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MICHAEL MASUMOTO'S FILM SCORES

* UNDER CONSTRUCTION *

I have two short films in pre-production for which I will be providing scores. When these projects reach the music stage, I'll be posting here and in the Video Production section of our site. I also have a fourth documentary in post-production which I will be scoring soon. In the meantime, you can enjoy the scores that I've composed specifically for the two following documentaries.
Thanks! --Michael

MASUMOTO HERD ART FURNITURE: INTRODUCTION

(2014; HD; 6 min 54 sec) A humorous, musical look at Masumoto Herd and the Fantasium.
(Documentary #1 of 4)

ABOUT THIS SCORE

This documentary contains the first major piece of composition that I'd done in five years, and marks the beginning of my current renaissance as a composer. It is not a perfect score by any means, but I'm proud of it.

This was also my first large-scale effort to sequence music on a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). I am not a big fan of computerized click tracks and metronome beats in finished classical scores for film (I prefer a less rigid sound). So I experimented with conducting sequenced music using impulses I generated at my keyboard. Insteading of conducting a live band, I conducted the computer, essentially. I got a little carried away trying to mate the sound with the picture. I wanted to create a through-composed quasi-musical, after all!

Having cut several more pictures to music since this project, I've realized that I should have laid down the problematic tracks first, then cut the film to match the music. Live and learn!

This score is built around two existing songs: Irving Berlin's "It's a Lovely Day Today" and an old Ann Sheridan number by Arthur Schwartz and Frank Loesser, "Love Isn't Born, It's Made" from the 1943 musical film, "Thank Your Lucky Stars." I used the keys of these two pieces as my starting and ending points, and crafted a lyrical, original harpsichord and harp chamber score between them, finishing with a harpsichord arrangement I made of the Berlin song.

The original themes in my score were drawn from sketches I composed for potential Masumoto Herd theme songs. Will you ever hear completed versions of these songs? No! Once I heard the finished score, I realized that I needed songs people could hum, not these abstract oddities. But they worked for this project.

This score marks only the second time I've ever recorded myself as a crooner, singing the Berlin song; I just wanted a happy, natural sound. When I sing in the shower, I usually sound like an opera singer, so this recording was a stretch for me.

FANTASIUM: ORIGINS

(2014; HD; 9 min 35 sec) A musical tour of the inspiration behind our Fantasium.
(Documentary #2 of 4)

ABOUT THIS SCORE

After my first documentary's somewhat computerized music, I wanted this score to reflect my actual live piano performance style. Since I planned to discuss inspiration drawn from Disney's Fantasia, I knew that the score would include Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers. I therefore had to spend several months working up that piano solo, because it's difficult. I made it look easy, but it wasn't. In addition, I decided to represent the Belle Epoque with one of the most famous works in French orchestral literature, Dukas' The Sorceror's Apprentice... which was also featured heavily in Disney's Fantasia. That meant creating a new solo piano transcription for myself to play based on Dukas' original two-piano reduction of the score, because the existing solo transcriptions were lousy. The Sorceror's Apprentice was REALLY tough! It made Waltz of the Flowers look like child's play. So I was busy for a while, preparing the classical rep for this documentary.

My job was helped along by using an old, public domain recording of The Sorceror's Apprentice, as well as clips from Fantasia's Waltz of the Flowers sequence. But there's still a lot of original material, including some nice jazz piano stuff that is very characteristic of my old opera/musical theater style and my early days as a rhythm pianist in a celtic fusion band. I also had to "channel" Tchaikovsky in order to compose a variation on his Waltz of the Flowers theme in a minor key, which I then mutated into a poignant song of bittersweet longing straight out of the soft jazz stylings of some 1960's French balladeer; I loved that bit. I created excellent seamless bridging material between very dissimilar elements in radically different keys that supported tricky stuff that could have been squirm-inducing but wasn't. I'm sorry to sound immodest, but I'm very proud of the composition and the performance I managed to deliver. This was a tough film about a very painful emotional journey, and we made it work... so I'm happy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Michael performs and/or composes all the music for Masumoto Herd video projects; you can see these in the Video Production section, or by visiting the Masumoto Herd YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/glofau/.

ABOUT THE COMPOSER

Michael Masumoto holds a Master's degree in Music Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition and orchestration with Eleanor Armer and Conrad Susa. During his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, Michael studied composition with Dan Weymouth (currently the head of Electronic Music at SUNY Stonybrook). Michael has composed and produced six operas (among other works), and has recently completed his first piano sonata. As a pianist, Michael studied with Sue Hocker, Gloria Larson, Olga Quercia, and Tim Bach. As a singer, Michael studied with heldentenors Jess Thomas and Stan Norsworthy and is a proponent of the Melocchi Method. Michael does teach private voice lessons.

Last Updated: June 16, 2016
COPYRIGHT © 2010-2016 MICHAEL MASUMOTO

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