Composer Carlos M. Jara is in my opinion one of the rising stars within the film music arena, his music is lyrical, emotional, poignant and striking, His score for the movie SORDO THE SILENT WAR is a must have soundtrack for any film music collector. And I am of the opinion that we will be hearing more of his music for both film and television in the not too distant future. My thanks to the composer for taking the time to answer my questions, in what I know is a very busy time for him.
What do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Well, thats a very good question. I think the purpose of the music should be the same than any other department: To tell a story.
Are you from a family background that is musical at all?
Not at all, though my Father played the piano a Little bit.
When scoring a project do you work on the orchestrations as well as the composition of the music, and do you feel that orchestration is just as much a part of composition?
I do care a lot about the orchestration. Usually, I have an orchestrator by my side in the project. Due to the matter of time. I couldn´t afford the writing and orchestrating together. Because I use a DAW for composing and give my clients the best mock-ups I can. And the program I use for writing a score is “Sibelius” Sibelius is not as good as Cubase with libraries for creating mock-ups. So, I had to choose, and I did: Just focus on creating the best mock-ups. But when I do this, I create them like if I were writing a score so when I deliver the material to my orchestrator it is clear what I wanted to do. Actually, when he creates the score based on my midi-file I review it with him. Of course, it’s not because I dont trust him but because I want to check everything out and be sure that it is what I wrote.
You also conduct your film scores, have you ever had a conductor so that you may concentrate more on the way the music session is progressing?
I do like to conduct. It is always a blessing to have your music played by others and I like to enjoy it with the orchestra so I always want to be there. But yes, sometimes I stay in the booth because the experience is totally different. Depending on many factors I decide one thing or another.
What musical education did you undertake, and was music always your first choice regarding a career?
I started playing piano when I was 8 years old. After that I also played the tuba for 7-8 years. I played on bands and different ensembles and I had very clear that music was a career for me. Not film music, Film music was always in my mind when I was a child like a very far-off dream. But it just disappeared I dont know why. So, I focused on piano and later and finished a degree on music theory. I was more interested in teaching than composing. And spent years teaching to kids. But in some point film music started to re-sound in my head and after a lot of years… well… the dream came true.
SORDO THE SILENT WAR is an amazing score, ROSA’S THEME is such a lyrical and romantic piece, what size orchestra did you have for the score and where was the score recorded?
Thank you very much. We had a sixty five piece orchestra and we recorded in 2018.
Do you perform any instruments on your soundtracks?
Yes, I do: Piano and synthesizers.
How much time did you have to write and record SORDO, and were you given any specific instructions regarding the style or the sound of the music by the director?
Well, I remember that I went to Rome with the filmmaker (Alfonso Cortés) in 2016 and we went to a concert by master Ennio Morricone. After that we really decided that “Sordo” should pay homage to him and to the western vocabulary. So Sordo took that direction from the very beginning. Also, I wrote some tracks even before the film was shot, based on the script and the story. Rosa´s theme was one of those. We actually recorded that theme at least one year before the film was shot, and Alfonso (the filmmaker) was sure that it would really fit a particular scene. The one he ended up shooting.
Who as in composers or artists would you say has had an influence upon you or maybe has inspired you?
I have three names in mind since I was a child: John Williams, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer.
Do you think that having a central or core theme for a score in a movie is important?
It really depends on the film. I usually discuss that with the filmmakers. Having a core theme is very powerful and useful but sometimes the film does not need that. So as always… whatever the story needs…
Where do you start when working on a movie, is it a case of beginning at the opening titles and work through until the end of the movie, or do you score smaller cues first, or maybe establish a foundation theme and build the remainder of the score around this?
I like to create a pallete of sounds. To define what the music is going to be like. That´s the hardest thing for me, where everything starts. So, I spent a lot of time trying to create something, it can be just harmony, melodies, textures, sounds… sometimes I´ve picked up a particular cue or scene just to start, but the more I worked on the film the more I realised that I had to rewrite that. Because the music was evolving to something else…
Was SORDO temp tracked with anything at all, and what do you think of the practise of filmmakers utilising the temp on their movies, is it helpful or maybe a hindrance?
Not very much actually, SORDO had some temp tracks, but very few. Temp tracks are not a bad thing themselves; the problem is with the filmmakers (sorry) Here are my thoughts: Usually, filmmakers dont know how to express themselves in musical terms and feel uncomfortable because they can´t talk to composers. And actually, what composers don´t need is a filmmaker that knows little about musical terms. But they know what they are looking for, so if they find that in a temp track good for them. A composer should read why the filmmaker chose that temp track, and why its useful… And the filmmaker should be ready for that to be changed. I mean, they dont use temp actors and if they do, they know they will be changed. When shooting you cannot ask to Bruce Willis if he could be more Robert de Niro or whatever… The problem is that they don´t realise that is what they are asking composers sometimes. So, my thought is: If the filmmaker needs it, I will listen to it to understand the needs he/she has, and after that we will talk about it: Is it because of the pace? The building? The intensity? A lot of questions to be asked… But I never had big problems with temp tracks and filmmakers.
You worked on a few TV series, mini-series and documentaries, is there a great deal of difference between scoring these as opposed to working on a full-length feature?
No is not. For me it depends always on the story and the scale of project, I mean, it is very different when you are working on a ten-thousand-dollar documentary than when you´re working on a forty million dollar feature. The core is the same. You have a story to write music for. But the scale of the project makes the way of working on it a little bit different.
I think your first assignment was in 2011, a short entitled LA CARTA, how did you become involved on this and when working on a short is it more difficult to establish a sound or style because of the time factor, seeing as some shorts are less than 15 minutes in duration?
Yes “La Carta” was my first assignment. Actually, I started looking for the typical google search “Looking for composer” and it took me to meet the filmmaker Álvaro Oliva. After a brief talk, I started to work on it. And it ended up winning an award, so it was a very cool collaboration, and quite of unusual because these things usually don´t work out. And talking about the process: I dont find it easier to work on a short film because as always, the problem here is to find the right sound for it, and that part is always hard. It does not matter if you´re-working either on a short or a two-hour film.
I think you worked on eight episodes of Conquistadores Adventum, when you work on a series such as this, do you ever for want of a better phrasing re-cycle any of the themes from early episodes into later instalments, or use certain sections again. And do you score the series in order of its airing, you also collaborated on the music for this with other composers, was this a collaboration in the true sense or were you each assigned certain sections to score?
Conquistadores Adventum is one of my favourite projects because I had the pleasure of working with two people that I really admire and love, Daniel Rodrigo and Neonymus. Well, in this TV series the way we worked was special. I focused on a music vocabulary based on harmony, melodies, and some orchestral textures with synth sounds. Daniel focused more on textures, sound design and he re-arranged some of my cues, while Neonymus work was mainly vocal. He has a beautiful voice and recorded some cues with layers and layers of his own voice. Sometimes we watched a scene together and composed our individual ideas for it. And after that we mixed all of them. Sometimes Daniel, who played like the main composer role in terms of organization, decided which one of us would write a particular scene. All of this was allowed by the filmmaker Israel del Santo. Who wanted the three of us to be involved in this particular way. So, it was fun!
I love OTROS MUNDOS, it’s a series for TV that ran for three years, how did you become involved on the series, and how much music did you compose over the three years?
This is a very cool project. I ended up on it because of the production company (La caña brothers) and the filmmaker of “Sordo” (Alfonso Cortés) who is one of the owners of the company. So, they told me about this project in 2016 but we started working on it on 2017. I think I wrote maybe like two hours of music for the two seasons. And I was given an award for the music of the first one at FILMUCITE. The nature of this project led to a very 80´s symphonic music so I had a lot of fun writing the music and watching the whole show!
SORDO THE SILENT WAR was performed live to film, do you think that this is something that film composers etc should do regularly and do you think that the Main theme as we know it is now being used less and less?
Well, I always think that having a main title theme, a leit motiv or not, is not the composer´s decision but the filmmaker. I know that this was done a lot years ago with lovely results. I am happy product of that period when you walked out of a cinema singing the main theme of the film you´ve just watched. So i love that way of working in a romantic way. But talking about that is like talking about fashion. You never know? For me it really depends on the project.
About the premiere of “Sordo” with the live orchestra: It was a beautiful event. And I will never forget it. Talking about the film, I think that it doesn´t affect the film in any way if you have a live orchestra playing the music, probably in terms of sound would be worse. But better in terms of the experience itself. I like films, I like film music, I like concerts and I like orchestras. So. if you join all of this you end up liking a lot of these kind of “film concerts”. So, it really depends on the public and its demand.
The score for SORDO was released digitally, did you have any involvement in the compiling of the soundtrack album?
I was in touch with Mikael Carlson of Movie Score Media and the releasing of the score happened just as I was in the middle of the SORDO premiere. So, he was truly kind to do the editing and final fixing on the tracks.
How many times do you prefer to see a project before beginning to put together any firm ideas regarding the style of music and also the placing of the music to best serve the movie or TV series?
If possible, I always like to watch whatever they can show me. But most of the time I get involved in the project just when the script is there. So, I start composing concepts based on the script and conversations with the filmmaker. And later I fix all those ideas to the screen for sure.
You released AQUI Y AHORA can you tell us about this recording and also what is next for you?
Well, AQUÍ Y AHORA was more a bunch of relaxing tracks using just a piano. It was done in the middle of the 2020 pandemic so I tried to do something that could take us away from the hard reality that we are living in. I am working on a lot of different projects right now. A videogame called “The season of the warlock” that will be released in early 2021. A couple of documentary series called: Colgar las alas which is already released about a famous Spanish football player, and another one called: “Porvenir” dealing with the climate change which is challenging. Also, I am finishing my second feature film with Alfonso Cortés called “EGO” which is a project that I am incredibly grateful for being on board. And hopefully I will start a new feature film by the beginning of 2021. So yeah! Really lucky here!