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Topic: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

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  1. #1
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    Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    I really need some sort of "clue" quickly........

    Nothing pops into my head as "dark comedic" music...... it's late in the day and I'm sort of lost.

    Anything typical? Instrumentation etc????

    I'm trying to demo for a job I've been asked to submit for.... but I have no clue where to start (based only on the script). I need to do something no later than Sunday and Fed Ex it to the shoot, before they start shooting in like 4 days...... (as I want this job cuz it's a pretty good budget for "me")

    Any help is the bomb!

    (I just need to get my head in the right direction)



    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    I think when people say Dark Comedy, they're usually referring to a film like Election, Royal Tennenbaums, etc. Scores by maybe Rolfe Kent, Mark Mothersbaugh (even Danny Elfman (To Die For)) or maybe John Brion are a good place to start. As far as instrumentation, it's I'd think some orchestral mixed with a quirky element usually work. I'd think mostly acoustic instruments, not too many pads or stuff like that. Maybe marimba, something percussive, jazz drums and upright, pizz strings. I think this is kind of the 'studio' dark comedy vibe. If it's an indie, then it can really be anything - a casio and a beatbox, some quirky vibe that might relate to the script.

    I know it's kind of vague, but hope that helps. I've been dealing with the same type of request recently.....

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    I think that's dead on. Something excessively normal, with an ironic twist.

  4. #4

    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    I did a "dark comedy" score last weekend for the 48-Hour Film Project. It covered samba to muzak to acid-jazz.

    "Quirky" also strikes me as a good word. Pick an unusual instrument or technique you want to work with and explore it.

    Otherwise, there are no rules. If your director and producer really don't know what they want, it's up to you to take a guess. In that case, go with what *you* want to do, as your enthusiasm and personal style should be a unique factor in why they should want to work with you in the first place.

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  5. #5

    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    I totally forgot about that - bossa nova / samba rhythms seem to work well. Maybe an accordian?

    And, sometimes it's hard, but try to find out as much as you can as far as what the director/producer have in mind. Most of the time, they're thinking of a specific film/sound/vibe as a reference point. If you can hit them with something 'similar' to this as your first track on the demo, then you've got their attention since they know you can do what they have in mind. It's easier to try different things after that but giving them what they think they want is a way to at least get them to listen to the rest of your demo. I think most people don't want to page through 'general' demos and imagine that you can do what they want. I say give it to them and get their attention. Get the meeting then you can show them your diversity. I've just come to the personal conclusion at this point that general demos are a complete waste of time. Putting something together specific for a project and leading off with exactly what they want is much more effective in my humble opinion....

  6. #6

    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    Rent: War of the Roses, and Very Bad Things. Those are both very dark films with comedic undertones.

    Generally dark comedy gets a fairly normal scoring treatment, with some occasional staccato skippy basses and woodwinds for the comedic part.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  7. #7
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    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    "Mouse Hunt" - Alan Silvestri... Weird, slapsticky and dark...

  8. #8
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    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    Thanks guys that helps.........

    Yeah, I think it's very subtle most of the time. That's why I am/was mind F'ing myself over writing this with nothing to look at but a script and some coverage. I'm gonna just try for "ironc" with a twist of "quirky" set against "perfectly normal". The trick is being quirky enough to sound sorta "off", but not too far off.


    I find that many of those dark comedies deliver the music almost "straight". And that's why it's ironic set against the film. I guess I'll just take a stab in the dark..... cuz really there's no "dark comedy sound", right, it could be anything so?

    Yeah that's what I was thinking instrumentation wise (mixed pretty dry), I just really needed a second opinion to get me outta my "mind block". Didn't think of accordion though.

    (oh, and I cant talk to the guy in the meantime cuz he's on a plane then prepping for the film.... but it's fine, I'll figure something out)


    Thanks ya'll.......... I'm clued in.

  9. #9

    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    A few weekends ago I did the music for my son's action comedy short film. The leitmotif that I used for Professor POW went with the cuban rhythm kind of thing. And sure enough, I did it mostly normal, but quirky. It's definitely dark though. At the end of the Jenga scene the professor shoots the accountant in cold blood.

    Pardon the sins, but that was the first time I ever did ten minutes of finished, cartooned music in one weekend.

    http://www.fairhurst.com/realaudio/2005/2005web.ram

    Anyway, it might give you some ideas - or maybe an idea of what *not* to do.

    -JF

  10. #10
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    Re: Anyone know what "Dark Comedy" music sounds like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markleford
    ...there are no rules. If your director and producer really don't know what they want, it's up to you to take a guess. In that case, go with what *you* want to do, as your enthusiasm and personal style should be a unique factor in why they should want to work with you in the first place.

    - m
    Very well put. Two of my three short film scores to date have been dark comecdy, and have involved attempting to please a director who had temp tracks in the film -these tracks were very unique, so capturing their mood and style without ripping them off was impossible. After scrapping several attempts at several different scences, I said, "forget this", and went with my gut: no attempt to imitate at all. (As an example, one temp track was J. Brion, from "Eternal Sunshine..." I did soemthing that sounded kinda like early talkies. Real heavy on the tremolo piano chords, colored with orchestral-all mickey moused, of course!) The director loved it!!

    Capture the mood of the film. Be willing to try something new, and be willing to scrap it and try something else new at the director's request. I was so proud when he said I had "nailed" it. That makes rewrites worth it, and makes your director appreciate you more. THAT makes more gigs.

    Good luck,

    Belbin

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