DAVID GILCHRIST LIVES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST WITH HIS LOVELY AND BEAUTIFUL WIFE LEANNE AND THEIR SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN. DAVID HAS ALWAYS WANTED TO WRITE ORCHESTRAL MUSIC. IT WASN'T UNTIL 2005 THAT DAVID GOT HIS ACT TOGETHER AND STARTED INVESTING IN SOME HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE FOR MUSIC COMPOSITION. BY THE END OF 2006 DAVID HAD SCORED FOR ONE SHORT FILM, "THE HEARTWOOD DAGGER", AND A DOCUMENTARY, "EVERYDAY OF GIFT FROM GOD". IN 2008 HE WILL BE SCORING FOR THE FILM, "COME WHAT MAY", BY AFG FILM GROUP. HIS HOPE, LIKE MANY IN HIS FIELD, IS TO TRY TO DO THIS FOR A LIVING. ONLY TIME WILL TELL. WITH 90% DEDICATION AND 2% TALENT (WELL...MABYE JUST A BIT MORE THAN 2%) AND A DRIVE TO NETWORK WITH GREAT FILM PRODUCERS, WELL....YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.
Sometime in late October of 2005 I went to a film festival with about 30 cd's in my camcorder case. The music I had was a hodgepodge of samples I had written on a Korg 01/Wfd keyboard over the course of about 6 years. A good keyboard mind you if your style is anything but classical. The sound samples just couldn't even come close to the realism of a real orchestra I was so wanting. Because of this I was very disappointed and so close to not going for fear of being laughed at and wasting precious time and money on things maybe I wasn't called to do, I thought. It was during this festival that I gave a cd of my hodgepodge, poorly mixed and recorded, and altogether technically unimpressive music to what I thought was another uninterested yet kind and considerate person feeling sorry for this poor fellow from Washington state. Well, I thought, at least I have 30 albums spread across the nation---------as coasters for the coffee table. But then I got a call from one of the men who actually said he liked the cd. Liked the cd! I couldn't believe it! Someone actually liked it and took an interest. This man was giving me a chance to score to picture for a movie that spoke about what I care so deeply about------a father and his son. I leapt at the chance. And thankfully, I had just purchased the latest hardware and software so that the music actually sounded like a real orchestra. I guess that's how things got started. I was only able to give with what I'd had, and maybe because of that step of faith God showed me favor by giving me two key people that year from that festival. I would later go on to compose for two films the following year. This album, "The Heartwood Dagger", was accomplished from the blood, sweat, and tears of the previous year and the incredible sacrifices made in 2006 to accomplish what I dreamed about for most of my life but never thought I'd do . In the area of movie scoring , this album is some of the first fruits from what I've sewn , nurtured, and cultivated in the last 20 years of my life concerning the musical gifts God has given me. May He give me more according to His will. Thank you for listening.
The Passing of the Dagger
During an opening scene it is vital to tell your audience where you are going with the movie. Just as important, the music must set a tone with the viewer that not only captures the feel of the scene but establishes a signature mark with its musical motif. As a rule of thumb I always come up with a "motif", first. Then, after all parties have agreed on the "motif", the motif is then used in many different variations throughout the movie. The motif will generally be heard at the beginning of the film and, depending on the composer, other various time through the picture. Most film composers, if not all, have more than one theme. Yes, there is a major theme that is the predominant them or "motif" but there are themes for the actual characters themselves or for scenes that play a pivotal role in the film. One classic example in almost every adventure and shoot m up is the "chase" scene. There are also themes of romance, heroism, fear, battle, etc. I think that the most difficult thing to write is not the countless notes in a score but the actual 5 to 15 notes that will make up your motif. These 5 to 15 notes in some cases are worth millions. They will determine, in many cases, the fate of the film. They will definitely determine if you will have people banging on your door to work for them or if you will be dealing with unemployment as a composer. Once a composer can get past the first major hurdle of the 5 note "motif" the rest is a lot easier and more fun.
"The passing of the dagger", was my very first scene for scoring to picture. In the first part of this scene I wanted to characterize Dr. Fuller's comments about his ill health with a lonely cello. The single "sample"(music samples in a computer that generate the actual sound and realism of the notes that you here) did not sound well all by itself when put on a cd. The individual cello sounded "canned". So I decided to go with a sample that was a group of violins. It sounded more realistic for the soundtrack album. That is the only difference in this song between the cd and the dvd versions. After Dr. Fuller tells his son about his health he then goes on to say something very important to him. Dr. Fuller then begins explaining the dagger and its significance. That is where I decided the "motif" or the main theme should make its appearance. Not only does the viewer get set for the movie visually, but also musically. The theme has been firmly established. And now we are able to move to the Overture(Main theme) and really drive home the major melody that will be throughout the film.
The Overture(Main Theme)
After it was all said and done, this piece was probably rewritten the most. The "motif" was fine but the tempo and its approach was significantly lacking. When I first scored to the scene I was thinking that the director wanted something calm and reminiscent. I can't quite remember if he was able to articulate his idea to me as far as the music was concerned. All I knew was that I was very unhappy with the piece and so I put it on the back burner for later. The film itself had a deadline it was trying to meet and the need to get all the music done was intensifying. Nearing the deadline we both agreed that what we had for the film was doable but I told him that I was very dissatisfied with the Overture and wanted to redo it. The movie deadline was for a festival and not for the final printing so I had a little bit more time to work on the piece. I called Dustin(the director) and told him I was going to start from scratch and write an Overture that I thought would be worthy of such a topic, regardless of how the film appeared visually during that scene. At that point I was scoring to idea rather than to picture. Let's face it. When your budget is around 10,000, its your first major film for both director and composer, you live 2,630 miles apart and your sound guy is in Wisconsin you do things a little bit different sometimes. The front part of the Overture was written is one evening(rough cut). I was absolutely pumped because I had actually nailed down the elements in the song that were so elusive for so long. I was so exhilarated that I couldn't get to sleep when I finally went to bed at 2:00 a.m. that evening(morning?). After the film was completely finished I decided to add about 3 more minutes to the piece because I thought it needed completion and the fact that it would also be good to have it longer when making a soundtrack album. So the first 1:40 you hear is on the dvd but the rest was made for the soundtrack. The only disappointing thing about this whole Overture rewrite was that my best work to date on the film wasn't going to get a screening at the movie festival. Big bummer. The funniest thing though was when Dustin and I had a phone conversation about it. I just kept asking him, "Do you think they'll let you give them this newer version with the new music on it?". He would just keep saying, "No". So I said that when the screening came for the film I would make sure to sit at the back and climb into a hole somewhere when this particular scene would play. He said, "me to". Nice.
Opening Scene(Who's There)
This was my first attempt at writing music that holds you in suspense. I always had a tendency to "lighten up" everything Dustin wanted me to write in this piece. He really wanted something over the top scary and suspenseful. It took all I had just to give him what you hear on the album which really isn't that scary. Who got really scared over this whole thing was my 3 year old daughter, Kellie. There is a part that she would call the "Boo!" part. Every time she would here the music to that particular scene she would come over to me and say with a serious but angelic look with eyebrows raised, "Daddy,....don't play the boo part". So I would say, "Daddy's not going to play the boo part", then I would have to put on my headphones and edit so she couldn't hear. However, all the other children would watch the scene with a feverish intensity, knowing that the boo scene was fast approaching. As soon as the music quickly crescendoed and the boo scene hit, all the kids would scream and then start laughing wildly.
William Plays War
If you didn't notice already, there is more reverb added to this song in order to give it that dream-like or over the top feel. This was one scene that I wished I had had the audio and special effects already in the cut. When I composed the parts I was trying to imagine all the sounds that would be going on in the scene. What was unfortunate from my perspective, not necessarily the director's perspective, was that I wrote parts in a lower register which conflicted with the special effects of machine guns,bombs, and other low noise. The result was something that I think didn't add to the scene. However, we both thought that it didn't take away anything from the scene. Like I stated earlier, the time limits put on a film as well as the distance between those involved with making a film can sometimes limit our abilities to rewrite a scene when the special effects are placed in the film just days before a deadline.
William Receives the Dagger
There are a few songs on this album that I wished I had made longer but was unable to do so for various reasons. This was one of those songs. I've always loved the loneliness of the french horn and, on this particular song, the feeling of peacefulness. And then, of course, you get your power punch at the end.
Demo for the Dagger
The, "Demo for the Dagger", was actually the very first piece of music I put together for Dustin when He asked me to score for his film in late May of 2006. He told me the story and from that I put together not so much a motif, if you will, but an actual mood or feeling. I thought that if he liked the mood of the music I would later write a more defining piece of music that emphasized a more solid motif. However, during this time of contemplating I sat down to tinker on the keyboard with a few different instrument samples. At the time I wasn't trying to do anymore to the ,"Demo for the Dagger", I was just messing around with things and relaxing when all of a sudden my fingers hit the magic notes! The first 4 notes of the, "Maine Theme". La, la, la.......la....... . I called Dustin immediately to let him know that I had the theme.
The, "Demo for the Dagger", is still a song that I like and it does make me feel a certain way---almost melancholy. It does have a haunting feel to it and I think I like it more for that than anything else. I also thought that most folks, if they ever found out there was a prior piece of music vying for the main theme but was dropped , would certainly want to hear it at least once. What you hear is the simple, hardly edited, and pre-mixed piece I sent Dustin.
A Quiet Barbecue
With a song only 27 seconds long one wonders why I would put it on the album. This scene in the movie, in which this song was written for, tells so much with few words and ends with a brilliant sunset. When I hear this piece it takes me to that part in the movie that I like so much and makes me think of a beautiful sunset. That's a good enough reason to put it on the album I think.
A War Story for William
I have to say that this was the most enjoyable and exciting piece to write out of the whole album. It was a blast(no pun intended). I mean you've got suspense, bullets flying, bombs going off, and a grandpa telling about the war of the past and how he barely escaped death. On top of that, there is a seriousness at the end of the scene in the movie when he reflects on his past and then shares that with his grandson. You can't beat that.
Of the many films I saw and shouldn't have seen in my life, there are a couple of scenes in the plethora of films out there that have shaped me in how I write to certain scenes. One of the most classic scenes that has shaped me was the stand off between Colonel Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) and the bandit, Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) with "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood)off to the side refereeing, in the movie "A Fistful of Dollars". Though not an endorsement, one should study this scene to see how much music can really add to a scene. I believe that the music presented ( you may have to watch the entire show to get a real appreciation for the final set up) is masterful and set perfectly to take a typical gunfight scene and place it among the classics as one of the best showdown scenes in all of film. Bland music would have killed the scene and probably the movie. The english horn which was used in the spaghetti westerns really captures a lot of feeling. It's darker and more reedier than the oboe and I love it. I thought that this would be the most appropriate instrument to capture the feelings of grandpa Fuller as he reflected back to that near death experience. The english horn is what you hear on the last segment of this song.
A Prayer for Help
The original "Prayer for Help" was scrapped at the last minute by me because I thought the piece was uninspired and uninteresting. I decided that I could do a much better job. I just needed a little bit more time to think about it. I was on my delivery route one day when it finally came to me. I wasn't even trying to come up with anything when all of a sudden out of the blue it hit me. I called Dustin in Portland, NY and told him I had the new Prayer for Help and then started humming it to him. Isn't technology amazing in some respects. Here I am in small town America in Washington state calling and humming a tune to a fellow in New York state and then telling him I'll have a "rough cut" version of the piece around evening time so he can then lay it in over the video and view it and call me in the morning. Amazing.
Grandpa Explains the Dagger
This song was one of a couple on the album that I wish was longer than it is. I don't know why but it just seems to me like the song had a very strong resonance, harmonically speaking. So as the song plays the main theme with its strong harmonic resonance, I just keep telling myself, " I wish I would have made that longer".
First Chess Battle
The first part of this song was difficult for many reasons that I won't go into right here. But suffice it to say, I did not want to do either chess battle scenes because I just didn't know how to write a moving piece of music for two guys talking while they played chess. It wasn't necessarily a scene dripping with musical potential. I had already written the last 53 or so seconds of the song about a couple of weeks earlier because I found that part of the scene much easier to write to than the first. What we needed now was the most difficult part that we had, or I had, put off for so long. I decided to just take a chance by using a marshal type approach in the music. I was thinking about the war past of grandpa Fuller and just the whole scene of debate between two men playing chess against one another. The part I came up with was the first 1:23 minutes of the song. This particular style didn't seem to bother Dustin too much so he decided to go with it. That's one of the reasons that you hear two distinct styles in this song.
Fixing A Tin Man
This scene was one I really enjoyed writing to. At first I was a little nervous because, as Dustin would tell me, this part of the movie was paramount and so the music had to be something that just wasn't filler and most definitely couldn't distract from the scene. So needless to say, I didn't really want to blow it here. But as I started writing I began to get comfortable and then it became exciting. After a few edits here and there, I think it turned out all right.
William Runs Away
I thought that this scene needed the feel of loneliness without being in a minor key. The music needed to go from lonely to a sense of wanting resolution in a small span of time. I hope I accomplished that.
William Confronts Hernkle
This was another fun scene to do. At first I wasn't quite sure what exactly I would write for this part of the movie so I had to search my memory banks for shows or movies I had scene in the past that had the same elements as this scene. The first part of the scene was William confronting Hernkle and the verbal exchanges between them. This was the classic standoff scene. Not much music is needed here. It's amazing how much suspense there is when two people have a standoff, like a dual or the classic gun fight in the street. No music, just silence. You can feel the tension. It is amazing how much you can raise the tension by just the simple hit of a timpani. Then we have the chase scene. I just thought the rapid snare drum hits would help move the chase scene even faster. During the chase I also used some horn parts that are somewhat dissonant. I was thinking of the old Star Trek series (not an endorsement) and the music they used in their fight scenes. As William falls down in the grass and remains still, Hernkle is still on the hunt for him. A perfect time for just using a few drum rolls and timpani hits to create an even greater amount of suspense. At last he escapes only to realize that he had made a horrible mistake of misplacing his faith in Hernkle and of running away from home. At this moment of the scene I thought I would use music in the minor key with a french horn telling of the loneliness of William. I believe that the music at this point is the only time I really emphasize a minor key through the whole movie.
A Father and Son Forever
This whole scene is one of redemption. I love redemption and I loved doing the music for this part of the film. As William confesses his sins to his father we find the father confessing his shortcomings as a father to his son. Musically I needed something gentle but not feminine and something that was lonely enough to symbolize a heart-to-heart exchange between a father and son. The second movement of the song was written after the movie and was specifically designed to make the song longer. However, I didn't just want filler music. I wrote the second part with this whole idea of forgiveness and redemption in mind. This part of the song is what I would classify as sweet communion. The second part reminds us of our sweet communion with Him. A walk filled with suffering and sometimes great pain yet countered with a joy and peace that passes all understanding. This music I hope reflects that. This whole song, though written for the movie, is also a work written to symbolize our walk with Christ. When we come to the Father for forgiveness and as we pour out our heart to Him, there is a great weight that seems to lift and then we find peace. That is symbolized in the first part of the song. The second part reminds us of our communion, a life filled with suffering and joy. The third part of the song symbolizes our final victory over sin and the start of a new beginning---- The beginning of our union with Christ as we behold Him face to face. And together, we shall revel in sweet communion with God the Father forever.
Second Chess Battle
The, "First Chess Battle", and the, "Second Chess Battle", were songs written not so much with strong motifs but with music that encouraged the scene along with its mood and over all feeling. The first part of, "Second Chess Battle", was the most difficult scene in the movie for me to score too. It was placed on the back burner until all other musical parts were done for the movie. The difficulty was trying to capture the feeling of a second chess match between Williams grandfather and another man who had been temporarily hired by Williams father, who wasn't exactly of like mind with grandpa Fuller. The most interesting part of this story was when the film was finally reaching its deadline. Dustin calls me at 9:00pm pacific time to tell me what he would like musically for this scene. My Post Office work schedule was looking very busy and the schedule to start on the other movie was the next day. We basically had a couple of hours to come up with the first couple of minutes of the song. On the movie, all you hear is the first 2 minutes and 38 seconds. The other 3 min and 34 sec was written later for the cd album. After being unable to really understand what Dustin wanted, I decided to take a chance and just write whatever would come to me as I watched the scene. We stopped talking at 10:00pm pacific time. It's 1:00am at his house. I told him that I would call him back in an hour or so to let him hear what I had so far. At around 11:30 my time (2:30am his time) I mp3'd him the part and waited on pins and needles hoping I wouldn't get the infamous, "I'm not sure that's what I'm looking for", statement of kind disapproval. What I got was a huge relief when he said, "I think that might actually work". Yes! Whewwww.