The cat is away


I’m traveling right now, so my post isn’t going to be long, but I just wanted to show you what I’m listening to… jealous?
If you want one, go to La La Land might have one or two left.


Episode 9 – behind the curtain of the music

Left: Michael Stromenger (director), Steven Molony (Patrick)

Todays Curtain Call release is the midpoint of the series. There were eight episodes before this one, and there will be eight more to come.

Right now, Ben and I are pretty much at a point where we can breath now. When the series began, we only had 3-4 days to compose the music based on how quickly the editor was able to finish and get us the material. Since then, we’ve had an opportunity (to catch up). Stromenger and the other editors have been busy getting more done in a quicker time allowing Ben and I to get ahead.

So now, we’ve also finished episodes 10, 11, 13, 14, and part of 15. On our end, we only have 3 and a half episodes left to go before our contribution to this project ends.

I wanted to take this post and talk a little bit about what we use to do our job. You may or may not know it… but there is no budget for music. One of the major drawbacks to this is not having the ability to hire musicians to perform the music. I can guarantee you that if Ben and I were able to play the instruments we use, we’d be recording ourselves. As it is, we do record live Piano, Guitar, and some drums/percussion.

For the instruments that we do not play, we are lucky enough to have some great samples in our library. One major company’s products we use is East West. This is where a bulk of our orchestral samples and ethnic sounds comes from. For many other things we use Native Instruments synth instruments, or synths and samples that came with our DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

Our DAW of choice is Logic Studio, Apple’s proprietary DAW.

Another piece of software we used for “Cassie’s Song” was Melodyne, which is a pro level tuning program. This software is pretty brilliant! Not only does it fix tuning on notes, but you can manipulate vibrato, timing and many other things that seem like magic!

Here is a cue from episode nine where we were able to use an actual acoustic instrument… I know, right? First time being recorded, it’s my baby, my Taylor classical acoustic guitar, combined with some French horn samples:


So now that we have officially reached the halfway point… do you have a favorite cue? Of have you been too busy trying to figure out who did it to give much thought to the music?

Curtain Call Midway Point – almost

Episode 8 of Stromenger’s Curtain Call was released today. Go and check it out here. If you haven’t seen any of them yet, go here and start with episode 1. All creators would welcome and enjoy any comments you may have.

So now we’re basically at the midpoint of the series. with 9 episodes left to be released, we’ve got a decent look at most of the suspects now.

Today, I felt like looking at a couple of the current stats for the show.

According to Stromenger, the series website has received 3,500 hits. Also, there has been over 2,700 individual episode views. Not bad.

As for Ben and myself, we have written music for all those episodes. We have also finished music for episodes 9, 10, and 13. When we combine all of that music together, we have composed over 60 minutes of music for the series so far.

To celebrate the (almost) midway point, I thought I’d share a cue from episode 8 with you. It is from the beginning of the episode, and so far the only cue that makes use of a quartet of strings.


This cue was to underscore the detective’s trip inward, working through some of the information he has in his mind. The direction for the cue was to represent anxiety and surrealism. So do you think it worked, or not?

Also, tune in and check out the awesome little montage scene and cue at the end of the episode!

An Unexpected Score Surprise

iTunes, BandCamp

This week saw the release of Jim Guthrie’s Score for the retro styled iPad game Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. The album is titled Sword & Sworcery EP: The Ballad of the Space Babies.

I don’t know very much about Guthrie, but I do know that he is a musician who resides in Toronto Canada.

However, I do know that over the past couple of weeks, this game and soundtrack were getting lots of press about being so awesomely cool and retro. I can’t speak to the game, but I can say that I was delightfully surprised at the soundtrack. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much based on my jealousy (I could do that… just give me the opportunity) factor. So when I listened to the samples on iTunes, I heard some very interesting stuff… not really at all what I was expecting.

The sound is more like an indie band messing with retro synths and sounds including chip tunes of some variety.

The first track “Dark Flute” which I can only presume is the game opener, hearkens back to the late 80’s early 90’s synth fantasy sounds, in an epic soundscape setting the stage for the vastness that is S&S:EP gameplay.

It’s in the next track, “Lone Star” that the variety of sounds truly begins to show itself. Using his sequencer to great effect he creates some very interesting sounding loops that begin our musical journey.

A lot of this music, for me, is pretty haunting, and tells a great story. “The Maelstrom” is an example of this. It’s simplicity is part of its epicness. The vibe the music provides is pretty strong. It’s almost comparable to a huge emo song in its emotional content, but it keeps it simple.

It’s funny to me when I look at the style of the game animation, the music is actually a step beyond. Yes, it does make use of retro sounding synths, but the live drum sounds, other live instruments and use of other effects really step up the quality of the music to something beyond just music in the game. If Guthrie had done a straight retro score, it wouldn’t be this good.

Overall, I think Guthrie’s creativity for this project should be lauded. To me, this is a better soundtrack than The Social Network… and that won an Oscar. This is what TSN could have been, especially when you combine the talents of Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor…

For 8.99 from iTunes or 7.99 from BandCamp, you definitely won’t be disappointed for the 27 tracks you get!

Steve Jablonsky Ruins MV/RC Music for the future with Your Highness

A bit dramatic, I know… but when you listen to the score for Your Highness and if you know the music that Zimmer’s studio (Media Ventures/Remote Control) has produced through the years, you’ll know exactly what I mean.


Jablonsky, an acolyte of Zimmer’s, has had quite a few scores up to now. A couple of my favorites include Transformers, and The Island. Something that kindof comes with the territory of being one of Zimmer’s pupil is a shared sound, whether it’s the orchestrations, instrumentation, or the musical progressions this group uses, the scores all seem to have a very similar flavor. Sometimes they can break away from that stigma, and sometimes they can’t. Either way, it doesn’t really matter if they’re doing what they’re getting paid for. But I digest.

This newest score from Jablonsky definitely falls within the realm of the Zimmer School sound, and the score is better for it! Who knew that 20+ years of musical development (some might say stagnation, but that’s kindof harsh) would culminate in the most perfect score? I’ll try not to spend my time comparing this to other MV/RC scores, but instead talk about this one.

Your Highness, from what I can gather and infer of the trailers, is a very funny looking movie about two brothers from a time of sword and sorcery on a quest to find a kidnapped princess (or maiden, but does that detail matter?). So what kind of music should it have? Well, if you said epic orchestral with some dulcimer, solo violin, big brass, familiar rhythmic motives (a la Kamen’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves), some choral and vocal work, including a very appropriate, poorly sung love song… oh yeah, and some sweet synth work that sounds like its straight out of an early 90’s cutting edge score… these things are ingredients that make up the score to Your Highness.

The score opens with the cue “Let Us Quest!” combining the orchestra with synth worthy of Doldinger and Moroder, then enters the heroic brass theme, and then the sweet solo violin plays, along with the chorus, taking us through to the rousing acoustic guitar and the buildup to the action, quicker moving strings and brass stabs with a Pirate’s of the Caribbean vibe, and one of my favorites (and Stromenger’s too) ascending brass stingers.

The next cue “Isabel the Strong” makes great use of the woodwinds by playing a lovely melody over the orchestra, which is then taken up by a solo female voice. Quite lovely as one pictures the butterfly’s and little birdies fluttering around the maiden or some other heroine as the sunlight shines through her hair. Very quickly the tongue goes further into the cheek as the voice becomes a little stronger and the orchestra turns the saccharin up to 11.

The score is very effective in my opinion because it seems to play everything straight, mostly. Until we get to “The Greatest Most Beautifullest Love Song In All The Land” sung by Zooey Deschanel and James Franco. Zooey, a noted singer in various incarnations including an actual band is very able to accomplish the sweet maiden’s part. Only when Franco’s character enters does the beauty of this beautifully ridiculous song shine. I don’t know whether or not Franco can actually sing, but for sure on this recording he makes a valiant attempt, or rather his character does, giving this song the wink it needs to help me stomach the panpipes.

The score continues with the epicness and the sweetness throughout the rest of the cues. Another great cue is “Mean Knights and Horsies O’ My!” which contains the action music we’ve come to love, combining some very fast sounding strings and brass, with percussion-y pads, and Inception-like synths, all combining and morphing within the cue eventually bringing back the heroes theme in variation.

I’d love to have this score playing during a night of D & D, but I won’t say anymore about that in fear of letting my nerd show more than it already has.

In the cue “Here Come the Marteetee” Jablonsky does what any good Zimmer alumn should be able to do… combine an orchestral cue with some heavily distorted rock guitars, transforming the cue to a rock song. At about 1:10 in the track, he does it. The drums and guitar rock out with an orchestral accompaniment, with a face melting lick over the top.

I am in love with this score right now, and it’s making me excited to see the movie when it comes out… of course, I would have seen it anyway. I mean, come on… it’s got Danny McBride and James Franco together again in a comedic sword and sorcery, not to mention Natalie Portman as a bad-ass ranger type. Yes please, thank you! But back to the score… in using the things that came before, Jablonsky takes the epic sound and applies it to this movie in a very serious fashion, highlighting and making melodrama where there wasn’t any. I’m not sure a mickey mousing approach would have worked as well for me… but in saying so, it’s going to be hard to listen to future MV/RC scores that use this material in a serious film.

The High Road Trailer with my music (Redband)

NSFW due to language…

If you like this trailer, share it with your friends. I won’t be mad at you.

Also, go and check out the movie’s webpage here.

Ben and I did the music for this and had fun stretching our wings!

The New Duet from Apogee

Yesterday I saw news that Apogee released a new audio interface called the Duet 2. Similar in design to the original Duet, this one has been redesigned, basically, from the ground up. It has the same knob, and a similar shaped box, but that’s about where the similarities end.

With whole new pre-amps and an OLED screen, more outs and touch sensitive buttons… this is the interface to have. Winning most head to head competitions against other competitors, the only thing holding this back from entry-level consumers is the price tag. $595. The only thing holding me back is the computer connectivity.

The Duet 2 uses USB 2.0 (I don’t know why they didn’t use 3.0) which touts lower latency and a higher and faster throughput than FireWire 400. This is a good thing, but as someone who is completely content with the first Duet, I can’t see upgrading until Apogee updates using the newer Thunderbolt (Intel LightPeak) technology that is currently still arriving to market.

But if you are looking for a top-of-the-line audio interface, you should check this one out for sure!

Thuderbolt will come… and I’ll be ready with saliva running down my chin and greenbacks in my hand. And you never know… coffee could spill on my Duet at any time.