A huge element of this movie is Man vs. Machine and the blurred lines between the two. I wanted to reflect this in the sonic space as well, so I chose three instruments: Synthesizer, Euphonium and Electric Guitar. These three instruments are very different, and represent a lot of things to me personally, and reflect these elements of the film as well. I chose to have everything be grounded in organic sound, and while synthesizer was chosen as an instrument, each synth that I used was created from samples of physical instruments. In these synths you will hear elements of the human voice, bowed vibraphone, bowed marimba, plucked piano, organ, trombone and euphonium, but altered until they became something else, something electric, something machine. And in addition to those electronic elements, the euphonium and the guitar are processed and electronic effects are added to them, to help further blur the lines of organic and machine.
What about the other elements of the film, the struggle between the elite and the working class? The choice of your own fate, and not the one to which you were born?
This one is harder to explain, to me at least, as someone who struggles with putting my thoughts to words, (It's why I write music instead). And honestly, that is my answer. I chose to use those sounds I described earlier to help enhance the message being put on the screen. For example, I chose to use the pure organic euphonium, with little effects on it, to represent the love between Freder and Maria, but later in the film I chose to use a combination of synthesizers to push twisted atonal chord progressions alongside heavily effected euphonium as Freder had his fever dream of the Machine Maria falling to the sins of Man. I could go on and on about why I chose the instruments I did, and the tonality I did, for each and every scene, but the large answer for, "how did you parse these themes in your music" is in fact, I chose based on the visual presented to me, and everything fell into place from there. While the Machine vs Man component fueled my soundscape, the visuals informed where and when to deploy these sounds.
Why did you choose Metropolis for this project, and not something original, or another film?
Silent films are amazing inspiration for music. And silent film music is a whole incredible and variable world. For many films, the directors would just say to the theater "Have a pianist play something like this" and they would give examples, and the pianist would play along with the film. While, yes this is not true for all silent films of the era, and this film did originally have an orchestral score to accompany it, it has been interpreted a number of ways in its 93 year life span. This is what made it seem like a logical challenge for me. I wanted to do it, not necessarily better than the other interpretation, but in my own way. Art inspires art, and I feel this music, this Symphony of mine, which I do now think can stand as its own piece of music, could not have existed without Metropolis to write it alongside. While maybe some might not think my music makes Metropolis better, I firmly believe it helped me write a better piece of music.