Black Hole Zion: March 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blood Nebula (The Long Version)

I tend to work on multiple things at once.  While this makes projects take longer, it lets me jump in on something while I am really excited and inspired.  After that initial creative burst, I'll calm down a bit and switch into something else and start the whole process over.  This really helps keep each musical adventure fresh each time I come back to it.

Anyway, I compose music for plays sometimes.  I really enjoy most aspects of it.  I like to collaborate, and plays take that to another level.  Instead of only working with other musicians, you have a director, SFX and lighting folks, scene design, props, costumes, actors, dancers, etc...  It really is a great experience.  You are given some concept art, a script, and some background info from the director.  This might include some ideas as to what they want in terms of instrumentation (wind instruments, acoustic guitar, percussion, electronics, or something else).  After that, I get to work on musical sketches for various scenes in the script.

A play is a lot different than a movie or a game.  It is quite rare for large chunks to be underscored.   After I get a few sketches together, I sit down with the director and the SFX person to see how my vision fits their vision(s).  I've been fortunate in that I've never had to massively redo any music I've written.  However, you always have to change something.  It could be as simple as getting to the next section a little faster because you are underscoring stage combat.  It could be something a little more difficult like remixing an 8 channel surround piece because the dancers are out in the audience and would like more piano in two different channels so that it sounds a little closer to the stereo version they had been doing initial rehearsals with.  You get the idea, right?

I ended up  REALLY liking some of those pieces of music from the last year or two outside of the context of live theater.  I decided to take a bit of time away from the music (yeah, see above) and then tweak some things back to how I preferred them instead of how they fit the scene.  Some of the pieces were given additional sections too.

While there were some things that already had guitar on them from me, I wanted some additional parts played by another person.  As usual, I reached out to my friend and primary Black Hole Zion collaborator, Ryan/Mega Beardo, to see if he would be interested in doing it.  He had a bunch of stuff going on, most importantly, planning a wedding, getting married, and going on a honeymoon.  It just happened that our friend, Tony, was free.  Tony had just gotten some new gear and was looking to test it out with some recording.  You may know Tony from his former band, Byzantine, where he played lead guitar.  Tony and Ryan are both really talented, so it was like getting a million dollars worth of cheesecake versus a million dollars worth of ice cream.  Did I just compare the talents of my friends to desserts?  If you know me well, you'll know this is one of the highest compliments I could give.

All of the music I was most attached to had similar underlying elements:  conflict and violence.  There are some light sounding pieces, but even those had some type of conflict necessitating their existence.  Some are heavy on electronics and others are all acoustic instruments.  As you might have guessed by the title of this post, this collection of music will be called Blood Nebula.  Blood Nebula serves as a continuation and a sort of mate to Reflection Nebula.  Both are instrumental collections, but whereas Reflection Nebula steered quite hard to the right side of the brain and being a little ambient, Blood Nebula is more focused and driving.

I've just about finished mixing everything, and I'm really proud of how it is turning out.  I'm very excited for folks to hear it.  For now, here is a sample of one piece called "I'll Die for What I Believe in (I Just Don't Know What That Is Yet)" via my Instagram.  I'm looking forward to posting more soon.

Thanks for reading,

A video posted by Mark Zbornak (@mbmultiverse) on