Task 2: Batman RE-Score Task

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/20097628″>Dark Knight Piano RE-DO</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user5031032″>James Rogers</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



My objective for creating this score was to compose a piano piece for the chase scene in “The Dark Knight”.

Visual element/s highlighted

A section I highlighted was  at 0.41” in which Batman passes under the lorry. This was musically expressed by scale patterns, flowing from extreme highs to extreme lows.

The composers approach you adopted:

Through studying Danny Elfman’s Batman score it became apparent that he uses a diverse range of instrumentation. I composed for piano with this in mind to use it in an orchestral manner.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

A MIDI technique I learned was related to the step input keyboard. With this I was able to program notes that I could not play live, enabling more complex rhythms and more control over the selected note durations, pitch and velocity values.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

A music technique I learnt was concerned with making effective use of scale patterns and arpeggiations to convey drama.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

Through only using a piano we were given a compositional boundary. This proved to be a challenge, as I would normally rely on the orchestration effect to portray a style of film composition. Through using only piano I had to replicate orchestration effects and dynamics in a manner that reflected the visuals.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would give myself a 60% as I feel I used the piano in a way that showed how versatile the instrument could be with reference to Danny Elfman’s “The Batman” score as a compositional guide.

Word count:  242


Theme and variation is a way in which a composer has a given theme in which to base the composition on, almost like a motive. Once this motive is set the composer can than variate the theme accordingly such as through:

Augmentation & Diminution:

‘ In melodic parts, the respective lengthening and shortening of the time-values of the notes. Thus, in a fugue, the subject may (epescially towards the end) appear in longer notes, a device which adds dignity and impressiveness’

(Kennedy, 1996, p31)

This use of rhythmic variation is a extremely strong way of making melodies stick out, giving the piece a “freshness” and direction that is based around a given theme. Of course there are other ways to variate a theme this can be done through, medoly variation, instrumentation  and timbre. With this in mind the below videos are from Danny Elfman showing how just from variation a rhythm the melody can take the composition through different transistions.

The Simpsons Theme

(I tried to find one with the video to match the theme, but most of the youtube ones were poor quality recorded on camera!)

The variations upon this theme are very simple often reflecting what the actions of the simpsons characters are doing. This creates a composition that reflects the actions of screen, a fantastic example of making the music contextualized! Throughout the video the notes of the melody shortens and lengths often with the same melody in mind. This is a classic example of how Danny Elfman has created a theme and variated accordingly and obviously throughout the track. In some cases there are elements where the theme is changed completely in terms of melody and rhythm often using using the same notes just re-arranged with a different orchestra texture.

Broken down into melodic segments, the last post shows how different parts of the melody re-arranged into shorter or longer melodic parts for the theme The Batman. Compared to the Simpsons tune the Batman offers much less subtle variations often that can only be heard through careful hearing. To me what strikes as a fantastic tool is the repetition of the melody often done with another instrument. The repetition re-enforces the theme often disguised behind layers of other orchestrated parts.



Kennedy, Michael (1996). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of MUSIC. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. n/a.


Task 1 Themes and Variations

Main Theme

Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Variation 4

Variation 5

Variation 6



My objective was to create a theme then to create six variations focusing on rhythm and melody.

The composers approach you adopted:

The composer that inspired me was Danny Elfman. ‘The Batman” was a piece that used a simple theme, which would vary in rhythm and melody. At the start of the piece the brass introduction is a legato motif using Csharp, D, G then Fsharp. At 0.50’ it then changes to a staccato motif of the same melody line with the note durations shorter.  I made sure that rhythm was one of the main points for creating different variations with shortening and lengthening phrases, with re-arranging the notes in a manner to mask its original theme.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

A midi technique I used was using the piano roll’s velocity editor to create a more dynamic melody line.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

A main music technique practiced was the development of variations from a theme.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

For this task I wanted to focus on rhythm and I found through changing the duration of the melodic phrases I could construct variations that seemed different from one another exploring how I could make each variation contrasting.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

For this task I would estimate the result to be a 65%. I feel through researching into different approaches of variations especially from Danny Elfman I could use apply these into this task ,the result hopefully showing my understanding.

Word count: 245

Danny Elfman Theme for Batman

For this task we have to construct six different various of melody using techniques that we have researched to use within our first task. Of course to do this task effectively I have to research into melody looking at different ways artists variated how melody was portrayed throughout a composition. I plan to listen to famous film composers music that follow a theme, write notes upon how they have constructed theres themes. I also plan to look at classic music theory and research the basis of theme and variation looking into the language of music theory to understand and use it on my report for this first task. So I guess here goes!!!


For any film music there is always a type of theme that resides within the composition. A theme is what makes a piece recognisable in some cases, a melodoic line you here throughout the composition just re-ordered in some way perhaps in key, rhythm and timbre. Here below are some themes from film music that I find interesting as both compositions and works to analyse for this task.

The famous Danny Elfman is the Composer this track for the film The Batman. In class listened to this as an example of theme and variation as its very apparently that the theme runs through the composition.

The melody:

Here below is the main melody line in which the composition starts. The melody to begin with is in Bmajor and the Melody line goes:

B, Csharp, D, G then flat.

Found at: 0.02″ of the soundtrack

How this melody is used is through different instrumentation which in some cases the melodic line re-ordered in some shape or form.

Found at: 0.16″

This part is a Glockenspiel and Harp part that is a arpeggio of the Bminor chord in reverse adding a G to the start. Its almost the same as the melody just missing the note Csharp. Here below is an audio example of this:

Found at: 0.50″

Once the track picks up pace we here a melodic line from the Brass instruments that is a speed up version on the original melody. Being quicker than the original melody (twice as fast) the Semibreve and Crochets are used with a crochet rest at the end of the bar . Here is what it sounds like:

Found at: 0.53″

This part is where the melody acts as a transition to get to the next key of the soundtrack Aminor. How danny Elfman does this is by using the basic melody notes (well some of them) B, Csharp, D,Fsharp, Gsharp then straight into Am. The Gsharp being the transition note to getting to the Aminor scale smoothly.

Found at: 0.59

Here is the final bit of the track I will be talking about. This is the part where the rhythmn of the piece become alot more heavy with image of tension and quick movment. How Danny Elfman has done this section is exstremely clever with how the melody theme has blended with the chord changes to differnet keys.

The start of this excerpt  is in Am with the melody in that key with the melody being A,B, C,F AND E. This is repeated twice the first slower than the second, the second having the 5th of Am E played at the start of the melody instead of A. One of my favourite parts of this section is the when at 1.01″  where the from Am in move to Gminor then to Fsharp Minor. the trasnsition to Fsharp Minor is as follows; Dsharp, D, Bflat, A, G, Gflat. (see picture below)

Music for the Imagination

I have spoken a little about film and how its evolved from the later 19th century through to the early 20th century in regards to the limitations of a composer and the technology . This in regards to  givng the composer more control over the films dynamic structure of emotion in the 1930’s for instance. Creating specific scores for hollywoods hits of the late 1920’s. During the Music for digital Media lesson we were asked to look into Impressionism in Music. I think this would be great to look into as its seeing music for visuals in a different light, this being music for the imagination without the aid of film.

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy was a composer that for most of his life battled against the western strict music practices that had been taught to him when he was child and teenager. How he saw music was that it was  similar to the artistic movement of Impressionism. This movement was where artists of the movement in France (mainly) wanted to experiment with colour and brush strokes, creating bold out door paintings that were often bright harsh and tonally bold normally of outside scenery. They were trying to also battle against romanticism  era of art and push bounderies into new scopes of art composition.

How Claude Debussy did this to a music equivalent was to compose music that contained new, innovative scales,rhythms and harmony. His interest in both scales,rhythm and harmony often made him indulge oriental styles of music, indian and gamelan orchestra. His works such as ‘Le Mer’ was a composition that reflected the motion of waves of an ocean. His interest within the idea of Impressionism similar to the influence of outside aspects; ‘clouds, rain, wind, water, sunlight, and shadow’. (Gifford, n/a)

Symbolism movement

The idea behind the Symbolism movement was founder from poetry within the mid 1800’s from writers such as:

Charles Baudelaire

Stéphane Mallarmé

Von Hofmannstahl

The concept was to write poetry using words that express or evoke emotion, to make use more aware of out sensory perception of things around us perhaps without even realising!  It was to say the least a complex movement that intwined philosophy and ideas of life however this way of writing and perceiving sights, sounds and ideas was what  influenced Claude Debussy to write works. The idea of creating a image, to stimulate the imagination was how works such as ‘La Mer” contained a strong influence of both movements, Impressionism and Symbolism.

Maurice Ravel

Another famous Impressionist Composer was Maurice Ravel. He was a close friend to Claude Debussy and both of there musics were considered similar within the Impressionist music works they both created. Maurice Ravel was a huge success for Impressionist music and was seen as one of the two great composers within this musical movement, the other of course being Claude Debussy. He wrote music for opera, chamber music, giant orchestras similar to that of Claude Debussy. His influence bieng from Russian music, Spanish music and Jazz music.

This piece below ‘Bolero’ was written by Maurice Ravel for Opera and is regarded as one of his most famous pieces of music in which he composed. It contains a repetition of the same melodic themes but changed with orchestration of instrumentation the effect of variating timbre and harmony. This is a fantastic piece that reflects how through the uses of repetition through different types of instrumentation can keep the piece interesting and ‘fresh’.

Impressionism Artists

The movement of Impressionism was a major art movement that as previously stated pushed art composition into a new film to deter away from the romanticism movement of that time…..a new fresh start in art form. This new movement in Art within the late 1800’s was hugely disliked by the public and so painters within this time found it difficult to make this movement a successful art movement that would change the art scene completely, being new and original to any form done previously. It was against the institution of how painters used to well paint, it used brush stroke techniques that were against any academic strict teachings of the time of the mid 1800s.


Here below is a video of the types of artists within this era that created some fantastic works that some inspired music composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel to create some of their best works.



n/a. (n/a). Composers: Claude Debussy. Available: http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/composer/debussy.html. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

oskill, Mark. (1997). Art Periods: IMPRESSIONISM. Available: http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Art/impressionism.shtml. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

Gifford, Katya. (n/a). Claude Debussy- Biography. Available: http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=r&p=a&a=i&ID=752. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

Holcombe,C. John. (2007). Symbolists and Symbolish Poetry.Available: http://www.textetc.com/modernist/symbolism.html. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

n/a. (n/a). Maurice Ravel Frontispice Bolero. Available: http://www.maurice-ravel.net/bolero.htm. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

n/a,Sebastian. (2010). Maurice Ravel The Elegant Impressionist.Available: http://www.favorite-classical-composers.com/maurice-ravel.html. Last accessed 1/1/2011.


‘Don Juan’ was a test production to show off the capabilities of the Vitaphone System.

The era of silent movies was at an end, the ability for the actors to speak was a huge advancement in sound of that time. Many film producers did not believe the idea of using speech was a good thing as for twenty or so years the public had been used to silent movies with no speech. The first film to be released to a audience as a test was Warner Bros ‘The Jazz Singer’ with Al Johnson. It was a musical film that contained dancing, singing and dramatic and most importantly synchronised sound.

The Jazz Singer (1927) was the first time the  Warner Bros. Vitaphone system was used to combine the sound and film in synchronisation. This new technology was a major up step in sound as it enabled the use of voice to be heard on screen! The sound was pressed onto disk lathes that would play the sound as soon as the video started. This enabled the use of recorded sound rather than for instance hiring a orchestra to play every time the movie was screened. This made a lot of theatre musicians out of work, the era of live music for film was starting to dissipate. The combining of film and sound in synch was a positive step forward however they still had a few issues when having both the orchestra within the same confines of the film set.

With the sucess of the Jazz singer it was not long till a few years later in 1932 the technology to “over – dub” was brought into the film production system. The overdubb advancement gave film makers the change to add music where they wanted at a later date, having a seperate recording overdubb studio to do sound effects, vocal over dubs and musical scoring on top of the film. A selection of only four channels to record onto for which to layer these various elements.This meant that in some cases such people had to lip sync even orchestras!  This was the case with a lot of their performances within a film environment often to a playback system within the film studio. For the first time music could be separately recorded, giving the composer edge and broadening how music would change in sync with the emotional dynamics of a given film.



n/a. (2005). 1920’s Movies. Available: http://www.1920-30.com/movies/. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

Allan, Bob. (n/a). 70 Years Of Synch Sound. Available: http://www.amps.net/newsletters/issue19/19_synch.htm. Last accessed 1/1/2011. 

Wainwright, Stephen R. (2006-2010). The Story of Oscar-Winning, Movie Sound Pioneer GEORGE R. GROVES. Available: http://www.georgegroves.org.uk/belllabs.html. Last accessed 1/1/2011.

Music for Silent Movies

Lumiere Brothers

Here above is a Clip from the Lumiere Brothers. They were the first in the world to organise a film screening in 1895. There video works containing ten short twenty second pieces were videos of normal everyday life there did not think however that film would be a popular medium to stand for long for the future (very ironic). The machine they used to screen the short films Le’Cinematographe which was a fantastic piece of kit that  combined had inside a camera, projector for screening and printer.


Camille Saint-Saens

The music you can here from this video is the music of Camille Saint-Saens written for the film ‘L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise’ (The Assassination of the Duke of Guise)in 1908.  He was asked to write a film score for this film and apparently  ‘it was believed to be the first film score tailored a specific film”. (Davis 1999) This was a major advancement within how music would later be more on be closely linking to the emotional variation of a given film sequence or set of film sequences.

In theatres showing movie screening it would often just have a piano player or small orchestra in the time a few years earlier when the works of the Lumiere Brothers was being showcased. Music within the very late 19th century had no relevance to any of the movie scenes, it was mainly popular music at the time that was played ranging from ‘classical favourites, popular songs, folk songs or cafe music.(davis,1999).

Kinobibliothek or Kinothek for short!

A systematic approach to choosing music for a given film was done by a releasing of several publications that have inside a archive of written music for a given mood, l that would (with the view on the musical director) reflect the context of the film through the music. Of course the was a basic and almost limited way of doing this as for musical parts to the changed with smooth affect both the musicians and the musical director had to know the film well to know how the score was going to change, often with use of a timed reference to make the music change as close to “in sync” as possible, clumsy but a step in the right direction!

The most famous publications of this were:

  • ‘Kinobibliothek’ by Giuseppe Becce
  • ‘The Sam Fox Moving Picture Music Volumes’ by J.S. Zamecnik
  • ‘Motion Picture Moods’ by Erno Rapee

(davis, 1999, p6- p10)

Cue sheets……(more on next blog post)

A few years earlier there was another system that was a ‘basic’ planning out but that was a lot more effective than the Kinoteck method of a huge array of music to choose from, often with no boundaries or set scores for a given film. Max Winkler came up with an idea around 1912 to construct a simple and effective way of structuring a score for a given sequence with a film for performers, perhaps not in a huge amount of technical detail however it was a start. Within each part of a musical ‘cue’ it had the name of the piece, length of time for piece to be played, a note containing any signs from the visuals that could act as a trigger to play a certain cue and finally in some cases its dynamics  (the volume characteristics of a given piece).  It enabled publishers to more easily sell or rent out pieces of music in reference to the cue sheets. The theatre owner would then hire the music and players which would then be performed at the screening for the selected film, this was the start of another major advancement in film, the era of music being specifically written for selected films!



Davis, Richard. (1999). Early Films and Music: The Silent Movies. In: Feist, Jonathan Complete guide to Film Scoring. Boston MA: Berklee Press. 3-17.


n/a. (n/a). Lumiere Brothers Films- History. Available: http://www.holonet.khm.de/visual_alchemy/lumiere.html. Last accessed 29/1/2011.