I have taken one brief excursion into the world of film scoring. Steve Leeper, of Veggie Tales fame, once taught in the Digital Media department at Huntington University, very near to my home. He approached me about providing a score for a short stop-action animated film his students had been working on for several years. I was invited into their film studio to watch the students work on the final stop action shots, which was tremendous fun. It soon became clear how 4 minutes and 30 seconds of film could take four years to produce.
There was no budget for actual musicians or recording time, so my score had to be entirely MIDI rendered — and not all instruments sound equally convincing through MIDI. So, I had to consider carefully the instruments I wanted to use.
The story was fairly simple and only had the two characters listed in the title. Given his costume and the fact that he carried a lute around, the protagonist Minstrel’s theme cried out for a Renaissance sound, so I used a lute/guitar, recorder/fife, mandolin, various viols, drum, and tambourine. I also threw in some oboe just for fun because… well… his nemesis is a duck, after all. There is also bassoon. Is there a better instrument to indicate a growling stomach? I wanted my antagonist (Duck) to aurally conflict with the Minstrel right away, to foreshadow the trouble he would stir up later in the story. What style of music would conflict directly with a cheery little Renaissance wandering minstrel tune? No question: Smoky Film Noir Jazz. I chose saxophones, vibes, upright bass, and a sparse little drum kit. I also included a brief nod to the score for the film “Deliverance,” which should signal to the older viewers and film buffs that things are about to go very very wrong.
At the beginning of the film, the character themes are clearly separated and distinguishable. As their conflict becomes more and more intense and the Duck seems to more directly foil the plans of the Minstrel, their individual musical styles become increasingly overlapped and less distinguishable. You hear the “classical/renaissance” instruments playing the Duck’s jazz themes and vice versa. The pinnacle musical mayhem definitely reflects the Minstrel’s breaking point. I was quite pleased with the result, which you can view below (4:30 mins duration). Enjoy!
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