Questions from a film student to a composer

Joe Schievano during a take for an integrated soundtrack

Simone Parovel is a boy who comes from my city and attends the MOHOLE film school in Milan, he is full of enthusiasm and questions ..

“When it comes to music, I often hear talk of a hybrid or integrated column, what is it? “

It’s true: just follow some famous series, go to the cinema with an extra attention to the music and it is immediately clear that creating and producing soundtracks in a “hybrid” style is now a trend. There are several reasons for this well-deserved success. Although the term “hybrid” is not very musical, this approach consists in integrating classical modes with electronic elements together. Nothing new, you will tell me, has been done since the 70s.

Right, but the novelty is that this not only concerns elements of harmony and melody, as widely experienced for at least 5 decades, but also and above all applies to timbral elements. and environmental.

So to compose you have to decompose?

Exactly. One of the new sound treatments is granular synthesis, with which it is possible to deconstruct the sound of any analog instrument, a cello, a trumpet or other, to create a new sound, often integrated with synthetic sounds, or even with real ambient sounds. , also treated.

Every sound, as well as its more continuous variations, is comparable to a set of a sufficiently high number of elementary particles: during the attack, support and decay of a complex sound, thousands of pure sounds appear in time intervals more or less short “[Iannis Xenakis]

Granular synthesis is the process by which a sound is generated which is the sum of many other small sounds.

Proof of destructuring of a sound for a soundtrack

So in this way I could create an original “signature” of the sound?

This mode opens up to very vast scenarios with infinite possibilities, guaranteeing a new impulse to the creative act of the musical composer. The first guaranteed compositional aspect is precisely uniqueness.

Creating such particularly studied sounds allows the audiovisual work to escape from the homologation of genre, from the moods already heard several times. You can obviously decide and manage the degree of originality, precisely because of the intrinsic characteristic of this method, which lies in “mixing” the elements, like a good gourmet.

Are there themes more suitable than others to produce a hybrid or integrated soundtrack?

In almost all productions, emotion is involved and the most interesting aspect of this approach is the evocative one. Granular synthesis delves into emotions.

hybridization in general and granular synthesis in particular, can insert sound elements that are specifically part of the history of the film, or universally recognized, ancestral elements, so even environmental sounds and everything that is diegetic can be used and integrated .

We thus obtain less didactic music and more oriented towards bringing out what the great Maestro Ennio Morricone called “bringing out the unspoken”, that is, what cannot be seen, but is heard in the strings of the soul.

Search sounds on analog instruments

But are there any experts in hybridization or integration?

We cannot define them like this but there is no doubt that in order to deal with this type of work, additional skills are needed for musical composition.

Expertise in the world of sound design is essential in order to design the decomposition and creation of new sounds. I am convinced that having basic knowledge of psychoacoustics and sound is also very important, even if they should already be the baggage of a good sound designer.

However, something more is needed, I mean a broad musical cultural depth that also includes ancient music, classical music, up to the contemporary and the most innovative new frontiers. It is necessary to know how to handle the innumerable languages with competence, to be able to grasp them as elements suitable for the purpose and to create matches between them.

All these aspects can be managed by a single person or even better by a team.

Since there is also a close relationship with the environment that surrounds us, I believe that, for example, an essential element may be the curiosity. Keeping the antennas raised to capture situations and sound environments that could be functional to the work is the requirement that can make the difference ..

However, the creation of a soundtrack remains above all an artistic act, I believe this is a prerequisite for the work to make the viewer vibrate strings, and to integrate perfectly with the vocation of the film.

Here, I believe in a nutshell that this type of work, in order of priority, should first be an artistic work, then engineering.

Would you let me listen to your work with this integrated approach?

This teaser is a short example of a title track I created with this creative and productive approach.

The film talks about visual and sound poetry, where the poet shapes the language with very particular sounds of the voice, sometimes guttural, which together create the performance.

For this I used the cello sound ( at 01.04 min) that has been deconstructed and reassembled with an unusual rhythm, but which imitates precisely that kind of vocal approach of that way of making poetry, to tell it, resonate with it, but without being descriptive.

Poetry in meat and bones By Marco Pavan – Fabrica production for Imago Mundi

Recommended reading: Sound Design is the New Score (Oxford Music/Media Series)

Are you interested in learning more about the integrated soundtrack?

Contact me, I will be happy to answer your questions, considerations and requests for information.

Write to: joe@joeschievano.com

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Musica per Cinema Tv e teatro - Newsletter

Poche mail, non più di una al mese.

Musica e immagini, nuovi mood, informazioni e curiosità, idee per ottenere la musica e il suono più adatti ai progetti cinema, TV, teatrali e di videoart.