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Neifion

My entry for the 2015 Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest

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Hey guys,

Wanted to share my entry for this year's Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. We were provided an animated short film with no music and asked to compose an original score. Love to hear what you think!

 

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I wouldn't mind hearing it a tad more wet/live sounding with a bit more distance (personal taste), but the arrangement is stinkin' beautiful. I'm loving everything I hear of yours, I gotta say!

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Sounds great! My only minor complaint is that maybe it could have had another second or two of tail at the end (it seemed to end a touch too quickly).

 

Thanks timeaus. I agree, but we weren't allowed to alter/add any black after that quick fade out (contest rules). So it had to end right where it ends, unfortunately.

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Scoring a film as part of a competition is an interesting exercise and thankfully, it is one that I have yet to undertake.  I think the biggest missing piece of the puzzle here is the director, since when scoring a film with a director, there is someone with whom a composer can discuss the 'sound' of the film as well as the artistic vision of the project in general.  I think without this input, it can be difficult to wrap ones head creatively around what is required as an appropriate sonic backdrop for the film.

I think as an art piece, the score is compelling and the production is very high quality and expensive sounding.  As a unit, it was my perception (opinion) that the musical style clashed with the art style.  Perhaps it is because the overall symphonic sound that is achieved is a tad too generic, filled with common cinematic tropes.  To explain another way, if the entire film had been rendered with live action, it really would have been perfect but somehow the girth and fidelity of the sound really highlights the absurd look of the animation.  For me, that really draws me out of the film.  Again, this isn't so much a critique as an opinion, and I don't know that it is entirely appropriate considering the lack of involvement of the director in communicating with the composer.  

As a general observation, I'd say you (the composer) are very talented with tonnes of potential.  I think the biggest oversight is what appears to be an intense focus on a certain sound and approach to creating music while neglecting all other possible influences and ideas.  I don't know if this is fair to say based on the little amount of music that I've heard, but I would recommend venturing outside your comfort zone and exploring many contrasting approaches to music creation, that is if you wish to pursue this rigorously as a profession.  

Once again, aside from mustering a critique, I'd say the production is top notch and the music writing is excellent.  I'm curious, if you don't mind me asking,  what sound libraries are you using?

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Hello Paul,

Thank you for listening, and for the critique. I have actually composed in many different styles, everything from rock to jazz to classical and quite a bit of ethnic; you can check out my portfolio if you like: www.kekomusic.net/listen Although if you're referring to just within that video in particular, I'd disagree and say there are a fair amount of different styles and approaches utilized, especially in consideration of modulation, time signature, moods, textures, and techniques. Mostly though my main goal was to convey the emotional quality of the story, done primarily through the establishment of the "home" theme (adventurous and triumphant) and returning back to it at the end (intimate and touching); the same place, just from the new perspective of a changed Emma having gone through the adventure. I am actually a professional composer, but I had some time available to do this and thought it would be fun. :)

 

I mostly used Spitfire Sable and Mural for the strings, Spitfire Horns, CineBrass, CineWinds, Berlin Woodwinds, Spitfire Percussion Redux, and Soundiron Venus and Mars for choir.

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Fair enough.  But for me, I still found that the style of the film clashed with the aesthetic of the music.  Like I said, it's just my gut reaction based on listening to the film score as well as a few tracks on the website.  (Composer feedback is invariably what we would do instead of what was done)  Anyway, great work, carry on.  

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It's not everyone's cup of tea for sure, but I am glad to hear there are aspects you liked about it, and I do appreciate the feedback and the time you took to provide it. Like a fellow entrant in this competition said, you can make the best rocky road ice cream, but if they want vanilla. :)

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Yes, competitions are awful things; as Bela Bartok said, they are for horses!  As I mentioned in my original post, I think the real issue here is that you were not afforded the opportunity to work with a director, like you would in an actual, professional setting.  It's a bit of an artificial situation and honestly, it is not representative of what a composer is truly capable of.  In my experience, I absolutely would NOT have been able to create the scores I did without the scratch track and the patient input of the director.  

And yes, I can recall more than one competition where I was thinking 'why did THAT win, why didn't I win'?  Then I imagine of all the times where I did get something and how the other artists must feel.  It sucks.  But be encouraged, you do great work and it's some of the best I have heard here.  

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I really like your production on your tracks.  I think it's just glittering with professionalism, something which is absolutely necessary to be successful these days.  I'd like to have a conversation about that specifically but my questions should be handled in a more private setting. 
I particularly enjoyed the ethnic chinese style track, as I felt that one was the most effective musically.  RE electic guitar, you should make friends with a very good guitar player.  As a player, for me, the synth guitar just was not convincing.  Sure, midi guitar is what it is, but when the line doesn't really move in the way a guitar would play it, it's a bit jarring.    

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