Launch Sequence
2014 - Violin Solo [13:00]

Music for the film Le Voyage dans la Lune by Georges Méliès

Commissioned by Christin Danchi, Violin (Carnegie Mellon University) as part of her "Fiddling with Film" project.  Premiered May 4, 2014 at the Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, PA.

Launch Sequence Program Notes

I was delighted when Christin asked me to write a score to debut her "Fiddling with Film" project.  She sent me a few ideas for films - and one of them in particular seemed right up my alley - "A Trip to the Moon" by Georges Méliès.  As one of the most well-known early films in film history, it has been rated as one of the top 100 films of the twentieth century and in 2002 became recognized as the first UNESCO Heritage Film.  One of my favorite aspects of the film is its age; when it was created in 1902, the thought of actually going to the moon was a dream of science fiction, which leads to several unrealistic and almost comical scenes where physics as we know it is thrown out the window (or perhaps hurled into outer space).

I began work by dividing the film into sections and identifying important events and scene changes.  I wrote the score more or less chronologically - working through the film one or two sections at a time and making changes to previous parts as necessary.  My goal in creating the score was to not only create music to be paired with the film but also to have the music follow a "plot" of its own.  For example, some parts of the score directly coordinate with specific actions in the film, other parts are meant to capture a particular mood or character, and some of the music exists solely for the sake of musical argument - that is, developing the notes, motifs, harmonies, patterns, and shapes found within the music itself.

The music leads the listener in and out of the world of twelve-tone writing.  Specifically, two rows are used in various combinations to construct the harmony.  One row (A-Bb-D-C#-F#-G-B-C-E-F-Eb-Ab), introduced near the beginning, recurs throughout the work in many different inversions and transpositions.  I refer to the second row (D-Eb-C-B-F-F#-C#-A-G-E-A#-G#) as the "constellation" row because when its written notes are spaced correctly and connected with lines, its first seven notes form a shape similar to the "Big Dipper" and the final five form a traditional five-pointed star.

I can only hope that in the same way that the travelers in the film explore the unfamiliar, the score will send the listener on a journey to the unknown...and back.