Carriage to the Castle

This is my entry for the Project Remix competition in the music category. It's based on the Dracula extract, an explanation is below and I would love any feedback you could give me. (Note: Sadly as there is only me, I cannot physically play 7 instruments so this is a computerized version using music notation software. Please forgive the slight electronic sound.)


1. An explanation to my piece...




So, when I heard about this competition, I immediately liked the idea of the music category. I have always loved film scores, with their ability to break hearts, build suspense or grow love, and I guess this was the perfect opportunity to have a go at creating my own. 

The original concept for this piece was in those moments when Jonathan is going up to Dracula's castle and, as in a film piece, I imagined the title sequence building up to this immensely tense moment when both the characters and the audience see the castle for the first time.

In the first section of the piece, I imagine sweeping scenes of the great peaks of Transylvania with a winding road twisting through the hills leading to some unknown place. I used quite a simple crotchet melody with a slow, melancholy drone in the bass line. The melody then moves to the bass to give a deeper atmosphere to the introduction while I used the lower range of the violins and violas to try and create a darker tone in order to build up for the introduction of the organ.

After the general pause, I added an organ as a characterised instrument for the supernatural and, specifically, Dracula. For the first three bars, I wanted to keep the tension to a minimal so I used a basic arpeggio in the organs right hand melody. But this wasn't enough. I could just imagine the sacred heartbeats of those reading the book or watching the film for the first time and their innocence in not knowing the horrors the beloved characters would face. Therefore, when I re-introduced the remaining strings, I notated quick quavers, sharp and staccato but quiet like a nagging fear in the back of your mind as you await the sight of a vampire. Because violins have a human quality in their voice, the first violin plays a high-pitched melody like a shrieking scream; this then becomes the main theme for the second section. 

As this section progresses, there are a couple more additions to build suspense and anxiety:

1. In canon, starting with the cello, a quicker semi-quaver countermelody is introduced. This is to quicken the build up and to begin the descent into an atonal concoction of insanity and conflict of the final section.

 2. The flute and Clarinet are introduced. These two instruments were a late addition into the piece but I felt like the music was missing a layer of depth. Specifically, I chose the flute because it always seems to have this lullaby effect as it lulls us into a false sense of security. These qualities reminded me of Dracula's own personality as he tricks those around him into thinking he is a simple mortal being just like anyone else. 

In the final section, which is the shortest of all the sections, I imagined those last few moments before the castle itself was revealed as though the carriage was just turning a corner to reveal the previously shielded monstrosity of Dracula's home. The harmonies are dissonant and atonal meaning they often clash and sound unpleasant but this was intentional because this serialism-like sound creates an uneasy climax to the piece. In contrast, in the last few bars when the first violin has its solo ending I could just imagine the shocked and slightly scared expression on Harker's face when he sees the castle for the first time. 


So there you have it! My attempt at a piece of film score. Hopefully you understand why I did some of the things I did and, either way, I hope you liked the piece.                 



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