Recently finished work with DMG Entertainment on a car branding spot for the Jaguar XJ Ultimate. These guys did a beautiful job shooting a gorgeous car. Take a look!
A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of re-connecting with Houston Ballet’s Garrett Smith to work on our third collaboration, this one for a fundraiser for the American Festival for the Arts.
Garrett very much wanted to choreograph a dance to a string quartet, and having performed in one for many years, I was happy to reach back to my roots.
In film scoring, I usually come last in the creative process (that’s why they call it “post-production”), so there’s no other piece in the creative chain that is dependent on the music. But in ballet, finally seeing what a choreographer has done with your piece is just one jaw-dropping surprise after another.
Needless to say, Garrett is immensely creative, and his choreography is stunning as always. I was especially floored with how he interpreted the last section of the piece - the man is a genius.
And a big thank you to Dr. Michael Remson for inviting us to collaborate for this fundraising performance!
Here is a piece I recently finished as a commission for a production library. They were looking for “sneaky” music, and to be perfectly honest, I had no idea why they didn’t ask someone else because this isn’t exactly my forte.
So I struggled with this piece for a good while, but in the end, I think it might’ve turned out alright.
A few 8-bit compositions for a short set in a…surprise surprise…8-bit video game! Certainly a different beast than the 100-piece orchestra.
A private screening of Pad Yatra was recently held at BAFTA. Here’s a cool picture of some of the people in attendance: Dominic Cooper, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, Michelle Yeoh, Eliza Pearson, and fearless and sleepless director Wendy Lee!
It’s not every day you get to say your music is going to be heard by a Kenyan and Albanian audience, especially not as a result of Beijing politics, but stranger things have happened.
Long story short, the Beijing Dance Drama and Opera is accompanying Liu Qi, the (this is rich) Communist Party Committee Secretary of Beijing, which is like mayor but actually a notch higher, on his diplomatic trip to Kenya and Albania early this month. As part of the trip, the dance troupe will be performing shows for the dignitaries of both countries. While the performances will primarily be of Chinese dance and music, the troupe wanted to open each show with a piece that reflects the host country’s music and culture, and that’s where I came in.
The instructions for the Kenyan piece were simple. As the opening dance, it had to be highly energetic, extremely percussive, and passably authentic. I decided the piece needed three main components: very dense and busy percussion, tribal vocals, and some convincing pitched percussion (marimbas, kalimbas, and xylophone).
The percussion wouldn’t be much of a problem, but without the time to record actual vocals, I had to rely on prerecorded loops and samples, something I try not to do because it feels so…lacking in integrity. But nonetheless, I dug up some South African, West African, and Masaai vocals (I know, only one of these is actually Kenya-specific) and tried to construct a piece around them. A good trick for making the vocals sound more natural and less like a copy and pasted loop is by forecasting the melody, so in this case, letting the kalimbas and marimbas introduce it before you ever hear the vocal loop.
And as for the tribal percussion, let’s just say it was a lot of fun!
Albanian Eagle Dance
This piece was an especially interesting challenge since I had no clue what Albanian music sounded like. Even watching video after video on Youtube, it was still pretty tough to get a feel for it for some reason, so I synthesized a combination of Greek, North African, Persian, and Russian music. Hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I’m just a practically white Chinese guy with a keyboard.
The structure of the dance had already been planned out before I committed a single note, so the piece reflects the three parts of the dance: 1) the expansive sky, 2) the eagles, and 3) flight of the eagles. In case anyone’s wondering “why eagles,” it’s the bird on the Albanian flag.
Like Bartlet says, this plane is going to China.
It’s partly inspired by Daft Punk’s score for Tron Legacy, which is twisted in that a black entertainment show hired a white person to direct the opening, who hired a Chinese guy to copy some French guys.
I recently got a chance to really stretch my boundaries when Cassie asked me to help write some music for a show open she was working on. Urban Beat Hollywood is a black entertainment news show that’ll be airing on TV One, and we wanted a high-energy open that would be suitable for Cassie’s high-energy editing and shooting style.
We tried a few different concepts for the opening sequence, including a blues open and a minimal piano open, but we ultimately went with the heavily electronic and “glitch-tastic” Daft Punk sound (which the producers seem happy with).
The alternate blues open came about for obvious reasons - the show’s target demographic is a black audience. So we decided to experiment, combining the electronic elements with some jazzy piano and vocal phrases.
And we also tried this even simpler opening, which features just a short minimalistic piano phrase over percussion and bass. We wanted to try using a darker piano tone, and I added a very very soft brush kit underneath it at the beginning just to give it a bit more of an old-school vibe.
In the end though, the Daft Punk electronic version won out, probably because it sounds the most energetic, edgy, and modern out of the options.