Posted on: Saturday, March 8th, 2014
This afternoon, you can see and hear how four of St. John’s best musicians would score one of Canada’s best documentaries.
Oh, and Rae Spoon will be there, too.
My Prairie Home, directed by Chelsea McMullan, follows singer-songwriter Rae Spoon as they travel back to the Canadian prairies where they grew up. The musical-documentary tells the story of Rae’s struggles coming of age in a strictly kept house flanked by grain silos and churches.
We gave three short clips of My Prairie Home to Mark Bragg, Joanna Barker, Alison Corbett and Matthew J Thomson (seriously, have you heard his album?). They wrote music for each of the three scenes.
This afternoon, we’ll play the scored scenes and they’ll discuss the process with Rae Spoon. If you’re a filmmaker, a musician, or just a lover of film and music, you’re going to want to head to the Hall for 1pm to check it out. You can buy tickets here.
Here are the musicians on their film scoring experiences.
You’re composing three scenes ranging from 0.48s to 2.5 minutes — which one is the most challenging?
Every scene has it’s own challenges. In this case for the first two
tracks I opted to go with “Songs” as opposed to just music, so the
challenge for these is in the lyrics, writing lyrics that capture the
mood of the scene but aren’t so narrative as to mess with the flow of
So, in order to keep the lyrics “out of the picture”, I’m focusing on locations (Calgary, Alberta, etc) and imagery supporting that, as opposed to the real subject of the film (Rae). It would be completely presumptuous to
write about anything else I think! My goal here is to complement and
What’s the biggest challenge so far?
Apart from working with limited video segments and time constraints which is all very new for me, I’d say the biggest challenge has been creating for something I felt very outside of. This documentary is a very personal story. I don’t know Rae Spoon. I haven’t even seen the full doc. I kind of felt like, ‘Who am I to participate in this story?’. I was really aware of being sensitive to the fact that this isn’t my story to tell. I just needed to write music. So getting into a head space where I could create appropriate work to accompany their work – it was challenging.
What gear/method/process are you going with?
Gear: Pro Tools, mics and preamps to track the songs.
Instruments used are acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass, organ, Rhodes, drums and glockenspiel.
My method is to first watch each scene to get a feel/mood for it. Next is to figure out the pace or bpm of the scene. I also pay attention to what may he the most “important” clips of the scene to figure out how the song should move and be accented throughout the shoots.
How’s it going with your film score composing?
The process has been stressful, fun, and inspired! A quick deadline gets my creative ideas flowing, including doing some musical numerology with the name Rae Spoon and working it into a composition.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Biggest challenge so far was matching my composition for the dance scene to their movements. I wanted to be pretty precise about how the music matches the movement but also wanted the composition to have its own inherently cohesive structure.
The most challenging scene so far has been the shortest scene. The compositions for the opening scene and the dance scene realized themselves very quickly, but I have yet to settle on something for the short scene. Film music should obviously accompany the visuals, but I am interested in having a composition that matches the tone of the images while having its own structure, as well. I think this is hard to achieve (but totally possible!) in 0.48s!