These are the lessons I am getting, in no particular order:
- I’m learning about when the music can line up with and when it shouldn’t line up with the visual content. You generally want to try to avoid so-called “Mickey Mousing,” that is, when the music seems to overly imitate or follow the action on the screen. On the “Captain America” video, sometimes the music and action synced up closely, especially in the fight scene, where drum crashes correspond with punches being made. With “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” in some cases I let musical changes line up with the close ups on Joan.
- It can be really effective when musical moments match or amplify the emotion on the screen. For instance, at the end of the “Passion” clip, there is a monk who declares he thinks Joan is a saint and kneels before her. When he appears, the opening theme returns in solo piano, rather than the orchestration it had before. Solo piano gives a more personal feel, which captures the moment nicely.
- I love a good melody. In “Passion,” I use the main melody five times, each time treated differently: first quietly, then building, then loudly, then in high passionate strings, then in solo piano.
- Great footage makes the scoring process so much better. “Captain America” and “The Three Musketeers” are not exactly high art. “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” with Falconetti’s inspired performance of Joan, was a total joy to write to.
- Writing for “Passion” was a more involved composition project than the other two scores. “Passion” is almost nine minutes of continuous music. The previous two projects were shorter overall, and the musical cues were only several minutes long. It was very satisfying to see the longer composition come out so well for “Passion.”