Scoring with Graham Reynolds

May 28, 2014
by Ashley Roberts
Discovery Green welcomes back music composer Graham Reynolds for the Houston Public Media Silent Film Concert next Friday, June 6, but before he arrives, we chatted with him about his music and his upcoming workshop.  

Q: On Friday, June 6, you’ll be performing music from your scores of Bernie and Before Midnight at Discovery Green’s Houston Public Media Silent Film Concert. Could you tell us about these scores?

A: These were two very different films and two very different scores.  The music from Before Midnight was all based around a delicate waltz theme with minimal instrumentation.  Bernie’s music bounces around from string quartet arrangements of hymns, to country, to lounge music.  Both were rewarding to make and really fun to dig back into for a live performance.  

Q: You have performed numerous times at Discovery Green, the first time back in May 2011. Why are you excited to be returning to the park?

A: A culturally activated urban space is always exciting and Discovery Green is a hub of activity!  It’s fun to plug into that energy and connect with a new audience.

Q: You’ve scored three of Richard Linklater’s films. What do you enjoy most about collaborating with Linklater?

A: Two things: his work is incredibly good and he always pulls me in new and exciting artistic directions.  

Q: Tell us about your creative process. Can you walk us through your process for composing music for film?

A: The process is different for every film and every director.  But roughly, the first thing to decide is where in the film the music will go and what the instrumentation might be.  Next, come sketches and theme development.  Finally, you start scoring to picture the film in a detailed way.  Once all the cues are approved, you output stems and the film’s sound team mixes the music in, along with the dialogue and effects.  

Q: How is composing music for film different than composing for theater, dance or for your own band, Golden Arm Trio?

A: Each is totally different and that’s why I’d never stop doing any of them.  Theater and film both have dialogue but one is a live performance art and the other is not, and the music has to acknowledge that.  For dance, there is no dialogue, so the music is nearly constant and plays a larger narrative role. And for the band format, there is no visual collaborator to bounce off of or support, so the music needs to stand on its own.  

Q: On Saturday, June 7, you’re hosting a free workshop for film composers at Houston Public Media. Can you give us an exclusive scoop on what you have planned for attendees?

A: I want to start by talking about three areas of my making music for film: how I got into it, how the process works and changes, and what tools I use.  I’ll do some demo and then dialogue with the participants to make sure we answer the questions they have and talk about what they want to know.  

Don’t miss Graham Reynolds’ Not-So-Silent Film Concert at Discovery Green Friday, June 6 at 8 pm and his workshop, Composing Music for Movies, at Houston Public Media, Saturday, June 7 at 1 pm. Find more information about these activities here.