State of Wonder Project

“State of Wonder” Feature Film Theme and variation


Pitcherika is an extremely fragile, innocent and childish character who is far away from the harsh reality of the living world. He lives in his own world of perfection without anger and violence - possibly without cultural boundaries and religion in an ordinary way. His lifestyle is pastoral and mythological. His unique character is impartial and focuses on the subjects most of us try to avoid. Perhaps the director refers this film as uniting the opposing factions* by being naively objective. His philosophy of life somehow reminds me of the beautiful lyrics of Sting's song, Fragile:

To clinch a lifetime's argument

That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could

For all those born beneath an angry star

Lest we forget how fragile we are

Director Martin Donovan processes the narrative through the eyes of the boy. Understanding Pitcherika's personality is a very important factor in composing his theme. This eventually led me to absorb the whole concept of the narrative. As Richard Davis explains in his book Complete Guide to Film Scoring;

It is important to take in a whole lot of information: the flow of the drama, the look of the film, and probably most important for the composer, the tempo of the scene.(1999:133)

The Pitcherika's theme provides optimistic and pastoral character to the drama. The orchestration and the choice of instruments play an important role. I used the classical guitar for this particular scene in order to evoke a certain emotional response to the central character. I believe the classical guitar has got the right texture and timbre of the drama. It made it possible for me to express my impressions about the character of Pitcherika as I played the guitar.

In the first cue, the music fades in with strings and follows a short motif on the clarinet. While the boy stands in the middle of the road the music reflects the pastoral landscape. Accompanying guitars with arpeggio figure explore the optimism with a mellow tempo. As the music reaches the second period with lead guitar, it gets louder and broadens with the full orchestral arrangement. The concept of this part of the music is to emphasise Pitcherika's innocent happiness and hope. Even though the boy smiles in this scene, some may feel sadness in the minor mood. It could be argued that perhaps this part represents the overall view of the drama. I tried to create contrasting sections to the first part by using frequently changing chords. Fred Karlin states in his book 'On the Track' that harmonic language must be well thought for the characters:

... he (composer) must develop a harmonic language for the dramatic situation. For instance, if the people and folksy, their harmonic language might well be simple... The contrast of two harmonic languages would tend to accentuate the bizarre, out-of-ordinary aspect of the people's lives. The contrast of two harmonic languages in film score can bring drama to score;(2004:257)

The music gets quieter between 04:56:15 and 05:04:02 to allow the dialogue to be heard clearly. The first cue ends with a short statement of the main theme.

The second cue is certainly more fragile and emotional than the first one. The dialogue between the boy and Father Daniel reveals much information about Pitcherika's personality in his own words. Mick Parker abstracts his personality as ''the sacred and the secular'':

.... where Pitcherika explains that he confesses the God personally, and he feels that God is somehow about to "trip". Of course, the trip-up he senses is his own demise, and the talking of innocence from the world, which results in the uniting of the opposing factions previously consumed by hate for each other.

I also find the second cue emphasises the main concept of the film. The music is under the dialogue and dramatically moves with the meaning of the words. I decided to use solo piano mainly for its timbre. It can create a dreamlike sonic image over the human voice range on the high register that can be heard under dialogue. I applied some Eq and volume editing to the dialogue to improve clarity. The dialogue between orchestra and piano reflects the dialogue between Father Daniel and the boy. The foundation of the motifs are derived from the first cue. As seen below, I took the solo guitar motif from the

first cue and developed in the second cue. These simple tunes reflect the childish side of the boy and his dreams about God and his trip.

Live piano performance certainly bring a natural quality to the image in terms of emotional response and rhythmic quantisation. When Pitcherika says "May be that's it. May be that's what I feel." the orchestra is stopped as his conversation with Father Daniel pauses. After the pause, the most memorable motif of my composition accompanies the boy in the background with solo piano to the end of the cue.