Composer / Musician

Day: November 17, 2010

Microsoft 7 Film Festival

Joff’s Notes: The brief for this was “epic, epic, EPIC!” Epic? What flavour? We tried the Braveheart-war-tragedy-epic style but there was too much smiling and it didn’t quite feel right while the Zimmer-goddamn-hero-epic style just wasn’t much fun either… Morricone! Yes an ‘Ecstasy of Gold’- style epic-ness seemed to be bold enough while tapping into an iconic movie sound. Incorporating elements of that sound really made the score feel like a fun (and epic) tribute to the history of films and

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Strange Calls

Joff’s Notes: Strange Calls is a comedy series currently in development for the ABC starring Barry Crocker and Toby Truslove. It’s ‘Mother and Son meets The X files’ and is going to be fantastic. Here is a little taste of the score. Look out for it in

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…But A Giant Leap For Mr. Larkin

Plot Summary: Polly the goldfish and her owner Mr. Larkin lead what could only be described as a fascinating life. Day in, day out, they wake up, eat, reflect on lost memories and go back to sleep. The two share a deep bond; a liking for routine, a fear of the world outside their homes, and on Saturdays: cornflakes. On an ordinary day, when they both thought the biggest excitement would be breakfast, something is falling towards them. Today, by coincidence the anniversary of the moon landing, a bizarre visitor will be forced upon them. It will be a small step for mankind, but a giant leap for Mr. Larkin… – Kjetil Andreas Knutsen Joff’s Notes: Bud Tingwell plays Mr. Larkin, an ex-pilot who, along with Polly the goldfish, lives a reclusive existence. That is, however, until he’s visited by the apparition of an astronaut, which forces Mr. Larkin to break out of his shell. The music is all from the point of view of Mr. Larkin himself. The score tips its hat to the dramaturgical and melodic styles of classic era films, which Mr. Larkin would have watched during his days as a young pilot. There are also 1940s style radio tracks playing diegetically throughout the film, reflecting his mood. The upshot of all this is you join Mr. Larkin on his journey; it feels like he’s telling his own

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$quid (Short)

Joff’s Notes Look past, if just for a moment, the giant squid, the unlikely scenario, and the millions of dollars, and you’ll find $quid is essentially a film about friendship and redemption. The music aims to embody the drama in this friendship, whilst (in the spirit of ‘Jaws’) simultaneously represent the squid. This creates the idea of the squid being a manifestation of Chris’ nastiness and ill-treatment towards his friend. So when Chris defeats the squid through song, he not only releases his friend from the creature’s grasp, but also triumphs over this representation of all his nasty ways. Squid is currently being made as a feature length film due for release late

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Rudiger Meets Mr. Salmon

Plot summary: Rudiger, a banker, and Mr Salmon, a tycoon, a surprised when they meet each other for the first time. And the second. And the third… Hold on to your hats! Joff’s Notes: I wanted the music to have a sense of improvisation, as if the pianist was watching the film for the first time. At moments the pianist is confused by what’s happening on screen and stops playing. At other times, he does his best to follow what’s going on. This way, the pianist becomes a character, one who is just as confused as Mr. Salmon and

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Stay In Bed Day 2

Summary: Stay in Bed Day was an event aimed at raising awareness and support for sufferers of mitochondrial disease. Joff’s Notes: The music for this installment of the Stay In Bed Day campaign aims for a triumphant ‘Bolero’ feel while the exaggerated crashing and spilling of the sound design tells a different

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Stay In Bed Day 1

Summary: Stay in Bed Day was an event aimed at raising awareness and support for sufferers of mitochondrial disease. Joff’s Notes: The sound and music was designed to engage the audience as quickly as possible. It was intended to feel instantly like the climax of a thriller, without giving the distasteful impression of a spoof. The gravelly sonorities of the electric guitar played with a violin bow, whilst textually blending with the radio static, suggested something was about to

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Dying Ice

Synopsis: In a world of never-ending sunlight, two races live in a constant state of tension and ill ease. The humans, once members of a great society, now only survive deep underground, sheltered from the withering heat on the surface. The Ashen, unmatched by humans in speed and strength, use their inherited wisdom and natural order to thrive in the harsh conditions above ground. When Dying Ice, a precious mineral used to cool the inhabitants of this world, is traded for a noble Ashen girl, there is a betrayal that threatens to sever the delicate ties between races and plunge their world into war. ( Joff’s Notes: Dying Ice is a short sci-fi film that introduces us to a harsh desert world. The music creates a link between the severe landscape and the psychological state of the characters, providing an insight into their desperation. This aids in understanding their motives and the reasons for the ensuing violence. The score uses improvisations by violinist Youka Snell as a composing tool, and was further developed by singer/sound designer Rosie Chase, who wrote and performed all of the vocals. The cool drumming in the middle was by Ack Kinmonth. They’re all superb

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Turning Back

Joff’s Notes: Turning Back is Isabel Taye’s personal exploration of identity. She delves into her relationship with her Malaysian, Chinese and English ancestry. The music contains elements of traditional music from all three of these cultures. I focused on making it both simple and reflective. The strong resonating tones of the Gamelan bells were a useful tool in portraying the resonance of the past. Also, Isabel gave me a recording of her singing one of her most memorable childhood songs to incorporate into the soundtrack. It was exciting and challenging to work on such a personal and honest

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Safety Dance

FILM CLIP FACEBOOK MYSPACE Review Safety Dance feature a ratio heavily biased towards the musical end of the spectrum but it’s actually their skills as entertainers which make their set so remarkably enjoyable. A dextrous jazz trio comprised of electric keys, reeds and drums, one cannot fault their musical skill or creativity – keys man Joff Bush in particular showcasing some serious skill- but it’s the gags and commentary they deliver between their compositions that elevate their work. Be it a staged fistfight or contrived rivalries between members, the trio’s set is never anything less than pure joy. – Matt O’Neill, Time Off. Joff’s Notes: Safety Dance was started as a reaction to what we saw as the ‘safe’ jazz around Brisbane. As for what we do now, our show speaks for itself. Tony and Joe are both freaking

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Lost Track

Plot summary: A moving story of an old man lost in his memories. The ghostly echo of a steam engine rumbling across the moonlit night transports Max to his beloved childhood in the railway workshops. What has happened in Max’s life to bring him to this point? Written by Alain J Francois Joff’s Notes: This is one of too few films directed by the late Anton Fricker. Anton was a beautiful human being and an absolute pleasure to work with. He is greatly missed. The score explores some of the dramatic musical concepts used by composer Fumio Hayasaka in the late Mizoguchi and early Kurosawa films. I wrote this score soon after forming an obsession for the music of these films; particularly Drunken Angel (1948), Stray Dog (1949), and Ugetsu (1953). The eloquent dance of the score around the story structure results in some of my favorite cinematic moments. In the case of Lost Track, the structural approach to composing this film began with the juxtaposition of aspects of the story with musical associations. For instance, the ghosts of the trains were associated with the resonance of various metallic instruments, such as gongs, bells and gamelan. Entering and awakening from the the dream was associated with a whistle-like effected flute. The childhood memories were represented with a little melody for tuba and strings, and the more tactile memories were accompanied by tingling crotale bells and pizzicato strings. This was a useful technique of relating the old man’s journey into the past. He is called into his memories, and travels through to arrive at some sort of realization when he surfaces. But what? As the old man continues down the tracks, the music is gentler, resolved, and a little more at peace, although still ambiguous. Echoes of all of the musical themes return softly from the

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The Maestros

Joff’s Notes: The Maestros is an hour long documentary about the recent construction of the Melbourne Recital Centre and Melbourne Theatre Company buildings. It follows the story of their creation, from concept and planning through to opening. The composition is mostly constructed with my own musical portraits of the architecture. Parts of the underscore represent the MRC, with its pentagonal repetitive shapes, and the glow of the MTC illuminating the street at night. Other aspects of the music try to capture how people relate to, or feel about, the buildings. A version of the Allegro from Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A was recorded for this film and elements of this tune are hinted at throughout the rest of the underscore. The piece is one of Dame Elizabeth Murdoch’s favourite, and as the main hall in the MRC is named after her, and she officially opened it, it seems very

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Valcapella & Dwinn

Lemony Snicket’s spiel: DON’T DO WHAT YOU USUALLY DO when there’s a CD included with a magazine, which is leave it in the little thing. Take this out of the thing and listen to it because it’s an epic of heartbreak and awesomeness, fully acted-out and music-ed, and it demands your attention so just listen to it. What’s wrong with you, if you’re one of the people not listening to it? Are you going to use the excuse of having a traumatic childhood experience with a recording of an epic poem? Or are you just a morally stunted person who does nothing but self-Google and snack? Get ahold of yourself. Take the CD out of the thing. Move one step forward to the heavenly glory available here on Earth instead of eating so many corn chips and scrolling lonesomely down the address book in your phone. -Daniel Handler (A.K.A Lemony Snicket) Plot summary: In the dry wasteland of the distant, terrifying future, two very different people become unexpectedly entwined in each other’s lives. Dwinn is a worker clone captured by the fearsome drug-addled bandits of the desert, and would prefer to quietly and politely die than cause any inconvenience to others. Valcapella is a pirate-princess and solider of fortune, who will exploit anything or anyone to eke out an existence, firm in her belief that deep down, all people are equally selfish and cruel. When Dwinn saves Valcapella’s life in what appears to be an act of pure altruism, the two are thrust into the epic post-apocalyptic adventure of a lifetime. Joff’s Notes. This epic poem was an epic task. By the final edit it reached 80 minutes, and included over 2000 takes, all edited together with added breaths, and other tricks, to give to the effect of one continuous reading. We recorded narration, dialogue from actors, and sound design using bits of junk, glasses, a mandolin, and other fun things. On noisy days we set up an insulated microphone-cubby out of heavy blankets and chairs in the middle of the studio. We did our best not to digress into reliving childhood memories. The music is mostly associated with the post-apocalyptic landscape. It gives each area its own ghosts, voices and feel. Sometimes the sound of the landscape is sympathetic to the characters, and sometimes, as in the saloon scene, it’s in contrast to the action and almost making a mockery of the characters’ feelings. It was decided that we would avoid music that literally interpreted what the narration already allowed us to imagine. In directing this story I began to realise just how prized a good performance is. I also came to experience the same level of utter madness I see in many of the directors I work with. Also Tom is

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