The script for my recital depicts an urban fantasy setting where spirits exist alongside humans in Yurahi, the modernised city of spirits built in a valley. These spirits are heavily inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's spirits from "Spirited Away", with the world building particularly inspired by "Naussica: Valley of the Wind", with the exception being that it's a more modern era. The character dynamics were inspired by "Avatar: The Last Airbender", with two high school students being gifted the powers of the spirits of balance - Yin & Yang - so that they may carry out their duties as Spirit Hosts to balance upset / corrupted spirits.
Our main protagonists are Chase Withers and Asim Essa. When creating this story and world, these two characters were the first thing I drew and fleshed out. Chase Withers is a snarky, high school loner, and since she isn't the smartest cookie and comes from a poor family, she gets quickly defensive around her peers . However, at home, she has a strong family life. She asks her little sister, Mei, for help with her homework and encourages her with her own academic endeavours. Not only that, she has hobbies outside of school such as training in martial arts, which is supported by her Aunt Jackie. Here, we see her relaxed and warm, especially with her little sister. This dichotomy between her home life and school life serves to directly contrast our other main protagonist, Asim Essa.
Asim Essa is smart, charming, and wealthy, making him very popular at school. He's confident, if not a bit arrogant, and often has to be lectured by his more emotionally mature boyfriend, Yoshizumi (AKA Yoshi) when it comes to social tact. However, this completely changes with his life at home being quiet and cold. We find out that he is his father's carer and that due to his mother's fame, he rarely sees her. This striking contrast helps Asim and Chase be fantastic foils for one another when they are forced to work together in the narrative, and helps them help each other.
They are not opposites; they simply balance out the other, as Yin & Yang do.
Throughout the script, the trio of Asim, Chase & Yoshi try to figure out how to calm down the Spirit of Manners, who has taken to possessing the school students and staff after being corrupted by Chase & Asim's arguments and rudeness to one another. This plot and premise allows me to draw many musical parallels between the characters, spirits and setting without overcrowding the episode and I'm excited to tackle the score!
Overall, I'm proud of the work I've done with the script, characters and world building as I feel like I've taken what I loved from all the anime inspired media I consumed as a kid and distilled it into something new and original that I made.
Image by Robin McMahon (Chase & Asim's older 2020 character designs) - if you're interested in their art, look up their instagram tag @hollowchimes. Full script PDF can be found just below!
Link to my sound mastering assignment to master an "EP" including one of my own reocrdings / Mixes (for which I re-recorded "Close For Comfort" with live string players).
Sound Mastering EP Assignment 2021
Here is the first draft of the dialogue between Yoshi, Chase & Asim (our three main protagonists). The recording of Asim & Chase has been recorded separately in the sound studio on the 27th of May 2021 with two waapa students providing the voices. Yoshi's lines were originally recorded back in January 3rd 2021 and I'm planning to re-record his lines so that the actor can match the energy that Chase & Asim's actor's are providing.
The soundcloud link can be found just below:
Gradient Scene 5 Dialogue Draft 1
My 3rd year recital presentation, describing my animatic with a live score performed to it and the process of working with the animators and writing the script & music / sound.
Below are the rough drafts of the technical and logistical requirements for my recital in the Richard Gill Auditorium. The proposed night is Friday the 19th of November alongside Remal, who's composition recital will be using a similar set up to mine with the projector and an ensemble.
Due to the COVID lockdown during mid semester, we had to postpone / cancel many of the sound spectrum concerts, including the ecuatorial concert I was going to perform my piece at. I rehearsed with Raph, Belinda and Hanae for a Piano, Clarinet and Viola trio called "Young Truth". This piece is an extended character theme for one of the main characters in my recital named "Yoshizumi". Of the three main characters, he is the level headed and emotionally mature member of the group - the "literature driven, emotionally chill drama kid" as my visual director for my recital.
We were forced to record in a rehearsal room as when I showed up for my sound studio booking, the grand piano was removed from the room. So I had to improvise and ask a favour from the loan store guys at WAAPA, as they provided me an interface, two XLR cables, two microphones and two microphone stands. We were very lucky to find an available rehearsal room during study week on such short notice and the recording went very well, especially with Ethan Bellhouse's help in setting up and packing down.
What was really cool about this is that the animators were finishing the final character designs for Yoshi when I was finishing the compositional piece. When we had our next discord meeting, we shared our files and were pleasantly surprised with how well the visuals of the character and the soundscape matched up. You can see the character design here (including the animators notes on how to avoid drawing harmful stereotypes when drawing characters of diverse backgrounds).
Here is a link to the final piece:
Soundcloud Young Truth
For my recital, I've been working with a team of animators with two of them taking up the roles of "visual directors". They've been amazing so far in teaching me about the design process and taking charge by leading the other animators. We created a discord server as a space where we can have meetings, stream designs and share references for environment and character style guides.
My role so far has been to oversee most of the process and make sure that the vision is as cohesive and faithful to what I've written as possible. But other than that, I'm not really needed for anything else. So instead, I've been recording voice actors and drafting ideas for how to approach the composition process for the score. Since writing 20 minutes of music feels like a daunting task, I've broken it down into 5 different themes and motives that span across the episode (as seen in the picture below).
By doing this, it limits the amount of musical content I have to generate and is easier to approach than by simply writing music for a scene I haven't SEEN yet. Most of what this is doing is laying down the ground work for composing to early storyboards when I get them. However, certain sections of the episode e.g. "Scene 3 Welcome to Yurahi" will be montages, therefore the music will have to come before the storyboards (as it will have to be specifically timed to the music).
The next piece of music that I'm aiming to create will be the final battle music as actions scenes act in a similar way to montage scenes as timing and editing to the music is crucial to make it feel impactful. As seen above, this will utilise the Yurahi and Balance themes within it (so I'm already familiar with the thematic basis of the scene).
The next discord meeting with the animators will be on the 9th of May where we will show the final character designs, the beginning drafts of the set / environment designs and will begin to plan the thumb nailing process (ie the early storyboard drafts).
This year, I've been fortunate enough to be listed as a finalist in the WSO composition competition. The piece I've submitted to be workshopped by the Waapa Symphony Orchestra is one I've planned to include in my recital, titled "Yurahi: The City of Balance". It features the thematic motive for the fantasy setting of the story I've written for my recital. The theme develops across four sections through the lens of the young protagonists and how they view the city: The music follows their heroes journey.
The first section starts off slow and grand but quickly shifts gear into a bright and lively 6/4 focused on percussion and woodwind. This helps convey the excitement and novelty of this vibrant city, similar to how Hogwarts Castle affects Harry and his friends.
The second section warms with the introduction of the strings and brass, becoming more grounded as it switches to 4/4 (counted as a 2/4 beat). This shows how the characters have settled into the city as their new home.
The third section uses the extremes of the pitch spectrum, leaving an uncomfortable amount of sonic space. The vibraphone, marimba and harp play the same motive in different keys, revealing a deeper corruption within the city. This climaxes with a dissonant, orchestral hit as the characters have their world view turned upside down.
The fourth section cools down with a few solo instruments including harp, clarinet and glockenspiel. This softer more contemplative atmosphere then builds to a crescendo as the protagonists accept their home for what it is and resolve to fight for it to make it better. As you can imagine, this is where the full orchestra joins back in to kick butt.
This piece finishes, returning to it's humble beginnings with solo harp and flute. The protagonists have passed on the city to the next generation and the cycle begins a new.
My plan is to record the workshop and use it to take notes on how well different sections work for different moods and atmospheres. I will use the recording in my recital to bolster the sound of the live ensemble and make it sound as grand and cinematic as possible (i.e. I'll use it as a backing track with live instrumentalists).
I forgot to post this here last semester, so I thought it'd be a good idea to do so now.
This piece is an experiment on the themes, motives and overall atmosphere of the musical landscape for the world and characters of an urban fantasy narrative I've been building this year. Below is fan art of the two lead protagonists ,courtesy of the artist Hollow Chimes, Chase & Asim, who have newly stepped into the role of hosts for the Yin & Yang spirits: The Spirits of Balance.
The score and all its parts can be found below as a PDF.
For this one, since the brief was far more open ended, I went with a more or less Binary form and took inspiration for Clara Schumann's scores for piano and voice as they were very dynamic and interesting to me.
I struggled a bit with trying to nail the right atmosphere for a classical piece and have a feeling I may have just missed the mark as it sounds more "Music Theatre" inspired than an authentic romantic piece. This may be because of the pedalled and suspended piano harmony in the B section of the piece, but when analysing romantic scores, I saw suspended harmonies often enough to warrant it in this regard.
We were also required to include chromatic harmony which I did so through including a flat major VII chord in the A section and switching the tone quality of the IV to a vi in the B section. I could have pushed this a little more to the foreground but was held back by time constraints as well as my desire to keep the piece as flowing as possible.
The lyrics I wrote were inspired by the story of Narcissus and how in our day and age, masculine insecurities about appearances are often invalidated or misinterpreted by social media. So I wrote a song about a woman trying to tell her insecure spouse how much she loves him and wishes he could see him through her eyes.
I'm a WA Fremantle based singer-songwriter / composer. Here, you can have a gawk at my studies, compositions and performances.