The Music of Jo Hyeja: An Update (AKA My Work Begins)

We now have a deadline for getting the music and foley, as well as the final editing, finished for The Music of Jo Hyeja, and that is the 9th of March. This became our deadline because that’s when we will be taking the final cut of the film to get the audio postprocessing done. (By some kind of organization in Seoul that supports independent filmmakers by dong this kind of work for them, either inexpensively or free of charge — to the filmmaker, at least.)

This means I have a ton of stuff to do, especially because we also learned, from our cameraman, an interesting and distressing bit of content law in Korea, which is this: if you use a piece of music by someone else, even if they give you that you can use it for free, you are required by law to pay them. (The amounts vary by particular use: it’s a certain amount for things sent to film festivals, and a lot more for films given a commercial release. I’m thinking it’s probably a good thing that I have just enough music training to hack together soundtracks for things, for the remainder of our stay here.)

Note: I am not sure how this relates to Creative Commons content, mind you, and I’m a little tempted to find something that has a Creative Commons Attribution-Only License in one or another project just to drag the Korean legal system into the 21st century, even if it just means making them consider such licenses as “Public Domain” or something… but not for this project, anyway.

This means that almost all the music in the film will either be public domain (one track — the background music at the cafe, ripped from a 78 RPM from the 1920s and officially public domain) or made by me (a bunch of samples of haegeum and other instruments and sounds, voices and mixed down into spooky soundtrack music). We have one track made by a local rock band (that plays all traditional Korean instruments, the very interesting 잠비나이) which is perfect for one scene, so we’re going to take that hit. The rest is going to be tracks be me, using the electronic music techniques I picked up as an undergrad, in collaboration with the haegeum player from that band… though in those days, we mostly did our “sampling” with reel-to-reel tape machines. (Yes, in the mid-90s; that was how it was taught in those days, at my school.)

Here’s a video on Youtube from the band 잠비나이 — in fact, it sounds like an earlier (demo?) version of the song we’re planning on securing permission to use — mostly similar around the 4’00” mark (and near the very end of the track, when it gets loud and screechy):

For me, this should be an interesting process. While I expect to have to climb a bit of a learning curve in terms of some of the music — mainly because I haven’t used the software we have on hand, and because I haven’t done anything of this sort in a few years — I’m not too worried because a lot of the principles carry over from the kind of sound-manipulation I did in the past, and besides, some of the music we had as examples in the rough cuts are both effective while being extremely simple; I should be able to create things relatively just as creepy (if not more so), without a ton of work… I just need to be creative!

The best news is that we finally have a haegeum player who is willing to meet for a recording/sampling session, which means I should be able to get a TON of haegeum sounds to use as samples. (I have a list for the poor woman to work through, sample by sample.) I’m attracted to the idea of making as much of the soundtrack out of samples of the central musical instrument, however mutated by manipulation they might end up becoming; there’s a kind of holistic suitedness. But if need be, I have a guitar here, and my saxophones, and a couple of flutes and a tanpura, and access to a piano as well, and you can also use all kinds of other household sounds for the kind of music I’ll be creating.

(When I have some tracks, I’ll post them!)

By the way, for those who don’t know the haegeum, it’s this instrument:

For those who prefer a more familiar tune:

Personally, I’m not crazy about Western “easy listening” music played on Korean instruments; it always makes me feel a little sad (like, what, traditional Korean music isn’t good enough? or, worse, it’s like how too many people think of jazz music — dead, and not going anywhere new except to the land of movie showtunes?), but this will at least sort of give you an idea of what the instrument looks and sounds like.

To be honest, I’m more concerned about getting the foley recording done. I think Miss Jiwaku will have the final cut done before she sleeps tonight, so I will be able to sit down and watch it, with headphones, a couple of times on Friday morning and make a list of what sounds we’re going to need. Every damned sound. Which will take a few listenings, I think.

I’m not particularly worried, since I did a lot of foley sampling during the shoot — assuming we can dig those files up — and because even if I do need to go out and re-record some sounds, most of the film was shot right in our neighborhood, so it shouldn’t be hard to go and get a really authentic sample.

Still, it’s going to be a busy run, seeing as I’ll be creating all this soundtrack music, and doing all the foley recording, during the first week of classes, as well as the weekend before. But, ah well, it’s better than doing it during the second week of classes, right?

In any case, we’ll be heading in for audio postprocessing on the 9th of March; the engineer predicted a 10-hour session because, in his words, audio is especially complex and important in horror films. Then, the film will be done, and we can try whip together something in the form of a trailer to put online. I realize that’s a bit backwards; it’d be better to have a trailer up and build some buzz, but we agreed to submit the film to the Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival, in our town, if we at all could do so, and the cutoff date is 23 March.

Still, I imagine we’ll have a trailer up within a week or two of finishing the thing off… as soon as we recover, or perhaps I’ll be able to talk Miss Jiwaku into editing together a trailer or two before the audio postprocessing date, so we can get those professionally once-overed as well. We’ll see, though: there’s also some other postprocessing stuff to do, like making sure the color is just right. Busy work!

(And we have a few more projects planned for 2012, so this is just the beginning.)

Series Navigation<< What I’ve Learned Shooting <em>The Music of Jo Hyeja</em>, Day 4The Score for The Music of Jo Hyeja OST: Composed, But Rough >>

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