Composing the music for the "Regency Suspension Bridge" trailer for the "Once Upon A Town" series was an especially interesting project for me, as was recording it with Paul Unger. A few reasons. First, composing to picture is essentially different than merely writing songs (although sometimes songs can work) because the differing movements - slow / fast / close / wide / far? - and mood changes of film / video allow for (and usually require) more elastic time, varying rhythm and tonal changes in the music (as well as in mix strategy). This is in opposition to a set song (in the contemporary sense). These kinds of opportunities for more variation are always an exciting invitation to me as a musician. As an example, in this particular piece the music starts with a slightly symphonic first part (a symphony tuning pre-performance) a middle, slightly "mountain music" guitar figure and ends with a somber cello melody (played on Paul Unger's bass). I suppose the three parts are somewhat the reverse of standard symphonic form via a slow, fast(er) and the slow movement. I went for a minor key with the black and white video, the two figures on the bridge donning coats and the general late autumn feel of the trees, river and wind.
The second reason this particular short resonated with me was that it was shot in a part of Texas I'm very familiar with and which I've spent many hours driving through and visiting. My sister has about one-hundred acres just east of this area, wherein, I've walked the shrub brush, grass land and the San Gabriel river many times. In fact the region of Texas where all three of the entries in this series (the third is coming soon I hear) is my favorite part of the state, the "Big Country." It comprises an area from the pan-handle, down to west of Fort Worth, further down to Llano and the out west to the high plains. Rattlesnake country!
Thirdly, I've long loved industrial architecture set in rural locales. I've seen many great exhibitions of the Amon Carter Museum's photography collection (much of it black and white) centering around grain elevators / silos, water towers and electric stations. Also, my Dad's old black and white photographs of mid-century, USAF airplane hangers in the western desert ("googie" industrial style architecture) left a lasting impression of industrial design on me. The Regency Bridge is a real beauty!
Coleman, Erik and team, did a great job capturing that beauty!
A few technical notes: I did not compose to SMPTE but simply timed the string parts out (simple minute/second grid) and then played the guitar parts to picture, slowing down or speeding up along with the flow or panning. Even with mine and Paul Unger's band we don't use click tracks in the studio and especially here a strict grid would completely lose the above mentioned elasticity of rhythm. For resolution I recorded at 24bit but mixed and mastered at 32bit with no dither as I knew the volume levels might be further adjusted. So, word length needed to be kept to an optimum. The string parts up front are a mix of Paul Unger's bass / cello playing and samples from Logic. Great intonation on Paul's part! The end is all Paul on the melody with my guitar underneath. I did most of the work in Ableton Live.
Really enjoying this project and have started work on the next in the series!
Paul Boll - Music Composer/Once Upon A Town Collaborator