Monday 1 October 2018

Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Beguine, Writing the Music Score for this New Film

Last week saw me writing the music for our latest production "Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg and the Souls in Purgatory".  It's been nearly 2 years since we filmed for this production and we've wanted to get it done because it presents the early Beguines and the Beguine way of life which is very dear to us.  An egret bird landed in our garden pond and we were told that there were many of them nearby in Ferring by the rife so we travelled there to film them in the frost.  Whilst there we spotted in the distance an old ruined barn made of stone and became extremely excited as we had not intended this to be a scouting mission.  

Any mysterious or crumbling backdrop is great for a Mary's Dowry Productions film so we went and checked it out.  

We went back there with props and garbed in the correct Beguine clothing to acquire the footage needed to produce a film on this ancient saint.  We hoped that this would be the first of many individual films on Beguines and hermits.  The rife, ice, running water, rocks, trees, animals and birds made great scenery for the entire film so in just one day we obtained everything we needed.  It was not fun because it was very windy but it was worth it.

We archived the footage because at the time we were also filming for St. Don Bosco and other Salesians and a few others.  It is only now that we have managed to work on this film and I was delighted last week that editing was complete and I was ready to begin writing the music score.

Writing the Music....

When I began writing I did not know what I would do.  I was thinking at the time of our production on St. Julian of Norwich.  This was filmed in an abandoned old church in Bedham and that created it's own atmosphere so I wanted to do something similar here.

For the opening titles for St. Mechtilde of Magdeburg there are some great shots of the ruined barn and I used this for inspiration.  Instead of using Celtia voices like I did for St. Julian of Norwich, I used Mystica because I was thinking of nuns.  Although Beguines are free, Mechtilde did spend some years attached to the nuns at Helfta including St. Gertrude the Great and St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn.  
So I began this score with a mysterious atmosphere using soundscapes and the chanting of nuns.  These opening titles show the fusing of voices with 'Lord of Wind' soundscapes and how I brought in the cello to gradually build the piece:

The opening titles were fairly easy and I pretty much used my usual instruments and kept a building and expectant atmosphere until the film begins at about 1:00.  

Drums, Nykelharpas, Horns, Harps, Stringed Instruments...

When the narrative began I decided that I would keep a general atmosphere of 'ancient'.  I love all things old, rural landscapes, mysterious crumbling ruins, and of course a Beguine living along amongst this.  So I wrote some simple underscore tunes using a Frame Drum beat with the Nykelharpa and Tenor Viola da Gamba leading.  I used a back and forth with an Alto Recorder to keep this going all through the first section on the history of the Beguines.

I tried to keep a mysterious atmosphere throughout and I did not want just endless little tunes going so regularly in this score I used suspended strings with more Mystica Voices and half way through the film included Altus Voices for contrast.  

Sound Effects

There was not much call in this production for the use of sound effects but I was able to put the sound of birds and running water subtly over come of the scenes which aided in a reflective experience.  This production has a lot of good information about the Souls in Purgatory as much of St. Mechtilde's writings pertain to this.

Unlike several other of our productions that mention Purgatory or Hell, I did not use scary soundscapes in these sections in St. Mechtilde.  I learned so much from this production and found myself having to watch it 3 times to absorb the great depths of this saints' profound writings.  I was pleased also at the link to the Sacred Heart, having worked this year on Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Clade de la Colombiere and the Sacred Heart in England films.

Saint Mechtilde is now complete and available through our website and also through Amazon.  It is well worth a look.
Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg DVD

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