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Sound Design and Score: An Indie Film Round Table

Twin Cities feature film - sound

How does a composer write music that doesn't draw attention to itself? How can a director convey scoring ideas if they're not a musician? Why is temp music important for an editor? When should sound design reflect the real world, and when should it be from a character's psychological perspective? Will the dialogue editor choose the lavalier or boom mic recording, or both?

These are just a few of the conversation-sparking questions we discuss in today's Composer Quest podcast episode (the season six finale!), featuring the team behind the upcoming film Twin Cities. You'll get to hear perspectives on film sound from a director/writer (David Ash), producer/editor (Jason P. Schumacher), sound designer (Mike Hallenbeck), and composer (me). We dissect the entire post-production sound process, from a spotting session with all four of us, to our experimental on-the-spot scoring session, which was very productive and slightly nerve-racking for me as the composer.

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Magical Songwriting Tips with Jess and Peter

Stripes on Stripes

Jess Scherer and Peter Lund faced a songwriting quandry: what do you write about when you've been happily married for several years? They decided to stretch their imaginations by writing a magical concept album about wizards, and it turned out to be great songwriting fuel. In this episode of Composer Quest, our conversation covers songwriting tips, circuit-bending a teletubby, and a nomination for the greatest Texas jingle of all time.

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Star Trek Fan Filmmaker Tommy Kraft on Scoring “Horizon”

Star Trek Horizon - Tommy Kraft

Tommy Kraft has been "living under a bridge" in order to finish his passion project, the feature-length Star Trek film Horizon. He's doing almost everything himself: directing, writing, editing, composing, visual effects, and even making the costumes. The film is Tommy's ode to the Enterprise TV series, which played an important role in his life by helping him sort through his struggle with depression. In this episode of Composer Quest, I talk with Tommy about his approach to scoring Horizon, and he shares words of wisdom on running a Kickstarter and producing a large creative project.

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Guild Wars 2 Composer Lena Chappelle on Melody Writing

Lena Chappelle Composer Quest

Video game composer Lena Chappelle worked her way into the game business by starting as a quality assurance tester. Now she's both designing and writing music for games like Guild Wars 2. In this Composer Quest interview, Lena shares some of her music and creativity tips, including her method of composing songs during her bus rides. She shares how to write a good melody, and how her experience as an author has influenced her musical storytelling. I also ask Lena about her perspective as a transgender woman in the video game industry.

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Niche Songwriting with Jonathan Rundman

Jonathan Rundman Composer Quest

Jonathan Rundman's songs have appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show, the CBS Morning News, and NPR. He realized the success of these songs have been due in part to their narrow topics, like insomnia and wearing glasses. But Jonathan has recently shifted to writing songs with more "heart" than his journalistic lyrical past, after somewhat of a mid-life crisis and a purifying experience playing ancient Finnish music. In this episode of Composer Quest, Jonathan shares words of wisdom from his 25 years as a touring musician. We also talk about his podcast Creativity Drill, which he co-hosts with his wife Dawn.

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Composing a Symphony with Musicologist Michael Dodds

Michael Dodds - Composer Quest

Composer and Baroque music specialist Michael Dodds is the subject of an upcoming documentary called Blessed Unrest (currently being Kickstarted) about the personal challenge of creating a 40-minute choral symphony. Michael joined me on Composer Quest to talk about the techniques he used in writing his symphony, like borrowing from the beautiful Romantic harmonies of Richard Strauss. Michael also explains how Baroque composers are like jazz musicians, and how music theory is linked to the history of map-making.

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N64 Composer Grant Kirkhope Talks Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark

Grant Kirkhope N64 Composer Quest

It was an honor interviewing legendary composer Grant Kirkhope about his time at Rare, where he worked on some of the most popular video game soundtracks of all time. In this episode of Composer Quest, Grant talks about composing within the very small limits of the Nintendo 64 cartridge, and he shares some stories behind the soundtracks to Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, GoldenEye 007, and Perfect Dark. We also talk about Grant's more recent orchestral work for Kingdoms of Amalur and Civilization: Beyond Earth, and he shares his favorite chord progressions that keep coming back in his music.

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Chiptune Composing with Ben Burnes

Ben Burnes Composer Quest

In today's episode of Composer Quest, I talk with fellow Minnesotan Ben Burnes, who has been writing chiptune music for games (12 games in 12 weeks, as a matter of fact). He just released them in his album Three Red Hearts, and in our talk he shares some tips on creating video game music. We also talk about creativity and the business of indie game composing.

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