Monday, August 4, 2014

Olafur Arnalds

So. I thought I might as well introduce you to some of my favoritest music ever.

Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic composer and instrumentalist. He primarily just plays piano in performances but often has an accompanying band of several strings and sometimes another on the keys playing synth. His music is often described as "neoclassical" but speaking in pop culture terms it's more of an ambient experimental electronic. Yeah ... it's a lot easier to listen to than classify.

So, I suppose I'll show you two of my favorite tracks of his (so as not to waste too much of your time, especially in the case that you don't care for it) and if you like him enough you can explore the rest of his work.

This first one is from his "Living Room Songs" a small 7 track album he released for free to the public. He also uploaded videos of the performances to his YouTube channel, which is really cool. Here's my favorite track:

If you're interested, the entire album can be downloaded from his site, here.

The second is a track from the soundtrack to a British detective drama miniseries he scored.

Well there you have it. Olafur Arnalds. As you'll hear, his music is slower moving than most modern stuff, and so if you find it somewhat boring, no worries. I think it's just capital.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bad Music

Several months ago I discovered the Portsmouth Sinfonia, an orchestral experiment put together by a group of students in the 1970s at the Portsmouth School of Art in England. Anyone was allowed to join the orchestra, regardless of their musical talent, ability, or experience. Though their last public performance was in 1979, many of their infamous recordings can be found online for everyone's "enjoyment" (I use the term very loosely). To me, these recordings are absolutely hilarious to listen to. But to each his own.

As I've thought about it, I think part of what I find humorous about it comes simply from being a composer. Often in the industry of film music, there is a common assumption that live recordings, as opposed to sampled mock-ups, are always 100% better. Not to say that live performance is not superior, 99% of the time it is indeed--but it's important to note that a sloppy or badly performed recording can be just as damaging to a piece of music as a cheap mock-up. A fellow composer, Rick Holets, put it so:

"It is interesting to note that an amateur orchestra with unskilled players can completely destroy the performance of a classic, time-proven and loved piece of music. In the same way, it should be expected that poorly executed virtual mock-ups (often the final product in our world) can be just as devastating to musicality, quality, and emotiveness of a piece."

Of course, some modernists like to cheekily push the envelope and ask: is badly performed music really bad? And with that:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Treble Makers

Sometimes when I am in the middle of scoring a picture (or otherwise) oftentimes it's nice to have a side project of my own which usually consists of a genre of music utterly different from that of the main project. It's like having a barrel of wine I can tap whenever I grow weary of working on the same thing for too long. For instance, currently I'm in the middle of composing bespoke music for some educational curriculum. The type of music required is of a very grand orchestral nature, so in contrast the particular vintage as of late has been a little folk melody I actually composed several years ago and recently decided to arrange for a small pit band (of sorts). Though small ensembles are rather difficult to replicate with synthesized instruments, due to the intricate tone of solo instruments, I'm actually rather pleased with how this short little piece turned out. The band consists of a tin whistle, trumpet, upright piano, tuba, harmonium (pump organ), cello, and double bass.

Check it out!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fellow Composers

Back in February of this year I had the opportunity to participate in a young film composer discussion with my good friend Andrew Gerlicher (the host), Kristen Personius and James Everingham (also pals of mine), and the multi-talented composer and filmmaker George Streicher. Great fun for a guy like me. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to dig in to other like-minded musician's minds and discover their personal thoughts and approaches to the the world of modern film music. The job of a composer can often be quite isolating and so it can be strangely comforting finding other people who think and feel similarly about music and its creation.

When you have an hour to spare, check out the exchange! (Note: some colorful language).

In the wake of the recent shutdown of Vision Forum Ministries--resulting in the cancellation all future events including the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival--a new festival has arisen in San Antonio. The Christian Worldview Film Festival. One of the highlight events of this year's new festival was a short film scoring competition. What that meant was that Philip Telfer--the founder of the festival--provided a short film he had produced, thus far having no soundtrack. Any available composer (for a fee of 35 silver cartwheels) could sign up for the competition and subsequently receive a digital copy of the partially completed film, which he could score in any way he pleased--though any smart one would heed the direction of the minimal notes provided by the director. I had an available slot to fill in my schedule, signed up and a few weeks later mailed in my submission with a week to spare before the deadline. On the evening of March 15, at the awards ceremony of the CWFF they announced the winner. Though I didn't win, my friend and fellow member of the Rhapsodize Music Network Bradley Jamrozik did! And plus, I did make it as one of the six finalists of the competition, which is great. You can watch the short film with my score submission on the CWFF website if you like.

Also here is just the soundtrack:



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hiatus, or not?

Where to begin?  I haven't been very active on this blog for many months.  Should I return and continue posting, or abandon this site to be lost in the crevices of the interwebs?

Lots has happened since my last visit here.  I scored yet another short film; revised the score to Gabriel Everson's short film Unmerited (which I originally composed in May of this year); joined the forces of seven other composers in producing a cinematic album of Christmas music; and begun collaboration with composer James Everingham of the UK.

So back in August of this year, up-and-coming director Michael Payne Jr. had posted on an online forum about needing a composer to work on his short film Jamie Douglas: A Scottish Martyr.  I messaged him, we talked about what he was thinking music-wise, and before I knew it I was composing full speed ahead on the score!  The film is a historical drama based in The Killing Time of Scotland (1600s) and, as the name implies, follows the life of a young martyr.  As you can imagine, the film provided a setting for some very dark, heavy music.  The trick, though, was not in creating a dark soundscape, but in using this darkness as a contrast to light and ultimate victory.

The film has not yet been released, but it should up on YouTube for free viewing pretty soon.  For now, you can listen to the soundtrack on my SoundCoud page (I've embedded it below) and even buy it on BandCamp!  (It's only $5.00).

For more details on the film and to see the trailer, visit

Moving on.

Rehashing old work is never fun, but after Gabriel Everson re-edited Unmerited, a revision of the score so it could fit the new edit was a must.  It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I did it.  The film is now available for public viewing online, so I have it embedded below.

Right after finishing up the final touches on Unmerited, I moved straight into making an orchestral arrangement of the traditional carol "Greensleeves" to be published in the cinematic Christmas album Exaltation: A Cinematic Christmas Collection.  This was a very exciting project to work on and was the first collaborative music project put together by composers exclusively from the Rhapsodize Music Network.  Every one of us had different skill sets and thus were able to contribute to the production of the album in different ways.  The album is now available for purchase on iTunes, CD Baby, Google Play, and pretty much any other place that sells music online.  The still time to get it before the holidays are over!

Last but definitely not least, I have been collaborating with composer James Everingham of Bristol, UK in producing a few tracks for his music licensing company.  My jobs have primarily been orchestration and programming (basically, making the orchestral parts of the music sound realistic).  So far, you can hear one of these tracks which he's published on his SoundCloud page:

Working with him has been great fun and I hope to collaborate more with him in the future!

Well, that about wraps it up!  I hope you've enjoyed these ramblings on my latest endeavors.  Heck, I might just have to keep up this little blog.


- Daniel

Friday, July 5, 2013


It's been awhile, but things have been busy lately!   Which is very good.  On the 13th of May I headed down to Charleston, South Carolina to compose the score to a short drama film directed by Gabriel Everson.  Unfortunately, the film is yet to made available for public viewing, so I can't show it to you yet.  But I do have one track from the soundtrack online.  So you get a better idea of what the music is attempting to convey, this particular track is from a part of the film where a man is forgiving wrongs done to him by his own brother.  Dramatic.

Any thoughts?


Thursday, March 28, 2013


In recent times I've been working to increase the amount of genres I can compose with confidence.  I naturally tend towards drama and epic, but if I'm going to be versatile, I need to be confident in all manner of music.  I've already tried my hand at Jazz, which thus far has turned out okay.  But one of the cinematic genres which I previously had never composed much anything in was comedy.

Just recently I had the opportunity to score a short comedy sketch.  Tada.  I had about four minutes of music to compose in just under a week, which really, is quite reasonable.  But it was a stretch for me, in a good way, noting my previous inexperience in the genre.  The director liked what I came up with.

You can watch the sketch here if you like:

Before I worked on the score of this sketch I had written a comedic theme, potential for a future piece.  I  tried to incorporate it into the sketch but it never really seemed to fit very well.  So now, I've made a comedy piece out of it.