Flip Flops in the Windy City: Current Projects

Harrison Stop, Red Line

It’s that time again, where a couple of outside projects have come along.  In a wonderful case of synergy, they both are related to Columbia College Chicago!

Manifest: Doom Edition

Anybody ever play Doom?  If not, you should know that Doom was the child of Wolfenstein 3D, and pretty much paved the way for the first person shooter genre.  One can trace the pedigree of awesomeness from Doom to Golden Eye 64, to Halo, to Call of Duty.

Original Doom Cover

There is a student in the Interactive Arts & Media department who is recreating the original Doom game on a current game engine, as opposed the VERY old one it was made on.  In order to complete the recreation, there needs to be a comparable score.  That’s where I come in.  The original music for Doom goes something like this.  While it’s important for film composers to be very versatile, I haven’t had that many occasions to write actual metal music.  The closest I came was writing a piece of music for the MTV Movie Awards in 2007 for a spoof film of 300 called 300 Pins, where they needed to emulate Nine Inch Nails.  But that was a lot closer to rock than metal.  This has been a fun challenge, and I’m nowhere near done.  But you can look for this project at this year’s Manifest!

Doom Screen Shot

Thesis Film

The thesis stage of our masters degree is referred to as Practicum.  It sounds fancier.  Traditionally we each team up with a senior filmmaker from the undergraduate Film & Video department.  Normally we work with other graduate students in that department, but they have a more relaxed schedule for completing their films.  Since we graduate a crop of 12 composers every year, we rely on the more predictable completion rate of the senior thesis projects.

Due to some pending non-disclosure issues, I can’t include screen shots of the film yet.  But I figured I’d talk about the process and the end goal of the Practicum experience.

During our Summer Semester in Los Angeles, we get our practicum scores recorded at Capitol Records.  It is one of the most prestigious recording studios in LA.  At this session, we work with professional studio musicians.  They are some of the best musicians in the world, since they literally sight-read most of the scores.  It is INCREDIBLY expensive to record an orchestra, so producers spend as little time as possible.  This means there are no rehearsals.  Most of the film scores out there are done on the first, MAYBE second take.  And we get the guys that are good enough to do this!

Capitol Records, Los Angeles

Before I wrote a single note for this score, I had to find out what instruments were going to be available for us in LA this summer.  So far, it’s breaking down to a pretty standard orchestra: winds, brass, strings, harp, piano.  The specific size of the string section is yet to be determined, and this will effect my writing; 4 violins sound a whole lot different than 12.

The thing I am looking forward to most about this project is the time I get to work on it.  We write up to 20 minutes of music a week for school, not counting outside projects.  That’s a pretty break-neck pace.  With my practicum film, I have over 2 months to write 5.5 minutes of music.  That is a luxury I will literally never have again.  This is a double-edged sword, however, as I now hold this score to a much higher standard, occasionally to a fault.

I will be working on this project a lot for the rest of the semester, and likely writing many times about it…

The Bean!