Westworld Spitfire competition entry

Westworld Spitfire competition entry

Hey everyone, here is my Attempt at the Westworld competition.

Rather than tell you what instruments I used I’ll talk you through my process, which may be more useful for you.

So there’s 2 ways to hit your cues. You can tempo sync, and you can change time signature. This piece uses both but I lean more on changing the tempo to fit the scenario within the cuts.

When approaching writing the music I took into consideration:

  • where the dialogue was
  • the anticipation of important cues
  • thematic development.

You’ll notice that because my piece is a bit of a hybrid style I chose to not hit the cue right on its head, at least for the most part. Usually I tend to hit just before the cut or important juncture. This is to avoid mickey mousing (playing exactly what’s on screen), and to state what’s going to happen just before the viewer sees what’s going to unfold so that they pre-empt what will happen. This is a typical film/tv scoring technique developed in the early 80s.

The harmonic content is modal, flicking between Ionian, melodic and harmonic minor scales, while Only hinting at chords. There’s plenty of counterpoint in this piece which propelled the parts forward.

The hybrid elements are based off a zimmer style approach while I based my orchestral writing on a more williams/silvestri style.

Each section only builds enough tension as to what the scene needs so that I don’t over compose.

I included woodwind within this piece because they’re so under used and I Felt there was a lot of scope for them. I didn’t however go for a typical Scalic williamsy feel, instead I wanted to enforce the harmonic content while also using them for mood and transitionary purposes… so you’ll find they are more in the style of phillip glass.

There’s a lot of extended techniques within this. Piece also, giving more thematic and textural interest. I used things such as triple tonguing in woodwinds, con wording/legato strings. Rips, pedal harmonics etc. Keeping in mind that I didn’t want to over score.

Percussion is very zimmer and trailer esque, will not over producing it as I didn’t want a wall of sound. If I had opted for that then you’d never hear the dialogue :joy:

In conclusion I’ve really loved this project because I don’t get to do too many tv or film cues these days and that’s what I’m trained in, so this was so enjoyable! I hope this. Insight inspires you to have a go yourself!!

[Westworld - Spitfire competition entry]


Now THIS is how you write a proper description of your music composition, including your creative vision, project details and technical implementation. Awesome Geoff! :slight_smile:

Listening now:

  • Nice droney start with the added “slam” percussion.
  • Percussion picks up in energy/density nicely with the action, and dials back on cut whatever happens to that guy.
  • Way to go with the “leave room for the dialogue and special FX”.
  • Very nice use of dynamics and levels overall
  • I really like that super subtle low pulse
  • 1:40, cue menacing brass, what’s not to like there! :wink:
  • 2:00 - Ostinato starts to pick up energy to announce the action to come, nice!
  • Hmm I would have personally picked up the music energy right after the tire screeches
  • Ah, there it is, you chose the missile lock to cue the music build, and nice stinger rise! :stuck_out_tongue:
  • Very nice choice of timed cue marker in fact, I like it! Not too much, just the perfect ones.
  • 3:15, now the music takes more room in the mix. It fights a bit with her dialogue there to be honest. Edge case.
  • Nice braam ending hehe :wink:

Haha thanks for the feedback man, really appreciative. All points I wrestled with tbh. Initially I chose the tyre screech to build up with my theme but then I changed my mind because I mic I had then the composition would get so loud you’d hear non of the dialogue by the climax :joy:

Yes, the only bit just near the end does get in the way of 2 words of dialogue. I’d noticed after the bounce but this wasn’t too bothered about that.

I was surprised at how tricky that scene would be tbh. The main thing that I wanted to do was just support the visuals and dialogue… but there’s another element I didn’t mention which is just as important. The sound SFX… writing your music so that it doesn’t mask the sound effects is really tricky, and this is another reason I chose not to build up at the thre screech.

Remember when I worked in Foly a few years ago that we had so many overscored projects come in where the composer would ALWAYS mask the SFX space, which actually took away from the scene. In this I only once did that… when the remote controlled bike enters the SFX is herd ramping up. Just behind that is a bubbly riser I made to reinforce the ramp up… I was in 2 minds about it but I think it worked. In the back of my head is my old boss gritting his teeth though :joy::sob:

And I love writing these descriptions, they kind of give meaning and purpose to what you’ve done. I think there should be a clear reason why we do things in compositions. Not for anyone else, just ourselves haha :stuck_out_tongue:

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Totally true about SFX, they are sometimes of equal importance as dialogue. And I’ve noticed that some SFX cuts through the mix nicely, while others need more space to achieve their effects. Slow motion with FX comes to mind, for example bullet shells falling to the ground (matrix style). Or the classic “lock and load” sound also really needs room in the mix. But explosions, helicopter blades, tire screeches, sirens etc. can cut through way more music density. It’s a challenge for sure to mix all this well! :smiley:

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Yeah totally. The one that really got on our nerves was that explosion scenes were always over scored. Too much percussion so you’d just hear the top end sizzle of the explosion. We’d have to automate an EQ to fade cut the bass out while the explosion occurred so you’d hear it :sob: was always so annoying!

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Ah, good point, I guess it’s also the case of “how important is the explosion”, it’s really evident by the visuals, but some explosions are really those big impact moments that music should basically drop completely. Again, I love Matrix for their effective use of AWESOME sound effects, dancing together with the cluster chords of the legendary soundtrack by Don Davis. He really had a great instinct for when to let the music “hold” for those epic effect moments, which there was a lot of! :slight_smile:


Ooh and the low pulse that you liked was an EDNA earth patch that I put the kilohertz transe gate on. If you haven’t got that plugin it’s amazing for making those choppy style drone effects! Think it’s only $19 atm??

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Cool, I’ve got lots of rhythmic pulse libraries and plugins, but honestly…like the Spectrasonics fanboy I seem to be, I have started using more and more Omnisphere sounds for pulses! :wink:

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Yes for sure. It’s a total balancing act wbetween efx and music. Matrix is a good example. There’s so many places where the efx are used as if it was music, but it’s actually just some sound designers having a blast! Litterally :wink:

I personally love the old film, “the birds”. There absolutely no music in it and it’s all SFX. Really cool approach and it actually makes the film ten times more menacing. From that film Think I learnt that music doesn’t only reinforce the score, or the mood. It also pre-empts things… so when you take the music out and let the efx take over then it can be more impactful.

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Hahaha, yes your a total fanboy. A bit like me with spitfire :stuck_out_tongue: I think we both like those companies for very similar reasons. They both sound great straight off the bat, but you can really go deep and programme them to get incredible sounds!

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This is absolutely fantastic, your music really catches the viewer and gives him the feeling to be with them in the car.
I love scores like this, like in “the expanse” or even “I Robot”… well done mate!


Thank you very much man! :smiley:

Ooh I love the I Robot score, who scored that again? Was it Beltrami?? Regardless, it’s a great score. Love the metallic sounds in that film. Really adds to the mood.

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how long did it take you to work on this from from beginning to end? Nice work, not overdone.

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Hey Carl. Took around 8/9 hours. Though my computer really rigged out for a bit and on occasion it was too much processing for my poor Mac to handle as there was at one point around 110 tracks. So including that time probably around 12/13 hours.

There was a lot of automation that went into it. To get this level of detail.

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You have around 110 tracks? Cool.You use some duplicate layers I assume too? If it’s a MacBook pro that makes sense, the freeze tool in Logic I got from Mikael’s tip really helped for my cpu. Finishing this in less than 24 hours is pretty cool.

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Yeah there’s quite a few duplicate layers. The only thing I wouldn’t layer are horns/brass as they phase with any library due to the nature of the transients.

The orchestra itself took up around 50/60 tracks, then the hybrid stuff took up the rest.

Really? What about layering a 6 horn ensemble with solo horn played with Sample Modeling for example? Will this always creating phasing even with different recordings (timings) on layered parts?

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Are you entering the spitfire contest?

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Yeah there’s always a certain amount of phase so they don’t sit well together… the best way is to use a verby low sine/square wave to thicken the part a little.

What I like to do is take the 8va mega brass patch from keepforests Atlantica’s library and EQ out all the highs over 300ish and use that to beef up the section.

I usually pair that with caspian which I absolutely love. If I do use anything else with it it will be from spitfires studio series horns, because they are dry… then I’ll bounce it down and phase align if by eye and then add verb.

Having said that, libraries like jager or albion one actually smooth out the vib on horns so they don’t phase as much, which is why they’re usually good for layers. As they’re so smooth they act a bit more like a saw synth with a bit of realism :slight_smile:

Yes this track has been entered today!