The Dead Kid Detective Agency — Ch. 1 audio score

29 06 2012

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time (since I completed it last year), but haven’t gotten around to it until now.  I took a Children’s Lit class in college, and our final project was one we created ourselves.  It was left very open to what we wanted to do; I decided to write some music for one of the novels we had studied in class.  Here is the description of my project, and a link to the music on youtube.

All the text is from Evan Munday’s book, The Dead Kid Detective Agency, and obviously, I do not claim to own any of it, although I would certainly like to claim to be able to write so wittily.

“Think Like a Child” Independent Project

As a fan of movie soundtracks, I thought it would be fun to write some music for Evan Munday’s The Dead Kid Detective Agency.  I found that the book had a good mix of emotions and moods (ie. scary scenes were still humorous and light) as a book for young readers, which could be reflected in a diverse sound.  A movie soundtrack is, I find, largely underrated in the effects it has on the audience: it can enhance the atmosphere of scenes, making the film feel creepy or funny or whatever the desired mood.  Music can also manipulate audiences’ emotions; we cry when we hear a lamenting violin over a break-up scene, or feel scared at the sound of low murmuring instruments.  Music can even increase our adrenaline during a high-speed car chase with loud horns, like in Inception.  Since movies have the advantage of a soundtrack to enhance the film, and since readers imagine characters, settings, and actions while reading a novel, I thought having music playing while reading or being read to would also enhance the reading/storytelling experience.

Although I intended this project to be played in the background while someone would be reading to a child, I also realized that the readers of Dead Kid might be of an age where they may no longer be read to (ie. between nine and fourteen).  However, the music would still work even for those reading the book silently, as it would play in the background, and would, hopefully, enhance their reading experience.

I picked three scenes for which to write the music: the beginning, in the middle (when October meets the dead kids for the first time), and the end.  I thought the beginning and end of the novel would serve as good bookends musically, where I could use the musical theme in two different ways, to show how October changes throughout the novel.  Therefore, I had the opportunity to pick another chapter in the book on which to write, and ultimately picked a scene that I thought was supposed to be the spookiest, yet one of the most interesting and revealing chapters in the novel, which contrasts with the other two scenes I had picked.  As such, I tried to incorporate the spookiness and fear which October feels when she sees the ghosts by, first of all, writing the music in a minor key, and second, by accelerating the tempo of the music until it climaxes and slows down again, just as October realizes the dead kids are actually kind of cool and that there is no need to be scared of them.  The tone of both the chapter and the music changes when October wants to be friends with her new acquaintances, which I thought would also be a good contrast between the previous spooky scene.

Lastly, I decided to narrate some of the story as a guide to where the music was supposed to follow.  This incidentally made the project seem more like an audio book with music, which was an interesting revelation, and another possibility for the use of this music.



2 responses

30 06 2012

I really liked the last 1:14 excellent!

30 06 2012

Aww, thanks. 🙂

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