April 27, 2010
How did you approach the religious elements of the story? Are you using some choirs? When are you using female, male or children choirs? Are female for example more interesting for drama and emotions or children/men for fantasy and mystery?
Well the first thing I did when I found out I was doing the project was to go to Genesis and read the original. And I read as many different translations as I could find, looking for any additional nuances in the story. And I must say the writers and directors did a great job staying true to the story and bringing it into a presentation for a contemporary audience. Regarding voices, I did not make extensive use of them in the score. Obviously the songs (which I arranged and produced) are a different issue. For the score, I used a small female group in the beginning for what I was calling God’s theme, and in the big scene at the end, which was the reunion of Joseph, his brothers and Jacob, his father. I guess the female sound seemed like angels to me, although we all know angels can also be male. Also I think it was more appropriate to the sonic tapestry and created a more uplifting feeling.
How do you describe your music style for «Joseph: King of Dreams»?
A challenging question. I would say World/Orchestral. Does that make sense?
Did you have any temp-track on the score? What was it?
Yes I did, but I honestly don’t remember. I think some of it was tracked with "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" by Vaughan Williams. Fortunately, whatever the rest of it was, the filmmakers were not too attached to it.
You used ancient Egyptian instruments. Which ones? How have you discovered them and who performed them? When do you know, that those instruments are the right instruments for the current movie scene? What gives you this assurance that it’s placed at the right time?
Actually the “world” instruments used were more regional than specifically Egyptian. Duduk, Ney, Rebaba, Ban-Di, Bansuri, Moroccan Flute, Zampona, and a great variety of percussion including Djmbe, Darabuk, Dholak, Udu, etc etc. Instruments and music from cultures around the world have always intrigued me, so I was aware of these and how they are used, for the most part.
I always thought (and I think the filmmakers and audience do too) that the exact historical and geographical use of the instruments is not as important as the evocative or dramatic effect, unless one is scoring a documentary or there is some kind of visual obligation to use a specific instrument that you are seeing on camera. So, I didn’t really concern myself too much with "right place, right time".
Which information, requirements or advices do you received before you start with «Joseph: King of Dreams»?
Before starting the input was pretty sketchy, but it was an ongoing process with lots of dialog with writers, producers and directors along the way. Jeffery Katzenberg always ultimately approved everything. He was directly involved with the entire process.
Is «Joseph: King of Dreams» for you a personal highlight or just another successful project?
I would say a definite highlight. First of all these animation projects take a long time – Joseph took two years! Anything you spend that long on becomes a big part of your life and therefore very important to you. Also due to the timeless and profound nature of the story it was very inspirational material.
How do you prepare you for composing a movie like that, and where do you find the ideas, the inspiration and the creative imagination for scoring a movie, a TV mini-series, a video game or something else?
In this case, I studied the story in its original form and tried to absorb what it meant to me. In this case we are talking about a story about the human condition that’s been around a long time, so there is a lot of weight to it. I think basically that’s true for any project. I need to get invested in the story and characters. Also the filmmakers have ideas about how they want the music to function and what purposes they want it to serve. So I ingest all that information and start writing!
You worked with Disney and Dreamworks. What do you think about the work methods of both animation studios? Are there some differences? Would you like to work with any of them again? Which one and why?
Of course I’d love to work with either one or both! They are both artist friendly and full of forward thinking, inspired and creative people.
You worked with the conductor Lucas Richman and the vocalist Jodi Benson. What can you tell us about those collaborations?
Two of the best! Jodi of course is a dream performer and always makes us composer/producer types look good. I met Lucas in the BMI conducting workshop. He is and continues to be a great teacher and inspiring leader, as well as a great composer himself. He is the reason the Symphonic Suite from Joseph was created. He contacted me about wanting to present it in a concert he was doing in Knoxville where he is the conductor and music director, so I created the suite especially for them. He has created a vibrant and thriving orchestra there and they were all very welcoming to me.
Could you please tell us something about yourself? When did you start playing an instrument, and which one? At what age did you decide for his career?
The details of my story are on my website at www.dannypelfrey.com. Basically I started playing guitar at 9, and I knew immediately that was what I was going to do. I think for most of us that’s the case. It is impossible NOT do music. After that I took up the trumpet so I could be in the school band, learned the saxophone and became a studio musician and did a lot of touring as well. I wanted to stay home more so I found some chances to start arranging and writing, which I had always done throughout my career. As that developed I wrote for commercials, broadcasters, library, games, TV, and film, as well as continuing to play, though less and less due to time constraints.
Have you got some favourite composers, maybe an idol, mentor or master? How about instruments? Any favourite?
Well that list is too long to print and it changes all the time anyway. Suffice it to say that I like and am influenced by what I call “the good stuff” – anything that moves me, and it’s all over the map. I particularly seem to like guitar and guitar music in a variety of styles, mostly acoustic at the moment.
Are you playing those favourite instruments also during recordings?
I always play on my own work, as I am always available! Mostly guitar or related instruments, however I also play winds whenever they are needed.
What are you doing in your free time? What kind of music do you listen to, if it isn’t a soundtrack or score?
What free time? Seems like there isn’t any of that. I am playing music again, mostly on a more recreational level, also continuing to learn. Doing some travelling as well, and some filmmaking of my own. What I listen to is all over the place and changes constantly. Right now it’s Tommy Emmanuel, Alex DeGrassi, Todd Rundgren, Robben Ford, and Keb Mo, among many others.
Please tell us something about your next projects. What kind of composing are you doing right now? What would you ever like to compose or be a part of it? What is your dream project?
Since the premiere of the Symphonic Suite from Joseph, I have been actively seeking more opportunities for performances for it. It is being performed in LA by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in August 2010. I would love the chance to get it performed in France and Switzerland! I also have my own production music company called Amusicom that I write for constantly. I am also creating music for download for my new website (which will launch soon). Part of that will be to finally release 3 versions of “Linda’s Song” which has been a huge Internet hit for me. I have gotten emails about it for years. It seems to have come to mean a lot to many people around the world.
Also I am exploring composing for games again as there has been such an explosion in production value and creativity in that area. Dream projects would be more work for the concert stage.
Have you got a last unpublished note or and nice info for our readers, to finish this interview?
You asked such great questions that we covered a lot of ground. I guess just to say how blessed I have been to have had a life in music. It is truly infinite and always fascinating.
Thank you very much for your time and all the best from France and Switzerland.
Thank you very much for your interest and your time as well. All the best.
Special Thanks: Andy Perez
© Copyright by Fabrice Steurer & Christine Blanc. All Rights Reserved.