Nuit Blanche

This award winning short film is described as ‘a fleeting moment between two strangers, revealing their brief connection in a hyper real fantasy’. Although the concept of Hyper Real Fantasy is to give the illusion of reality, blurring the lines between what is real and and not real; when thinking about how to compose the music for this film I decided to make the distinction between real and fantasy more delineated, by composing music for the middle fantasy section in a very different way both stylistically and technically to the music for the opening and closing scenes.


One of my initial observations on viewing this film was that it is set historically in the 1940s/ 1950s and this reminded me of the black and white "film noir" crime dramas of this period, where the music was often in the jazz genre. I decided to score for a trio of double bass; piano and live saxophone, with an orchestral strings backing, rich in harmony. I wanted to create a piece that was homely and familiar sounding, to give the effect of drawing the audience into a false sense of security from the outset. My next challenge was to how to direct the music into a completely new world for the middle fantasy section.


For the middle section I wanted to create a synthetic, surreal piece of music that would complement the beauty of the scene and the fantastic nature of the images. At the same time I wanted to retain some musical and timbral connection to the opening and closing jazz music. I decided that the best way to achieve this would be to sample sections of the opening jazz music and to play motivic cells from this at various pitches and speeds. By a combination of trial and error I discovered that sampling sections of the saxophone and strings together provided the best combination of timbres for this. It also enabled me to create some synthetic “pad” type sounds which when played at different pitches and speeds gave me the sound palette I needed to create a mystical piece of music, with motifs being heard that are clearly derived from the jazz music. By application of some reverb and a triplet stereo delay this helped to enhance the surreal nature of the music threads that were created.


Although the score has 3 defined sections, real – fantasy – real, I felt that the structure needed something extra to provide a sense of temporal development. To achieve this I decided to narrow the frequency range of the whole score with a low pass filter over the beginning of the middle section and gradually “open up” this filter on the various music threads as the middle section develops to the point where at the moment the characters meet we are left suspended with a high frequency hiatus of motifs. This was deliberate so that I could reintroduce the piano and bass near the end of the middle section underneath this in the lower frequency range, in order to begin the closing jazz music.