Ring, happy bells, across the snow!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Happy New Year everyone! In looking back at the year that’s already vanishing in our wake (BAM! we’re in the latter half of January already!), I find myself thinking about the wonderful people I’ve gotten to work with this past year, and the remarkable opportunities I’ve had. So, before diving into the new year and the opportunities it promises, I thought I should mention some of 2012′s highlights (and accompanying “Thank Yous”), which include several “firsts”:

1. First of all, I have to say, I had a VERY busy summer, and for a big chunk of that busy-ness, I have to send my first massive thank you to director Michael Ray Fox, producer Rich MacQueen, and executive producer Michael Melski, for granting me the opportunity to score my first feature film, Roaming. Roaming follows a young man named Will, as he navigates his way through the struggles that many young people face (most notably around relationships and careers). What makes his struggle all the more compelling is that he also happens to be living with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Rhys Bevan-John in "Roaming"

It’s a charming little ensemble piece, is currently making the festival circuit, and is also an award-winner! Rhys Bevan-John, who plays Will, recently won an ACTRA Martimes award for his performance. If Roaming screens near you, do check it out! Below are a few tracks from the film, including the opening credits and music underscoring a scene later in the film where we watch Will pursue his passion, creating video games. All these tracks capture something, I think, of the awkwardness and drifting melancholy of this unique character. I won’t ruin the story by telling you any more, but please enjoy the tunes!

2. The summer of 2012 brought other new opportunities as well, so a big shout out of thank you to Mr. Tim Perry at theREDspace, who brought me on board to compose music for their game Contraption Max. This was a venture into terra incognita for the team – they have a wealth of experience developing games and applications for other clients (including Comedy Central, Harper Collins, Nickelodeon, and YTV) but had never developed an entire product in-house from conception to delivery. The game will be ready for unveiling some time later this year, but you can find some more information about it here. Below are a few samples of tracks written for different game levels.

3. Another first! Thank you to Lisa Phinney Langley and Ardath Whynacht from PHIN Performing Arts for the opportunity to create a soundscape for a dance project, something I’ve not done before! This past October, they created an original piece for Halifax’s one-night-only arts festival, Nocturne. Based on both historic events and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”, “Oh, Green Hill” was a dance piece based on a dark chapter of Halifax history. In 1866, passengers of the S. S. London suffered an outbreak of cholera, and were quarantined on Green Hill, located on McNabb’s Island in Halifax Harbour. Ardath’s spoken word component of the piece interpolated contemporary journalist’s reports of the event with lines from Poe’s work to create a verbal mosaic capturing both the suffering of the plague victims and the cold, willful ignorance of both Prince Prospero and the authorities who sentenced 200 of The London‘s passengers to a lonely death in clear view of what must have seemed to be an uncaring New World.

Phin in rehearsal for "Oh, Green Hill"

Phin in rehearsal for "Oh, Green Hill"

The dance, performed by Sarah Rozee, Lisa Phinney Langley, Veronique MacKenzie, Kym Butler, Sheilagh Hunt, and the Young Company of Halifax Dance was an eerie evocation of the passengers death throes, and it felt very much at the time as if their restless spirits were haunting Parade Square. It was a very effective performance, especially after dark, as the Autumn chill started to settle in. Here’s a small sample of the soundscape that accompanied their performance.

4. Thanks also to the mighty directing and producing duo of Vicki Donkin and Colin Tanner! Their dark little fable of seedy hotel room trysts Irene was a pleasure to score, and gave me the opportunity to explore some fairly dark and disturbing textures. After a successful screening at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival, the film is travelling in February to The Dam Short Film Festival, in Boulder City, Nevada (somewhat fittingly, given the film’s subject matter, just outside Las Vegas). Here’s a taste of Irene:

5. My final “first”, and thank you once again goes to the PHIN gals Lisa and Ardath, who placed a not-inconsiderable amount of trust in me not just once, but twice this year! Prior to the Nocturne piece, I was asked to edit some music composed by the estimable Sageev Oore (with spoken word elements written by Ardath) for a dance piece entitled “Analogy for Solid Bones”, which was performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in July. If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that the creation of music for dance is possibly even more seat-of-the-pants than film scoring, as there can be a lot of sudden changes and deletion and rejigging of elements – exciting stuff, and I’m thrilled to have been given the chance to work on something like this! Here is a video sample of an earlier version of the piece – it’ll give you a sense of both the skills that Lisa and her company bring to bear and a taste of Sageev’s music.

6. There’s something unique coming your way in 2013, but it’s origin goes back nearly a year! I am an associate member of a very fine organization, Women in Film and Television Atlantic (I cannot, for biological reasons, be a full member – due to my eye colour, maybe?). As a gesture of support to the group, I was a sponsor for their “Women Making Waves” conference last year, and donated time to work with a door prize winner on a film of her choosing. The winner (supposedly) was Dawn George…and I say “supposedly” parenthetically because the fact that I have gotten to work with her has left me feeling like I came out much further ahead than her. Her film “Adaptation” will be unveiled in the coming months, and is a fascinating piece about the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – ways that our environment might be changing us. I will save the pleasure of discovery for another time, but Dawn has allowed me to share a few seconds of music for the film…this has been a fun project, full of lots of improvised juxtapositions of odd textures (both synthesized and organic), and here’s a preview of what we’ve been up to!

7. Finally, and as always, a big thanks to my compadres at Curve Productions Inc! The musical contributions I was able to make to Lara Cassidy’s National Screen Institute short “Fridge Magnet Poetry” and Steve Richard’s promotional video for his photography series “The Sensual World” were, as always, delightful experiences.

So, those are the highlights of a most remarkable year! Thank you again to everyone who made this the banner year it was, and thanks to every one of you good people who are reading this! May each of you know nothing but peace, prosperity, good fortune, and the good grace and wisdom to appreciate it – me, I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings!



All the News That Fits…

Hi friends! What can I say? I have an incredible amount of admiration for those souls who are able to maintain a weekly blog in the midst of their workaday existence – I’m even more humbled when I look at what I’ve got going on here and I see my last update was – mother of mercy! – June 10th. By way of apology/explanation/shameless self-promotion, allow me to offer the following quick summary of what’s been happening at HQ.

Well… there’s been a lot! In addition to the work I mentioned in my last entry (the music editing for Phin Performing Arts, for their piece Analogy for Solid Bones, which was recently performed at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa and scoring a short film, Irene, for director Vicki Donkin), I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a few exciting projects with new partners!

First, I’m tickled to report that I’ve written music for a casual video game, “Contraption Max”, soon to be released by Halifax area developers theREDspace. You can learn more about it here! Also, the Evil Twin has just achieved a very significant personal milestone – we’re delighted to report having composed the music for a feature-length film, Michael Ray Fox’s “Roaming”. You wanna see a trailer for this very sweet story? We can do that!

Expect to see this lovely little film hitting the festival circuit very soon. But wait! There’s more! The very, very coolest, and most unexpected news came very recently, when I was informed that I’ve been shortlisted for a Slaight Music Residency position at the Canadian Film Centre. What would this mean? Basically, it would give me a very unique and invaluable 9 months of learning, working, and networking through the Centre -the program affords residents opportunities to work with film industry professionals on a national and international level, as well as mentorship under one of Canada’s most successful film composers, Mychael Danna (“The Sweet Hereafter”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, the upcoming “The Life of Pi”).

So, like…holy *#$#*!

Anyways, suffice to say, we are, as the British say, chuffed! And this is all without even mentioning that Festival season will soon be upon us, so I’m hoping to have some tales to tell from there as well!

At any rate, all this talk and no music hardly seems fair, so I figured I’d close this up with a special treat – here’s a sneak preview of one of the tracks for “Contraption Max” – I’ll let you all know when the game is ready to be released so you can check it out for yourselves. In the meantime, here’s a hint of the fun and mayhem to come! Click on the link below to check it out, and as always, notes, greetings, queries, repostings and well-wishings are always welcome! Drop me a note here or by email at chris@eviltwinmusic.ca, or, as always, I can be found on Facebook here…and Twitter, right here!

The Big Brawl

What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s Happening!

Hey friends! Been quiet on the FB front for a little while, but thought I’d bring you up to speed with what’s been happening at Evil Twin Global Subjugation HQ (Music Division). My apologies, as usual, for the radio silence, but as you can see, I’ve been a bit preoccupied…

First of all, congratulations to Vicki Donkin and Colin Tanner for completing their Film Five project “Irene” (which gave me the chance to write some decidedly twisty, dark, and unnerving music – thanks guys!). Look for it to be hitting the festival circuit in the coming months! For more info, check out this link!

Second, congratulations to Lisa Phinney Langley, and her Phin dance company, who’ll soon be in Ottawa for the Canada Dance Festival. Their music was composed Halifax’s own amazing Sageev Oore, and Lisa entrusted me with doing some editing and post-production enhancement of the music. Quite a thrill! You can read more about Phin right here

Finally, I’m in the midst of writing some music for another (for the moment) top secret project…but it’s been a special treat working on it, and I can’t wait to share the fruits of my labours. Will be keeping you all posted soon!

And that’s it for the updates – hope everyone’s having a wonderful Spring and gearing up for some Summer fun! As always, keep in touch!

Music, Memory & Macca

Hi all! Quick note on this very worthy website & touching example of the potency of the linkages between our life experiences and the music that has had the most effect on our lives. If you haven’t seen this yet, please do check it out! Smiles and tears in equal measure ahead:

It’s pretty obvious the role that music has had in this man’s life; the change in his face and posture and level of animation tells it all! It’s probably a fair guess to say he’s a musician besides – the man certainly can sing. It’s very moving to see this man’s responses, and is also a very sad commentary on the level of personalized care that we provide to many of our seniors, when something so simple can immeasurably improve quality of life.

For those of us fortunate enough not to be languishing in a faux-vegetative state (yet), there’s a lesson here as well. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had these kinds of experiences with music, where certain songs can instantly transport us back to a particular place and time. For me, this one places me at the Pine Cone Trailer Park in Sussex, New Brunswick (and some very flattering reviews of the park can be found here – nice to see it’s still a great, kid-friendly place!), playing pinball in the rec center, in the summer of 1976.

So double nostalgia on a day like this, when the days are getting longer, Spring is in the air, and even though I haven’t been in school for years, I still feel like summer vacation is just around the corner. Such is the power of a simple tune, and such is the power that music can bring to your production, be it a film, game, advertisement, TV show, or most any other visual medium! Got musical needs? We oughta talk.

In the meantime, though, what about you – what songs transport you? Let me know either here in the comments section, or here, or here!


Where does inspiration come from? Most would agree that it comes from a variety of sources, some easily identifiable as being the within the realm of the artist (a chance encounter with a person, place or object which resonates for some mysterious reason; an event in the news; an emotional state; a fragment of music or dialogue from a film) and some of them a little more prosaic (“I got paid to do it”; “We had a time limit”). Out of all these forces, some pretty amazing stuff can emerge!

Which brings me to the point of this little missive. A few weeks back I was lucky enough to take part in The Halifax Game Jam, an event that falls, inspiration-wise about 50% into the first camp, and about 50% into the latter (at least the “time limit” part; not so much the “getting paid” part). The Game Jam (brought to Halifax thanks to such sponsors as Twisted Oak Studios, Longtail Studios, Silverback Productions, Codapop Studios, Huminah Huminah Interactive, theREDspace, Nova Scotia Business Inc, The Hub, Redline, The Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship, and Community Business Development Corporations) is a 48 hour event that brings together game designers, coders, graphic artists, musicians, and game aficionados for a 48-hour challenge: to create teams to build functioning games within two full days. I took part in my first one of these in the summer of 2011, and had a terrific time (the results of that weekend can be seen here). I think the best way to describe the weekend is alternately exhilarating (“Can we get this thing done in time?” “Hell yes we can!”), frustrating (there’s nothing like the reality of what is actually doable in 2 days bumping up against your ambitious Friday night brainstorming), and humbling (“Holy crow, there are some talented people out there!”).

Here's the poster for the event...sexy, mais non?

There are very few ground rules other than the time limit, although there are attempts to set certain parameters around the games (e.g. certain themes that the games should try to implement). In this year’s session, the themes randomly drawn included: “fantasy role play”, “beatmashing”, “show tunes”, “coyotes”, and, most enigmatically “divide by zero” (which only now makes sense to me; that’s why I write this stuff, so I can make sense of my world). This year’s crop of games addressed these strictures in a variety of fun and creative ways – and I have to say, one group even defeated assumptions by creating an old-fashioned card game, not a computer game!

Teams are formed in various ways. In some cases the teams come together because people are friends and co-workers in their day jobs (the event has a great blend of game development professionals, hobbyists, and students), and in some cases they end up working together as a result of a kind of frenzied “speed dating”/”networking” where people try to snatch up enough people for their teams to make sure that all the bases (programming, visual design, game play, story, and music and audio) are represented. We lucked into a couple of folks who more than ably handled the programming end of things, my old friend and fellow New Brunswicker, Mike McGraw from theREDspace and Alex MacCaull. And I should mention right now, that a huge debt of thanks is extended to the lovely Ms. Angelina Coccimiglio, whose boundless energy and photographic skills captured all the activity all weekend!

Mike McGraw, Team Kpinga's Game Engineer! Tooot tooot! (Photo courtesy of Angelina Coccimiglio)

Alex MacCaull, Team Kpinga's Sound and Credits Wizard

Alex McCaull, Team Kpinga's co-coder, and Sound and Credits Wizard (Photo courtesy of Angelina Coccimiglio)

Next to come on board was Gavin Crawford, who brought the concept for the game. In fact, he came prepared with a complete Power Point presentation about the Zande warriors of the Congo, and of their weapon of choice, the Kpinga (the construction of which is part of a Zande’s rite of passage into manhood). His research became the core of the project, and gave us all the focus we needed. His friends Jay and Jericoe States also contributed some very cool ideas around the structure of the opening screen music! Finally, we were fortunate enough to collect Ms. Courtney Johnson into what became “Team Kpinga” and we were underway with the development our game, which Mike coined “Kpingapong” due to the way a player was ultimately able to bounce the weapon off of elements in our young protagonist’s environment.

Gavin Crawford, Researcher, Story Creator, and Weaponsmaster (Photo courtesy of Angelina Coccimiglio)

Courtney Johnson, Visual Design Queen with Her Court Assembled (Photo courtesy of Angelina Coccimiglio)

And so we set to work -the details of the next two days really wouldn’t be all that compelling a story to those who weren’t there, but I can tell you a few things I took away from the experience. Not so much things I learned, as things that were reinforced.

1. Teamwork is essential; what we did as a group, with everyone pitching in wherever they could, whenever they could, yielded a great deal of success!

2. Patience and a sense of humour is indispensable. We all learned a lot from one another, and had a ton of fun in the process!

3. I felt that I created some appropriate music – with more time there would have been more variability and different themes and tempos, but I’m pretty fond of the little sonic world that Alex and I (and our other collaborators, Jay and Jericoe States, who brought some great ideas to the music you’ll hear at the very opening of the game) created. Given the visual charm of Courtney’s work, I feel like the music is at times a little too serious and epic, but that’s where working in the same room with your collaborators can make a difference. I created the music in the studio, and was so immersed in my work, I had only the broadest sense of how the game would ultimately look, so I was scoring the game in my head, not the one on the screen. Still and all, things came together far better than we could have imagined, and you can download the game to play on your own machine here.

Although it looks on screen (it is the third game down) like you can either play it directly on your browser or as a download, for the moment you can only download the game as a .zip file. Simply download, unzip the folder someplace where you can find it, and click on the file called “KPingaPong”. It will then open on its own in your browser. If, however, you’d just like to hear the music I put together, you can find that right here!

If you’re curious about other stuff I’ve been up to, you can find some that here in my “Samples” section – you can hear stuff freshly uploaded if you visit me on Soundcloud (or “Like” my Evil Twin Music page on Facebook).

4. It’s not always easy to keep within the assigned themes, but we did our best. While I never quite accomplished “beatmashing” in a true DJ sense, I did create something of a “dance mix” of the theme starting at around 1:58. For the record, I also did a “show tunes” version of the theme, but out of respect for the estates of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein (and Canadian copyright law) I am not sharing that version online. I’d be happy to play it in person for you, though. ;^) Major kudos to Courtney for managing to insert a giant coyote into the “you win” screen (and there’s your incentive to download – and beat – the game!).

And so, another Game Jam came to a close – here’s a final shot of Team Kpinga, tired yet victorious! Here’s to the team, and here’s to inspiration coming from unexpected places!

Hail Team Kpinga! (Photo courtesy of Angelina Coccimiglio)

I’ll be back soon talking about the other amazing event I took part in this month, Women in Film and Television – Atlantic’s Women Making Waves conference. Until then, friends!

Yer Obligatory 2011 Film List

Hi folks! Wishing a happy, slightly belated, non-apocalyptic 2012 to you all! I feel, having a blog and all, that I’d be remiss if I didn’t chime in with some kind of 2011 film industry postmortem, so thought it’d be good to submit my own faves of the past year. With no further ado, here are my thoughts on 2011, film wise (next blog will be back in the purely musical realm, I ‘spect):

Evil Twin Music’s Best Films of 2011

1. The Tree of Life – Not just my favourite film of the year, possibly the film that effected me more than any other in the last several years. There’s been so much written about Malick’s masterpiece that I don’t know what more I can add, other than an observation about my response to this most personal of his films. Honestly, I can’t remember the last film I saw where, roughly every 10 minutes or so, I had both my breath taken away because of the beauty of an image, and a lump in my throat because of the non-specific, but very tangible spirituality at the core of each of those images. Beautiful film, with lovely original music by Alexandre Desplat as well as contributions from composers such as John Tavener, Zbigniew Preisner, and Henryk Górecki. I’m almost scared to revisit it on home video, since nothing can compare to seeing these images on a huge screen.

2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes / Project Nim – And thus I begin my cheating… but then again, I never said I was offering a “top ten” list. Since I have a few favourites that were so inextricably linked in my responses that I couldn’t possibly rank one above the other, I’ve got a few instances like this where I couldn’t really rank one film higher than the other. When I saw “Rise”, like most filmgoers I was mightily impressed, particularly by Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar. The degree to which the film elicits sympathy for the apes, even at their most destructive, is, of course, greatly aided by the degree to which the humans in film are shown to be unsympathetic bozos, and there’s no shortage of that sort of stacking of the emotional deck. But the film is skillfully made enough for us not to mind the manipulation. Besides, once a person sees “Project Nim” (and I defy you to identify a more perfect double bill in 2011!) you can’t help but feel that when Mother Nature does finally decide to put us in our place, we’ve had it coming for a long time. This documentary, about Herbert Terrace’s efforts in the 60s and 70s to explore language learning in primates demonstrates, in a moving, infuriating, funny, but ultimately tragic way the toll exacted by academic hubris (plus a healthy dose of early-70s hippy-dippiness) on both man and beast.

3. Rango – this gorgeous, hilarious, absurdist take on Westerns sometimes feels like an animated Coen Brothers film, and some of that, I’m sure, is thanks the dryly humourous vocal work of the cast. MUCH more of it, though, is due to having the Coen’s cinematographer Roger Deakins on board as a visual consultant, making it the best looking animated film since “Wall-E” (which also benefited from his touch).

4. Super 8 – sure the climax of the film can’t possibly live up to the build-up (and the terrific character work by the cast of mostly new young actors) that preceeds it, but goshdarn it, if the first hour or so wasn’t a perfect evocation of what caused many of us to fall in love with films in our younger days (especially fun summer films from names like Spielberg, Dante, Donner and Zemeckis attached to them), I don’t know what is!

5. Hugo – I have to admit, I’m torn on this one and feel like I should have loved it more. If you’re going to have to have a film in 3D, I can’t think of safer hands to be in than Martin Scorsese’s. He does things in this film with light and dust particles and textures that show real visual artistry, and make it (along with Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”) one of the few films this year that truly needed to be seen in 3D to be appreciated. The central story is a moving one as well, and educating the young’uns about Georges Méliès is all well and good. I’m just not certain who this film was made for; parts of it that were clearly aimed at kids (the rather ineffective slapstick with Sasha Baron Cohen) seemed pitched too low, and some of the grief and regret in Ben Kingsley’s Méliès (not to mention some of the pacing) seemed to be pitched at an older crowd. Still and all, I was in awe for much of the film; I just wished it had grabbed me on a more emotional level than it did.

6. The Muppets – and then there was this unalloyed injection of pure nostalgic joy. Except, I must note, I was heartened by the fact that the younger members of the audience I saw this with (my 9 year old niece included) enjoyed the film greatly, even without having the 40-plus years of exposure to these characters that we old farts have. Sure I could nitpick (Jim Henson’s Kermit will never be replaced, though I had a far easier time adapting to the non-Frank-Ozzian cadences of Miss Piggy and Fozzy) but the film is infinitely better than it had any right to be, and a great way to wrap up my movie-going year!

7. Captain America: The First Avenger/The Adventures of Tintin/X-Men: First Class – a threefer this time, packaged together because of their overall content (period piece action/adventure films) and because I happen to be a sucker for period piece action/adventure films of this ilk. Having been burnt a few times in the past (although, I hated “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” far less than many) my response to all of these was “holy crap, I’m enjoying myself way more than I thought I was going to!”. Captain America, in particular, really did capture a certain “gee whiz” quality that you’d get in comics from that time, and is easily Joe Johnston’s best film since “The Rocketeer” (which says that Mr. Johnston has a definite niche, and needs to avoid further “Jumanjis” in his future).

8. Source Code/The Adjustment Bureau – these two had all the intrigue and mindbending “nature of reality” vibe of the previous year’s Inception, but with the added novelty of being love stories that actually worked, with strong performances across the board, and a lot of chemistry in the Jake Gyllenhaal/Michelle Monaghan and Matt Damon/Emily Blunt teamups.

9. Kill the Irishman – maybe it’s just that it’s been several years since a great gangster film came our way (not counting terrific foreign films like “Mesrine” and “A Prophet”), but I enjoyed the heck out of this film. Nothing earth-shattering or innovative, but Jonathan Hensleigh’s direction is kinetic and involving, and watching Irish and Italian thugs blowing up and shooting each other can be a sort of cinematic comfort food (for some of us, anyway). What’s more, Ray Stevenson (I’m still hoping to see some forward movement on those long-promised “Rome” theatrical films in 2012, though they sound stalled) has a lot of charisma, and ought to be employed more – being in both the new Billy Bob Thornton film (Jayne Mansfield’s Car) and the next G.I. Joe film shows him to still be an actor caught between serious “legitimate” films and pure action fare.

10. The Guard – starring an ACTUAL Irishman, Brendan Gleeson, this film is, on the surface, one of those “fish out of water” stories with the big time sophisticate from the US (in this case an FBI agent played by Don Cheadle) being put in his place by the charmingly quirky residents of a small Irish village (the template of course being Bill Forsythe’s Local Hero). The difference in this case is that the “loveable, quirky” character in the piece is actually a racist drug abuser with a penchant for prostitutes, but his low-level sociopathy makes for a very, very funny “anti-buddy” movie!

And that, my friends, wraps up my favourites of the year! What do you think…any favourites of yours that I’ve forgotten? Feel free to weigh in! At any rate, 2012 has been pretty hoppin’ with activity, both musical and extracurricular thus far, but I guarantee that the blogging will continue unhampered! We shall talk again soon!


Season’s Greetings!

Hello friends!

My apologies for the delay in posting something new here, but I think this time of year gets the best of most of us, and even I, blessed with an Evil Twin as I am, am still not immune. However, I have an excuse – I have been preparing a small gift for you! In scanning the interwebs a few weeks back for something unique and seasonal to share with you I came across a wonderful online resource for all manner of public domain content, The Internet Archive. While there, I discovered a small gem of an animated film called “The Star of Bethlehem”, made in 1921 by German animator Lotte Reiniger, which tells, in a simple and charming way, the story of the Nativity.

I have to confess, my knowledge of early animation history is pretty poor, so this discovery gave me a great opportunity to learn more about this remarkable and accomplished lady, including this little mythbusting discovery. Know how everyone believes that Walt Disney was responsible for the first feature length animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937? Well, in fact the woman who made “Star of Bethlehem” was also responsible for 1926′s “The Adventures Of Prince Achmed”, which was animated in a similar “silhouette” style, and also happens to be feature length (though, at 65 minutes, it’s short by today’s standards, and 18 minutes shorter than “Snow White”). At any rate, any opportunity to celebrate the holiday season AND help to correct a misconception is a happy occasion!

Anyway, enough with the history – what I have done with this film as a way to celebrate the season, to bring the accomplishments of this wonderful and groundbreaking artist to your attention, and to thank you all for your support as my business has grown over the year, is to underscore it with some familiar seasonal music (with a few Evil Twinnish twists here and there). For the sake of convenience, I’ve split the film up into four sections, each corresponding to a theme or two, so you can pick and choose which parts you want to watch.

In closing 2011, let me say that it’s been an incredible year with lots of opportunities to work with some terrifically creative folks – I feel very blessed to know you, and look forward to much more of the same in 2012. Moreover, I wish every one of you reading this a wonderful holiday season!

It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well,
if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!
- Charles Dickens

Fifty Five Years!!!

Today, in keeping with thoughts over the past few weeks about the nature of collaboration, I just want to raise a toast to this man:

According to the Internet Movie Database, John Williams first began writing music for visual media back in 1956 for the TV anthology Playhouse 90, and now, 55 years later, the man has two films opening in a couple of weeks (Tintin, the trailers for which can be seen here and War Horse, which you can preview here). That the man has been so blessed to be plying his trade for so long is amazing…that he has been a pretty much constant collaborator with Steven Spielberg, the director whose work he is most associated with, since 1974′s The Sugarland Express is incredible. That both of the abovementioned films are Spielberg films, mammoth projects that must have had incredibly complicated, overlapping production schedules, is beyond comprehension! The creativity and energy these guys bring to the table is estimable, to say the least.

So, how does something like that happen? It’s a combination, I think, of good fortune, of two people sharing a common vision, of persistence and flexibility, and, after a long enough period of working as team, of the emergence of a sort of “shorthand”. Here’s Spielberg’s thoughts on this very process, in a recent interview with Mark Harris (and thank you to MSN Entertainment for streaming it!), about “War Horse”:

While I haven’t been in the fortunate position be have a long-time collaborator like Mr. Williams (I haven’t had 55 birthdays yet, let alone a career that long), establishing trust and a musical shorthand is key to any collaboration, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to build a vocabulary with some friends and partners, particularly with forces to be reckoned with like Lara Cassidy, Bunthivy Nou, and Joshua Young. As 2011 winds down to a close, I want to thank these folks for their trust and openness and eagerness to communicate – and hope that 2012 will bring many more creative partnerships like the ones we’ve shared so far – if you want in, I’m an email or phone call away!

Happy Holidays!

Collaborations both Old and New

Hey guys! Two things of note this week. First of all, for those of you fortunate enough to have TCM as part of your cable subscription (sadly, not me), here’s some news about some very cool programming. I make no bones about it, hands-down my favourite film composer of all time is John Williams. There are others who are, perhaps, more eclectic in their instrumentation or compositional styles (Thomas Newman comes to mind), or who have cornered a niche and style so thoroughly they’re almost a genre in themselves (hello there, Danny Elfman!), but for sheer “goosebump moments”, I can’t think of anyone who’s contributed more to the art of film composing, having managed to make both great films into iconic pieces of pop art, and elevated so-so films into something truly memorable just through the power of his music. The actual screening date for this episode of “The Art of Collaboration” has already passed, but I’m assuming that reruns are plentiful on TCM, so you might want to keep an eye out for this (I’m counting on it screening over the holidays, when I will be around folks to have TCM…yes, I’m looking at you, father and sister). Looks terrific!

Introduction to the Art of Collaboration

Oh, and I have an additional little treat I want to share with you all! My good friend from New Brunswick, author and illustrator Tony Bastarache, took it upon himself to make me a mascot! Well, actually he made me mascotS. Here’s what the man (totally unsolicited, I should add…as in the case with the “Wheel of Fate”, I consider myself very blessed to have such generous friends!) came up with:

"Mad Scientist" Evil Twin

"Mad Scientist" Evil Twin

"Mad Conductor" Evil Twin

"Mad Conductor" Evil Twin

Nifty, huh? I’ve added a poll to my Facebook Page asking which one people prefer, and I’ll toss the same question out here. If I had to go with one official Evil Twin character, which would you choose. Either offer a comment below or drop me an email with your favourite (“Mad Scientist” Evil Twin vs. “Mad Conductor” Evil Twin…or is there a third variation you think would be even better?), and I’ll announce the final decision early in the new year!

Incidentally, Mr. Bastarache is busy preparing his children’s books, but is hoping to have an official website and blog running very soon. In the meantime, if you have any words of encouragement or messages you’d like to pass along, please let me know, or post them here – he follows the blog, so will be delighted to hear from you!

And that’s it for this week…see you in December, folks!

Talkin’ ’bout Reel Generation

Hello friends…are you seated comfortably? Good! Behold, if you dare, the Evil Twin Music Wheel of Fate, our latest experiment in the new science of “Random Demo Reel Generation”! And a model of a fun merger of art and computer science, if I do say so myself. Shaky camerawork notwithstanding, hopefully you got the gist.

Some background: on November 17th the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development in Halifax hosted an event that was a combination of: 1. graduation for participants in the Self Employment Benefits program (of which I have been a very grateful beneficiary) and 2. trade show for the grads and other folks in the Self Employment Benefits program.

Being in the business of music, I had no physical wares to showcase, so it occurred to me that there might be a fun, interactive way for folks to hear some samples of my work. After putting out an open call for help on Facebook, my friend Eric Finley (whose day job at FJA involves building software I cannot pretend to begin to understand, but I know it’s for insurance companies) responded, and volunteered to put together a “simple” Jave application (his words; I feel like one of those proto-humans in 2001 whenever I’m faced with a line of code) that would give me a spinning wheel that could play random mp3s of my music! Perfect!

I must confess, I’m a bit of a sucker for “randomness” (OK, full disclosure: I actually kind of love making non-life-altering decisions with a coin toss, and have been known to allow traffic lights to determine which coffee shop I will frequent. Except, of course, for The Paper Chase – you’ll always be Number One with me) so something like this makes me ridiculously happy.

That being said, I don’t think it’s a perfect, all-purpose solution. On the one hand, I like the idea of a unique listening experience for anyone who encounters the wheel, but on the flip side, for busy clients who only have time to hear the one or two best representations of the kind of music they’re looking for, this might not be the best way to share stuff. What do you think? All comments and suggestions welcome, so feel free to weigh in! I’d love to hear your thoughts!