TALKING FILMS AND MUSIC WITH COMPOSER GHIYA RUSHIDAT.

Ghiya Rushidat in my opinion is one of the rising stars within the film scoring fraternity, she has written some wonderfully lyrical music for the projects she has been involved with and has the ability to produce small intimate works as well as grand and lush scores. As well as being an accomplished pianist and composer she is also a film producer.  My thanks to Ghiya for answering my questions, and also thank you to Jason Drury for his help in contacting the composer.

ghiy1

 

Can I begin by asking you, what do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Music is a subconscious form of feeding the audience with information, emotions, and thoughts. It makes them anticipate or get shocked by an event. It allows them to connect better with characters and their stories and triggers their emotions. Music excites you in a battle scene, it gets you on your toes when a thief is about to enter a house, it makes you cry when the hero dies, or makes you laugh even better when a character says or does something funny. The art of music (or silence, meaning when to use music and when not) can be very underrated. Imagine a horror film with horror music, and imagine the same horror film with comedy music, see what difference it makes here? One of my favourite quotes by Star Wars (1977) director, George Lucas, who said that “the sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie”.

 

 
I understand that it was TITANIC that made you want to write music for films, was this also the first time that you realised that there was music in films?

The first time I was “aware” of the music was when I saw Little Mermaid at the age of 5. The score by Alan Menkin and the mermaid’s theme captivated me for years and I can STILL hum the melody although I have not watched the movie again since then.

 

Do you collect film soundtracks at all?

Yes, I do. I am a sucker for collecting soundtracks and physical albums. I have all music on my phone but still go old school for vinyl and CDs when it comes to film scores.
Do you come from a family background that was musical in any way?
Not at all! None of my family members (close or distant) has anything to do with music or even played an instrument. They all appreciate music and my mother even used to listen to Tchaikovsky and Mozart while pregnant with me. She used to sing to me all the time and I would play by ear whatever she sings and start improvising on it. So, I guess I am just born with it 🙂

ghiy8

What musical education did you receive?
I have been classically trained as a concert pianist since the age of 12. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Jordan, my Licentiate LRSM from the Royal College of Music in UK, and my Diploma D’etude from France. I also received courses in musical theory, composition, and conducting from Trinity College in UK and a couple more courses here in the US and mentorship programs in Film Scoring.
TITANIC and James Horner had a big influence upon you, but are there any other composers either from film music or other genres of music that you would say have inspired and influenced you?
For sure, each composer has their imprint and their voice that inspires me. I listen to almost all composers and love their music and the way the convey emotions. I especially enjoy the music of Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Brian Tyler, Sarah Schachner, Pinar Toprak, Michael Giacchino, John Powell, Neal Acree, Rachel Portman, Alan Silvestri, and the MASTER John Williams. I can go forever with my list but I will stop here for now. What James Horner scores do you like the most and for what reasons? A Beautiful Mind cue of the Kaleidoscope and Avatar’s Jake’s First Flight are two tracks I always meditate to. They uplift me and my soul, the build-up is insane and makes me feel like I am soaring or having an out of body experience! I love his scores for almost anything, really!

ghiy7
When you are working out your themes for a movie project, do you use piano and then develop them into orchestral pieces, or do you use a more technical method?

Being a pianist originally, I always start with the piano. It has all the harmonies I need to “visualize” the arrangement and orchestration. Do you think that many of the film scores today are lacking a central theme that the audience can identify with? Yes. I don’t really remember when I last left the movie theatre humming the movie’s theme.

ghiy4
PEN OF MIRRORS, which was a short was released in 2014, how did you become involved on the movie, and what size orchestra were you able to utilise on the score, the music is so effective within the movie, but it never overpowers, how much music was there in the film?
Thank you! Music was 80% of the film, it was composed to script and not to picture, so despite how challenging that might sound, it was super fun and creative. We did not have the time or the big budget to score with orchestra, but we did use Nicolas Laget’s talents in recording the flute and drums, and of course mixing the score.

ghiy2
You at times have scored smaller films with lower budgets with a rather large-scale score, which is something that James Horner used to do in his early career, do you prefer writing for a large orchestra as opposed to writing for smaller ensembles? I love writing. period. There are times when the score does not need more than a piano and a flute, for example, and there are times when we need a large-scale orchestra. Of course any composer would DREAM of recording with orchestras all the time, as it is a different experience and very grand, it gives me Goosebumps every time I do it, but I also enjoy and embrace minimalism and the intimacy of an instrument or two depending on the musical vision of the composer and the director or producer.

ghiy
When working on a film is there any set way of approaching it for you, by this I mean do you develop a central theme initially and then develop this and maybe build the remainder of the score on it?

Working with a theme makes it easier and more structured for me, so if we have a theme I would go from there and start playing around with the arrangements and rhythms. There is no set way, but it all depends on the conversation between me and the head of the project I am scoring. Sometimes the theme is not necessary and can be a burden to the score, so we opt out of it. It all really depends on the story and its elements and what we want to convey to the audience.

ghiy9

 

 

Also, is there a set routine or schedule when you are scoring a film, ie Main Title through to end credits, or do you tackle smaller cues first?

 

I go with what my heart tells me, I know it is not very systematic, but I improvise and work with the scenes that speak to me first and I take it from there. It has been working great so far as I am tackling that raw intuition and unleashing its creative vision.

 

ghy6

 

You have worked on films, tv series, documentaries and ads, is it harder coming up with a piece of music for short running time as opposed to creating a theme for a movie where you have the duration of the film to introduce and develop it?
It is definitely more challenging when you only have 5 minutes to create a full story in music, you don’t have the luxury to do much, but it also gives you that discipline and focus on making sure you don’t just “clutter” the film with music. Which is a great way to learn. Short films teach us to prioritize and condense thoughts in a short period of time.

Is orchestration an important part of the composing process for you and do you orchestrate all of our music for film?

Orchestration is everything. It is the sparkles and shimmers of the piece. You might have all the ingredients to a recipe, but you would need to know the measurements too, and this is kind of what orchestration is to me. I have orchestrated all of my projects except for two when we had a bigger budget and less time, I needed to manage time and priorities.

ghit

 

Do you conduct all of your scores, or do you have a conductor so that you can focus upon the actual recording of the music?
I always have a conductor, while I LOVE being with the musicians while recording, I would rather be in the control booth listening to the overall sound and making sure I have my undivided attention on the score and the sound of it through speakers.

ghit9

 

You have recently released a compilation of your film music, are there any plans to release any more of you film music maybe a complete score?
Yes, I am in the works right now of releasing my first physical album, new tracks and music of video game and film scores, with Buy-Soundtrax, I am so excited and there you go, you are the FIRST to know now! 🙂

 

 

We look forward to that, soon I hope. You also produce films as well as acting in them and composing the scores, is it difficult trying to fit in all these careers and as a producer are you more conscious about what the composer is doing on one of your productions?

The acting part was VERY random. A producer and director I work with was here in Los Angeles shooting a TV series and was like: we have a few lines for you. I went for the experience and it was fun, I would never do it again though because I suck at acting. Producing, however, is a different story. I am passionate about starting from scratch on anything. I LOVE movies and storytelling, and there is a business side of me that wants to be unleashed and the music composition career is not enough for it to blossom. I really enjoy producing movies, but composition is my main passion and career.

ghit4

Going back to PEN OF MIRRORS how many times did you watch the movie before getting ideas about where music should be placed and the style of music that you would write? Have you encountered the TEMP TRACK and is this something that you think is a useful tool for composers?
As I mentioned, it was all written to script. I was handwriting it with pen and paper while spending a few hours at a lake every day. Then the picture came, and I started putting the music to it and tweaking as I go. It was a magical experience for me and the director who never even shared with me a temp track. A dream come true for every composer!!

ghit1
Do you have any preferences regarding studios when you record your film music, and have you ever recorded in London?
I am recording soon in London. My favourite studio in Los Angeles would be The Bridge, because I love working with Greg Curtis and the acoustics of the facility is impeccable. I didn’t get the chance to record there yet but hopefully soon.

ghit3
What is next for you?

The album, a meditation album, two shorts, a VR game, and a feature coming. And hopefully more as days unfold.

 

VIRGIN WITCH.

witchy5

 

Released in 1972/1973 VIRGIN WITCH was filmed in Surrey in the UK and its not a bad movie to be fair, on watching the film one would think that it was a Foreign movie made in Italy or Spain as the style of direction and the cinematography resembles that genre greatly. One of the movies outstanding attributes is the really pleasing score by composer Ted Dicks. Its one of those scores for a horror movie that one thought would never get a release, but thanks to Trunk records here we have it at last. The composer makes effective use of cymbalom which he incorporates into most of the cues which themselves are jazz orientated or at least laced with a jazz sound throughout. The atmosphere that the composer creates is one of apprehension and tension but also at the same time the music has to it a themeatic quality that is easy on the ear and somewhat beguiling and seductive.

witchy2

 

Dicks also fashions unsettling moods via the use of percussion and organ, which is at times reminiscent of the Italian film music style employed by the likes of Nicolai, Ferrio and Piccioni. The soundtrack is one that I think collectors will embrace and love, its been a long time coming forty-six years in fact, but the music in my opinion has stood the test of time, maybe a little better than the movie it was written for. Dicks was not a film music composer he was a jazz/pop artist and composer and his jazz or light music roots do shine through as the score progresses. Dicks was probably better known for writing novelty songs such as RIGHT SAID FRED and THE HOLE IN THE GROUND which were hits during the 1960’s and performed by Bernard Cribbins. Dicks worked with lyricist Myles Rudge on many occasions and the titles highlighted entered the British top ten in1962, both being produced by the late George Martin for Parlophone records. Dicks also teamed up with Rudge in 1965 and scored a big hit with A WINDMILL IN OLD AMSTERDAM which was recorded by Ronnie Hilton.

witchy3

The score for the VIRGIN WITCH is I have to say a million miles away from those examples of the composer’s work, the soundtrack being dark and at times ominous and threatening, but the composer achieves these levels not with grand orchestral gestures and colours but relies more upon an intimate and minimalistic sound. Often being performed by a small ensemble of instruments, woods, bass, drums, and cymbalom, with a saxophone adding a certain sultry and somewhat Smokey feel to the proceedings at certain key moments within the work.

witchy

With Organ too bringing a touch of the macabre and sinister. Trunk records should be congratulated on taking the time and having the foresight to release this score it is a welcome addition to their already varied and interesting catalogue, which includes gems such as BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW and works by the likes of Basil Kirchin, Tristram Carey, Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani, Malcolm Arnold and their like. Well worth adding to your collection and worth looking at their website.
https://trunkrecords.greedbag.com/