There was no better project to end my short Berklee Video Game Scoring career. This was one of those complete successes where I did what I set out to do and even exceeded my own expectations. Here’s to hoping for more and more REAL projects like this one…
As I was walking briskly through the rain today in my incredibly inadequate shoes, with no umbrella, I found myself feeling incredibly grateful for the warmth and comfort 99% of the time. I could not wait to walk through the lobby of my office building and shake off the city chill and the misty rain. Today’s weather adventures brought to mind a topic I have had many late night discussions about, read many articles about, and pondered often.
I am excited to share with you my latest project in the long stream of exciting projects I get to work on at Berklee. I am currently in the Advanced Video Game scoring class with Professor Michael Sweet. These classes are great, in particular, because we choose our own games to work on. This allows one to fill out their reels and get a sense of what it’s like to work on different genres that might be of interest.
Me explaining to my violinists that they should play “like their fingers were spider legs.”
This was shared with me by my husband this week, and I found it truly inspiring and full of good truth. I share it with you to pass on the same encouragement and inspiration from these very ancient words about music and our souls.
And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.
Yesterday morning I found myself in the fortunate position to observe a string session for the AMC show, The Walking Dead. The composer I have been interning for, Bear McCreary, is pictured in the back conducting. I have been saturated with his music all summer, but it was great to watch the picture along side a session in such a large studio.
I did not know I could learn so much in a 3 hour period! The session was such a great balance of professionalism, quickness, and taking advantage of every second of precious, union musician time.
I feel fortunate to have been around long enough in the summer to catch the beginning of work on this show. It has been an exciting experience for sure. If you have not watched this show, I highly recommend it.
I am ready to return to Boston. I have 1 week left of work here, and I plan to enjoy every minute, soak up as much of California as I can, and continue to remind myself to feel grateful for the life I am so privileged to lead.
I said it. I feel like I’m a pretend artist, like I’ve painted a picture it’s impossible to move into. When I actually sit down and write, however, the notes often flow freer than my thoughts about them.
The anticipation of what others will say, and my own perceived lack of ability paralyze me.
Last March Alan Silvestri, one of the most celebrated film composers, visited us at Berklee and shared with us how he is terrified before every film he scores. This is the guy who scored Forest Gump, Back to the Future, and Cast Away, and is now working on Captain America. This both shocked and exhilarated me. None of this is new to me, my fear of my own ability, but since being here in LA for these few weeks, I’ve re-confronted my thoughts about this field I’m venturing into.
It is so fast, and so few make it. We have workshops with successful industry professionals as we go along here, and they are more concentrated, small versions of what often takes place at Berklee. I feel so intimidated by the mountains they place in front of us and say, “You’ll have to climb this or find one of the rare ways around it.” I continue to get the sense, however, that what I will be a part of is a new thing, and something totally led by God. One amazing thing resulting from this crazy season of my life is I am clinging for life to the promises of God.
Whatever doors he opens I will walk through. They might be small, big, or unexpected, but I shall walk.
If only I can convince my brain to follow this truth and live in it.
The sound is coming through the window from across the pool in the courtyard. It is 69 degrees, and I’m not complaining.
I should be ashamed that, as a Berklee student, I cannot identify the artist, era, or even style of jazz.
I don’t care. I just like jazz. I can’t play it, and it is the one kind of music that I don’t have an ache to learn how to do (that and maybe metal) I feel, perhaps, as if I was meant to just listen to the phenomenon of jazz.
I’ve studied it, tried to write it, and understand it, but it remains a mystery to this girl.
I like it that way.
For now, Jazz sits on the shelf in my brain that is reserved for music for me to like… and exist for nothing else.
Ok the nights are creeping later and later, and writing this now isn’t helping, but I’m on an interweb roll this evening.
Tonight I had the privilege of producing a song for the first time. I got to work with the incredible Felix Peikli. I recently began volunteering with Jazz Revelation Records, Berklee’s student run jazz record label, to gain valuable experience. It’s been quite an adventure being thrown into the middle of a recording whirlwind, but I’m experiencing great things already.
I’m also procrastinating making a website which I know I am starting to need more and more… one of these days I will buckle down and do it.
I have my interview for the LA Internship program this Friday! Exciting times….
Every musician goes through phases of listening and influence, and my most recent one has been a saturation of the Civil Wars. If I could have any sound right now it would be this one. These two are amazing, passionate, deep, and delightfully simple. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of their music. I am also ecstatic that they are doing a show here in February. I will so be there.
This has been one of the most difficult seasons of my life. The end of the fall colors into the colder temperature marks the point where the light at the end shines a bit brighter while the light outside shines dimmer. This semester feels like I just finished running two simultaneous marathons. I don’t even know how I’m a person right now. I’m not even done yet, but I’m feeling like I’ll be able to muster the strength for the last push of finals, proficiencies, music memorization, recordings, and being generally tested on many forms of performance. It’s a pressure I’ve become strangely used to and also strangely appreciate for its benefit.
When I complain again could someone please sit me down and remind me of these few months and tell me how good I have it? God bless Ryan for carrying me, and God bless it being Christmas time! My favorite time will only bring added joy. The welcome distraction of visitors over the last few weeks has been great, and as we get ready to say goodbye to Mark and Noelle tomorrow, I’m ready to buckle down.
I’ll see you on the other side…. that is, if I make it.
In one week I will have begun my first day of the new fall semester. I am looking forward and yet bracing myself for what should be one of the busiest seasons of my life. I reflect on this summer and realize that I haven’t done all the things I said I would do, but Ryan and I have had the summer of our lives. I’ll take the good with the bad. On the note of not following through… I am trying to move into a season of life where I finish what I start, do more or less of something when I say I will, and overall being more faithful to myself. I let myself down and am not consistently disciplined. I’ve wrote and thought about this a lot before, but this time I’m trying to attack the root of the problem. I’m realizing that it has to start with the Spiritual Disciplines. Staying in the Word, Fasting, and Actively engaging in community even when it’s uncomfortable. Every time I try to get in shape, practice / write music more, or even something silly like keep up with my photo albums, I fail miserably because I’m not grounded and disciplined enough in the ever important love relationship with my God.
So here’s to finishing what I start, using my gifts, serving others, being wise, and longing for eternity.
Ryan and I are about to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. (aaaawww) We went to the cape this weekend on a little getaway thanks to Ryan’s Mom (thanks Mom!) There was much revelry, romance, movie watching, and beaches. Here’s a little slice of our trip…
In other news…
School at Berklee is good. I am studying music theory constantly.
I’m working a newish job at my school where I am a media content assistant. I am doing fun things as well as getting the chance to learn some new software like photoshop, dreamweaver, and final cut.
I’m trying to strike the balance between being a great musician as a writer and a player/singer. I have been focusing so much on writing and learning the fundamentals in my classes that I am trying to swing the pendulum back toward practicing more, and playing more excellent.
The hole in my heart where worship leading once sat has been growing increasingly large lately. I still feel it is a part of my calling, and the longer I am at Berklee, the more I realize how important worship is. Music for no purpose, or selfish purposes is so fleeting.
I am trying to use this summer to get my large rear back in shape, so we’ll see how that pans out.
I’m in a contemplative mood today so it is quite convenient that I found this nook at my school’s Cafe 939.
It is quite adorable and contemplativy.
I’m sitting here with my coffee, relieved that a huge project is turned in, and talking to my Dad on the phone. I think I’m genuinely one of those people who doesn’t take their families for granted. I might not talk to them as much as I should, but I sure know how blessed I am. I truly cannot believe I have them. Every moment with them is an extra blessing and there are so many who don’t have the same time or the same number of breaths…
I also spoke with my sister Sara about the song of hers I arranged for school (hence the turned in project). She wrote great lyrics and I rearranged the music. I love her so much. She is so grown up and loves the Lord so deeply. I feel as the older I get, the more I learn from her than she from me. The roles of childhood are so often reversed. My little brother Corey is a giant man now who beats me up and bosses me around, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So I settle into my new roles in the family as we all are in the morning of our adulthood. The distance is excruciating, but the love is increasing. At least for me it is.
I go home in a few short days. I’ll miss Sara, but I’ll see the rest of them including the giant puppies who I also deeply miss…. even the stupid cat.
Drew will make me giant lattes
Katie Bug and I will do a beach trip
and I’m sure there will be many other shenanigans and late nights…
Here are our new goldfish. We can’t have furry pets (also they’re too much work) so here’s our 3 fish. We call them the Wolfpack in reference to the movie the Hangover. They have names of characters like Doug, Dr. F, and Fat Jesus.
On a side note, if you haven’t seen that movie, immediately go and rent it and watch it and love it.
In other Ryan and Jessica life thoughs:
It’s going to snow tomorrow which is pretty great.
Ryan and I are starting to form closer friendships from our church and school.
I am starting a night with some school friends where we will work our way through all the films that have won best original score so we can study the music.
Ryan Collman and Lauren Bayse (who are soon to be wed) visited us this week which was so awesome. It was great to show them around the city.
I am singing for the first time at our church next weekend which I’m excited about.
Orchestra practices are going very well so far as we work our way toward an April performance.
This semester is very thick and full of theory, thus I am struggling to muster up as much excitement as last semester. It is still needed though.
This is what I do on break… try to memorize the ranges of different instruments. I have to do it sometime if ever I am to really write… I’m looking forward to going back to Berklee and also sad to leave. Goodbye to Florida in one week from today.