Early 1900’s era bluegrass/country/swing gets a Hip-Hop treatment

August 10th, 2010

“Remix America Megamix” expands on the production techniques discussed in the Peaceful Day June 24th post by further  processing and morphing various acoustic instruments to created material for a new piece. The original tracks were recorded/produced by composer Chris Hanson for VideoHelper’s ScoreHelper series.  These early 1900’s era bluegrass/country/swing style recordings include guitars, fiddle, harmonica, and clarinet parts that offer lots of possibilities for re-mixing/re-contextualizing.

The instruments were processed/combined/morphed/edited and then individual phrases/riffs were cut up and loaded onto a software sampler. Parts were programmed against a mid-tempo Hip-Hop instrumental track.  Right at the top of the piece you can hear an example of the processing/morphing of guitar and fiddle. Another example can be heard at :32 where a phrase starts as a clarinet and ends with a harmonica.


It’s great to hear the music when it’s set to picture by a talented filmmaker/editor. Alex Luster (www.shooteditsleep.com), aka PR!MO, a documentary filmmaker, Promax/BDA & Emmy award winning television producer based in Houston, Texas used this track in a short film he made called “Hope Mural”. It’s about Texas area street artists painting a 15′ Obama mural designed by Shepard Fairey (ObeyGiant).


Here’s another short film by Alex called “Graffiti Proposal” that uses a track of mine called “Love Letter For You”.



Thanks Alex and great work.

Peaceful Day and Guitar Sampling

June 24th, 2010

Peaceful Day is a breezy summer Brazilian electro/hip-hop inspired track featuring the talented Elin (www.elinmusic.com) on vocals. The acoustic guitar part employs a sampling production technique which I use quite often.  I record myself improvising and then I edit short sections or phrases out of the longer jam and transfer those to the EXSampler in Logic. Then I play around on a MIDI keyboard, triggering the samples to come up with interesting musical passages/patterns. It’s a typical Hip-Hop technique which goes well with the track’s Hip-Hop beat programing.


Tempo Modulation as a scoring technique for supporting increasing action/drama.

April 9th, 2010

An interesting way to build intensity in a score is to employ a musical tactic called Tempo Modulation. Tempo Modulation (TM) is defined as a change of tempo by pivoting on a common durational unit (Benadon 2004, p. 563). By taking the time value of a subdivision in one tempo and then finding a corresponding tempo that has the same time value for one of it’s own subdivisions, a relationship between two tempi is established that is useful in transitioning from one to the other without losing the listeners’ sense of pulse/beat.

For example, at 80 bpm an eighth note triplet has a duration of 250 milliseconds (ms) which is the same duration of an eight note at 120 bpm. Emphasizing the eighth note triplet subdivision at 80 bpm and then by treating that note value as an eighth note in 120 bpm, a tempo change can smoothly be made which will increase the activity/tension/drama of the music and effectively support the building dramatic arc of a scene in a cohesive way.

Benadon, F. “TOWARDS A THEORY OF TEMPO MODULATION”. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Music perception & Cognition, 563-566, 2004.

Pounding Pangea is a cinematic percussion track that uses this technique. At :28 the triplet is introduced. The break down from :41 to 1:01 still references the old tempo but in 6/8 meter. At 1:08 the modulation is complete and the piece is in a new tempo and meter.


Horrific Surge is another cinematic percussion/sound design track that uses a similar approach. Although the tempo doesn’t technically modulate there are shifts of meter and feel that are accomplished by analogous “pivoting” methods.


Beyond Ipanema announced as Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival 2010

February 24th, 2010

Beyond Ipanema: Brazilian Waves in Global Music is a feature documentary that delves into the fascinating topic of the impact of Brazilian music and culture around the globe.  From Carmen Miranda in the 1930’s to present day Baile Funk, the world has always embraced and been influenced by Brazil’s music.  The documentary stars David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Devendra Banhart, M.I.A., Thievery Corporation, CSS, Seu Jorge, Tom Ze, and Bebel Gilberto.

The film premiered at MoMa in New York City in 2009 and was an official selection of the Rio International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the AFI Latin American Film Fest in Washington D.C. It has travelled the world to many other festivals screenings including New Zealand, Spain, Germany, and Argentina.  Now it has been announced that the movie will also be an Official Selection of the SXSW Film Festival 2010.

I had the pleasure of working with producers/directors Guto Barra and Béco Dranoff on this project and wrote six tracks especially for the film and licensed two pre-existing tracks.

“Sol No Mar” was written for the scene where Milton Nascimento is commenting on how the film Black Orpheus first introduced Bossa Nova music to the world in 1959:


“Tamborim” was written for the scene where David Byrne is talking about Brazilian music and its influence on his work:


“Infinity Curve”, a track based on a variation of an auditory illusion called the Shepard–Risset glissando, used in the Shutter Island (Scorsese/DiCaprio) theatrical film trailer.

February 9th, 2010

“Infinity Curve”, used in the final section of the Shutter Island (Scorsese/DiCaprio) theatrical film trailer, is built on a variation of a Shepard-Risset glissando (also called a Shepard Tone). This glissando creates an auditory illusion of a tone that is forever ascending in pitch. It achieves this by raising the pitch of the sound while simultaneously making its lower octaves more prominent. “Infinity Curve” uses this concept but is based on rhythm instead of pitch. While the track goes steadily from 65 BPM up to 900 BPM the most prominent note duration is shifted from 64th to 32nd to 16th notes and so on. The effect is a feeling of infinite speeding up. “Infinity Curve” is published by VideoHelper.


On the trailer it starts at around 1:52:

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