Building the Machine – The Music

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm, by Ben

I recently had the pleasure of writing the music for HSLDA’s new documentary on the Common Core Standards, “Building the Machine.”

“Building the Machine” introduces the public to the Common Core States Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and its effects on our children’s education. The documentary compiles interviews from leading educational experts, including members of the Common Core Validation Committee. Parents, officials, and the American public should be involved in this national decision regardless of their political persuasion.

I had a great time working and collaborating with director Ian Reid on the project, from developing the sonic texture of the score, to the spotting session, and all throughout the scoring process. As we discussed the needs of the film, we decided that the music needed to be a subdued mixture of hybrid/minimal/ambient textures and tones for the most part, which provided an exciting challenge and opportunity to explore sounds and music that were a bit of a departure from the richer, more orchestral and melodic music I tend to write. I used more synth and hybrid elements, muted strings, felt piano, primarily utilizing the softer dynamics of all these instruments. There were also sections that needed to sound more mechanical and unrelenting–like a machine–which required a lot of experimentation with percussive and metallic sounds to arrive on the final sound. Below is a short medley of some of the music from the film.

Visit www.commoncoremovie.com to discover more about the project!

The End of Myself – New Song and Competition

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm, by Ben

I recently had the privilege of teaming up with good friend and powerful tenor Daniel Craig to compose an original song titled “The End of Myself.” We came up with the melody, basic chords and structure together, and then I created the orchestration and he performed the vocals. We wrote this song for many reasons, and wanted to share a few of them:

First, we want to glorify God directly with the works of our hands, practicing excellence in our craft to do our work as unto the Lord (Col 3:23), and to create something that declares his truth in a professional and beautiful way… to the best of our limited ability (we’ll be the first to admit that we still have a lot to learn).

Secondly, had a message that we wanted to convey to our listeners. Specifically, to remind a self-sufficient world that only when we are weak in Christ, are we truly strong (2 Cor. 12:10).

Thirdly, we believe that Christians need to be writing more songs that combine quality words, quality music, and quality production in a cohesive and appropriate way. I commonly hear good words combined with shoddy music, or good music combined with unclear (or downright false) words, but songs that present a wise and professional marriage of both are a rarity. We wanted to contribute to the reversal of that trend.

Fourthly, we believe in the importance of Christian collaboration. I have long been a sort of lone-wolf when it comes to writing music, but I’m learning that there is also strength in locking arms with other Christian craftsmen to combine ideas, skills, resources and prayers. In fact, some things can ONLY be accomplished by the unity of many.

But we have another desire, and here is where we need YOU to help us out. Danny and I are praying about where to take this collaborative relationship in the future, but we need to know how much interest and demand for music like this exists in the Christian market.

Right now there is a great opportunity to gauge that interest and get feedback: “The End of Myself” is currently one of ten semi-finalists in a competition run by Christian pianist, producer and marketer Greg Howlett. Anyone can vote online, and whoever gets the most votes receives:

* a professional studio-produced project valued at $6,000 that includes the following:
* 2 days in a studio (one of two that I personally use).
* My long time engineer Jason Prisk as recording and mix engineer.
* Me as producer (A producer takes care of all the details so all you have to do is record.)
* Me as your coach for picking out songs, helping you arrange, etc.
* Graphic design
* My help marketing your new project.

So please visit the voting page and listen to all the entries. If you genuinely believe that ours is the most worthy of this prize, please vote for us and consider sharing the competition link https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/2013studiorecordingcontest with your friends and encouraging them to do the same. (NOTE: the poll is hosted by Facebook but you do NOT need a Facebook account to participate)

Thank you all and to God be the Glory!

Berlin Woodwinds Expansion B: Soloists

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm, by Ben

I recently had the great pleasure of creating a demo for Orchestral Tool’s newest sample library, “Berlin Woodwinds Expansion B: Soloists.” The title is actually a little bit deceptive–though “Expansion” may make it sound like you need to own BWW for these instruments to work, that is not the case… and it’s not just a couple measly add-on patches, either.

Included are Legato, Sustain, Staccato, Portato, and Grace note patches for Flute, Alto Flute, Oboe, English Horn, and Clarinet, making this almost more like an entire “lite” woodwind section than an expansion. All the patches are good, but the real draw here is the legatos, which are butter smooth and insanely expressive. My wife can testify as to how giddy I was acting as I played around with them for the first time–especially with the Oboe and English Horn, which are made of win(d). To create more robust legato patches and to eliminate phasing issues, Orchestral Tools recorded this entirely new set of samples in a drier setting, which proved to be a very good call. But just to guarantee that these drier sample would match the acoustic space of BWW, they sampled and included a Teldex Hall IR which you can toggle on or off in the Kontakt GUI (speaking of which, the full version of Kontakt 5 is required to play this library).

CONCLUSION: This library is superb, holds up incredibly well as a stand-alone library, and contains the most beautiful and musical sampled solo woodwinds I’ve ever heard, which I’ll be using for years to come.

Dauntless – New Track

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm, by Ben

Behold, an epic track I composed this last week! I had the pleasure of working heavily on this track with my dear wife Audri, who not only had a lot of suggestions to offer on how to improve various elements of the piece, but provided live cello playing, which I think adds an awful lot. Take a listen!

SAGA – Worldwide Online Release MAY 28!

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm, by Ben

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I was recently approached by Syntax Distribution whom asked me if I was interested in giving SAGA a wider release. It just so happened that I thought this was a great idea. Long story short, I am very pleased to announce that, due to their help, my new album SAGA will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and a slew of other online stores and outlets worldwide on the 28th of May! If you cannot wait to purchase it before then, the album is available for pre-order on itunes. (Or, if you want, you can buy the album today over at my STORE page.)

Oh, and for a little taste of what you get on the album, listen below to the last track of SAGA, “Legend of the Dragon!”