Holiday Play

One of the awesome things about working in a creative environment is that you get to do silly things like acting in a holiday play with your coworkers and writing music for it. A fun day at work in other words. And now I know that if this composing thing doesn’t work out, I can have bright future as a recorder player.

And with that I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Yours truly, Agent DJ Dyrud.


A Trip To Kakariko Village

The new Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword is now finally out for sale. Along with it is a CD with the Zelda Symphony that I wrote a piece for. That means I get to share it with you! Recognize the Kakariko Village theme?

Kakariko Village


Zelda Premieres

Friday night was the US premiere of the Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony. I was very excited as it was the very first time an orchestral piece I’d written would be performed. So my husband and I got in the car to go to Hollywood, drove through the Friday night crowds and suddenly we saw a really long line along a building. We were wondering what big artist was playing until we realized the line was for Pantages Theater where the Zelda concert was happening. I was blown away! I’ve felt very privileged who had the opportunity to write for a big concert like this, but I had no idea it would be this huge! I realize now (slightly late, but still…) how big of a fan base Zelda has worldwide. People drove for hours to wait in line for hours to hear the concert in their Zelda costumes. It was awesome! Very nerdy, but still awesome! During the concert they cheered and applauded every time they recognized a theme (which was often) and when composer Koji Condo surprisingly entered the stage at the very end of the concert to play Grandma’s Theme from Wind Waker on solo piano, the crowd went wild!

I was so proud of my super talented friends Chad Seiter and Susie Bench, who did the arrangements and orchestrations for the whole concert. They are rock stars! “My” piece, Kakariko Village was a small contribution, but it was still SUCH a trip to finally hear something I’d written in a concert.

Tomorrow the concert will be played in London at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo. Here’s a picture from today’s rehearsal with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:

Soon I’ll be able to share music with you as well!


Music For A Play

Two years ago I wrote the music for the play “Rodina” created by the Norwegian theater production company Last Ink. I thought I’d share the some of the process of that with you.

I was brought on board pretty early in the process and before rehearsals began, I started playing with musical ideas based on a very rough script. The actual content of the play was developed during rehearsals in Stockholm. So I brought a travel studio and set up shop at Dramatiska Institutet where the rehearsals were happening. It was a very organic process where I would watch the two performers work on the choreography and then go back to my room and write. Then I’d bring the demos back to try out with the performers. There was no dialog in the piece, everything was communicated physically through acrobatics and dance. And because there was no dialog the music became almost like a third character. Being used to scoring films, where the timings are usually pretty set by the time I start working, this was an entirely different process. Even though the actors rehearsed every move, the timings would still differ slightly every time they performed the scenes. So instead of hitting specific points, I had to find a general feel of the scene and translate that into music. And I had to memorize how their scenes where developing to get a guide to roughly how long the music should last and where it should turn. What was interesting about it was that the music became an entity of its own. It wasn’t slaved to picture in the way it is in film. In film the picture sets certain limitations to the music. It directs the tempo and sometimes forces the music to change time to fit perfectly. But in this process the music could more freely unfold because there were no absolutes. There was more of a mutual relationship where the music would direct the scene just as much as the other way around.

Working on a play also allowed my to go a little farther out there musically. There was room to play with less expected textures and musical turns. It was more about creating an original piece of art than trying to please an audience. This felt very rewarding and liberating as that sadly oftentimes is not the case. Especially after working with commercials where it’s all about selling and appealing to an audience.

I loved how being part of the developing process allowed me to involve the cast and crew in the music. There are foot stomps, voices, even a burp (!) from the cast and crew in the music as well as sounds from the props used in the play. An old radio plays a big part in the play and I used a lot of sounds from that radio as percussive elements. I also had some amazing musicians on board (including Arve Henriksen on trumpet).

Here are a couple of tracks from “Rodina”:

Power Trip

Who Broke The Radio?


TV Pilot

This last month has been incredibly busy! I went from having nothing to do to non-stop work weeks. I’ve been scoring a pilot episode for a TV show – 15 minutes of original score in 3 weeks. Which isn’t that much music, but with a full time job, changes for the Zelda concert and a somewhat limited team to help me it’s been rather crazy. Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about the show yet as it’s highly confidential at this point. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be picked up so that you can see it for yourself some day! All I can say is that we had two great recording sessions last week and we’re now working on mixes. One of my favorite things about LA is that you have some of the best talent at your finger tips. Whatever you need is a phone call away. I can write a track one day and have an ensemble of musicians to play my music beautifully the next. The recording sessions are always such a reward and make all the stress leading up to them worth it.
Hopefully I get to share something with you shortly.


Three Things of Inspiration

Right now I’m waiting to hear back about possibly demoing for a TV pilot, (fingers crossed!) as well as waiting for my Zelda cue to be orchestrated. There’s also a dry spell at work (which is how it usually goes with commercials in the summer time), which means I have some extra time on my hands. A little bit of free time is great. Too much makes me unproductive and bored, but hopefully it’ll pick up soon. In the mean time I’m seeking out stuff to fill up my inspiration pot. Here are three things I wanted to share with you:
bferry.wordpress.com
A great blog saturated with European aesthetic.

I’m also obsessed with Bon Iver’s new album “Bon Iver”, which is gorgeous. Cinematic. Intimate. I realize I’m very picky with the music I truly love. There’s a lot of music I really like, but the albums that make me wanna listen over and over again come around perhaps every four years…! This time it is Bon Iver that plays on repeat in my head.

And lastly, I’ve been watching “In Treatment” and I’m hooked! And amazed that I can be hooked on something that’s purely based on two people talking with each other. It’s all about story and the actors’ performance. The work of Gabriel Byrne and Mia Wasikowska especially stand out. It’s such a bold move by HBO and I’m so happy to see that a show like that can work in this restless age where we’re bombarded with fast paced story lines and special effects. Watching “In Treatment” makes you slow down and listen. And yet it’s never boring.

Anything that inspires you?


Zelda

When working in film and TV I feel that I very often have less time than what I need to be satisfied with what I’ve made. Sadly this sometimes makes you settle for good, when if you had more time it could be great. That being said, I do think that having a deadline is good for my productivity. It makes me actually finish stuff. A lot of stuff. But sometimes it is nice to have the rare chance to dig deeper and take my time. This is the situation I’m in right now. I’ve been asked to write a piece for a concert that’s gonna be based on the themes from the Zelda video games. I feel honored and intimidated by this, but mostly I’m really enjoying the chance to write something for an 80 piece orchestra and that I can take my time doing it. I listened through all the themes (over 700 pieces of music!) and have picked two that I’ll combine in a 5 minute piece. The great thing also this time is that I get to work with an orchestrator for the first time. This is a new experience for me, but I love that I can hand something over to someone who will make it sound right. I find that I like to give as much information as possible and that the orchestration is a big part of the composition, but I know that the orchestrator will lift it to a level that would be hard for me to do on my own.
My friend and awesome composer Chad Seiter is writing the majority of the music for the concert (in fact he’s writing a whole symphony). Here’s a video from when the concert was announced at the E3 conference a short while ago:
(The music is written by Chad).


Whiskey and country

I don’t quite know how this happened, but I recently won two very manly and therefore unexpected commercials. I guess as the only girl in the sea of male composers I compete with, I sometimes have to step up and dig a little extra deep (or whatever) to get in touch with my masculine side. So out came two tracks; a good old country track for a grocery store in the southern part of the US called HEB and a bluesy, slightly ragged track for the whiskey brand Maker’s Mark.


Time to buy a cowboy hat.


The Hemispherectomy Foundation

Even though I love my job, I sometimes feel that it’s a bit self serving and not necessarily something that gives a lot back to society. I’m not saying music and entertainment isn’t important, cause it is, but I’m sure the world would also do just fine without my commercial tracks…!

Which is why it’s great every once in a while to get to contribute to something that really matters. I just wrote the music for an informational video for families affected by hemispherectomies, a rare surgical procedure performed on young kids who are suffering from various neurological disorders. The surgery involves basically removing half of the child’s brain and the goal is to do it as early as possible, preferably by age 3. That way they are young enough to develop the remaining half of the brain to compensate for the part that’s removed. I personally got to meet the son of the producers of this film, who underwent this surgery when he was only 18 months old. Now he is 4 and running around and talking. It’s simply amazing!

There are only approximately 200 hemispherectomies performed world wide every year. Because of this, a lot of parents going through this have naturally never met anyone else who have gone through the same. Hopefully they can find helpful information and support at http://hemifoundation.intuitwebsites.com and hear other parents talk about their experience through this video:


I’m Lovin’ It

OK, that’s cheesy, I know. But that’s how I feel about life and work right now. And I got to sing in a McDonald’s commercial for oatmeal recently, which I got a kick out of. You can see it here: (The music is written by one of the other staff composers at work, Robert Lopez.)

My new job is keeping me really busy. I’ve worked on 12 commercials in the new year so far, and I’m really enjoying being in the same building as other creative people so that we can collaborate with each other and play with all kinds of new toys. I get to play piano and sing on a bunch of commercials. Everything happens so fast, and sometimes I wish I had more time to tweak my tracks, but in this industry I usually get less than a day to write something. It’s still inspiring to feel that I can come up with decent music in less time now than when I got started. It really is a craft and like anything else, the more you do it, the better and faster you get. We’re like a music machine! There is so much music and creativity coming through every single day at Hum.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the premiere of “First Dates”, the comedy short that I scored last summer. You can see the trailer here (I didn’t score the trailer):

I thought it came together really well and enjoyed watching it with an audience. Comedies really come to life when you can laugh with a whole group of people.
On a more personal note -- I had my first star encounter at the premiere. As a 12-year-old I saw “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, which made a really strong impression on me. Super creepy! Anyways, the girl who plays the daughter in that movie (and who now plays in Californication and Heroes), is one of the actresses in First Dates. So it was kind of surreal to get to shake Madeline Zima’s hand at the premiere! Little did I know all those years ago..!

Before I wish you a good weekend -- any “The Social Network” fans out there? I guess that’s a stupid question. Everyone seems to love this movie. Personally I thought the movie was good, but not as great as everybody else thinks, partially because the subject matter wasn’t that interesting to me. But I thought the score was amazing! It felt like the score was another character. There was such insistence, presence and confidence, in lack of a better way to put it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard such a fresh approach to a score. Any other opinions about this out there?

God helg!