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Rescoring "Drag Me to Hell" opening sequence

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Francesco Bortolussi, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. Hi everyone! I haven't posted anything in a while, I've been really busy with everything that is not music-related in my life.

    Last summer as an assignment project for a course I attended, I rescored the opening sequence of the movie "Drag Me to Hell". The original music was composed by Christopher Young, and his music sounds totally awesome and badass on those title screens. I was lucky enough to have Chris listen to my take on this "main theme" rescore, which is a surreal a really cool experience!

    I totally forgot I wrote this, since I was very busy writing other things at the time, but I think it came out decent, so here we are :D

    It was supposed to be recorded by an orchestra (but it unfortunately didn't happen in the end), so I put some attention to the score: https://www.dropbox.com/s/a4z2mv428636ctk/drag_me_to_hell_2 - Full Score.pdf?dl=0
    I don't remember if there is a 1-to-1 correlation between the score and the mock-up, but the score should be more updated in terms of quality due to small revisions here and there.

    I wish my mockups were better sounding, but oh well :)

    And if you wanna see how it follows to the picture:
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  2. I remember this film. One of my best friends worked on it.

    He lived at that house (forget the name) and worked for Chris at the time.

    I recall he was really fucking stressed. I think they actually had three films on the go when working on this.

    I'll have to forward this onto him. I also seem to recall that at the actual recording session Chris had a cue (or more) in which he wanted
    the cellos to tune down to a B, and they wouldn't do it.
  3. Great to see a score! I’ll take a closer look tomorrow :)
  4. First up: Instrumentation page
    Simply write '2 Flutes' and so on.
    Only exception is Trombones in this case. Write '2 Trombones' and underneath 'Bass Trombone'.
    Also, you forgot the oboe. Imagine a contractor hiring the orchestra based on your instrumentation list and then missing the oboe.
    Write them in sections, so that there is no break between the trumpets and trombones.

    Page 1:
    - don't bracket the timpani.
    - bar 4 b.trb/tb: place the mf under the first note. Not 2 cm to the left of it.
    - bar 5: every hairpin should either have an ending dynamic or alternatively (and more vague) a modifier like 'poco' or 'molto'.
    - bar 2/3 timp/perc: don't tie tremolo notes. They are repeated notes.
    - bar 9 e.hn: now you didn't write key signatures (that's fine – I get it) but you didn't specify whether you've written transposed or concert score. Now I'm simply gonna guess, what notes the English Horn is playing ;)
    - bar 8 strings: don't use sim. That's short hand for handwriting. Players and conductors hate that. Computers have quick ways to accelerate the writing process so take advantage of that and write it out. Especially since you break the pattern in bar 11.
    - bar 9 vla: unis. cancels div. – not tutti (again don't tie tremolos but I guess I won't say that every time)
    - bar 9 vla: break the D in to one half note and one dotted quarter note. The way you wrote it looks like Sibelius default on MIDI import – not correct.
    - page 2: be sure to specify how many players are sharing each wind staff!
    - page 3: there's the thing with missing dynamics again. Also ties on tremolos and this time I will mention it because the ties go nowhere! Take care of that.
    - bar 17: slurs on harp means to use the same finger. You can only do that on adjacent strings. Pedal diagram goes above either of the staves.
    - bar 24: break out ye ol' tenor clef for those bassoons. And when I'm saying 'those' I'm really throwing a long shot since you didn't indicate whether it's one or two players.
    - bar 25 generally: Break that dotted quarter and tie it to the third beat. I know the next thing is to taste but I would also break the beam between the F# and G
    - bar 31 generally: slurs extend to the last notehead.
    - bar 36 harp: You have specified the pedal diagram, so you don't need the clumsy 32nd-notes. Simply write E as a half note with a gliss line.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  5. :eek:

    What ??!!! Is this a Scandanavian thing? Never heard of this, and a ton of harp music uses them.

    Interesting local knowledge perhaps. Notation is as much an art as science. I get the reasoning, it's like putting a diminuendo on a harpsichord rolled chord.

    That said it's used in plenty of harp works.

  6. I'm not saying it's not being used and has not been used – it's just doesn't follow the logic of harpists.

    Try imagining the different ways a harpist would play the OP's example with or without slurs. There would be no difference.
  7. Hey! First, let me say, and hope you know this already, that I think you are aces. You're awesome, and I hold you in the highest regard as a pro.
    I hope that the lack of "tone" on the internet did not make me come across like a douche and if I was negating what you were saying.
    Your post was really great!

    I am really happy to see you posting here, and hope to see more. (including your own work)

    I just have never heard of this. I am only talking about the same finger. You might be 100% correct, and that is why I wondered if it was a thing across Europe. Not in the US --- you see this with finger text, but not as articulation.

    That is all. I understand your point perfectly.

    If you want to jump into the weeds of harp writing, I would be happy to share with you what I came to conclude working with harpist on slurs.
  8. Hey Doug,

    No worries about tone. :) I have also worked closely with harpists and have come to different conclusions than you and others.

    i Think the misconception comes from the logic of writing for harp as for piano and then slurring for legato.

    consider this: if you write a gliss with a slur, you want all notes in the gliss including the end note under the same finger.

    If your write it without a slur you want all the glissed notes under one finger but the end note plucked with another.

    If you write downward 5 note arpeggios (c b g e c) you Can slur c and b to be covered by the same finger.

    Maybe I should dig up some examples later.
  9. It's really more of a notation question than "What do harpist think" I feel.

    If I was looking to do what you are describing I would likely use a fingering text, and not the slur. Like below.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-28 at 11.56.45 pm.png

    Flip it around. The two examples I posted from Debussy and Faure. Both are staples of the harp repertoire.
    You wouldn't expect them to use just one finger......would you?

    Wishing you all the best !!
  10. @Francesco Bortolussi

    I was just looking over your harp part after the discussion with Thomas. First ......follow all of his awesome advice.

    I have some additional comments for revisions of your harp part.

    Bar 17: Respell the harp to Cb and Gb. Cb major is the natural tunning of the harp. Regardless of my off-topic conversation above, spelling
    as flats will give you more resonance.

    Bar 19: Respell to Cb and Fb

    Bar 21: Respell to Bb and Gb

    Bar 23: Respell to Cb and Fb (like 19), then on beat 3, Bb and Gb. Bar 24 is simply Cb

    Now you only have one pedal change bar 25 (Gb up to G)

    You currently have it scored so 4 pedal changes are needed.

    Bar 29 onwards clean up the pedal changes. Harpist can only change two pedals at a time. 31 you have B natural pedal, but Bb in the music.
    Then you ask for a Cb, but we never get a Cb.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 12.33.33 pm.png
  11. First of all, thank you so much y'all for going through the score and for being so helpful! The comments have been really valuable!

    This makes me think of the current scene of some of the metal sub-genres: guitar players just seem to wanna keep adding more and more lower strings to play "heavier and heavier". I find it really funny how many of these musicians forget that bass players exist :D
    Jokes aside, I do get that the tones differ in many of these situations, but I recall string instruments going easily out of tune when they were tuned on keys that they were not usually tuned in. Like having a guitar tuned in dropped D, you have to retune the lowest string much more frequently in the first few days to get it to 'chill' on the pitch D. I reckon a double bass sounds similar enough to a cello that you can avoid this scenario most of the times (unless you have a REALLY IMPORTANT melodic line on the cellos that goes down on the low B, but at that point I would probably just modulate everything up a semitone, maybe?)

    I'm almost ashamed of having made some of these mistakes, but thank you very much for pointing all of them out! I was a bit sloppy on the instrumentation page because the orchestra was already decided, so I just made sure that the parts were right for the musicians. Not a good excuse of course, I can see why it's really important to get that right.

    I actually originally wrote it the way you described it here, but I was persuaded by Pete Anthony (name drop of the day) to change it to "sim."; his rationale was that the musicians already had a lot of informations to take in when sight-reading a piece, and that overwriting articulations (or rather, writing them in every bar when they just repeat) makes them prone to make more mistakes than they would. There is also an argument of "trusting the musicians' interpretation" more than spoon-feeding them the exact articulation for each note (especially when they have very little time to learn a piece and perform it).
    I'm not saying one or the other is the better approach, but I found it interesting to read your take on it.

    This is really helpful, thank you! I also particularly liked this comment:
    definitely didn't think about the resonance of the strings here.

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