Archive for the ‘film/tv music’ Category

American Idol and the Birth of Hip Hop

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

A track I wrote called “Birth of Hip Hop” available on Firstcom’s Darkfly series (Universal Publishing Production Music) was used on American Idol Season 13 as background in a segment where the contestants are goofing on each other. The track has the spirit of early 80’s hip hop in its blending of 60’s and 70’s disco/funk/soul samples.

The production of hip hop of that time was interesting because a track could have samples from multiple records made in different studios with different producers using different equipment to create an interesting blend of sounds (and music production technique history!) in one track. Artits like Public Enemy took this to the extreme by mashing/layering together tons of samples to create one production “sound”.

“Birth of Hip Hop” mixes imaginary samples created using different “aging” techniques such as tape emulation/compression, tube saturation, vinyl crackle noise, and eq filtering to simulate the sonics that an early 80’s hip hop track might have had.

The drums and bass guitar are produced as if they might be a drum break from a 70’s record with typical tape saturation and no reverb or ambience. The piano hook is filtered and distorted along with vinyl crackle to emulate a 60’s Motown sample. The guitar riffs could also have been from the 60’s, maybe from a garage rock (or “freakbeat” as they might call it in England) record. The horns stabs could have been from an early 80’s disco record. All of this combines to create a lighthearted blend of samples and sonic colors.


“Birth of Hip Hop”:


Rebuilding The World Trade Center

Friday, July 18th, 2014

I was fortunate to have three tracks included in an incredible documentary film by Marcus Robinson called Rebuilding The World Trade Center. The film features amazing time-lapse footage of the construction process as well as drawings and paintings by the filmmaker created onsite. It’s truly a work of art and I am honored to have a small part in it. It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in September of 2013 and an eighty-eight minute version of the film will be broadcast September 2014 on the History Channel.

The first clip uses “Recurrent Act 3” from the Evil Designs release published by Immediate Music:


The second clip uses “Nihilist Tendencies” and “Cavernous Black” from Firstcom’s Darkfly published by Universal Music:


Beyond Ipanema becomes a series on Canal Brasil. “Percolating Bossa” used as the show theme.

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Beyond Ipanema, the feature length documentary about Brazilian music that I contributed music to has been made into a 13-episode series that had its debut January 2013 on Canal Brasil. My tracks from the documentary were used in the new series and I have the honor of “Percolating Bossa” being used as the show theme.  

“Percolating Bossa” features a nylon string guitar hook that is transformed with modulated cutoff filters to create a playful electronic vibe on top of traditional samba percussion stylings. The second half introduces a flute/piano melody that takes the piece to the end:



[P]LOSIVE debuts “In Three Acts”

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Chris Jones and I embarked on an exciting artist project called [P]LOSIVE ( Sound design and percussion meet processed orchestra/choir in some tracks, big guitars and drums in others, and collaged/abstracted sonic material in yet others.

We went all out to create an arresting sonic palette by recording found sounds and manipulating them using MetaSynth, AudioMulch, and other interesting software tools. We composed each piece in three segments loosely following a three-act structure of exposition, rising action, and climax. The music explores cinematic moods from mysterious/suspenseful to dark/aggressive. “In Three Acts” is distributed by Immediate Music as part of their Artist Series.

Listen to “Unholy in Thee” Acts 1, 2, and 3:


Check out the video Chris Jones created for the track “Churning”:

One song: childlike innocence or uncomfortable irony?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Here’s two clips that use the same track (“After School Crush”)  in similar contexts but to achieve different storytelling goals. The first is a trailer for a Dutch film called Briefgeheim (Secret Letter), a story about 11-year-old Eva who because of  family tensions at home runs away to live  in her best friend’s attic. The beginning of the trailer shows her playing with friends and is happy, sunny, and innocent.  The track’s simple childlike melody on bells and glockenspiel accompanied by acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, organ, and light percussion underscore the mood.


The second clip is by comedy duo Tim and Eric for HBO presents: Funny or Die.  This time the track is used ironically to underscore a dysfunctional relationship between step dad and son.  In this context the track’s innocence is tongue-in-cheek and comes off as totally over-the-top. By trying to pull heartstrings it makes the whole thing even more hilariously uncomfortable. (The track is used as a bookends to start and end the segment so the middle is edited out.)