Saturday, 14 September 2019

John Henry Newman Music Score

This week I have been working on the music score for Mary's Dowry Productions latest film 'John Henry Newman: Fulness of Truth'.  I took a different approach to this film, a lot of work has gone into this production and the editing process also took a long time so whilst I was waiting and quite geared up to write the music I decided to write some tracks in advance.  This film has been a long time coming and since the first filming day I have been inspired by the visuals we acquired of Newman.

Screenshot of John Henry Newman

I was setting up a new template in my new music PC for Cubase, one that was more reliable and systematically I was loading common instruments and switching off their individual reverbs to save CPU power.  I came across a low whistle instrument within Kontakt and it really inspired me.  I wrote a nice piece of music using this and some other instruments I usually use like harp, guitar and a nice soundscape called "Graveyard" which also had some subtle sounds too.  


I mixed this piece down and was really pleased with it, deciding that it would be a good track for my VALLEYS album that I am still working on.  Later on I wrote another piece, harp-based with a nice leading soprano recorder, the whole time thinking of Newman's time in Littlemore, it was reflective and sad.  This also became the theme for the whole story of Bl. Dominic Barberi and I was very pleased with how this worked out, it being the first time I had pre-written part of the music for a film.


When the time came this week to begin the actual score I was able to use these two pieces and they worked really well!  I also drew upon scores from other films that are mentioned throughout this production including John Fisher music score and especially Dominic Savio which both have mentions in the film.  In John Henry Newman: Fullness of Truth film there is a great section of Dominic Savio's vision of England so I hunted out the music I had written about this when it is covered in the film "St. Dominic Savio" and found myself excited at how many relevant things from over the years are brought into the Newman film and I really look forward to working on "England: The Dowry of Mary" which we will be producing this year too.


Having a production that has presentation sections throughout is really handy for me because I don't have to write music for these sections of the film and before I set out on this film score I knew that I would draw upon other film scores as this film is over an hour in length and I did not deem it necessary to write about half an hour of new underscore in parts.  I used the God's Champion opening titles for parts about the English Martyrs as we have a popular you tube film 'John Henry Newman and the English Martyrs" which also uses this music score this gave the film continuity with the English Martyrs and the atmosphere of these great saints and when I wrote new parts of the score it was fun to blend into these older scores; the tricky part was moving into the right keys.  I was also extremely inspired throughout the film to write new pieces and drew upon clarinet and bassoon since they were loaded already in the new template.  


Clarinet and Bassoon are not instruments that I use very often so it was great to use them especially in the scenery fill-in as something very new mixed in with the older scores, it made this film really interesting.  Something I did with this score that was really fun was incorporate an organ because visually there is a part with the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" written by Newman and I thought it would be great to subtly hear this piece as it is spoken about.  It took me ages to organize because it turned out the picture used is a tune I did not recognize but I could not find the tune that I knew from church, who composed it or if it was in the Public Domain.  In the end I found at least five versions but went for the one that matched the score in the picture, by John Dykes, although I played it in a different key as it would have been a nightmare to try and smoothly change into that key; I love how it ties in briefly and subtly as the film passes over the music score.


One thing I did find that about three-quarters of the way through this film there is a very inspiring part about England, it's history, churches, the reformation and the English Martyrs and I used a nice section from my score I wrote for our film on Polydore Plasden, I got so inspired!!  It really made this new production on Newman very relevant for today.  I did not realise until we worked on this film how important Newman is for England, especially now and also how many of our previous films really tie in with him and this new film.

John Henry Newman: Fullness of Truth is available worldwide now on DVD from 


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Saint Frideswide of Oxford - Writing the Music to the Film

This Summer saw Mary's Dowry Productions complete St. Francis de Sales: The Devout Life film after 15 months of delays.  Having completed the music score for this film after much duress because of a failed motherboard and processor, I now have a new setup which I have also taken the additional step to update so all my software is the latest.  I can also try my hand at PLAY - which uses Storm Drums, Gypsy and Voices of Passion, all of which I have avoided using because of using too much memory in the computer.  

PLAY software
As you can see each program is quite big so I have not used them for a few years for fear of my music PC crashing whilst I am writing.  With the new setup and faster computer I believe I can draw upon them now.  

St. Frideswide of Oxford

Rather than moving straight on to "St. Alban Roe" production which we filmed for back in 2018, we decided that we needed a fresh infusion of something completely new.  A poppy field had opened up nearby us and we heard about it so set out to find it.  It was beautiful!  It went right up over the hills into the distance and you could see it from miles away. 


 I had wanted to incorporate a poppy field for years in our films but the only one was near Brighton with no parking access.  

So we set off to Sompting Village and spent a few hours filming the poppies and meadows for scenery shots.  The next day we decided to go back with a costume and get everything we needed for a brand new film on St. Frideswide.  We had delayed this production for about 6 years after being given a little prayer card of this saint and finding she was the patron of Oxford.  




I was excited about this film as it was and English saint.  Musicwise this gives me an opportunity to use old English instruments.  We really pushed ourselves to complete this production from beginning to end so as to have something completely new this summer and it wasn't long before I was handed the video to begin the music score.

I actually began this score with a  bit of trepidation as it was the first score on my new PC setup.  I did not know what I intended to do but I set up a new template and literally hit record to improvise.  I decided that I would try to use instruments I had not used before and loaded in a nice harmonica.  I used the soundscape Goddess of Love and led with Xiao flute which I really like.  After the first sequence led by Xiao flute I led with tenor viola da gamba, one of my favourites, and doubled this with a very high pitched flute.  Once I had written and recorded the lead instruments I looked for something to add a sparkle to the opening titles and found a nice mallet patch which worked very lovely.  Here are the opening titles to give a sense of the mood of this film.



Throughout the film I added in French Horns for segments which cover much of the historical context and I used pizzicato strings gaining in tempo as the prince pursues St. Frideswide to make her his wife, it very much reminded me of our film on St. Etheldreda when she was pursued in a similar way.  All in all the music took me about 3 days to complete and was not as easy as I thought.  There is a lot going on in this film, lots of different moods and history.  

There is a segment at the end exploring the history of St. Frideswide's shrine after her death including the destruction during the reign of King Henry VIII.  It was shocking how her bones were deliberately mixed with those of an ex-nun and remain so to this day.  I had fun writing quite menacing music during this segment.  


The film ties up nicely with devotion to St. Frideswide today so I was able to end on a high note and then return to my opening titles for the end credits.  One thing I did do throughout this production was glissando harp.  St. Frideswide was famous for plying her harp and we filmed her doing this so at points in the score I emphasize this.  This is the first time I had used the glissando harp patch from Celtic Instruments.  

St. Frideswide played her harp so I emphasized glissando harp in the score.
I did not use many SFX in this particular film score but there are some horses galloping when the saint is pursued and battle sounds over some battle pictures which is always so effective.  I found that my new PC setup, although incredibly advanced, still spiked and crashed so I have come to the conclusion the problem is the software itself.  Cubase may need a bit of tweaking so I am going to explore ways to save CPU for when I go to write the next music score.  It feels a lot more solid though and I have been assured that I can't lose anything so long as I keep saving my projects which I do obsessively.  St. Frideswide of Oxford is now available on DVD worldwide through our online shop.  

Saint Frideswide of Oxford DVD

Please head on over a grab a copy and support the work of Mary's Dowry Productions.



Thursday, 18 July 2019

Saint Francis de Sales NEW film on DVD - Writing the Music

We filmed for a beautiful film on St. Francis de Sales in March 2018.  It came about because a friend of ours is the image of this saint and after a while we asked if he would be willing to portray for us and he said yes!  It was very exciting and after a long time coming we managed to capture various scenes of St. Francis de Sales' life on film.


Above shows our friend portraying St. Francis de Sales and below St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal who also features in this film.


Unfortunately, on the same day we filmed for St. Gemma Galgani, Our Lady and the Visionaries of Knock and St. Alban Roe.  We managed to quickly produce the first two films and also have two film launches at the barn next to our parish church, both of which were well attended.  I fell in love with our film on Our Lady of Knock, having visited Knock when I was about 14 but never fully being able to grasp the full story.  Our film shows the whole story as well as the surrounding context in which it happened.  Both of these films left us feeling exhausted and we were unable to produce more and there were several other delays pushing St. Francis de Sales for 15 months!

Our Lady of Knock DVD
Earlier this year we decided that we would really put our minds to it and complete this film.  What was needed was fresh scenery which plays a vital role in our films so we went out twice to Patching Woods nearby us and got some lovely panoramic shots of woodlands, trees, nature.  We went out again to Clapham Woods and filmed some beautiful bluebells, pathways.  

Having everything we needed we were able to edit the film together after recording the narration.  Finally the film was complete and ready for the music score.  I felt a little rusty as I had had quite a break from writing but I dove right in and spent a week writing the score.  At the time we were watching UNBREAKABLE with Bruce Willis.  I do not listen to music very much at all but we research media and have areas of film that we enjoy.  I am very much influenced by film scores which is why Mary's Dowry Productions films have an "Epic" atmosphere as the score I write for them can be cinematic, emotional and moving.  


In the film there are a lot of strings leading and piano. The overall mood is intense, emotional and really captures the growth and journey of the character.  I was aware that the background mood of this film, moving and emotional influenced my writing of the score for St. Francis de Sales and there are some moving segments, particularly with St. Jane de Chantal's own journey and their last conversation together.  I was very pleased with the score at this part of the film.

In my previous post I said that just when I completed the score my computer died, I had not backed up the score after 18 minutes of music so was traumatized for the whole weekend.  Fortunately the guy in the shop managed to find all my music and back it up, the hard drive had not failed but I had to re-load everything once again in order to mix down the final score and complete the film - MORE DELAYS!.

Eventually after 2 more weeks of delays the film was complete and we released it on DVD.  It is now available worldwide from our online shop and I hope it is shared with many people, it's a very moving and informative film with many important aspects of the spiritual life said by both saints.


Saint Francis de Sales is available at www.marysdowryproductions.org

I'd like to share the opening titles, the instruments I used & also some of the new scenery we captured in the little video of the opening titles:



Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Saint Francis de Sales

I've been out of action for a while.  I had not had any music projects and then we put our minds to it and finally completed our film on Saint Francis de Sales.  I spent a week writing the music score and when I had finally completed it, I went to add some sound effects and the entire music PC crashed.  It turned out the motherboard and processor had died so I had to have a big fix and also took the opportunity for an upgrade.  It then took a long time to re-load all my software onto the new PC in order to get all the way back to the point of being able to open up the project in order to finish it!  That said, it all came together very well and was able to complete the music score for our new 2019 production on Saint Francis de Sales.  I will write in more depth about what this scored entailed in a further blog post.

The DVD is now released and is available at www.marysdowryproductions.org

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

KINGDOMS TRAILER - Folklore Instrumental Music CD Album

I am very pleased that I've finally taken the time to produce a short TRAILER for my CD Album "KINGDOMS". 

KINGDOMS CD Available from www.marysdowryproductions.org 
I began this album whilst at college as part of our final assignment for finding our own original style.  I'd written many music pieces for years up until that point and drawn upon instruments and sounds that I liked.  


This was the first time however that I thought about and pinpointed exactly what I liked about music and what I liked to write, what made me original as a composer.  So I drew upon ancient sounds, medieval instruments like the recorder, drums, baroque guitar, but I fused this with other sounds that I liked like the Duduk from the Middle East, voices of the elves, haunting ethereal voices, the piano, I literally took away all limits and fused all different thing to come up with something new.  

The result was 4 tracks from KINGDOMS and I completed this album over the following years to make a new and full CD album which is one of my favourites; it's really free and it's really different.  You can  now have a listen to the trailer for this album here:




Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saint Edith Stein - Music Soundtrack Trailer

I have not been writing any music projects over Christmas, we've been having a bit of a break, clearing hard drives and getting everything ready for 2019 productions.  I have been organizing a few trailers for various albums however which are needed so that people can actually hear the content of the CD when looking at an album on the website.  It's also great to share the music.  I particularly like the music from St. Edith Stein because of the use of Mystic choirs by Eduardo Tarilonte, and the Duduk samples which are very moving and can be utilized very well.

Here is the trailer for my newest Soundtrack CD release "Calm Your Spirit With Music Volume 8: Science of the Cross":


This album is available on CD from www.marysdowryproductions.org 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Science of the Cross - St. Edith Stein - Music and Contemplation

Since deciding that I was not going to make any more soundtracks available on CD, I was asked to produce St. John of the Cross soundtrack, this is now available.  Then, the other day, my sister was working with the music score from St. Edith Stein film and noticed that the click-track was playing in the background, embedded in the music score.  

I found myself opening up the project from 2015 to check, muted this strange phenomenon and sent her a new clean file.

Whilst in the project I thought that I may as well make it into a soundtrack and so I spent the day dividing the full score into 9 tracks, levelling them out and mixing them down.  I called the album "Science of the Cross" and it is volume 8 in my Calm Your Spirit With Music series of Mary's Dowry Productions soundtracks from the films, instrumental as audio CD.

Track Listing:

Track 1: Visions of the Cross (2:57)
Track 2: Taking up the Cross (5:27)
Track 3: The Message of the Cross (5:05)
Track 4: A Theology of the Cross (3:41)
Track 5: The Word From the Cross (3:09)
Track 6: The Love of the Cross (3:31)
Track 7: The Cross and the Night (5:19)
Track 8: The Science of the Cross (6:47)
Track 9: The Glory in the Cross (3:17)
I produced a VLOG which speaks about the process involved in making this soundtrack, or any soundtrack from a Mary's Dowry film into an audio CD.  This can be watched here:



What I love about St. Edith Stein soundtrack is the use of Mystica voices by Eduardo Tarilonte, I fuse this with Duduk and it's a nice fusion of sound, very atmospheric and contemplative. 
It was nice to work on this straight after working on the St. John of the Cross CD (DARK NIGHT) as that soundtrack uses Cantus, also by Eduardo Tarilonte, the voices of monks, so it was a good contrast to work once again with the voices of female choirs in Mystica.  I am still currently working on and off on VALLEYS from my other series of Folklore type Olde English Instrumental fusion albums, following on from KINGDOMS produced in 2010 but it's very slow going.  I am currently having a pause from any Holy Spirit Music Series and seem to be mostly working at the moment on film scores and film soundtracks which is unexpected but interesting.  This new CD Album "Science of the Cross" is now available through our website at www.marysdowryproductions.org.