Hi there and welcome to Episode IV of Film Scoring Tips’ Music Showcase.
My name is Roman Kovalik and I’m a professional film composer based out of Los Angeles, California. During the last few years, I’ve been asked on multiple occasions to write scores for feature movies without the use of regular orchestral instruments while still maintaining a dramatic and emotional feel to the music. The task at hand was to make digitally created sounds responsive in that they convey similar feelings to established acoustic instruments. When I was approached to pick a genre for this episode, I felt comfortable choosing the style of “Modern Thriller.” One of my guidelines was minimal use of orchestral instruments that would work for drama and thriller movies.
Here are the criteria that helped me analyze your submissions:
Composition and arrangement of the themes
Is the overall composition original and compelling? Are the themes well arranged and don’t repeat themselves in the same manner multiple times?
How prominent, masterful and original is the modern sound design and the application of it to drive the emotional content of the piece?
Where does the musical adventure start and where does it go? Does it feel like we are going to places? Does the music take us on a ride through unknown territory and lets us discover an ever evolving story arc?
Does the mix sound crisp, loud and well balanced? Is the production clean and the midi programming flawless? Are the filters and plug-ins used properly to benefit the musical ideas?
Episode 04 – Modern Thriller
So here we go, let’s have a listen to my favorite 3 submissions:
Francesco Rignanese – The Ambush
I like the subtle build before the theme reveals itself. The composition strives off the simplicity of the driving beat while an evolving door of different sound elements keeps us interested. The theme comes in after a tastefully fragmented ostinato and has us engaged until it melodically wraps up towards the end. As a constructive critique, I would prefer to hear a more interesting sound for the main melody rather than a synthy sounding string patch which could use more dynamic automation towards the end.
Salvatore Maccarrone – Time Doesn’t Exist
This cue has a captivating build in the beginning of the track that leads us seamlessly into a well designed music bed. I enjoy how the main melody interchanges with the cool sound design, applying masterfully the idea of a musical “call and answer”. This piece seems versatile (as if it could be used in many different scenarios) because even thought the rhythm stays somewhat monotone, the arrangement around it keeps exploring new grounds and takes us on a subtle ride that won’t get in the way of the picture.
Lollo Marino – The Dark Ground
I picked this cue over the other submissions because it perfectly hits the “Modern Thriller” genre as described above. It starts on an intriguing note with some nifty sound elements, but unfortunately the cue stops evolving about half way in and therefore seems to become somewhat stale. The fade out at the end doesn’t help the cause either. A strong end would help to give the cue more definition. I like the ideas in this composition, but the cue ends up feeling unfinished.
Special Mention: K90 – Stratos
I would like to introduce this cue as a special mention because – even though it doesn’t seem to fit the genre guidelines of the submission – it is a well constructed composition. It starts with a slow but tasteful lead in that has just enough movement to keep us on our toes. Then it opens up with a lovely ostinato that reminds me more of space travel then a thriller. In the middle of the track, well arranged strings are setting in which are taking us further away from the “Modern Thriller” criteria as described above. However, I feel like this is a well constructed cue that has a fascinating slow build that won’t let you down at the very end. Therefore it’s my special mention.