Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Since I last wrote in this section back in June of last year, a LOT has happened. Not necessarily from a musical standpoint, but in life. The most significant change in my life over the past nine months was the passing of my father, Mark, after a year and a half of heart trouble. That put my plans for my October composing practice, which included releasing an album’s worth of horror-inspired pieces, many of which I would write during the month, on hold for a year, and resulted in a lot of changes in terms of how things were getting done around the house, but as the months have passed, and this “new normal” has settled into routine, it’s become time to focus on the future, and if I have any say about it at all, it’s going to include a life as a composer or creative artist.

What does that future entail? Well, rather than trying to focus specifically on one particular area in which to shift my career into, I’m looking at several. As many of you may remember, my major at Georgia State University was not composition, but Sound Recording in the Music Industry track; when I really began composing was in Fall 1998, when I took the first of two MIDI courses, and my musical creativity exploded from there. The only real composition-based courses I took were in my fifth year, when I took two semesters of composing lessons, as well as courses in Instrumentation and Orchestration. By that point, I had some open room available in my schedule, and was able to indulge the composing bug that had taken hold two years prior. All of my internships, meanwhile, were in studios (or the GSU Recital Hall, where I worked the last two years of my time at GSU). When I graduated, however, it was difficult to find placement in my “major” field on my own, and in November, I ended up taking a job at a local movie theatre. The rest, as they say, is history, and I’ve been at said theatre ever since. Over twelve years later, though, it’s more obvious to me than ever that it’s time to move on– that industry has changed in many dramatic ways, and with so many new methods of content distribution, those changes aren’t always good for job security. Best to get out now than wait for the rug to be pulled out from under you.

But trying to get into the recording industry, so long after graduating college, is just as tricky as it was back in 2001. More so, because there’s a dozen or so years of my life in which I have no professional experience in a studio environment, and in terms of my film music projects, they were either personal projects, or ones my friends at the theatre were working on, and while I think they are a good representation of what I’m capable of as a film composer, they are very, very independent and amateur efforts, and in the case of my work, incomplete. The past few weeks, I have been sending my resume out to studios around town expressing interest in getting into recording, and maybe even sound design. Unfortunately, responses have been few and far between. But this time, I’m not going to just give up and settle like I did twelve years ago, although I hesitate to dismiss my time at the theatre as settling because it gave me friends; opportunities to work in the projection booth (another interest of mine that, unfortunately, became obsolete when we went all digital in 2011); people and chances that inspired me to continue composing, and really hone my craft; chances to grow and come out of my shell a bit; and last, but certainly not least, introducing me to the woman who have been my girlfriend for the past 14-plus months. Life has been very, very good to me since 2001, even if it didn’t always seem that way. Now, it’s time to put myself in a position that allows for long-term satisfaction in terms of career, and work on putting a bow on my blossoming personal happiness.

This week, one of the music “connection” site email lists I belong to pointed me to an opportunity that is intriguing…online classes. The Berklee College of Music, which I first heard about when I got stuff from them my senior year of high school, offers a specialty certificate program in Orchestrating and Producing Music for Film and Games online consisting of three 12-week classes. Doing some looking into it, I gotta say– this is the type of thing that is perfect for me because it hits on my exact desires for what I want to do, and does so in a way I’ll be able to maximize my time while still working full-time at the theatre. This is happening, starting in early April. I always said that if I went back to school, it was going to be for something I was passionate about. I guess that time is now. I’m quite excited about it.

In terms of my musical growth as a composer, not much has happened of note since I had to postpone my “October Horror” album this past Halloween after my father died, which I chronicled here. Back in June, though, I did mention that I had started writing a piece for a band orchestration. Once the Fall got started, and the Summer wound down, that work got put aside, but I began fresh with some sketches and motifs a few weeks ago, and started orchestrating and writing the piece, putting pen to paper, this past week. This is the biggest work, from an orchestration standpoint, I’ve worked with in about 10 years, since my 2007 album, “Sonic Visions of a New Old West”, and I’m curious to see how I do with it, and I hope you are, also.

On the album front, I have two goals this year: 1) the “October Horror” compilation, titled “The Cold Wind of Horror”, that got put off in 2013; and 2) the long-in-limbo release of the more-classical “‘Five Stages’…and other pieces from the heart”. That second one has been a long-time coming, and requires some live performances of parts before that gets released, especially with the titular suite. On the “Five Stages Suite”, composed in 1999, I’ve got every part recorded but the three string parts. The catch is, those recorded parts are on Hi-8 tape, as I never got those transferred to .wav files at Georgia State. That will need to be done, in addition to finding people to record the last few parts. (If anyone has leads that can help me with either in the Atlanta area, that would be awesome.) Given recent events, though, I have decided, for the first time, to share the MIDI-recorded version of the suite in it’s entirety. Few people have really heard the entire thing, and this will be the only time I make the MIDI version available. You can hear it at the links below.

“Five Stages Suite” (1999)
Mvmt I: Denial
Mvmt II: Anger
Mvmt III: Bargaining
Mvmt IV: Depression
Mvmt V: Acceptance

Well, that’s all she wrote for today. Don’t forget, I’ve got a lot of music available at the links below and at places like Amazon and iTunes, as well as the Music page on Sonic Cinema. I hope you take the time to listen to it, and good or bad, feedback is always welcome.

Thanks for listening,

Brian Skutle
“Creative Beginnings” at CDBaby
“Dark Experiments” at CDBaby
“Sonic Visions of a New Old West” at CDBaby
“Beyond the Infinite: A Musical Odyssey” at CDBaby
“Storytelling” at CDBaby
“Arpeggiations & Atmospheres” on BandCamp

Categories: News, News - Music

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