Musical Highlights is a demo of some of my early material composed between 1999 and 2001 in Boston, MA; a brief overview of what my creative instincts were at the time.
One of my final projects done at Berklee College of Music for my Bachelor's Degree in Film Scoring, Western was written as a replacement main title for The Young Riders TV series. Two vastly different themes were initially developed before settling on the most direct approach. A very quick write (the final version took less than two days to take shape), it is a heartfelt homage toward Elmer Bernstein's The Magnificent Seven.
New-York City, originally written for a key section from the feature film The Doctor, represented my first exposure to the use of punches and streamers. A technique that allowed me to play with the respiration of the players (strings and trumpet), all concealed within a Jazz idiom adapted to a sequence in which the physician himself endures Chemotherapy. As the scene closes to an end, a mute solo trumpet addresses a close shot of the principal character (played by William Hurt) then in total dispair.
Helmed by Ron Fricke, the director of photography of Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka (excerpts: tracks 3, 4 & 5), is an ambitious twelve minute score devoted to a recap montage of the original film. The general concept of the documentary dealing with nature and how the human race is interconnected to its environment, I took a quote from Koyaanisqatsi and first temped the footage with wall to wall minimalistic music (mostly Philip Glass and Steve Reich) before eventually shifting into a pure synthetic effort.
In order, the excerpts presented here follow the Calcutta Foragers (Indian Poverty), a close shot of a Brazilian native indian succeeded by long shots of Brazilia & New-York City (Modern Brazil or native percussions surrounded by technology) and, finally, the overture Aiko which is the first cue heard against static shots of Nepanese Mountains, Japanese monkeys and the titles themselves. In total, thirty minutes of music were written for this score (consisting of alternates, rejected and obviously final versions) and, very much like what happened on the Young Riders, my main theme wasn't the one I expected. Originally, the Aiko theme was not my first choice for the overture (it was not even written for Baraka to start with) but, after a cue to cue confrontation with my then mentor (Joseph Smith - then Dean of the Writing Division at Berklee and Jay Chattaway's orchestrator on Star Trek The Next Generation), it became clear that it was the right way to go. As my final project in film scoring at Berklee, Baraka was a coming of age experience for me; something I'm still proud of after all these years.
Tracks 6 to 9 are incidental film music cues, written for various Berklee film scoring projects, presented here in edited fashion to maximize the dramatic flow. Okia Okaya, whose introduction is heard here under the title Loneliness (track 10), is a ten minute jazz piece for string quartet, jazz trio and Japanese voice. Written for two of my best Japanese friends, the goal was to make the middle section sound as French as possible (thanks to a highly emotional chord progression unheard here) while adding a sense of Japanese nostalgia with the introduction and conclusion for string quartet (live recording 11/2000).