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The Creeper's Curse - New OST Album

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Dillon DeRosa, May 21, 2019.

  1. #1 Dillon DeRosa, May 21, 2019
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
    Hi everyone,

    I'm proud to release my newest OST for the comedic short film, "The Creeper's Curse". Thank you for taking the time to check out my recent work, I do feel this is sort of a shameless plug but I'm terrible at self-promotion and would like to share my recent work. Appreciate any and all feedback, especially if you hate my music please let me know why. :D

    As well, thank you to @Alexander Schiborr my best mate for letting me lean on him through my struggles of writing/mixing this score haha!

    "The Creeper's Curse" is a story about a chef, Roger, who aggressively hits on a witch on New Year's Eve and gets placed in an ancient, demonic curse. As the curse begins spiraling out of control, his co-chefs, Gwen and Marc, band together to help their friend the cure before it's too late.



    Soundcloud preview

  2. Hey that´s pretty cool! I enjoyed listening to it! congrats! :D
  3. Awesome !!

    Please tell us more about the writing process.

    Sounds great !
  4. Very cool! Would love to hear more about your process as well.
  5. Marvelous! You just keep getting better and better!
  6. Hej Dillon,

    Great that you are sharing your recent works. I actually was having the pleasure to be part of the creation process and gave Dillon just a bit feedback, nothing major. He really worked hard on all these tracks and soundtracks and it shows of. I am really proud of you brother!

    My favourite ones are actually in the 3 play list of soundcloud as I think they are really well crafted and thought through. Probably the main title is my favourite from them all so far. Dillon is very analytical in his approach and he is able to mould themes really great.

    If there is something I could critic..its not really a critic more a wish that I thinkt a real orchestra performance would push those great tracks even further. But thats always with a sampled orchestra vs. live which I encounter all the time.

    Maybe Dillon, can you a bit talk about the approach you took creating the soundtrack? Maybe some members would like to understand that more? I know you are doing sketches on piano but you are using also a slightly different working method than me using notation software with cubase. So it would be interesting also for me, mate.
    Maybe you can tell also what libraries you used and what was from your perspective turning out exactly how you wanted and maybe also something what was difficult? Just curious.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    Rock on!
  7. Hi @Alexander Schiborr I like your suggestions. I hope Dillon will tell us more about his compositional approach and share his experience with successes and struggles. That would be awesome!

    I have not seen as many posts from you as in the past, Alex. Hopefully that means you are getting lots of paid work and staying busy.
  8. #8 Dillon DeRosa, May 22, 2019
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for all the feedback so far. I'm really humbled that everyone so far is enjoying the score and curious about my process. As I think about how to explain my process I'm literally scratching my head while laughing to my self, "What process"? I'm still under the notion that for 1. I have no clue what I'm doing and 2. this stuff just pops in my head. Nonetheless, here is my actual process and I hope it helps or is somewhat interesting. Apologies for anyone who is bored reading my process. I'll try to make this as short as I can as I tend to rant a bit when typing.

    Preface, as some of you know as I stated before in messages or perhaps public on the forum. My personal goal is that each successive piece of music or film score I write is to be better than the last. I mean, better in the sense that I'm improving my skills and craft as a composer. I studied profusely for this score and really stretch my limits as I do with every film score I'm doing (currently doing it for 2 different genre films right now). I enjoy studying as I love improving and learning but the downside is I'm slower than perhaps the norm when it comes to finishing a film score. I can't at the moment write a 2 hour film score in 4 weeks like you hear about some films and personally I wouldn't want to as I don't like to rush my creative process. I'm lucky that so far in my career that I've worked with great people who allow me to work at my pace. For example side story: On the current film I'm working on now, I was asked to write some jazz cocktail piano music for the restaurant scene where these couple talk, background music that you'll never hear because of the ambient noises and dialogue going on... well I'm proud to admit I spent a total of 5 days creating a solid 3 minute piano piece using the main theme of the film. I'm extremely proud of this piece and also have been laughed at by my closest friends/family including Alexander that I spent 5 days on incidental background music. I just wanted to express that its the little things like this that drive me; that every note I write needs to be my best effort and overall just great music to the best of my abilities at that time. I'm not a perfectionist by any means, but I am my own toughest critic.

    To begin: After talking with the director about the film, I eventually watch the film. The director and I then chat about my initial thoughts of sound and thematic approaches we could take. I'll state now that I am a thematic composer and have to start with a theme or motif, as many of you probably heard from the first track "Main titles" as it starts off with it pretty loudly haha.! The director and I create a Spotify or music playlist of inspiration tracks for the film. I usually listen to his tracks and then throw in classical tracks or older scores he doesn't know that I find similar to his. 90% of the tracks in the playlist are the directors since we find it best to work with a plethora of examples, almost like creating a world that we can both communicate in.

    After listening to the inspiration tracks and knowing that this specific film would have an opening main title that I would score, I began writing immediately the main titles. Even before spotting the film or anything I began coming up with my theme for the film. Truthfully, the Main titles in the album was not the first version I cam up with but I believe the 6th. Because the struggle with this score was the only descriptive words I got from the director besides the inspiration tracks were "Dark & Creepy". "Let the comedy speak for itself like every great comedic film, and let my score be serious.", is what the director told me. The problem was and excuse my language but what the f*** does "Dark" mean? Fast forward to the present day, I can tell you the director and I have forbidden the word Dark from our vocabulary since it's so vague and could mean/relate to anything "Dark".

    What I eventually figured out and didn't tell the director until the project was finished was that he didn't mean dark necessarily, but he meant "Monster Music" like the old Werewolf, the Mummy's Curse or Dracula movies. I let him know in the end so if we ever need to repeat this sound he knows to say Monster music and not Dark haha!. So the inspiration track-list was in a sense useless as I got inspired by old monster films and tried to put my own modern twist on it I guess. So if any advice I can give, is that sometimes the director and I (composer) don't get the initial idea of the score at first but through trial and error we discover the real sound-world. Sometimes though you do get it right the first time, and sometimes you can even completely change the director's vision on the whole film because you felt strongly about your vision and theme compared to theirs' (this happened on the director and I's first film together before this one called "People Like You"). Lastly as I end this part, there was no temp score if anyone was asking in the film. The director is very keen on killing any temp-score and doesn't allow the editors to work with any music while editing the film.

    After coming up with the theme(s) at the piano, I eventually spot the film and specifically start spotting scenes. I use an old technique and I'm biased but I think the best technique which I heard called before "Free-Scoring". I'll post separately a step by step on how to do it if anyone is interested as well as a picture of a cue of me doing it. I basically box my self in so I can start sketching at the piano an actual piece of music that will fit in the scene. For the most part this works perfectly.

    After I sketch it out with the piano sketch to the free-scoring, I go to Sibelius and notate it there. After full orchestration sketch I then mock-up in Cubase with my sample libraries. Alot of steps and I do this for each cue. It's slow but I've found it the most effective for me to produce the best music I can while improving my skills/craft. This is where I now lean on Alexander to let me know if what I wrote is musical still, how is my mixing/mockup. Alexander is a huge part in keeping me on track as I'm exploring new waters. Alexander told me, "Dillon it sounds like your swaying back and forth from commanding control over your craft to out of control of your craft and becoming unmusical". Or something like that he said as I'm really bad with remembering exact quotes. I worked hard on the revisions to make sure that I was in control and holding the listener's hand through the music. I feel I succeeded 75% of the time to be generous. I'm willing to admit that I still feel at times in this score I wasn't as confident as you may think I was... if I can give any advice as my father gave me is when this happens, use your ear as that's what I relied on when lost in the dark (that was a bad pun since this score is "Dark" haha!).

    Craft -- Simply put, everything you hear in this film is derived from my theme(s). I like to go really nerdy and even the string runs and flares are fragmented versions of my themes. This stuff excites me that you may not even notice it when you hear it but if I die and anyone ever was interested in looking at my scores they could smile at my attempt to be clever haha!

    Theme B was taken from Convulsive Dance:

    String Runs derived from the theme:


    I'm kind of running out of steam of thinking of how else to describe my process. Just to reinstate I think a lot about the whole structure of the piece, how my theme is being used and developed. How the structure of the whole film score is layed out. It's quite difficult and with each successive film I feel I'm getting closer at being better, but I try to score the whole film as if it was a one piece like a symphony; in other words, giving structure and form to the whole score not just the individual scenes/cues. Easier said than done.

    I try and want everything to sound musical although sometimes it's difficult. I'm not afraid to admit I care more about the music being musical rather than being the best film score. I see myself as a composer first, writing music that flows with the film. I'm not a film score composer writing music that can only work in the film. This as well is easier said than done but is why I do these specific steps and sketching to keep my goals intact along the way.

    If anyone has any specifics I'll try my best to answer. Apologies for the long message, I hope it was somewhat interesting and helpful. Truthfully my process to me is, "I don't know?"

    Strings: Berlin Strings, Chris Hein Solo Violin
    Brass: Berlin Brass, Sample Modeling Brass,
    Percussion: Spitfire Percussion, Cinesamples Percussion, Cineharp
    Winds: Berlin Woodwinds, Spitfire Woodwinds,
    Random: Metropolis Ark 1-3
    Aleatoric: Native Instruments Thrill, Albion libraries from Spitfire.

    Attached Files:

  9. #9 Dillon DeRosa, May 22, 2019
    Last edited: May 22, 2019

    Your words are too kind. I'm deeply touched by your words as it is what drives me with each score. Please let me know if I fail to do this as I want to keep working hard at getting better with each successive note I write.

    As you asked Paul my struggles with this project were:
    1. Staying in control of my craft and holding my listener's hand through these aleatoric gestures and textures.
    2. Writing this type of music as I lean more towards long lyrical melodies, so writing themes or melodies that are more abstract as the ones I wrote for this one is a struggle because if I can't remember my own theme how can anyone else?
    3. Creating music while serving the film & directors vision (this is always a struggle)
    4. Understanding my own process, desires and inspirations without letting it cloud and ruin the vision the director and I set for the film score.
    5. Mixing the score & mocking it up. (I have alot of trouble with this because I spend so much time in the sketching and orchestration that when it comes time to mocking up I've literally run out of steam and get very lazy and tired so I try to rush this step.
    6. Fighting laziness and self-doubt. For those who don't know, I'm perhaps the laziest person you'll meet or atleast I like to say that I am. I complain to Alexander alot that I'm lazy and not sure what to do.
    7. Structure & Form

    My successes were:
    1. Finishing the project
    2. Furthering my knowledge for development, craft, orchestration and melodic/thematic writing for this kind of abstract writing.
    3. Pleasing the creator(s) and director of the film and overall creating a funny film.
    4. Learning, I love learning and listening. I score study and listen to alot before and while writing any of my film scores.
    To output you must input as my father always tells me, so my personal inspirations were:
    1. Rite of Spring
    2. Penderecki: Polymorphia
    3. Camille Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre
    4. Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain
    5. John Williams, earlier works by him and some orchestration lifts from Raider's.
    6. Tchaikovsky
    7. Bernard Herrmann
    8. Old monster movies.
  10. Mate, one day I hope for both of us. :D
  11. [​IMG]


  12. MAN!! Your love for beer and my love for calzones together with a live orchestra performance. That is a night we both must have in the near future mate! :D
  13. I nearly forgot to post about the free-scoring. Here it is.

    Starting a Scene.

    1. Start/End
    * Find the start/end points of the scene, the shift in dramatic points.
    2. Tempo
    * Feel the pace of the scene, the tempo of whats inside your Start/End points
    3. Double Bar lines (Spotting)
    * Print out a blank piece of music, with bar lines and correct tempo, add double bar lines to specific moments or important moments you want stuff to happen (like in the picture below)
    * Usually make these important points! the downbeat of bars, so you change your meter so the downbeat will fall on this important point
    4. Fill in the in-between moments
    * In words/gestures, describe the feelings or what you want to do in between your important hit points!
    * It could even be tonality words, ex. Lydian and magical then switch to scary at these bars, dimnuendo/crescendo, rhytmic/driving, Ab pedal! etc etc...
    5. Theme's and motiff's (I do this first before anything after watching the film)
    * Now create the composition after you've boxed your self in. This approach helps you not stare at a blank canvas or black void.
    * Use your themes, motiff's. Get away from the scene and purely write composition, there's no need to watch the scene anymore. Write from your storyboard/spotting.

    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  14. Thanks for the detailed explanations of your process Dillon! Very interesting.

    Based on your descriptions of your process I strongly doubt that you actually are lazy. I understand "being lazy" as "not doing things unless absolutely have to or greatly enjoy them".

    ...isn't something a lazy person would do or say imho.

    Maybe you're just bored out of your mind with certain tasks or experience ADD-like symptoms or have trouble sticking with a single thing for a very long time because that's not a very mentally stimulating experience for... well, anyone. I couldn't imagine using notation software as an extra step if I don't have to, I'd go straight to the DAW. You really don't sound lazy at all to me!
    Dillon DeRosa and Paul T McGraw like this.
  15. Hi Martin,

    You are welcome, I'm glad you found my process interesting.

    As you kindly pointed out, I basically called my self lazy but contradicted myself compared to how hard I work on my music haha!. I see now that perhaps lazy wasn't the right word at least when talking about my work and dedication to my music. Perhaps, I more meant I struggle with having the will power to begin writing anything in the first place and in that sense, I refer to myself as "being lazy". Currently, I've been struggling all week to write or orchestrate anything... I've been studying and listening to music non-stop but actually writing something down I've failed to do; However, today is a new day. :D

    I can attest to getting bored with monotonous tasks as I'm a huge multi-tasker. In that sense, I can hilariously admit that I've been bored of my own music at times haha!

    Thanks Martin! :D
  16. To that I can relate very well! There is a book called "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield, where he talks about something similar and calls it "resistance". Iirc the gist of it was that as artists we feel resistance in the directions where the biggest opportunities for growth lie and thus need to overcome that "resistance" and can use it as a sort of guidance. YMMV of course.
  17. Man, I can relate here. Putting disciplinary practices in place to focus my attention singularly (i.e. combining things into complex tasks) has been a bit focus lately.

    I've found visualization practices to actually be pretty helpful. Nothing overly complicated, just (in addition to morning routines) spending 30 sec or so visualizing myself writing something I'm excited about, and making progress, as well as how exciting that feels. Also dwelling on the fact that should I come up dry, I will again experience this, whether today or tomorrow. Helps stave off that discouragement and feeling like that initial hurdle is difficult to overcome. Thankfully, we always have transcription to fall back on, as it's always going to be productive in the end.

    I also find dabbling in different arts to help. I blacksmith (when I actually find the time), take photos, write, etc. Eventually it's not as fulfilling as music and I get the itch again. Annoyingly, the times I'm not "trying" to write something are the times I often do (this is common).
  18. I'd be interested to hear more about this, like e.g. when and why did you start doing these visualization excercises?
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  19. Nothing weird really. Essentially because I'm a headcase and such habits help me get out of my own cycles of imposter syndrome, for lack of a better term (or simply pervasive self-doubt). The older I get, the more important habits and being deliberate about how I start and end days become, as well as planning out days and creating goals in advance. I have too few hours in a day to be meandering the way my nature would have me.

    Forgive the clickbaity title, generic music, etc. Doing this simply helps me take a more birds-eye, calm and rational view of myself. I think, anyway. Hasn't been that long. These habits together seem to work though.
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  20. Thanks! I'm still meandering a fair bit myself but I have very recently started to be a bit more deliberate with my time as well.
    Imposter syndrome usually isn't an issue for me, but it hit me once pretty hard last year, so I know it's not fun.

    No worries, I think I've seen a couple of videos by her already, including this one I think. I had a fuzzy memory about visualization being the same for your brain on some level as a real experience, but I didn't remember where that came from, and I guess it must have been this video. I have since heard about tons of experiments that are way less hand-wavy on the science part and actually do all support the notion that there are huge effects in "priming" people, no matter if they even realize it or not or do it themselves or not. It's downright scary to learn how how random circumstances have huge influence on important decisions of people who are supposed to be objective.
    I think the reason I struggle to adopt any visualization techniques myself is that the people I've first seen recommend these seem so full of themselves and I absolutely can't stand them. I'm not talking about Mel Robbins here, she seems relatively down to earth, though I'm always wary of the people who turned "giving advice into a fulltime profession". There's lots of money to be made in that market...

    Maybe lets get back to this in a year or so and see if you were able to keep this up long term and see how it helped you?
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.

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