During the summer, I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, hosted in Austin, TX. It was a blast! For those not familiar with the festival/contest, teams are given 48 hours to create, write, film, edit and produce a short film in 48 hours. To keep things interesting, all submissions had to work in:
– a character’s name
– a prop
– a certain line of dialog
Teams also had to genres randomly assigned to them and could pick which one they wanted to use. It’s a very fun, challenging and fast pace contest! Our film, Until Death Do Us Part, was nominated for eight awards and won four of them! Here’s my favorite music cue from this project:
The whole film should be released to the public soon. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t taken part in a 48 hour film project yet, do it! It’s so much fun.
Back in December 2015, I started writing music for a unique, clever and funny web-series called You Again. The musical style is a fusion of different genres and approaches including some jazz mixed with light, comical orchestral, retro video game music and even some Celtic-like elements. Over the months I’ve been writing music and revising cues for each episode. For the most part, things were good with the usual bumps and back-and-forth that any show experiences during production. Then, due to circumstances outside of our control, we found ourselves without the intro music we were planning on licensing for the show’s intro/teaser.
We needed a theme song… and FAST.
The intro is a montage of quirky, fun actions by the two leads of the show and the vibe of the music needed to be fun, energetic, humorous and engaging. The track that we were going to license was a Celtic song filled with fast violin runs, accordion, hand percussion and claps, guitars and singing… in French. It sounded awesome and fit the visuals perfectly. The director, Andrea Kile Peterson, reached out to me and let me know about the situation right away. It was the evening of July 3rd and the show was going live July 6th. We talked about possible options and then I got to work writing a theme song. Writing super fast requires knowing each “trick” or technique used will have a good pay off. There’s no time to rethink, create doubt or even experiment. You just have to get it down and make it good the first time!
My goal was to get something to the director by the next morning to allow for any feedback and revision requests. Right off the bat, I knew creating convincing violin runs in a Celtic style would require a lot of time and effort. It’s not impossible but it would take time. I knew we had to have everything finalized by July 5th in time for the launch the following day. So the first thing I simplified was the violin part. Instead of cool, complex Celtic violin lines, which would require lots of articulations and production, I went with quick staccato violin accents. Creating a simpler violin track allowed me to split up my focus and energy across all areas of the track (the drums, the guitars, the accordion, the hand percussion, etc). I had a majority of the piece written out in about 3 hours.
The last thing you want to do is get neck deep in only one layer and ignore the rest of the song. I’ve seen this happen time and time again and it can kill your momentum as well as destroy your time management. Writing quickly is a constant balance between the macro and the micro.
Bringing in some outside help.
For the guitars, I used a mixture of live and looped guitars to help fill up the sound. My buddy, Ben Cockerham, recorded some guitar lines early July 4th morning and they sounded great. Aside from the live guitar parts, everything else was virtual. To help give the piece a sense of evolution and more energy, I had tempo ramp up slightly over the whole song. This also allowed more of the hits to match up with the visuals. Mixing in the guitars and doing a final mix pass took about an additional 2 hours.
The take away.
By creating a plan and having a defined target, I was able to deliver the finished track to the director the very next morning. She gave some good feedback, I tweaked the mix and production a bit more and then got approval. All in, the entire song took about 6-7 hours to create.
Working quickly is a rush! It’s fun and it’s a challenge. I always view it as “Am I up for this challenge?! Can I do it?!” By focusing on what I knew I could delivery quickly and avoiding what would cause major time sinks and difficulties, I was able to create a theme song literally in the last minute with little stress and have a blast while doing it. The next time you’re in a crunch mode, ask yourself how you can ensure the highest odds of success. What are your “go to” bag of tricks and methods to help get the job done super fast?
The finished product!
You can see the final result below! And go check out the series, Episode 1 is now live!
Last weekend, Madsen Studios LLC took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, here in Austin, TX. It was a blast! I wrote music for the short film called Until Death Do Us Part, which is sort of a black comedy drama. For those that don’t know, this project involves drawing a genre (we drew adventure-serial) and had to work in a certain prop, character name and line of dialog. After drawing the genre, you have 48 hours (hence the name of the festival :P) to write, film, edit and post-produce the film. It’s quite the challenge! It’s also a great deal of fun.
Since music usually comes in late at the end of the production cycle, I decided to write a bunch of music to get the editing team as much to work with as earlier as possible. This was tricky because I was writing without any visuals, since the team was still writing and then filming. The last day, Sunday, was a fury of writing for me as we decided the film had changed tone and needed a new direction musically. I always love a challenge and am, overall, very happy with how things turned out.
Check out the poster and once the film is released to the public, I’ll definitely share it! Stay tuned!
World of Pixels is a brand new song for everyone’s Friday!
It’s an ambient, peaceful, electronic track that I wrote recently for fun. It’s available for licensing currently. One thing I really enjoy about this piece is how the melody evolves each time it’s stated. It’s never repeated the same way. Either a new instrument joins in, new chords support it or the melody notes themselves change. I like using the visuals of pixels in the title because they can be both harsh, jagged and beautiful and smooth.
Using low-fi, chip-tune like sounds is a challenge as they can be really harsh around the edges. But when produced differently, they can be quite beautiful and smooth. I hope you enjoy the song!
Ever been on a quest for donuts? Who doesn’t love donuts?! I mean… really. Come on. And this song captures the feeling of going out and chasing the dream that is donuts. Originally written for a slot theme being produced by Beecave Games, which sadly ended up not coming out. But fear not! I was able to get official permission to share this orchestral track with you all and I sincerely hope you enjoy it!
Side note (no pun intended): My favorite part of the song is breakdown section that happens after the crescendo at 1:22. But the piece is short enough that you should really just listen to the whole thing. Several times. 😛
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.
Here’s the main theme to Of Love and Sorrow, a new game being developed and published by Niels Bauer Games. Madsen Studios LLC – an Austin, TX based audio company, was hired to compose the music for the trailer and the game itself. It was really fun to write the music for a civil war, text game. For this theme I wanted to capture the grand, epic conflict while also showing some of the more tender moments of the game. In a way, this piece harkens back to Civil War epic soap operas that I saw on TV as a child in the 80’s. Check out the music and the game, once it’s made live!
Please reach out if you need original music or sound design for your next project. I’d love to help out!
Hello one and all! Last weekend I was hired by Wilkinson Films to score this charming short film called “Henry.” It was a really fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Check it out below and I hope you enjoy it. If you have a film or project that needs sounds, let me know! I’d love to work with you.
Here’s a short snippet of music I wrote on spec for a horror film I was bidding on. Liked how it turned out so I thought I’d share it with you all. I hope you enjoy it! And should you need a composer or sound designer, I’m available!
I recently landed a new audio project, which is always a good thing! But what’s most interesting about this particular situation is the client talked to me about WHY I was picked, especially considering that some of the other candidates had way more experience than I did. Aside from the obivous things like matching style needs, scheduling, cost, etc, it came down to simple, common respect. Respect for the client hiring and respect for the application process itself. And, again, this is all according to what my client told me:
*One applicant was late to the interview and didn’t even apologize or awknowledge being late.
*One applicant came off as uninterested or somewhat distant/distracted during the interview (which was held via Skype).
*Another didn’t fit all of the requirements and wanted to bring in extra people adding to the costs, overall.
*Here’s one more from another interview experience I had years ago for an in-house position: The other applicant literally smelled like “old cheese.”
Interviewing can be a hard thing. It’s stressful! You’re on the spot and want to make a good impression. You might be nervous! I’ve heard tips on how to interview well most of my life but this recent experience reminded me that they actually DO apply! So don’t dismiss them!
*Be early to an interview.
*Be engaged. This is critical during phone or webcam interviews where it can become much easier to multi-task.
*Be presentable. Have good hygiene and take pride in your appearance!
You may or may not get the gig but don’t sabotage yourself by missing out on the easy things. Give yourself the best odds possible!
Here’s a “new” track. Rather, here’s a new take on an old track from 2006! I hired Jean Bolger to play the violin tracks and we recorded them at Mark Derryberry’s new studio, Derryberrys Recording Studio. I’ll be honest, the track is still evolving somewhat but this is very close to a finalized version and… honestly, I just wanted to get it out there!
What I’ve tried to convey with this track is a blending of mystery, wonder along with some element of danger or foreboding. You’re in this Lost Forest but you’re not quite sure it’s a good or bad thing yet. Currently, I’ve got three or four more tracks coming down the pipeline once I get all of the parts recorded, produced and mixed. Stay tuned!