Monday, December 24, 2018

My Life as a Tailor

Sky in skirt.
The final project in last year's beginner sewing bootcamp at M Avery Designs Sewing was to make a skirt. Specifically, this very nice a-line skirt designed by Meghan.
So I thought to myself "Who would like a skirt?" and reached out to Sky. Luckily, Sky's sizing was exactly what the smallest pattern of this a-line skirt was. The other lucky thing is that I (like a boy) chose a material off the Internet with really minimal thought about it.
I got a very heavy black cotton material. But the thing with it is that 1. the color totally hides any sewing, er, "incidents"; and 2. the heaviness actually makes the curved sections stretch nicely. Sky, with her dancer figure, was made for this design.
Thank you Sky for being such a good sport. I didn't even have to poke her with needles! And it obviously fits great. The drape is very classy (because of the heavier material) and I'm rather proud of the work I did.
(I noticed that this year they added a men's tie as an option to the skirt for the class. ;-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Second Summative

I love this spacesuit design so much.

Assignment Mark (Summative)

70 %

Tutor Notes

Allison Piccioni's Notes:

Hi Andrew!

Thank you for your “Titanium Oil” submission!

Thank you for a detailed commentary and links to the engine and oil advertisements you watched for inspiration! I will always forewarn about watching or listening to a final version of something that you will be re-scoring for the fear that it will overly influence your own music, but obviously since the final brief was changed for the commercial it can be used as a good reference. Also love the David Wingo reference - an unusual reference but relevant nonetheless and I like the influence in your writing.

Nice choice in instrumentation and development through electronic to organic sounds. Great sound design to represent the engine!

I’d love to read a little more in your technical section about why you chose specific harmonic structure and how you developed melodically and rhythmically. Also curious what elements and how you created a greater density in the mix - EQ’s? Added layered elements to fill our the kHz? A mastering track, compression, etc? Would also like to know which plug-ins you are using!

Overall I find the mix and balance between varying sections to be a little scattered. There are such dynamic changes between sections, the instrumentation, and the overall mix layout- which makes me curious to know what and how hard of a compressor and limiter you used on the track. For commercial music, you will want the mix to be pretty hot, especially considering it will be ridden down underneath dialogue, and will be coming out of an assortment of speakers including iPad, iPhone, and television speakers and usually needs the bass boosted and treble or dialogue heavy kHz reduced. The beginning has a really GREAT mix balance. The heavy mechanical sounds at :19 are a little mid-range heavy (however, awesomely crunchy!) but then we go back into this atmospheric section that is well-balanced, with a good swell, although the transition into :54 could use a little something extra to smooth it over. I personally want a heavier low end under the smooth vocal sections from 1 minute out - but that is merely a personal preference.

I like the concept of bringing the vocal in the beginning, but you may want to consider using a more staccato vocal here to emphasize the mechanization of the engine at this point in the brief. Great bubbling synth bass here!

I love the junkyard percussion sound design starting around 19 seconds in, although I feel it is missing a bit of low-end or needs the bass and larger percussion boosted underneath it for power, the sound design feels more mid-range heavy here.

At 40 seconds into the track, we get this really cool other worldly atmospheric presence in the music. The percussion and vocal that comes in around 55 seconds adds to this foreign feel, which I personally find is perfect for the scenario of the brief, although I think that adding a louder, low pad would really add some depth to this section. This is where the Doppler effect is

I hear that you have a Doppler affect car zoom sound later in the track, this is something that I haven’t heard in other projects, and I think that works extremely well in a creative, sound design, and musical way!

The smooth vocal sample is great, good levels of reverb here. If you decided to use a more staccato vocal at the beginning, you may also consider taking off some of the reverb at the front, to give it a tighter and closer feel. I also find that the synthesized sounding strings are appropriate here

I myself would have gone for a bigger ending to the track, however this is difficult to assess without having visual aid of the commercial.

Research: (9/10)
Creativity: (9/10)
Technicality: (8/10)
Practicality: (9/10)
Execution: (8/10)
Style and Originality: (9/10)

Allison Piccioni's Summary:

You have a great assortment of creative sound design in this and really nice differentiations between sections! Overall the mix is great - my only critique is the mix balance between sections and trying to even out the dynamics and/or mix spread, compressor levels, etc. I feel this mostly because the sound effects (which are awesome!) seem to be very mid-range heavy in the mechanical sections around 00:19 in, and the transition into the fluid vocal section seems just a bit rushed or in need of being smoothed over. You have a really nice development to this track and I thoroughly appreciate how you have turned a multitude of sound effects into musical and rhythmic elements!

David Denyer's Notes:

Hi Andrew,

Overall very strong work with this submission. The narrative beats are well defined and clear and you’ve clearly taken the narrative aims of the brief very seriously.

On the whole the use of engine sounds has been really cool but in general I’d suggest more processing to make them sound less like an early musique concrete and more in line with contemporary synthesis - pitch shifting would be a great start (generally pitch shifting down is the only kind of pitch shifting that ever really sounds any good), but also glitching them, or FFT processing or some other kind of garbling/warping could make them sound more refined, polished and generally heavier and more dramatic. In particular, the “vroom” sounds at 1:03/1:08 etc feel a little underdeveloped and could really be stylised somehow a little more, ie to be less immediately familiar (and therefore a tad gimmicky) but more intuitively familiar. Earlier on, the “engine ignition” sounds at 0:21, 0:23 etc, similarly have that slightly early-concrete feel, where the sounds are being used but the processing on them is limited, so the source is quite familiar. If this had been slowed-down via playback rate by, say, 50% this could be a really cool grumbly sound but the familiarity of it is a little bit too jarring here - what we’re after is the feeling of “engine-ness” without actually the recognition of the sounds that we’re hearing. Consider something like the sound effects used in the Transformers films - they communicate “high-tech machinery” without actually sounding much like machinery that we’re familiar with and this allows those sounds to operate within a less clearly-defined spectrum.

Perhaps more problematically is the fact that, dramatically, the “spikey dance” is actually the coolest part of the music - and the “elegant smooth” dance towards the end actually sounds much less cool. This is a problem because the engine oil is the product that is aimed at being sold by this ad - which means the smooth elegant dance at the end has to sound like the absolute pinnacle of coolness and elegance and power and climax - this really has to be the “act 3” of the advert, where the whole piece has been building up to. What it feels like though is that the spikey dance is the climax - and the final part almost feels like a coda, or an appendage to the end of the piece, which has this kind of dreamlike, slightly resigned, sort of muted feel. So functionally and dramatically, this would probably not suffice for the producers of this ad.

Overall the production is very good, there’s some really cool sounds here and the electronics are used quite tastefully - your electronic percussion, especially in the “spikey dance” works really well. Really nice use of the stereo field too. As a track this really has promise, but the dramatic emphasis and climax so early on during the part of the film that’s supposed to be the “problem” that is solved by the “product” later - confuses the message slightly, and it’s a shame because you set this piece up really well for an incredible payoff in the last act that never really happens.

Research: 9/10
Creative: 7/10
Technical: 9/10
Practical: 6/10

Kind regards,


David Denyer's Summary:

Overall very strong work, some very cool sound design and an overall aesthetic that really suits the product. I think the engine sound-design needs to be masked a little more, as the familiarity is a little jarring and diverts the piece away from the more artsy/fantastical realm, and dramatically the part of the piece that should be the climax - ie, the engine finally operating at full efficiency due to the brilliance of the product - actually sounds less dramatic than the earlier part of the film (ie, the “raucous danse macabre”), which ultimately undermines the goals of the film and the music. Strong work otherwise.

Friday, December 14, 2018

In the Aggregate
Some alternatives to CD Baby.
So far I've been pretty happy with CD Baby -- mostly because I don't have to deal with anything once the title is released. But maybe that's true with the others too. I dunno.
I'm offended that my blog might end up being safe for work.
I think we're going with Podbean for the Earthkiller podcast.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Notes to live by

Assignment Mark (Formative)

Hi Andrew,

There are a lot of good ideas, and the live recordings add significant depth and make the track more organic. The style is perfect for the brief. There is definitely enough room for dialogue.

The energy of the track is quite linear overall. There are always new elements coming, but the percussive pattern stays the same (or very similar) throughout the track, with very little variation in register, dynamics and harmony. If you listen to what’s happening at 1:00 and then 4:30, the intensity is the same. There is not enough development. Instead, try to start with less elements and then build up slowly.
This makes it also a bit repetitive. Let’s assume this is for a pitch and you’re creating the soundtrack without any images or script, but only this brief. The music should tell some sort of story and have a dramatic arc of its own. First of all, the ideas and themes need to be very clear-cut. If you’re writing the music with the film in mind, think of how the director and editor are going to approach it. The probably simplest approach is the classic three-arc structure with a powerful climax. So while it’s great that your composition feels very coherent, it does need more variation and structure.
When you compose, try to think about the purpose of each section of the composition and its function within the narrative and overall structure. For example, “this is the theme’s light variation with piano and less percussion” or “this section builds up from very quiet to very loud and connects theme A and B” or “this section introduces the main characters” etc. Right now it’s more like “this is a new element and the music feels slightly different, but not clearly different”, so the audience can’t really tell where they are. Basically the tricky part is to find a balance between creating something that keeps telling something new and develops all the time, but still feels like one idea/style.

In terms of aesthetics this feels slightly more 2000-2010 than 2010-2018. Mainly because of the percussion and the saturated/distorted sounds (that being said, virtual hacker battles are a very 2000s thing). Nonetheless, this style is still widely popular, especially in library music.
A more modern example for this specific style is the soundtrack of Mr. Robot by Mac Quayle.

Be careful with the limiter. Currently the track is way too loud and compressed, losing all of its dynamics. For a pitch it can be a good idea to make your track loud enough to make sure it can compete against other tracks in terms of volume, but it should not be excessive. If the director has already decided to work with you and this is a draft or even the final version of a cue, there is no reason to add a limiter, or if so, only very little. Tracks on soundtrack albums are mastered differently than the cues actually in the film, so you shouldn’t use their loudness as a reference (again, unless you’re releasing a soundtrack album).
Eventually, this is the composition’s main problem: everything is more or less equally loud, the music doesn’t go in any direction (building up, slowing down etc.) but remains static.


Research: 6/10
Creative: 6/10
Technical: 6/10
Practical: 6/10

Matteo Pagamici's Summary:
Overall, the production quality and the style are excellent, but the music needs more development.

Friday, December 07, 2018


 I think アンドリュー・ベルウェア is my name in Japanese.
I think that little dot between my first and last name is maybe something standard-ish for foreign names in Japanese. I dunno though.
 Gesamtkunstwerk the total artistic synthesis.
 The Artwork of the Future.

Simple Rules to be followed blindly by composers for motion pictures.
I should paste this critique on a note on my monitor: "Overall, the production quality and the style are excellent, but the music needs more development."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Notes on notes

Fast is Netflix's speed-check alternative.

The Tamarind Seed. Watch the montage scene as a good example of creating a whole thing. Or in the words of my tutor: "Andrew, just found my Tamarind Seed notes, for the montage I talked about. 1:34:04 - 1:39:48 of DVD (Ch. 11) So about six minutes. Airport Montage" Noiiz is out of the UK. Vaughn Williams Symphony number 5 was a thing Goldsmith was listening to. Dig Jack Cookerly. Trombonist and organist. And made a whole bunch of sounds for things like Star Trek.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Immersion in sound.
Wavemaker is novel writing software.

Film mixing.
Alex North biography.
Optimizing Kontakt. This is a YouTube video for an older version of Kontakt so I don't know how much is still relevant.
Cinematic Studio Strings sound great.
Reading orchestral score.
2016 Stereo Room by Eventide Clockworks. VST plugin.
I don't know I'll ever keep the Strauss' in my brain.
Ear training.
Moar ear training.

Sunday, October 07, 2018


Mac Rogers as John the Baptist in Almelem.

I mean that's all you really need to know.

Saturday, October 06, 2018


Cinematic Strings.
Evolution Media Music briefs.
Chicago citation generator. I really don't understand how to use it more than just entering things in by hand.

Auto Hot Key.
Pasting text without formatting using Auto Hot Key.
I'm still using notepad myself.

Friday, October 05, 2018


Heed the Call.

Those are a couple words I'm likely to spell incorrectly as I am writing papers using UK English.

I am prejudiced toward Chicago Style, I admit, but I have to say that MLA (with all those in-line citations) is harder to read (Bellware, 2018.)

Mourning and Music in Blue Velvet.

One big thing I have learned whilst working on my Master's degree is where the bar is. I get so up in my own head that I can't hear things. And just having a tutor once a week to tell me if I'm standing on an island or sinking in the middle of the ocean is really incredibly helpful.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


My first assignment is due on Monday. Oddly, it is a graded assignment, yet it does not count toward my grade. Indeed, there is a lot of work which is ungraded.

To try to get better at this kind of work I'm going through the Thinkspace seminars on Orchestral Mixing with Jake Jackson.


ProTools finally allows you to apply "gain" to individual clips. That's pretty much all you can do with the individual clip, but at least you can do that now.

I probably need to deal with mixing stems right back into the project. I haven't been doing that yet. in my life.

Man, they spend a lot of time dealing with the inherent limitations in ProTools. I forgot what a pain in the tuchus it is to just add a reverb to the end of a bit of a track. Holy cats.

Guy Michelmore's pedagological sense really works for me. Technically it's his sense of androgogy or some such. But he's able to articulate pretty much everything. You know I have this whole thing about the difference between a "master" of something and, say, a "journeyman" is the ability to teach the thing (er, disregarding the sexism in the terms.) It's his ability to articulate complicated ideas that works for me.

Interleaved stereo -- apparently the mastering person at AIR thinks they don't sound as good as separate tracks. I suspect that ProTools just sucks.

Convolution reverbs -- I'm gonna guess that most of the differences between different convolution reverbs is the impulse responses they use but there's probably some maths differences too. I suspect it's a case of everything else mattering first.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

We're not the best people in the world

The Citation Machine makes citations. I think JSTOR does too.
University of Oxford online library system.

Okay. So I have two weeks to do the first assignment. But these first three assignments each are from a pool of 6 possible choices. So I kinda need to figure out which of these six in the pool I'm doing for each formative and for the summative assignment.
Interestingly the assignments are different from the chapters in the module. And the chapters in this module are actually in a course I took over the summer in order to do a better job on the portfolio I submitted.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Required Viewing

I've seen all these movies but one. The Social Network.

Obviously, I'll be watching them all again, I just thought that was interesting.

Required Viewing (for both Film Music in Practice Modules)

American Beauty. (1999). [film] USA: DreamWorks SKG: Sam Mendes.

Batman. (1989). [film] USA: Warner Bros: Tim Burton.

Casablanca. (1942). [film] USA: Warner Bros: Michael Curtiz.

From Russia With Love. (1963). [film] GB: Eon Productions: Terence Young.

Gladiator. (2000). [film] USA: DreamWorks SKG: Ridley Scott.

Gravity. (2013). [film] USA: Warner Bros: Alfonso Cuarón.

King Kong. (1933). [film] USA: RKO Radio Pictures: Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack.

King Kong. (2005). [film] USA: Universal Pictures: Peter Jackson.

Lawrence of Arabia. (1962). [film] GB: Horizon Pictures: David Lean.

North by Northwest. (1959). [film] USA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM): Alfred Hitchcock.

Psycho. (1960). [film] USA: Shamley Productions: Alfred Hitchcock.

Skyfall. (2012). [film] GB: Eon Productions: Sam Mendes.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. (1980). [film] USA: Lucasfilm: Irvin Kershner.

The Adventures of Robin Hood. (1938). [film] USA: Warner Bros: Michael Curtiz.

The City Lights. (1931). [film] USA: Charles Chaplin Productions: Charles Chaplin.

The Dark Knight. (2008). [film] USA: Warner Bros: Christopher Nolan.

The Godfather. (1972). [film] USA: Paramount Pictures: Francis Ford Coppola.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (1966). [film] IT: Produzioni Europee Associati: Sergio Leone.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (2001). [film] USA: New Line Cinema: Peter Jackson.

The Mission. (1986). [film] US: Warner Bros: Roland Joffé.

The Pink Panther. (1963). [film] USA: Mirisch G-E Productions: Blake Edwards.

The Social Network. (2010). [film] USA: Columbia Pictures: David Fincher.

There Will Be Blood. (2007). [DVD] USA: Paramount Vantage: Paul Thomas Anderson.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Day one

I can confirm that Andrew does have an unconditional place on the following course:

COURSE: MA Profession Media Composition

START DATE: September 17th 2018

END DATE: September 17th 2019

MODE OF STUDY: FT1 (Full Time - 1 year)
COST: $12,950

Today was the first day of induction.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New monitor, bun card

Sceptre 43" Class 4K (2160P) LED TV (U435CV-U)

Out of the box, as a computer monitor, the text is rough - even turning Sharpness down in the menu only helped a bit. The key is getting into the factory menu - Press "Menu" then the numbers 7343 while at the main menu - and changing the Sharpness curve to 0 across the board.

My monitor is dying a horrible death. So I had to order a new one from WalMart. I know.  Anyway, those instructions above are from a review on the WalMart site. Monitor is $189 plus tax.

I like Postable for sending fun cards for birthdays. I made my own design for this year. Will probably draw another animal for next year.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Demented 6th Chords

I think this is right: If you find yourself on a IV chord, Option one: put it in the 1st inversion (b) and play it. In C the IV chord would be F major, in first inversion the bottom of the triad is A, the middle note is C, and the top note is F. Then you get to make an augmented sixth! Just lower the bottom note of that triad (this would be an A going to A-flat) and raise the top note (F to F#.) Now you have a triad that's Ab, C, and F#. This is the Italian augmented sixth. It resolves (by step) to a I or a IV chord. Alternatively, do all the above steps and add a flat seven to the chord (this would be an Eb.) That is the German augmented sixth. It normally resolves to a I because it's hard to avoid parallel fifths resolving to a V (because that Eb makes it hard.) Option two: there's the French aug 6. That's on a ii chord. The ii chord (say, Dm) is put in the 2nd inversion (c) such that the triad is A, D, and F. Lower the bottom (A becomes Ab), raise the top (F becomes F#) and add in a flat 7 (this is a C because we're flatting the seven of the ii chord) and resolve to the I or V.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

7 9 11 13

As a general rule, whenever you have a chord that goes above a seventh, you would include the note it goes up to and the seventh, missing out the other notes. This would meant that in C11, you would include the F, which the chord goes up to in order to make it C11 and the seventh of the chord, B, but you wouldn’t need the ninth, the D. If you went further, say C13, you would miss out the ninth and eleventh of the chord, but include the seventh and thirteenth and so on. The most common note to be omitted from the chord would be the fifth as the root as the third gives us the strongest feel of a major or minor chord, as the case may be. So in order to create a C9 chord in 4-part harmony, you would have C – E – B – D. If you wanted C13, it would be C – E – B – A, with A the thirteenth of the chord.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Pivot chords are chords that are the same in two different keys. They're used to modulate from one key to another. Since V I establishes your key more than anything, you probably want to avoid them as pivot chords. Pivot chords really only works within two keys on the circle of fifths.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


NotePerformer is a set of alternate sounds for Sibelius.

Accented passing notes mean notes which land on a new chord but are passing notes between the new chord and the chord previous. Un-accented passing notes mean you go from a chord and then make a passing note before you hit the next chord.
I'd never actually understood what "suspended" chords are. I mean, I play guitar so the term is all there, I'd just never gotten it. But you can suspend any note of one chord when you hit the next chord. An anticipation is the opposite of a suspension. You bring a note in early. (And frequently they're in a dotted form.)

  • Passing notes
  • Auxiliary notes
  • Suspensions
  • Anticipations

Reflecting motifs and counterpoint.

- High and low pedals.

- Alberti bass and broken chords.

- Bringing parts in and out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Someone Else's Dream

See, you were living in a house with a bunch of other people. And in the basement was where you had a whole mechanical platform built for shooting. And we were sitting on the floor and a bug came crawling by and I said it's a silverfish, I'll smash it, give me a shoe. And you said no, get up, get out of the way. That's a liquid mouse. And I looked and it was more like a translucent shrimp undersea type creature but it was hinged in the middle. And you said that one of the teenagers you knew had created it and we should get out of the way. And sure enough, when it walked into the light it dissolved down into a tiny crystal. And then right away it sort of melted into this epoxy type glue and spread out and got all over everything. And I did get some on my fingers but I never found out what happened cuz the dream changed into something else at that point I think. Anyway: You know a teenager who created the liquid mouse.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


So, apparently I'm putting notes on classes over here. Instead of Tyrannosaurus Mouse blog. Nobody knows why.
Fantasy is the last bastion of the fast moving run - those 32nd note patterns that John Williams uses at the start of ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ in Harry Potter for example. It’s not only strings, but also woodwind and harp as well. These aren’t as difficult to write as they sound if you are really certain of your harmonic orientation, but easy to get wrong if you are not. They are however difficult to do with samples and it remains a major challenge even with specialist libraries like Orchestral String Runs at your disposal. If you don’t have a specialist library, try layering tremolando samples with a spiccato. That works pretty well for strings.

Friday, June 29, 2018


8dio has some nice sampled orchestral instruments.

Vocalign has a $150 version. But so far I think I don't have any real sync issues on the ADR in our next movie.

Focal. They make some headphones. They're about $1500. Seems like they sound pretty good.

Garritan Personal Orchestra.

Wanna find the frequency of your tinnitus? Or, if you have really good headphones, where your hearing actually kicks out? Yeah. No. But yeah.

I had to compose a short piece as an entry assignment to the graduate program at Thinkspace. So this is what I did.

Monday, June 25, 2018

My notes

Arrange for percussion in the same way you do for the rest of the orchestra, top, middle and bottom or foreground, middle ground and background. Think of percussion in layers.

This was the actual Castrol Oil spot I did the brief to. I'd have only gotten a "pass" on that.

I still think mine is better.

Masque has a whole series on wireless microphone rigs for actors in theater. None of them are pretty.

I'm working on a SSATB for a Pushkin poem. It is a mess.

Zebra is a software sythesizer by u-he.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Standards for delivery for learnings

By default, I would give them 24bit 48kHz stereo WAV files, but make sure to ask first.

In your cue sheet, label the column that has the location of 2-Pop's as "2-Pop" or "2-Pop Location"

So if your music actually starts at, you would put a two pop at, exactly two seconds before the start of the first frame of the picture.

You then put the timecode as part of the file name and then there can be no confusion


Many composers just give the editor the start time of the audio file without putting a two pop on the front whhen they're delivering cues like this. I often put the timecode as part of the file name to stop it getting lost or separated.



Now we have music that is

1. At the correct sample rate
2. At the correct bit depth
3. In the correct audio format
4. With the correct sync mark or two pop on the front


I would always send a text file with the upload or enclosed with the package. It should include:

Your name, address and contact details.

The name of the production, the production company and the producer it is intended for.

The technical details of the files i.e. 16bit 48khz AIFFs.

And the date or version number to avoid confusion.

If your music is received by a busy post-production house, they might have dozens of things on the go at any one time so your stuff could easily get lost.

So you covering sheet should look something like this:

Composer: Jim Farmer
Big Bad Music Company
14 Acacia Gardens
London W12 9RJ
Tel: 020 8740 1234

Project: 'Florida the Sunshine State'
Production Company: Elgin Productions
Contact: Peter Swain

24bit 48khz AIFF files

Music - Final Mixes 15th March 2015

1 Opening Title 10:00:00:00

2 Crime in Paradise 10:04:00:00

3 Capital City Money 10:06:00:00

4 Closing Titles 10:08:00:00

More important than life itself

In future every time you submit an assignment I expect you to do something like this. If you don't, your work will be returned unmarked. I know its boring and mundane, but if you don't get into the habit of doing it professionally you will eventually run into big trouble.

Check frame rate
Be sure picture is running at the same speed as the frame rate