Sunday, 12 November 2017

Writing New Medieval Music for Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect New DVD

We have been getting slightly behind with our productions, I suppose getting older we are a little slower than we used to be.  This weekend however we decided that we must catch up with the backlog of productions we have outstanding and knuckle down to finish them.  The new music score on my 'to do' list has been 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect'.  It's a shorter film to our 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator' which was aimed for a more religious-minded audience. 

Thomas Cromwell: The King's Collaborator DVD
The DVD is available here
The DVD became so popular on Amazon to a general audience that we decided to produce a separate DVD that was a little more generalised and would be clearer to those not coming from a religious viewpoint.  The film has been a long time coming and will make a great addition to our catalogue.  It will be nice to have the two DVDs available, they are actually quite different to each other.  I love writing Medieval-themed music because I love the instruments. 

Medieval Instruments
As with all the music that I write, I write freely so aim for a 'themed' sound rather than a perfectly correct and realistic-to-the-period score.  I dedicated this weekend to getting it done and really enjoyed myself with added sound effects.  The thing I find most difficult when composing a 30 minute score is knowing how to keep the audience engaged in the plot.  I've written many scores for our mainly spiritual productions and it's easier for me after 10 years of doing it to create the right prayerful and spiritual sound.  I can allow myself to write large sections of contemplative, very thought-provoking themes which are quite atmospheric and I find this wonderful to have the opportunity to do. 

This is our first production which is aimed firstly at a more secular audience and I knew I did not wish to be too sentimental, meditative or slow in case this was misunderstood as 'boring'.  I found this weekend that adding a lot of sound effects like horses, cavalry, fire, crowds, machinery, really aided the picture and greatly enhanced the interest in places.

Medieval Cavalry - I used the sound of this in this new production score
I am still getting so much out of ERA II samples by Eduardo Tarilonte.  For this score I made sure I used the small plucked psaltry as I don't get to use it very often.  It sounds so of that era and I actually used it in a few places as a lead instrument.  I coupled this with Tenor Viola da Gamba and Lute and fused them Nylon Guitar and added upper harmonies with a Baroque Guitar.  It blended an ancient and contemporary feel which was just the thing that was needed. 

I used a Psaltry instrument in this production - more than usual
Whenever the Church was mentioned, or monks or monasteries I drew upon Altus and Mystica both the Voice and the Phrases.  I like to fuse a subtle soundscapes with an Ethereal voice, I find it makes the listener stop and think. 

Mystica - by Eduardo Tarilonte; Beautiful female choirs used in this score
I found that rather than the narrative being simply informative, it lifted the words and added a more serious significance to them and I believe at times it drew home the history of England and kind of reinforced what was being said.  I saved Mystica until at least two-thirds of the way through the production when Saint Etheldreda's tomb was mentioned.  Up until this point I had only been using male voices.  The sudden addition of female voices again grabs the attention and in an more subtle way underlines the significance of Saint Etheldreda's story in the whole history of the Reformation.

Saint Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely - we also have a DVD on this wonderful saint!
The DVD is available here
I have just finished the score and write this as it is mixing down and running through with added compression.  The room is filled with the sounds of Medieval England.  I am thrilled that 'Thomas Cromwell: The King's Architect' is finally complete!

Thomas Cromwell - the Focus of our next production.
For more information about our historical DVDs visit our website www.marysdowryproductions.org 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

A Change in Series, Music Composition, Film Soundtracks, Personal Music Style

I have been writing music since I was fourteen years old.  It began with piano solos but quickly progressed to being able to experiment and write with all my favourite instruments.  It took me years to develop my own personal style but I can now safely say that in each piece of music I write, there is my own personal sound.  I love writing music compilation CD albums and I am still writing to this day although each album takes a lot longer nowadays as I am so busy. 

If like me you enjoy art and creativity, I find it helpful to sometimes revisit designs and see where improvement can be made.  It can be helpful in re-sparking a period of creativity if things have become a bit stagnant.  This has been the case with me.  I was asked to make the music from Mary's Dowry Productions films available but I have found it difficult to present them on CD format correctly.  I recently looked at revamping all of the CD albums that I currently have available.  I decided that I would like to move away from dividing them up into particular series.  My style is the same whatever I write and every CD album is suitable for anybody who enjoys my music and the music from Mary's Dowry Productions films.  I have therefore discontinued the 'Calm Your Spirit With Music' series design titles and am treating each individual album as just that, an album in and of itself and not part of a series.  Everything is therefore being renamed and redesigned. 

The Current Designs for Mary's Dowry Productions music Soundtracks
'Calm Your Spirit With Music Series'.
What made the Calm Your Spirit With Music series unique was the fact that the music was taken from a complete soundtrack from one of our films.  Upon listening to some of the music on these CDs the other day, I found that all the tracks are great to listen to and don't have to be delegated to the interest of just those who like the films.  They are also not religious based but can be enjoyed by anybody who like original instrumental music.

I began by taking a more direct approach.  I started writing all those years ago for myself.  We also began producing our films for ourselves.  I hope I have not lost sight of this over the years and tried to please people and reframe things to suit them.  I am therefore revamping everything as I would like to see it.  Firstly, I wrote a kind of mission statement which clearly explains what I write, what inspires me and gives some idea as to the content and style of my music to those who may not have heard any before:

MISSION STATEMENT

"I have been writing music since the age of fourteen. It began with piano solos but quickly developed into my own original style of blending all the instruments that I love such as ancient wind instruments, tin whistles, recorders, harps, guitars, baroque guitars, medieval lutes and strings, epic film strings, full choirs, Gregorian voices, beautiful choirs, the voices of the Elves and so many more! I am inspired by film scores such as ‘Lord of the Ring’s’ and ‘Braveheart’. I also love England, its’ landscapes, hills, ruined castles, history, lighthouses, sea towns, harbours, forests. When I write, I picture all that is ancient England and take this visual imagery and try to tell its’ story through music. Each original piece, tells its own story."  - Bernadette Bevans

After this, I took 'Calm Your Spirit: Volume 2' album and thought about exactly what it is and tried to get this across more clearly.  I changed the title to 'The Saxon Shepherd'.  Yes, the music was all written for the film about Saint Cuthman, but as standalone music tracks I was inspired by Olde England, the beauty of the landscape, castles, churches and sounds.  The music is both lively and reflective, it's filled with Celtic harps, ancient flutes, guitars, pads, pianos, pizzicato strings, full strings and so much more.  As a CD album, it's not just about a film score, it's about great and original music that anybody can enjoy.  

The Saxon Shepherd New CD Album
The Saxon Shepherd:
  Let the stirring violin, piano, Celtic harps, mystical winds, ancient flutes, guitars and pads absorb and uplift in this beautiful original instrumental music CD. Perfect as background music, or for chilling out, for becoming lost in thought, prayer or to simply absorb yourself in the tunes, these original soundtracks will help unwind and calm. This particular album is based upon the full music score written for a film about ‘Saint Cuthman’ who was a Saxon shepherd. Each track builds upon the next and takes you to Saxon England through music and tells a story of simple faith, uplifting joy, peace and ancient beauty. If you like the music from Mary’s Dowry Productions, all music is composed and performed by Bernadette Bevans and all CDs are created from original tracks written in Bernadette’s original contemporary musical style and compiled, performed and finalized by her.

I am now happy that the wording, imagery, description and title are more direct in telling what the CD compilation is all about.  People sometimes do not realise that all the music that I compose is instrumental music.  I don't use singing or words.  I use choirs, voices and phrases at times but in an instrumental blending way and to add depth and atmosphere.  I mentioned 'Lord of the Rings' because I also do not want to give the impression of old Saxon England in the sense of education or history. 


By mentioning the 'Lord of the Rings' film scores I try to make it clear that my music is inspired by imagination, creativity, some fantasy, art and beauty.  It is never stagnant nor predictable but always new.  This music is fresh and original, instrumental but not classical, filled with fusions of instruments from many eras but not 'ethnic' or 'folk' or 'world music'.  This is something new, this is my own style and sound and it's worth trying out.  The Saxon Shepherd CD album is now available at www.marysdowryproductions.org and through Amazon.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne, New DVD, Music Score Complete

After a few weeks of writing on and off, I am pleased to have completed the music score for our new film on Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne.  Linked to Celtic Christianity this film covers a lot of history as well as some solid aspects of the Faith such as the Precepts.  I enjoyed writing this music, I have been wanting to work on something on Saint Aiden for a while now as it's an area of Britain which is very nice. 
Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
I recently read a book set on Holy Island and it was nice being immersed in that area of the country.  I originally intended to write some music themes which were very Celtic sounding, but in the end there are lots of themes in this score which give a lot of contrast. I used some Alto Recorders for various scenery musical interludes, with guitar and baroque guitar and harp. 

Shepherds Horn
What I did do that was unexpected was to use Shofar and Shepherd horns particularly when the narrative deals with the many kings and feuds of that time.  It was enjoyable and keeps the interest and tension.  In the middle of this film I wrote some contemplative music and touched upon Gregorian Chant as Pope St. Gregory sends the missions to England.  I fused this with "Alto" which has some beautiful phrases and lifted the score up mystically especially when accompanied by warm strings and pads.  The result is a very informative, enjoyable, uplifting and spiritual film which is available now from our websites www.marysdowryproductions.org as well as Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com 


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Holy Spirit of Serenity New Artwork

I recently completely revamped the cover art for my latest CD album 'Holy Spirit of Serenity'.  The album is part of a series of albums of relaxing, peaceful and background music that has proved very popular in recent years. 

For previous albums in this series - Peace, Gentleness, Calm, Tranquility, Joy, I have used cover art such as horizons with distant ships, sunlight through trees, the Holy Spirit with light, dappled leaves, flowers.  For Serenity I have used a meadow, with the sun just a way off, representing the music tracks moving your spirit towards the serene light, the delicate calming imagery through music of flowers, fields and trees, giving some idea of the content of the CD.

 Holy Spirit of Serenity tries to capture the sound of serenity through use of soundscapes, strings, cello, flute, guitar, piano and other instruments.  I also used voices in it in a different way.  There are 10 tracks in total which are:

Track 1- You Are Called to Serenity (4:34)
Track 2 - He Will Take You into the Land of Serenity and Light (3:46)
Track 3 - And the Serenity of the Spirit Will Envelop Your Whole Being (4:34)
Track 4 - Seek Serenity and He Will Give It (3:56)
Track 5 - The Touch of His Hand Suffuses Your Soul With Serenity (5:37)
Track 6 - He Will Bear You Up Upon the Winds of Serenity (4:23)
Track 7 - Seek the Shelter of His Arms and Bask in His Serenity (4:56)
Track 8 - Only in His Heart is There Serenity (5:09)
Track 9 - Serenity Comes From the Soft Beating of His Wings (3:46)
Track 10 - He Will Take You on a Voyage of Serenity (4:26)
Holy Spirit of Serenity is available worldwide on audio CD now from www.marysdowryproductions.org as well as through Amazon.
 
 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Beginning the Music Score for St. Faustina Film

Saint Faustina
This week, I started writing the music score for our latest film 'Saint Faustina and the Divine Mercy'.  I set up a new template from the previous score - Saint John Bosco - as I liked the sounds I had used.  I was looking for some Eastern European instruments but I did not want to specifically load up RA as I had already so many samples loaded, I did not want to push the computers capacity. 

So I bought the Cello once again to the forefront.  I thought about Russia and the war, Poland and their history and really got in the mood.  Before I was given the completed film, I decided that I would write an opening theme in advance, like I did with St. John Bosco.  I began with strings and soundscapes and added some phrases with Mystica - voices of female chants - as well as Cantus - male chants, subtly in the background whilst using the cello for the main theme and the piano as motion and movement, very eerie.  I have spent the whole day so far mostly in building up the main titles. 

I have the avi file of the film loaded in now so it gives me the correct time frame.  I've added double strings, symphonic choirs, French horns, 2 or 3 types of pads, voices, piano, harp and baroque guitar and am finally now pleased with it; it is rich enough for an introduction.  It's got the entire atmosphere of the Polish setting and is taking shape.  I am very pleased to finally be working on the music for this film as it's been in the making for a while.

Check out all our films on DVD at www.marysdowryproductions.org

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Writing the Music Soundtrack to Saint John Bosco Film, Dreams, Soundscapes, Inspiration and Ideas.

Last week, I was gearing up to write the music score for our new production on Saint John Bosco.  This was our biggest challenge in filmmaking in the past 10 years and I was looking forward to trying something new.  We covered several of St. John Bosco's dreams in the film and I was contemplating how I would go about getting the separate dream segments across with the music score.  As the film was in the final stages of editing, I set up the Cubase project and loaded up some samples that I thought I would need.  I turned to Omnisphere because it has some fantastic soundscapes, so many I have not had a chance to really scratch the surface of them.  I loaded up samples such as 'Bowels of Hell', 'Requiem' and some spooky boy choirs.  I knew we had portrayed St. John Bosco's dream on the journey to hell and back so I wanted to be prepared!  I thought the boys choirs would be a good touch if used subtly as it would hint at his working with educating boys and caring for their souls. 

 


In addition to Omnisphere samples, I used Desert Winds and Forest Kingdoms and Era II by Eduardo Tarilonte.  Whatever samples you get from Eduardo Tarilonte there are always some fantastic soundscapes included.  I loaded up Ancient Spirits and I think Desert Longing.  I decided to make use of the samples that I have so brought the flute, harp, cello, baroque guitar, nylon guitar, strings and symphonic choirs 'mm' samples to the forefront, rather than looking for a new lead instrument.  I also loaded in Altus and Cantus for voices as well as some of the new Vocal Codex samples I have not had for that long.

 
 
Screenshot of Opening Titles in Cubase
Over the past couple of months we have been watching The Man in the High Castle and I have been listening to the atmospheric music.  In particular I listened to the more exciting faster-paced scenes, analysing how Dominic Lewis managed to keep the tension building.  I listened to how he had hits on every beat and every other beat and how this made the tension grow.  I also liked how the opening titles had a simple song but gradually in the background a sinister soundscape grew, even though at times it caused a bit of dissonance, it portrayed through the music the tension and background threat.  I noted all these points because of the upcoming St. John Bosco score which I knew was to be a longer production and what is most difficult about these is keeping the interest of the audience.  I have a tendency to lapse into morbid reflection which I find really easy, but sometimes it just needs a bit of gripping tension.  I loaded up some pizz strings with the idea of using them on every other beat taking The Man in the High Castle tension scenes as an example. 



The film was not yet complete but I decided to do something I had never done before and start the music score in advance.  I experimented with harp with pizz strings on every other beat to begin with.  With this sequence started I overlaid some strings and then recorded in a lead tune with cello.  I added guitar and layered this up with Altus phrases and flute.  The result was an atmospheric yet tension-building sequence.  When the film was complete and I dropped it into the project, I was able to continue the tune for the opening titles easily as most of the hard work was done.

Everything was pretty straightforward from then on.  A score gets much easier once the narration starts and it is mostly musical underscore.  When the dreams started, I had all my samples ready and I found that dropping most instruments out and bringing in the Ancient Spirits and soundscapes created an immediate dreamlike atmosphere.  I kept this up and added some ambient drums from StormDrums for depth.  I also added some sound effects of wind and thunder which was great.



The fun part began with the long Hell sequence.  I built up the tension with Bowels of Hell from Omnisphere and it was really quite scary; scary and interesting.  After a while I realised the Hell sequence was longer than I expected.  I felt it needed something else. 


From the Hell Sequence


It was at this point that I remembered Trilian.  I use Trillian simply for bass but it can do so much more.  I loaded up 'Burning Victims' and 'Apocalyptic Message' which sounded apt.  One was a pulse/beat and added just the right touch.  At this point in the film 'words' were popping up on the screen and it just felt right to go in a more modern and experimental musical direction.  I used the beat on and off and when it came into the score it added the perfect attention-keeping element.


 
I have been reading a lot of Pope Francis' writings recently and they are so inspiring.  I was pleased to be working on such a powerful presentation of the dreams and instructions of St. John Bosco and I wanted the score to be both shocking and moving.  The seriousness of Hell was interspersed with the kind face and caring persona of Don Bosco.  Sacred Art of the Heart of Jesus really inspired me to portray with cello, string and soundscapes how much Our Lord loves us and aches for us to turn to him, turn away from sin.  The whole sequence was extremely gripping and challenging.  The final touch was Ambient Largeness drums with Thunder Clap and Metallic Doors clanging for the Portals of Hell, with the sounds of fire crackling for the wall of Hell when Don Bosco has to touch the walls and awakens from his dream with a burning hand. 
 
After this the film showed how easy it is to be a saint and touches upon Saint Dominic Savio which was very uplifting and inspirational.

The film left me moved and inspired.  Writing the score was a rare event, having the opportunity to use so many interesting soundscapes and have a lot of freedom with this.  I also found it really easy which is rare too.  The previous score for Jacinta Marto was really difficult for me. 

For the entire score I had been looking for an opportunity to use my new sample from Vocal Codex 'Salve Regina' but I had not been in the right key to make it work.  I put in a phrase of it here and there.  At the end credits I decided to play in the entire thing and lo and behold it fitted perfectly.   This film is now available on DVD worldwide through Amazon and www.marysdowryproductions.org


Saint John Bosco DVD


 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Holy Spirit of Serenity, New Instrumental CD Album Release.

After 6 months of on and off writing, ideas, struggles, writers block and inspiration for the final push, Holy Spirit of Serenity is now complete and available!


I started this series in 2010 when I was inspired to present some instrumental peaceful tracks on CD compilation.  I improvised 10 tracks for each CD album with a range of instruments centred around nylon guitar, strings, piano, cello, pads and soundscapes, with flutes and harps and other instruments coming and going.  Holy Spirit of Peace was first.  For two of the tracks I took some themes from 'The Shining Pearl of York' film and the album turned out to be atmospheric and very listenable.

It all flowed very easily and Holy Spirit of Gentleness and Holy Spirit of Joy followed swiftly upon the heels of Holy Spirit of Peace.

A while later in 2012 I was inspired to add to the collection Holy Spirit of Calm.  I wrote all the pieces and then named them afterwards with relevant quotes and passages from scripture.

I did not add any more to this series until 2014 when after a long illness I came out of hospital with renewed vigour and wrote Holy Spirit of Tranquility. 

In December 2016 I decided to start Holy Spirit of Serenity, thinking it would be as easy as the others to do.  However, being so busy, with so many productions on the go, a busy schedule, tired and also quite burned out from so many music scores, it was slow going.  I also had a new studio setup and just could not get my ear in gear!
 
You can imagine how pleased I am to have struggled through with long breaks and finally complete the album.  Towards the end, I decided that I needed to go back to the roots of my writing which always stemmed from inspirational images and titles.  Whereas in this particular Holy Spirit series I had just written and improvised easily, I felt for Holy Spirit of Serenity I needed some visual inspiration, I asked my sister to write the track titles for me first so for the last 3 tracks I took the titles and this helped me to write.  The last 3 came much more easily and the album was complete!

The CD turned out really great, very interesting, a little bit different.  It gave me an opportunity to use some new soundscapes and different instruments.  Holy Spirit of Serenity is available from our Online Shop and also through Amazon.
 
Pick up your copy today!