Dahil Sa Surf – “Foreground Music”

A chill remix of Dahil Sayo I did a year ago for a video project Craig Pulsifer was doing for O’Neill Philippines. I forgot to put up the music anywhere, so it’s a bit of an older piece despite what any of the timestamps say.

There must be a term for what you’d call this sort of piece, but I’m not sure what it is. I’ve settled on “foreground music” for now, since the music is the only sound there is. At any rate, it’s always a unique challenge to write for a video when there isn’t going to be any dialogue or SFX. The music is obviously central to the mood and pace, so you need to make your decisions carefully, knowing that everything you write will affect how the film is perceived to a greater degree than usual. Anyway, I’m not sure this piece was as meticulously-crafted as all that, but it was fun.

The groove at the beginning of the piece came together really quickly, but it took a long time to settle on something for the climax at the end. It needed to pick up, but it couldn’t drop into something earth-shaking because that’s just not what the surf was doing that day. The vibe was all about having fun with your friends, not defying death. So hopefully that comes across.

The video:


The audio is slightly extended on my soundcloud:

Photography by Craig from craigpulsifer.com and art by Leslie from lesliepulsifer.com.

Bass guitar borrowed from Jon from jonathanmeret.com. Half of the rent paid by Brandon from brandondorsey.com.


Daydreams – OST

Another short score, this one for Jason Lum’s short, “Daydreams”. Lots of really impressive visuals to which I hope I was able to do some justice. Two pieces here, the first is what was actually used, and the second is a few of my favourite ideas that didn’t make the final cut.

Jason Lum: jasonlum.carbonmade.com/
Daydreams: https://vimeo.com/127754934


This is the track that was used for the film, minus a few extra sound effects. I wanted to showcase more of the music, after all, but it is definitely an ambience and sound effect driven piece.



“Lighter” is made of several ideas for the “Daydreams” short film that didn’t make the cut. From a musical standpoint, I like most of these ideas better than the ones that ended up in the film, but with film music you aren’t trying to write the most beautiful or interesting idea: you’re mainly trying to support the story best. So the first piece is definitely the best one for Jason’s short, but I am also happy to be able to share this (in my opinion) more enjoyable track with you.


Gestalt – OST

The score for Michael Wang’s short animation, “Gestalt”. Michael paints a lot of pretty epic backgrounds and stuff, so I enjoyed being able to write some slightly more “epic” music without worrying about drowning out the visuals.

Michael Wang: www.artstation.com/artist/michaelwang


Q&A: Rent-seeking?

“…rent-seeking involves seeking to increase one’s share of existing wealth without creating new wealth.

The classic example of rent-seeking, according to Robert Shiller, is that of a feudal lord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee (or rent of the section of the river for a few minutes) to lower the chain. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free.”


How much of our social media profit-seeking (e.g., expanding our reach, dialoguing with our community, increasing regularity of content publishing, examining conversion metrics, etc.) is actually rent-seeking, versus trying to add real value to our communities?

If you answered, “very little” or even “none”, what aspect of your social media strategy most closely resembles rent-seeking?

How can we somehow create new wealth, even if we are artists who only create intellectual property?

What could we create that we, our clients, and the community at large would truly value?

Corvid – OST

A very short piece I did for Laura Horobin’s animated short film, “Corvid”. Great visual style, and I enjoyed the unusual, but well-articulated story. Definitely worth checking out, but it’s not totally finished yet, so I’ll have to update with a link whenever she releases it. Hopefully soon!

Laura Horobin: luarta-draws.tumblr.com/

Sophie Said Something – OST

Last year I had the chance to work with Clint Bargen (http://www.clintbargen.com/) and Jon Fehr (http://twitter.com/jrfehr) on their short film, “Sophie Said Something”. It’s short and sweet, but required an unexpectedly versatile set of music to fit the piece. 

At first I thought it would be pretty simple, but when the first piece in the temp score was by Chopin and my instructions were to “write something in a similar style”, I had to prepare for something a little more involved. 

Obviously it’s no classical masterpiece, but by listening to a two hour Chopin playlist several times, I felt like I was able to get into the right sort of headspace. I really enjoy writing in the classical mindset, no matter how bad I may be at it. It’s liberating to be able to write whatever you want without a thought for how catchy it is or how good your song structure is or what have you. 

There’s some generic string parts in the middle, but they don’t have much of a theme and therefore aren’t worth sharing even though they did their job well. 

The film finishes off (spoilers) on a slightly humorous, ironic note… Which is not a mood I have ever had to write a musical cue for before. After several failed attempts, I was jamming on the guitar and the idea to use an accordion very suddenly came to mind (thanks, Lord!). Anyway, it wound up sounding sort of French-ish, but all of us were pretty happy with it, so it stayed. You never know what will work, I guess, so you may as well give it all a fair shot. 

#FIX – short film – OST (Original SoundTrack)

This is the soundtrack for #FIX, a short film directed by Ryan Bergmann. The music won the “Outstanding Achievement: Film Composer” award at the POV film festival in April. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so flustered as when I went to accept the award, because there was so much other good work that I didn’t expect my work to stand out. Glad it did, because I met some really talented people at the afterparty that I hope to work with soon.

Part 1:

I’m not a massive fan of this first part, but it did set up some of the themes for later. I think there’s probably lots of composers who don’t like much of their own work after it’s done, and I guess this is a taste of that for me. Fortunately I DO like the other parts, especially part 2.

Part 2:

This part is my favourite, probably. It was really interesting to transition from retro-ambience to club-banger, and I like how the different musical ideas stack up to make a really interesting main section.

Part 3:

Played some live bass at 4AM for this piece, which is why the pickups are clicking without me noticing. (I stayed awake for 46 hours to finish this piece in time – hey, YOU try working full time and composing a score in a few weeks. It’s hard to pay attention when your eyes are raisins.) So embarrassing. But it is what it is, at this point. I like the music of it, if not my production quality.

All the voices for this soundtrack came from my little sister’s cover of “We Are Gonna Be Friends”, which I have posted earlier this year. I just chopped out a few vowels and pitch shifted them where I needed them. It added a much-needed human element, and her voice’s pleasant tone made it easy to work with. Thanks Lani!

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Movement – Jesus Is The Centre

On September 29th, 2013, after almost 8 years of roaming from rental location to rental location, Westside Church moved into its new permanent home at The Centre for Performing Arts on Homer St (downtown). This video was commissioned for the launch Sunday, and I was excited to be asked to do the music for it! Make sure you get the full-screen, HD experience going on. It’s worth it for this one.

Video production by Transposition Films / transpositionfilms.com
Design by Tiffany Haines / tiffanyhainesdesign.com

Just music:

Dogs pt. II.

I’ve moved on to a training scenario. When the dog barks, I crank up the 18.5kHz for a second or two, then turn it back down. If the dog persists, I persist.

“Why 18.5kHz?” It’s sort of abitrary I guess… I want  a frequency my monitors can reproduce well that doesn’t annoy ME. I can still hear it very faintly at that frequency, but it’s more of a feeling than an actual sound. It’s definitely not painful or irritating like it is at 16 or 17 kHz. So far 18.5 seems like a decent number, but I’ll be experimenting. I use this site here: http://onlinetonegenerator.com/ Just in case anyone wants to join me in this experiment.

Make sure you close Facebook and any other window or app which might pop up an alert!! Ugh, it would MURDER me to have a “donk” suddenly blast me while I’m trying to blast the dogs. I’m supposed to be the blaster, you know? A sort of cruel irony. So I’m trying to be careful to never let that happen.

TL;DR: Say no to donkblasts, kids.

Dog chain reactions.

So the dogs upstairs and next door will sometimes bark because they think they hear someone crossing the street nine blocks away. And then they think the other dog is barking at them, so they bark back and forth for… well, in this case, from about 8:00 until right now.

I’ve spent the last several minutes playing ultra high frequency tones through my monitors with my window wide open. The dogs seem to have shut up, but I have no idea if the tones had anything to do with it. I just hope it was really irritating for them.