It is amazing to be back for a fourth semester at Columbia College Chicago. I spent my break traveling around the country to visit friends and family one last time before the spring semester of grad school and our final summer session in LA. It was fulfilling to catch up with everyone and go to places both familiar and new. However, being so mobile for about a month straight, I had no access to any of my gear that I use to write music, and I found that very challenging and frustrating. I’ve come to incorporate music into my every day life, and I feel an emptiness when I am away from my set-up for too long. I think it is really telling about this program that—while it is a tremendous amount of work—the process is such a positive challenge. It is extremely gratifying to look back and see how far we have all come.
First, I want to start with how our last semester ended. For our video games class we had a string quartet recording session at Chicago Recording Company! It was for pieces we composed in class that called for string quartet with “electric harpsichord” (whatever that means). A sample of our class’s work is attached at the bottom of the post! We also wrapped up with our third composer in residence, Brandon Campbell. It was an absolute privilege to have class with Brandon every week. He demanded a level of professional-sounding content from us in dramatic, action-based styles, which I don’t think any of us had experience with. Over our eight weeks with him, we worked on scoring scenes from the TV series Pacific Rim: The Black and practiced writing additional music for A Letter for the King (for which Brandon won an Emmy). It was extremely beneficial to see his attention to detail and pick his brain on how he is able to create the full and unique sounding scores he is known for. More importantly, he was very generous with his time, incredibly down-to-Earth and candid. He would take every opportunity to tell us exactly how he felt about everything he heard, whether other composer’s works, our work, or even his own work. He would also let us know about how things really work in the industry, helping to demystify the business. I hope our paths cross again, sooner rather than later.
I am eager to let you in on what is in store for us over this last semester in Chicago. We have started our unit on 8-bit game music in our video game class, and I am ecstatic. Having grown up on classic Nintendo video games, I often find it hard to contain my excitement in class, and I have to constantly remind myself I am twenty-three years old. I have attached my MegaMan-inspired track from class at the bottom of this post. In our scoring class, we have taken on the daunting task of scoring an entire feature film with our program director Kubilay Uner. This is the first time I will be working on a film of this length and magnitude, and I could not be more excited. Out of the two choices to pick from, I have decided to tackle the action film Force of Nature—which follows a police officer’s “wrong place at the wrong time” encounter with a cold-hearted killer who is trying to steal priceless artwork—all during the apex of a hurricane. The other choice my fellow composers picked was Axis Sally—a historical drama revolving around the trial of Mildred Gillars, and the question of whether she committed treason against the United States by being the voice of a popular Nazi Propaganda radio personality during WWII. It truly feels like our hard work and experience has led up to this point, and I cannot wait to put this knowledge to the test.
I hope you had a great holiday season and New Year and it is good to be back!