Two composers recreate the music of an orchestra
Most filmmakers’ budgets don’t allow for multi-session orchestras, choirs and soloists. Independent filmmakers need their musical scores to live up to audience expectations. That can be hard to do, especially in a genre dominated by iconic scores throughout film history. Fantasy is an ambitious and exciting project for any composer.
Layering dozens of voices and instruments has become a requirement for the genre. Inflated brass instruments, warm cellos and playful clarinets populate the score of a fantastic film. Stories are always important, music should be too. For a team of just two people, writing a fantastic album was a challenge they were looking forward to.
Gerardo Garcia Jr. and Isabelle ENGMAN met at university. Their program was Rating for film and television at the University of Southern California. (the program has since been renamed Screen scoring program) Since then, they’ve scored for major movies, video games, and commercials.
Over the past three months, the composer duo have challenged themselves to build a Epic fantasy album. Now that they’re done, they’ve chosen to give it away to the community for free. Their downloadable royalty free music is available at SonsCrate.
The music is hosted on ProductionCrate.com, no payment is required but you must register to download. Contact Support@productionCrate.com for any questions or assistance
Composing music for online libraries is fun, but the open use makes it hard to find inspiration. For the fantasy genre, this is especially true. There was no film or book to draw ideas from. The project started from scratch. No source material, no characters, no story. This did not discourage Isabelle or Gerardo. It was an experience they dived in headfirst.
How do you start composing narrative music without a story? Their solution; make one. Work closely with concept artists from production crate, composers have built a whole world to draw inspiration from. They have woven a story of knights, dragons, snow-capped mountains and forgotten treasures. The body of the story was defined, it only remained to give it a voice.
Being able to visualize the narrative gave them the direction they were looking for. Their imagination could fill in the gaps. Art and music began to work together in harmony. Just by listening to the music, you can begin to imagine the story it tells, without needing a single word.
The artwork gave clarity to the world they wanted to build. The mixture of motifs and themes represented alliances and betrayals. Changing instruments and key helped music travel to new lands. As the story took shape, the album followed.
Collaboration across creative disciplines is a surefire way to spark new ideas. If you ever find yourself adrift, unable to even begin, look to other artists. The best ideas are rarely at the start of a project. They develop over time. Bouncing ideas and excitement until you strike gold.
You’ve probably found it easier to critique someone else’s work. You bring a fresh and unbiased perspective. Do not wait until the end of the project to use this power. Working with other creators ensures a level of external originality you’ll never get from inside your own head.
Composing is a balance between intention and creativity. The score is a universal language, communicating our most complex emotions through music. In a sense, composers like Isabelle and Gerardo are masters of manipulation. They can make us feel so strong that we react physically. Our hearts will truly race with the excitement of their music. Somehow they do it without us really noticing.
When you visualize an army of barred soldiers marching in sync, the score should be a tight, predictable pace. If your character is exploring, a bright, loose pattern draws viewers into the adventure. Our favorite fantasy series all have recognizable music. The scoring is bold, powerful, and intrinsically stitched into the story. You might struggle to remember a single Marvel movie song, but I bet you can remember the music from Lord of the Rings.
Howard Shore’s vision for LOTR has impacted filmmakers ever since. His music is one of the most iconic and recognizable scores in cinema. He was provided with the budget to achieve exactly what he intended to do. Gerardo and Isabelle were not.
Not to be discouraged, they were able to put together their 30-track album with their limited independent resources. This was done using a single computer. The digital composition revolution has allowed low-budget projects to have that big, recognizable sound we’ve come to expect from the fantasy genre.
Gerardo and Isabelle used the powerful audio software Pro Logicbut recommend any DAW (digital audio workstation) for anyone who wants to compose their own music. You can find and use real instrumental libraries, or save your own. Piece by piece, you can become your own orchestra, refining each instrument and player as your composition progresses. Not only can you recreate the sound of an orchestra, but you can do it all from home.
This project began as a challenge for two composers to recreate the sounds of an entire orchestra. Their skills and abilities improved while composing the album. Listen to it and download it yourself. You can remix it for your own movies or use it as quality temporary music while you build your story.
The projects you will learn the most from are often the most difficult. Collaborate with other creators and realize them.
Christopher Kelly is a post-production generalist, typically focusing his time with VFX for FootageCrate. Chris loves to write about new technologies for cinema and how they allow independent filmmakers to achieve what would have been impossible just a few years ago.