Thought I’d share a new track. As some here may know already, I’ve been spending the last few months studying the “Golden Age of Hollywood” style of orchestral composition. I decided that I wanted to write a suite of pieces, at least three, in this style and this is the first one. Of course it’s odd that it’s titled as number 2, it’s just because this is the first one I finished, but the sequence is supposed to be, I. Main Title, II. Love Theme, III. Ending Credits. I was inspired by Lyndon Hardy’s old fantasy novel, “Master of the Five Magics” for these pieces.
So for this, I studied and analyzed pieces by Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang von Korngold, Miklos Rosza and also Takahiko Sahashi. While Sahashi isn’t actually a Golden Age composer, his style is very much rooted in that style, especially on the soundtrack for the Full Metal Panic anime series.
This actually was a nightmare for me to compose because the I found to get that old “love theme” sound, the harmony needed to go all over the place–it’s very chromatic and contrary. Instead of happy, good feeling sounds, it required darker, more dissonant sounds like diminished and major 7th chords and I also found that the Phrygian scale gives it a nice romantic feeling. Not sure why that is
Structurally, it starts in D major for the intro theme, then to E major for a variation (a mistake on my part–meant to go to A but I made it work somehow!) then back to d major with a progression of G# major - E major - G# major second inversion - D major. Then I modulate to A major for the outro. Mostly in 2/2 meter, although I could have used 4/4 and gotten the same result, I used 2/2 mainly as a cue in the score for the musicians, letting them know the piece should be slower and sweeping in tempo–adagio con dolcezza, 74bpm.
solo Bb clarinet
2 horns in F
timpani, crash cymbal
Very nice writing, Matt! I think you captured the feel you were going for extremely well!
The balance between “happy, good feeling sounds” and a touch of angst and yearning dissonance is an honest reflection of human love. It’s is always a blend of both ends of the spectrum. That’s what makes this, as I just said, feel “human”. Its what makes this cue resonate with the listener.
Keep up the great writing! Always good to hear your work!
Thanks so much for the critique Stan! I think you have a very interesting philosophy here. I admit that when I wrote this, I wasn’t trying to express my own emotions, but just trying to portray this Golden Age style I’ve hear so many times to the best of my ability. But I think you hit it correctly that romantic feeling are more complex and have some trepidation, hesitation and maybe a bit of fear as well as the happiness and that’s why the darker harmonies work.
I also wonder if it’s just become ingrained in our minds, maybe superficially, as a result of many of these great film composers doing the classics like Casablanca, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, or Spartacus in which they used the darker Phrygian/Phrygian Dominant/Harmonic Minor sounds to achieve that exotic Arabian type of sound that the “love theme” has come to have these darker sounds that give them this unique style?
Very nice! Definitely has that Golden Age compositional sound. The smooth strings and the moving harmonies underneath the melody, I think, really does it. I agree with what Stan said about the nature of a love theme. A love theme can’t just be major and everything resolves perfectly. It has to have longing and unresolved setups. Lines that are left hanging to create anticipation. I think you got a really good feel for that with some of those harmonic currents that were moving around and the diminished chord sounds. I would have liked to hear the woodwinds for a bit more at around 23 seconds when they come it, maybe getting their own turn at the melody for a moment. And I love the celeste at the end-- very Golden Age. Nice job!
Thanks for the feedback. I wish I’d made this piece a bit longer and developed it a bit more, but I’ve just been mentally drained for the last couple of weeks and I really struggled with the harmonies on this one so it just ended up a really short piece
Hopefully, I can make my Main Theme piece better, although, ironically, I did do an extended woodwind section with a variation on the main theme for that one, but I think it goes on too long