The concept of the score for Clownface came initially from conversations I had with director Alex Bourne about horror soundtracks. Alex told me how much he liked the soundtracks for Halloween (2007) and Candyman (1992), as well as a lot of other scores. He took these soundtracks as types of "role models" and I could notice in the tracks he showed me that he was both interested in orchestral and classical guitar music. This was promising as I could see the potential of using certain music styles that we usually do not listen in horror soundtracks nowadays. I remember finding this fascinating. I could perceive Alex as a director who possess a great music listening experience. It is this diverse musical listening experience that has allowed him to understand and appreciate the multifaceted dimensions that different styles of music can bring to a soundtrack. Therefore, I could foresee that the music would not follow strict stereotypes of horror scores.
I also talked a lot with Alex about who Clownface is and the importance of the main characters to the story telling. Thus, three main “emotional mottoes” needed to be created and addressed to three main characters. Each “emotional motto” would encapsulate themes, motifs, textures, instrumentation, etc.
The first “emotional motto” was Clownface. I remember asking Alex to tell me more about Clownface and he said something like that: "he's just a force of nature, an idea, that kills." I loved this concept and I thought what musical ideas could translate that. With this in mind, I created four musical ideas that are associated to Clownface:
1. The timpani that mostly plays a second minor interval to represent death;
2. Breathing/Airy sounds to represents the vanishing of life as if a soul is taken;
3. The 8-note bassline motif (figure 1 bass clef), which combines diatonic and chromatic upward and downward movement to represent his relentless and the idea of force of nature;
4. Clownface theme (figure 1 treble clef), an 8-note melody that counterpoints the 8-note bassline motif, and is also very chromatic. My intention with the theme was that it would incites the audience's imagination on what emotions the melody wants to translate. As we all have different music listening experiences, I wanted to try to bring these subtleties of music meaning to the score.
As Clownface is a mystery, a ghost story, an urban legend, an angel of death, a psychotic serial killer, he needed to have all these musical ideas to create a complex emotional landscape through music. The music aims to bring a multifaceted dimension of what Clownface might be or not. The very chromatic nature of his Clownface’s motif and theme allowed me to explore different harmonies.
The second character that needed to be addressed with an “emotional motto” was Zoe. Zoe is a complex character too and duality would be the best way to describe her. At the same time that she seems to want to settle down, she stills into binge drinking and bondage. Director Alex Bourne, after listening to my guitar compositions, thought it would be great to bring my guitar skills in the soundtrack. I naturally loved his suggestion, as I instantly knew what we could achieve.
Zoe's theme is a solo guitar piece that aims to represent her duality through a romantic melody (figure 2). The duality lies in the subtle changes that I do between the use of the key D minor with the Dorian mode. The theme brings a poignant statement of her duality, and the fatality in her romance with Rick.
The third and last character that also needed an “emotional motto” was Owen. In the movie, we find out how Owen was traumatized by Clownface since the first day that he encounters him. Since this first encounter, Clownface became attached to Owen’s memories, making him become and obsessive mad man with erratic behaviour and no social skills. Owen’s only goal is to find and confront Clownface. Owen’s musical ideas are divided into two:
1. Owen’s theme (figure 3), which combines elements from Clownface’s 8-note bassline motif, representing the attachment between the two characters;
2. 4-note motif consisting of a semitone followed by a tone (figure 4), which comes from Messiaen’s second mode concept.
These “emotional mottos” helped immensely in the creation of a concept for the score. Besides, the benefit of creating a short movie pilot of 10 minutes (before the feature), also contributed in the process of conceptualisation of the score.
Music and Narrative in Clownface
In the score for Clownface, the music follows the narrative arch of the film. Therefore, I made sure that themes, motifs and textures would keep coming back throughout the whole movie. Furthermore, such musical elements would also evolve and expand as the movie narrative progresses, keeping the ideas recognisable and also fresh. In my opinion, this is very important in film scoring as you’re creating a musical identity that is bond to the movie. Thus, in the psychological aspect, the music is not only parallel to the drama, but it also brings new dimensions that are expressed. For instance, it reveals or suggests the unspoken thoughts and feelings of characters. Such technique is widely used in this score, specially in the lair sequences, where Zoe and Clownface don’t speak but interact with each other.