A New Animated Short + My Scoring Process

A couple weeks back I got a lovely message from a friend at the University of Pennsylvania, asking if I could score their animated short film. It is the thesis for their Fine Arts major. The film is absolutely lovely, telling the story of the mythical Sandman and its relationship with a girl throughout her life. A beautiful story and wonderfully animated. 

The main theme came to me immediately after hearing about the plot of the story. I was walking through the streets of London (on my way to visit King's Cross and the filming location for Grimmauld Place in the Harry Potter movies) and the idea of the Sandman instantly struck a chord with me (pun intended). I recorded myself humming thematic material on my phone, since I was no where near a piano. I began my thinking about time and representing time in music. This brought me to a constant pulse, with a glockenspiel for example. I then created a main theme that I pictured being played by string instruments. It felt epic in an intimate way. I recorded this specific theme on my phone, and that theme didn't change by one note.

The following week I played the theme on the piano in the key of E flat. The first note started on E flat and continued from there. I hated it. It sounded so conventional and nothing like it did in my head. I couldn't figure out why, and I was quite disappointed. I didn't return to the theme until a week later when I was playing around on my mini keyboard connected to my computer. I instead started the melody on B flat in the key of E flat major.  This created a raised fourth situation when the melody moved to the note of A major. It was perfect, it sounded exactly like I wanted it to.

The score gradually developed from there. I experimented with new instruments, new sounds, and wrote a 5 minute suite and sent it to my friend. She loved it, and then sent me a draft of the animated short which clocked in at around 2 minutes. Instead of copy and pasting from the suite, and wrote an entirely new score using the same themes and motifs. Inspired by the physical animation, I began the score quietly with a wonderful synthesizer sound from Logic Pro. 

At this present moment, my friend is finishing production of the short. I might need to make some small adjustments to tempo tonight, but regardless it has been an absolutely wonderful experience. 

Yours Musically,

Nicholas Escobar