Case Study: Steampunk Revolution – Lancia Italy

I was commissioned by director Claire Tailyour to write a piece of music for her film ‘Steampunk Revolution’, for the Lancia Ypsilon My Stories competition.

There are a few Steampunk inspired bands around, but instead of copying their music we wanted to create something unique for the film.  Claire gave me the brief:

“It must feel as though we’re moving, making progress and climax at the end in a crescendo of positivity”.

Watch the film here:

The Music

I liked the word ‘moving’ from the brief, especially as steampunk always has those undertones of machinery. So I set out to create a piece which sounded mechanical and like it was constantly moving.  I had loved studying musique concrète at university, (experimental technique of musical composition using recorded sounds as raw material) and thought it would be great to incorporate mechanical clock sounds, steam engines, trains and sounds of the car into the beat of the music.

A screenshot of the software I used (click on the image to see full size):

Steampunk drum kit

musique concrete inspired drum kit

 

I used a piece of software called Battery by Native Instruments (within music software Cubase 7.5) to create my musique concrete inspired drum kit.  In Battery you can load any sound as a ‘cell’, manipulate it, and trigger it as a note or rhythm.  I looked for copyright free sounds I could use – in the end I used the sound of steam being released, a train, metal chinks, clock winds, clock ticks, and sounds from the car.  Claire had recorded parts of the car on the shoot and sent me the audio file, which I chopped up and created samples with, to load into Battery.  This worked really well with the film as I crafted it into a rhythmic loop.  The main loop starts from 20sec onwards.

Here’s the music track on it’s own:

 

At 31 secs I also added a sampled drum beat, and after that the string parts start to build up.  They needed to sound positive, and carry on the idea of mechanical movement.

Claire Tailyour says:

I wanted the music to be fully integrated into the story because so much of steampunk is about the sound; steel cogs clanging, engine whirring. I had an idea of the feel of the music so gave Claire the direction of Eros by Einaudi. I told her I was looking for a slow start with the sounds of the technology working to build into something similar to Eros but not so intense. On set we had recorded noises of the car specifically for the music. Claire took that direction and ran with it. Not only did she incorporate this but she brought her unique sense of melody, instrumentation and tone. The first sample she gave me was near perfect to the final piece. She’d added a driving force in the music to match the movement of the film and gave it a ‘car advert’ sparkle. The project for me was an example of when music and the editing process work in harmony; both bounced off of each other and Claire adapted to the latest cut, as did our cut to the magic she’d created.

– Claire Tailyour, Director

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the film 🙂 it is part of a competition and you can still vote for us until the 16th October here: http://ypsilonmystories.it/en/en/contest/

Claire

Claire Batchelor, Composer for Television, Film, New Media, Theatre and Live

Claire Batchelor, Composer for Television, Film, New Media, Theatre and Live

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About clairecomposer

Professional composer for screen - TV, Documentary, Cinema, Live, Corporate, Web.
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