Yesterday, Trends in Modern Sound Design, my class with the graduate students, had a special guest. Ryan Lott, who creates music under the moniker Son Lux, joined us to talk about his work from a creative and technical point of view. We've been talking about Native Instruments softsampler software Kontakt a lot this quarter, and Ryan uses it extensively in his work. He was more than happy to talk about his philosophy of music and how he uses Kontakt to create music and sound that supports his philosophy.
Kontakt is a very deep piece of software, and it's easy to get lost in the intricacies of the mechanics. Tracking down keymappings, plug-in settings, pitch changes, keyspan settings, etc. can lead one down a garden path, and Ryan tries very hard to use Kontakt as an organic extension of his musical sensibility, not as a hindrance to it. As he explained these ideas, he also walked us through some of the ways he uses Kontakt; I think we were all excited by how well he was able to keep his music sounding imperfect - we often think our music should sound perfect, so it was nice to see someone struggle and succeed at holding on to the cracks.
Ryan recently worked on the score for the film 'Looper' with composer Nathan Johnson, and some of the work that he showed us and played for us today came from that project. You can check out some videos on the making of the score here, here, and here. Ryan was able to set up a Skype conversation with Nathan, and the students asked him about how he used field recording elements in his score. Here's a shot of that session:
Nathan was Skyping in from his current project, where he was working out of the basement studio of the director. Shortly into our conversation, as Patricia was asking a question, Nathan was interrupted when the director walked into the studio. The director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt! I managed to sneak a quick photo.
Squee factor aside, the visit with Ryan and the brief chat with Nathan were really terrific. I know that I came away from the morning inspired, and I suspect the students did too. Thanks, Ryan, for a great morning!