Soundtrack Cologne 15 - Highlights

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Soundtrack Cologne 15 - Highlights

by Marie-Anne Fischer



Day One
The Soundtrack Cologne 15 event was held between the 22nd and 25th of August 2018 in Cologne, Germany. I was fortunate to have the chance to attend the event, for the very first time. The official opening took place on the Wednesday evening at the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung congress centre, with a great welcome talk and reception. It was especially refreshing to meet so many European and American composers, I had previously connected with some of them on-line but had never met them in person.
From the beginning, the fantastic organizing became apparent and I could tell that this was probably going to be one of the best events I had ever attended. Once I had registered, I received email invitations to pick and choose which events I wanted to attend that were included in the €100 fee.
Day one,10am; I attended the first workshop discussion, moderated by Helge Borgarts with award winning Video Game, Television and Film composer Pieter Schlosser, known for his soundtracks for TV series Freeform’s The Lying Game, NBC’s You, Me And The Apocalypse and game music for Transformers: The Game, Gears of War 3. He has been working on the score for the sequel to the Destiny franchise, as well as Destiny 2 and 2 expansions to the game. He discussed some of his writer techniques for scoring for games. For example, writing 4 to 8 bars of music and then adding layers; writing in a modular way where different pieces from different sections can be added to the game all depending on what action is taking place in the game. He also mentioned sticking to the same tempo and key in order to make smooth transitions between sections. When working on projects with more than one composer, all composers in the team will feature on all tracks, credit-wise. Pieter also spoke about his earlier career, working at Hans Zimmer’s studio for 5 years, being an assistant to Steve Jablonsky on Desperate Housewives, Friday The 13th and Transformers to name a few.



After a coffee break, I headed off to attend Takeshi Furukawa’s workshop, a discussion chaired by Helge Borgarts. One of Takeshi’s first professional assignments was orchestrating Star Trek: Enterprise, he further worked on Star Wars: The Clone Wars as music arranger and orchestrator, also won Cannes Lion Winning global campaign for Mercedes-Benz, Apple, Canon and Sony. Takeshi’s soundtrack for PlayStation title, The Last Guardian, picked up a number of awards, including, Premio Drago d'Oro, an IGN Award, and a GANG Award, as well as nominations at the BAFTA Games Awards, D.I.C.E. Awards, SXSW Gaming Awards, and the International Film Music Critics Association Awards among others. Takeshi gave us an in depth walk-through of one of the scenes of The Last Guardian. The soundtrack was recorded at AIR studio and featured Trinity Boys Choir and the London Voices, conducted by Takeshi. He mentioned the importance of finding harmonic language first and then the themes and that 90% of the job would then be done. He spoke about the muted colors and tonal dissonance using 7th chords and major-minor duality in his score. Takeshi mentioned avoiding underscoring the emotional bond between the main characters and focusing on using the music to highlight the cinematic beauty of the heroic narrative and scenery.



During the lunch break which followed, my friend and I found an exquisite Italian deli, just around the corner from the venue, where it was good to take a breather and chat to other composers who came all the way from Sweden to attend Soundtrack Cologne.

BAFTA award winning composer, Garry Schyman, spoke next, chaired by Helge Borgarts. Garry has won numerous awards for his video game scores, including several soundtrack of the year awards, he has worked on over 18 video games, 11 feature films and 26 television shows. He is best known for his award-winning soundtracks to the BioShock game series (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite). He also created the scores for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (nominated for a BAFTA award) and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Resistance: Retribution and Dante’s Inferno. Garry especially enjoys the creative aspects of creating music for games and the often cinematic style calls for interesting and authentic scores. He also appreciates the often availability of sufficient production budgets in games to be able to work with live musicians. It was lovely to watch a clip from Torn, a VR game with a dark mystery in the centre, and to hear Garry’s wonderful lyrical and melodic soundtrack. The soundtrack was recorded at Fox Scoring stage which is Garry’s favorite place to record because of the unique acoustic quality of its room and also working with excellent players. Torn announcement trailer



I felt incredibly energized and inspired by all three workshops and had one more event to go to before the Interactive Live concert.

Jeff Jernigan, an agent representing composing and songwriting talents from Kraft-Engel Management, was the last discussion workshop for the day I attended. He spoke to Hansjörg Kohli. He gave advice on the importance of a good show-reel, how it should be diverse and divided by each genre. He discussed the essential ingredient of having a unique sound. Jeff suggested being involved with Sundance films and their film music program which bring together both fiction and documentary filmmakers, emerging film composers, and sound designers. It was great meeting Jeff afterwards and nice to receive first-hand advice.


My brain was bursting with the amount of information I had taken in over the course of one day, I wondered whether I could take in any more?

We walked through the narrow and busy shopping streets of Cologne to get to the interactive game concert, Stories: The Path of Destinies, soundtrack by Vibe Avenue (composers Mathieu Lavoie and FX Dupas). We made it on time and it was a welcome treat to sink into the soft seats of the concert hall after so many hours on our feet. The music was performed by the gRoBA Orchestra and conducted by Rodrigo Lopez Klingenfuss. We watched the game being played live in conjunction with the musicians and their incredible skill to responding to each decision the player made. The soundtrack was beautiful and it was so nice to experience the music going through the different levels effortlessly.



The end of the day was rewarded with a Schnitzel with a local Kölsch beer on the side!


Day Two - Brief Highlights

I was still tired from the first day’s excellent panels and so thought it would be wise to pace myself during the second day, but that turned out to be impossible.

I chose to attend composer and musician Jed Kurzel’s workshop discussion which was moderated by Gary Yershon. He spoke about the score he created for Snow town, which was named Feature film Score of the year at Australia’s 2011 Screen Music Awards. We watched a clip from Snow town, directed by his brother, Justin Kurzel, the music was hypnotic and ominous created with guitar, synthesizer drones, percussion and electronic sounds which very much reflected the stark mood of the film. It was also great to watch a clip from the supernatural psychological horror The Babadook and hear Jed talk about his soundtrack. He also spoke about his score for Macbeth, which was also directed by his brother followed by Assassin's Creed and the talk ended with a clip from Alien Covenant which produced a silent chill in the room, it was brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed Kurzel’s talk, he has such a unique sound and I really like his technique, especially the way he uses drones and effects.



I also attended Christian Henson’s Do’s and Don’t in Media Composition reality talk, always great to listen to his advice, delivered in a very lighthearted way. Here is a video which is quite similar to the talk which you might enjoy, as I did:


Another excellent day was completed with the Heart of Gaming concert with the Cologne Philharmonic orchestra conducted by Evan Christ. Music performed by an incredible list of game composers, Greg Edmonson, Austin Wintery, Inon Zur, Richard Jacques, Chris Hulsbeck, Masashi Hamauzu, Hideki Sakamoto, Jason Graves, Garry Schyman, Gareth Coker, Jesper Kyd and Takeshi Furukawa.

Here are the links to the live stream concert: Part 1:  and Part 2:

Day 3 - Morning

Listening to Norwegian composer Ginge Anvik in the garden venue, was an excellent start of the day. He originally wanted to become an astronaut, having had a great passion for space, growing up watching the TV series Cosmos and listening to the music by Vangelis. Since then he just wanted to create music. At the start of his career he created music for radio theatre, dance performances and performing at raves and festivals. He has scored more than 23 films since scoring the comedy Tommy's Inferno in 2005, also documentaries, shorts and TV series using instrumentation ranging form electronic to orchestral and since 2012, has created symphonic scores for children stories. It was special to be able to watch clips from his most recent work.



The next event was a little bit different, I wanted to attend it, being a panel of women in Media music with composers Iris Wolfinger, Jasmin Reuter, Martina Eisenreich and Iva Zabkar who score music for crime thrillers - but sadly it was in German and I could not understand it. The moderator, Cornelia Köhler recognizing this fact and being incredibly welcoming, kindly organized someone to translate for me. It was very interesting and the discussion covered the relationship between the producer, director and composer.
Soundtrack Cologne was really a worthwhile and enjoyable event to have attended, I made great connections, left motivated and inspired. I look forward to attending next year and would highly recommend this event to anyone thinking of attending next year also.

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