Benedict Roff-Marsh

Unmade Movies

Unmade Movies: music that represents movies that don’t exist is me flexing my melodic & descriptive muscles again. Each piece attempts to describe the sort of score (soundtrack) I might write for this sort of movie.

Not managing to get any commissions to make real movie soundtracks lately I have to do the next best thing and make em up!

  1. Bring My Boy Back – is that typical, overly-dramatic, telemovie where a woman rushes around trying to get people to take her seriously whilst her child is missing.
  2. A New York Night – should seem big and brash like “Staying Alive” but this is more of a Woody Allen affair built around subtlety and those nuances unique to certain large cities.
  3. Girl From Peking – aims straight at a reimaging of the 50’s style of love story with an exotic twist.
  4. Swords for the North – sounds like lots of action but sadly most of it happens with Kings & Barons endlessly shouting at each other between flapping of bed sheets. TV Soapie wrapped in Fantasy garb. Gotta be a hit.
  5. Montana Mountain Man – is pure 60’s style Cowboy romance but made in the 80’s for TV. A guilty pleasure either way.
  6. Space Station Five-0 – ran for only one season before being axed in favor of a cooking show. Was all but forgotten for 10 years but suddenly the Retrowave kids think it is the bee’s knees.
  7. Walther – an old TV gumshoe with a worn face but a solid heart for justice & right; as well as his spunky driver, Hollywell West.
  8. Father Time – A Romantic Comedy that fails to have any funny moments but is still incredibly touching. Probably based on a book written by someone like Annie Proulx and is really about the woman’s relationship with her deceased father (which leaves the men all rather irrelevant, but thankfully very good looking).

*usually it is a daughter but that’s just too cliche, let women fight for their sons for a change

There is a nice review of the album at Drooble. Here’s a bit:

Unmade Movies features nine vast synth-based soundscapes in the vein of Berlin School music but with a more contemporary digital sound and production. And his album has it all – from urban inspired atmospheres (“A New York Night”) to the more playful melody-driven “Swords for the North” to the vast and cosmic “Space Station Five-0”. The record is a varying listen, most of the pieces are lengthy with some spanning over 12 minutes. The briefer ones are still multi-layered and interesting.

Production Notes

Movie soundtracks (and other scores) recently have tended in two main frustrating directions:

  • The biggie has been James Horner and particularly Hans Zimmer who did/do grand work but all the copiers who think that music is about making a big noise instead of understanding the role of narrative. This has lead to far too many Zimmer-framed MIDI orchestras that rely on a few sample library presets like Action Strings to make every section pulse, pulse, pulse. But melody & Story are abandoned.
  • The other is to insert those droopy “modern” songs that sound so faux. I am getting through a pleasant enough movie then it all comes crashing down as I have to wade through some assinine warbler on AutoTune because they can’t sing, let alone carry any real emotion. Mostly they are cheap unreleased tracks found online, so we aren’t even getting something like Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” to rouse us.

I wanted to build on the feelings I have had for more genuine melodic development and even pseudo-orchestral sounds. I am tempted by orchestral sample libraries but the things I have generally leave me feeling pretty cold as they are so static.

Maybe they aren’t good enough and I need to buy several somethings that cost from $300 to $800 each, but I am not a fan of gear lust. Especially seeing I would probably go straight back to making my own synth sounds anyway. Instead, I watch videos on YouTube and try to apply what I learn to my synthesis “performance”.

Maybe that limits my commercial appeal but really, why invest when there doesn’t seem to be a return anyway. The upside is my “sound” really is uniquely mine – for better or worse.

Most pieces I made from a clear melodic idea that I built up using time-honored Variations to flesh out the whole piece. I even made a set of videos walking through making “Swords for the North”.

I was also a lot more considered in my use of Chord Progressions and even Key & Scale! Sounds odd as they are the fundamentals of music but I have winged it so much in the past that I wanted to try a more structured approach. I liked it a lot I must say. Using the structure helps me deliver what I want instead of limiting. Who’d a thunk!

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