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The Composition Process

Joshua Iyer

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Published: March 31, 2014 at 2:39 AM [UTC]

Now that the weather is finally improving, I'm able to go for walks again outside. This afternoon at about 1:45pm I went out to a lake trail by my house. It's really nice, as there are usually people out and about, or children playing on playgrounds. While I walked, I could clearly hear the orchestra of birds singing at many various times. The sky was a picturesque blue, and it wasn't too warm or cold. And here is the origin of "The King of the Aliens: Main Title".

Mr. Burck graciously provided me with a book called "The Complete Guide to Film Scoring" from Berklee College of Music in Boston. It's a really nice book that has a very thorough description of the processes I will partake in the future after college. I'm not too worried about all that now, but I did take a look at some of the sections about the music itself, which I am working on with "The King of the Aliens". One thing I didn't have that the book said I should is a "main titles" theme that would play at the beginning of the film and basically represent it. So, on my walk today, I sat down on a bench overlooking the lake, hearing the birds behind me and dogs barking as they scampered across the path, and, pencil in hand, I started to write down some ideas. I weaved in a solo violin part throughout: another piece of music to practice on violin for recording sessions in the summer before releasing the film and its soundtrack. I worked on one page, got up, walked all around the lake, and came back with new ideas. This is one way I like to write my music - outside, with the birds.

The next step is to orchestrate the piece on the computer, so when I got home (it was about 4pm!) I did just that. I spent about two and a half hours working diligently. The solo violin part could be read more easily; the strings chords were broken up into their parts. I also extended the piano part I had, and added a full choir. This piece is built much like some of my others: it starts softer, with less instrumentation, and slowly builds into a full orchestral setting.

I printed out the solo violin part and put it in my binder to practice for later. Basically, I'm going to keep practicing and eventually record it for the film. So when you see the film and hear my violin Amber singing strong... This makes me so excited!! Additionally, if I created a medley of music, I would certainly include this piece at the beginning, and if we were to play the medley as a real orchestra at school or wherever, the piece would be performed on-stage.

And that, in a nutshell, is one of the best processes ever, in my opinion, and is something that really excites me about my life as a composer (both in the present and mostly in the future): that a piece of music that came from a sketch in a notebook I wrote outside could develop into an orchestral thing to be played at a concert hall somewhere. Sure, it's also great to hear it with the context of the film, recorded, as you see the film, but I feel like it also extends to if the piece were played live. (And also, just being able to, no matter where or when I'm playing it, hold my violin in my hands and play this music I composed, thinking of how it started as pencil sketches in a notebook written outside will be a really cool thought when it occurs. I'm not sure why, but that process is just so incredible to me, and is something I will strive to do with the rest of my pieces I have for the score for "The King of the Aliens". One theme I'm planning on doing will basically represent a forest, so that will be a good one to compose one morning in April or May. Anyways, hope you enjoyed! Keep watch for the film around August, as well as future entries discussing it! :)

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