The Dimness Interval - Main Theme Music
Because I am a weirdo, when I'm working on one of my own projects, I tend to use one creative medium to inspire me in another. So if I'm working on an animation project, I may write biographies on the characters. If I'm working on a short film piece, I might create storyboards or a title sequence. In this case, I've been working on a screenplay, "The Dimness Interval", for a number of years, and I decided to compose a main title theme to help me focus on the tone of the story, and to generally inspire me to keep plotting and writing.
The story, revolving around a teenager who invents a revolutionary medical process, is pretty epic in scope - a dark, sweeping, and ultimately tragic tale. I had a few main themes from the story that I knew I wanted to convey - concepts like the price of power, betrayal, and familial regret. Yeah, big stuff. I was also thinking a lot about Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey", and specifically two stages - Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call. With all that floating around in my head, I opened GarageBand, selected a few instruments from the Orchestra Jam Pack and just started fiddling around.
I got lucky. With no forethought, I laid down the ominous violins in the intro, and that immediately set the tone I was going for. A little tympani came next, and then the primary melody line with some legato violins. My fingers tapped out those notes almost instantly, and once I had them worked out, I had the basis for the song in under fifteen minutes.
Other instruments worked their way in - a tight, reverby snare drum for the military subplot. Sleigh bells to represent the main character's home town. A soft, high English horn for his mother, and her warning. Trumpets for that Call to Adventure feel. Tubular bells for the religious opposition. I let the story elements dictate the sounds - seems like the way to do it.
This isn't a testament to hard work (though I did spend many more hours putting together the rest of the song, tweaking the instrumentation, effects and arrangement), because it came so quickly. And it certainly isn't a result of my music composing prowess, which is quite limited - I'm a hunt-and-pecker when it comes to the keyboard. No, I really just had a near-perfect moment of creation, and the final piece wasn't just a song I liked, or was happy to have written - it was the one-and-only theme song for the movie in my head. And now when I listen to it, it sets the mood for me and helps me write. How weird is that?
The Dimness Interval - Main Theme:
The story begins with the main character and three of his teenage friends riding a snowmobile down a dreary, rural Michigan mountain. A university, closed for winter break, lays below them (and factors into the story). This is where I visualize the song being used - opening credits, aerial shots of the mountain and sprawling landscape below. The photo below is the closest I've found yet to what I've written - and it was actually taken in Michigan.
Now if I can only get past 32 in the latest draft of the screenplay.