Text by Edward Lee
What would 2001: Space Odyssey (1968) be without Richard Strauss? What would Back to the Future (1985) be without Chuck Berry? What would Alfred Hitchcock have done without Bernard Herrmann? It is hard to imagine our favourite films without music. But the first films were produced without any sound at all! From the first moment someone pushed a piano onto the stage at a silent movie theatre, this wonderful musical genre sprung to life.
Many classical composers over the years have composed for film, including Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Philip Glass to name but a few, and some of the greatest classical melodies of the twentieth century were written by composers who dedicated themselves almost completely to film music, like John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Alan Silvestri.
Music is used to enhance, elaborate, and elevate the action, and it has become one of the most important aspects of film production.
At Stretta, we love film music, so we decided to produce a #StrettaLetter newsletter, a short set of film music reviews, and as featured here, the first #StrettaCast podcast in honour of this magnificent art form. Listen to our very first podcast below, and continue reading to get a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into the making of the first #StrettaCast.
2021 has been an exciting year for Stretta Music. There have been many excellent developments, not the least moving to a brand-new head office in Eibelstadt. As part of the company expansion, we decided to branch out through various marketing and social media platforms, and in order to support our already highly successful #StrettaLetter newsletter, Maarten Reumkens and I decided to launch the #StrettaCast podcast. And where better to start, than with film music.
For all those film music lovers out there, you will appreciate how huge a topic this is. The first challenge was trying to come up with a clear, focused structure for the podcast. Maarten and I recorded a ‘beta-test’ trial podcast a few weeks ago about Alphons Diepenbrock, which was a great experience, but we immediately found that since so many ideas kept popping into our heads, it was very easy to go off on slightly ‘less than relevant’ tangents. So first, we decided to hit the drawing board.
Both Maarten and I are big film music fans, so finding films to discuss was easy, but working out how to focus our thoughts and order our podcast took a little more time. Maarten suggested using a more general topic to begin and put ‘atmosphere’ on the table.
That was a good start, and from there, discussing the different tools film music composers use to create ‘atmosphere’, we stumbled quite organically upon the ‘Leitmotiv’. Then a few Stretta discussions, and a few of our top film music hits, and we had a good structure.
The next challenge was recording.
I am UK based, and Maarten is in the Netherlands, so being 300 miles apart, it had to be a remote affair. We both use the same sound editing software, so we recorded our audio separately using the same software, during an online meeting. We both took video recordings too, in case they come in useful for future content. A simple countdown, a unison clap, and we were underway.
We recorded each section separately, starting with the introduction. We did five takes of our introduction in the end, since it proved quite difficult to succinctly introduce the podcast, without veering off-topic, or missing out vital information. We took a break between each section to map out the next topic. For a 15 minute podcast, we spent two hours recording. As we went through the recording session, it became easier, and I am sure you will notice, towards the end, the podcast becomes more fluent and conversational.
One thing you will notice in the #StettaCast, is that the two audio channels sound different. Maarten has a very professional, hi-spec Rode NT1 microphone at his disposal, whereas I was working with fairly basic Apple and Microsoft equipment. This proved a challenge for Maarten when he hit the editing studio. However, with some smart balancing and clever cutting, it doesn’t disturb the flow of the podcast.
Our final consideration was the music itself. How much music could we use? How to integrate it in the most natural way? It was clear from the recording session which music we wanted to use, so Maarten hit the mixing desk, spliced a few themes under the corresponding text, added intro and exit music, filled a few gaps, and we had our first edit.
The process was very interesting and exciting, and the more topics we take on and the more practice we get, the smoother and more focused each #StrettaCast will become. I learnt a lot preparing, recording and editing this podcast, and I’m looking forward to the next. If you have any thoughts, comments or feedback, please get in touch, and if you have any ideas for future #StrettaCasts, we would love to hear from you. May the force be with you.