Monday, June 16, 2014

Move Over PDQ

Stumbled across this file again and thought I'd throw some comments at it:

Did this about ten years ago. I forget the details, but I created it for a total conversion plug for someone at the old Escape Velocity forums. He specifically requested the opening chords (which are from the scene on Jabba's barge), and I think wanted to reference the original Escape Velocity loading screen music; the iconic "Mars, Bringer of War" from Holst's "The Planets" suite.  The latter imposed the 7/8 meter of most of the piece.

I did it on rack-mount synths, mostly Roland "Orchestra Module" and "String Module," the latter of which had the unusual col legno technique as a patch (the strings are struck with the back of the bow). The polyphony offered by these racks allowed me to write implicitly for first violin, second violin, viola, 'cellos, and double basses, as well as trumpet, trombone, and french horn sections, with addition of solo horn, flute, clarinet, piccolo, as well as vibraphone and of course orchestral percussion. There are actually very few sustained string notes; even the upper register "pads" are usually manually-played fingered tremolo.

Oh, yes; and it steals shamelessly from everything.

The opening and closing are direct John Williams references. The vibraphone and flutter-tongue flute is a John Barry reference. As I said, the 7/8 is from Gustav Holst.

The extended col legno from the string section, particularly the skittering glissando, is reference to Jerry Goldmith's skittering strings in "Alien," and the percussion-heavy re-entrance of the main theme was meant to take after the same composer's Klingon battle music from "Star Trek the Motion Picture." I think I caught the flute/piccolo tremolo on top of heavy brass chords from him, too.

I'd been reading about doing brass in tight fourths and I think some of that is in the main theme. Or maybe not; my grasp (and application) of theory is, shall we say, weak.

Of course the transition to big open chords with the re-meter to 4/4 also has those old chestnuts -- I was particularly thinking "Great Gate of Kiev" from the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," but the late introduction of a chorus as well as the apparently inevitable church bells/tubular bells goes back to at least, oh, 1812.

I can't say I write all that much better now. All I can say with confidence is that I write less often.

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