Composing : Abandoned Asylum Score by Jesse Miller

Jesse Miller

Abandoned Asylum Score

Recently we released this video of an abandoned asylum called Project Senium. One of my roles in Project Senium was composer. As there is no dialogue and very few people in it, music was quite important. We were trying to present the place cinematically, so I felt I had to use the musical language of cinema with the orchestra, yet still be very accessible to the average listener. Give it a listen and let me know what you guys think. I have gotten some feedback, but very little of it could be considered "peer" feedback.

Joel Irwin

You made it very difficult for us :) I am not sure there is anything at all in this film that does not work and if you had to do it again I would suggest doing it exactly the same. This film calls out for the sound you have created and while I would say it is more synthesized music that orchestral, that is exactly in my opinion what this needs. If you are like the many of us, we create music that the scenes need regardless of how we might 'feel about' the music. By that I mean, we have to somehow stay 'motivated' even if the scene calls for 3 bars of whole note chords with absolutely no movement. That has got to be boring (yet necessary) composing! I could only think of two things and I only mention them as you were looking for something other than the inevitable kiddos which this score deserves. 1. This is one is composition based - the tendency as notes are added that the sound gets thicker and louder. That is what you effectively used in the score - building the tension either through picking up the tempo with percussion or thickening the sound. Here is something you did not try for effect - thicken the sound in the other direction - find a way (other than with just long noted string section), to thicken the sound but make it light and soft. You may even try to use some solo instrumentation (other than piano) - perhaps a flute or even a harp. Just to add more diversity to something already diverse (told you I am struggling with feedback :)) 2. From an arrangement perspective - I wondered about the choral stuff - is that coming from a synth or are you using a choral sample set and can not do actual speaking, try to mix in something other than ah's to perhaps oo's or other sounds. I and perhaps others here could be interested if you are willing to share as to what exactly you produced the sounds with (which synth's, vst, etc.) The tools (such as DAWs) are not as important to share. Great job. This is way ready for the public. Hope you get some cable exposure.

Samuel Estes

This is quite nice Jesse! I think you've made a really good Hybrid Score here. Some quick things that stuck out to me: The 8min mark chord-pads feel a little odd, and gets in the way of the narrative a bit (sonically), also the ending feels a bit off with the pulse pad or something there is out of time. I have lot of personal preference stuff that I could go into, mostly some mix notes and some sonic choices, nothing wrong - just curious about some choices. But overall super great job here, rich score, good motifs and the score-to-picture quality is quite nice. Great work!

Jesse Miller

I want to thank you both for your incredibly kind words and helpful feedback! This is my first post on stage32 and you guys make me feel really welcome! Joel Irwin: You are very kind and graceful in your feedback. I was so hungry for peer feedback that I read your post a number of times! It was a pleasure to receive your feedback. Thank you so much! In regards to it seeming more synthesized than orchestral, that's fine, my intention was definitely a hybrid, I just had gotten some flack from a single comment who referred to the score as "orchestral kitsch", and in my initial post here I did not want to deny the presence of orchestral elements and wanted to briefly explain the presence of said orchestral elements. I guess that single comment made me kinda paranoid, but all that to say I didn't intend to suggest that this was a strictly orchestral score. As for your suggestions: 1. This is a good point and an interesting idea, and I think I get exactly what you mean, but do you have an example (famous or easily shareable) to illustrate the point? 2. There are actually no actual choral samples used here (I wish!), all instances are synths that are unable to change their vowel or what seems like a vowel. As far as synths/vst's/etc, I used a wide variety of these but the majority were either part of the EWQL symphonic library, the ES2 synth, the ESX24 synth, Ultrabeat synth, standard Kontakt stuff, or some (bowed) percussion from some additional Kontakt pack. Samuel Estes: Thank you for your feedback! There aren't any pads at the 8 min mark...but I think I know what you're referring to in the upper register. And yes, the pulse pad is off at the end. It is actually shifting out at the end of every iteration in the credits and this last one was intended to be the most off. Again, thanks for your feedback. I would love to hear some of your personal preferences on some of those things you mentioned and/or make clear any of the choices I made. Thanks again!

Joel Irwin

Jesse - we as composers create the 'right music' to support the film in many ways. You did exactly that. While this is art, that means there is no correct answer. We each have our styles and our 'sound' and so no one can tell you (imho), that a synth or a hybrid synth sound is any better or worse than an acoustic instrumentation solution (other than of course those who pay you like the director, et. al. :) ) It make little to no difference that your 'sound' differs from mine. There is room for us all and those who hire us more often than not know our work and know our sound and if we are on crew, we are there for a reason. I hear comments like what your referred to as 'flack' and then I extract what is useful (if anything), and move on. We all know that in the world of show biz, we will never please everyone. So as Rick Nelson said in 1970, you can't please everyone so you have to please yourself --- true words still 45 years later. As far as #1 - for me I have followed Alan Silvestri more than others and the first thing that comes to mind is the way he utilized solo instruments such as the piccolo, clarinet and french horn and then filled it in with full orchestra in the final two scenes of Contact (1997) with the radio telescope and then the cliff in the afternoon and evening - the final two minutes before the end titles. The soundtrack is slightly different and refers to the cue as 'awful waste of space'. The impressive use if pianissimo comes directly of the film audio track. He did this quite often in films - but the point is the way he switches between solo instrumentation with orchestra support and then whole orchestra and yet the sound stays light and never overbearing. If you want a more recent example, check out the music he wrote for the TV series "Cosmos" last year - listen to the 'theme' that starts each episode and you will hear the same thing - powerful sound both forte and pianissimo back and forth.

Haythem Rachdi

sorry, but the music don't print the video and your script, you must put some hospital effects (heart beat, shouting,carriage sick ...)

Timothy Andrew Edwards

Nice work, Jesse.

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