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Music composition students and professor create the haunting sound of the ‘Fairview Chronicles’

Music composition students and professor create the haunting sound of the ‘Fairview Chronicles’

Music composition students and professor create the haunting sound of the ‘Fairview Chronicles’
February 13
12:00 2020

For Drew Schnurr, assistant professor of composition and media arts, taking on the “Fairview Chronicles” reflected the work he had been doing in TV for years. For music composition juniors Victor Granados and Conner Simmons, it was a taste of the industry’s inner workings all from a college campus music studio.

The “Fairview Chronicles” is a project developed by students of the media series course, which aimed to provide hands-on experience by challenging students to create a feature-length television pilot starting in the spring of 2019 and ending in December of the following semester.

Johnathan Paul, adjunct professor and author of the horror sci-fi novel series from which the project was adapted from, produced the pilot and said he proposed the creation of the media series course to the Department of Media Arts.

“As teachers and mentors, we should be striving to provide our students with not only the academic side of their education, but also the practical side,” Paul said. “This way, when they’re ready to go into the industry they will be better prepared for it.”

From there, Paul enlisted the help of Schnurr, who then chose past students, Granados and Simmons, to help him with the project.

“We got [the offer in] an email in July saying, ‘Hey, if you guys are interested in this, say yes to this. This will be your entire semester,’” Granados said. “We got to school in the fall, and we just went straight to work studying. We got a playlist the director had made, so we digested that, and we just lived in that playlist while we were throwing together some tests and then we spent months writing almost 50 minutes of music.”

At the age of two, Granados began his interest in music as soon as he could reach a pian. From there, the composition major said he taught himself to play by trying to recreate the sounds he heard on CDs gifted to him by his parents.

“I’ve been a songwriter since I was 9 or 10 years old,” Granados said. “[I] always was just coming up with ideas and writing melodies and songs. Then in high school when I was realizing that I could be a composer for film and TV as well, I decided to go into music composition as a major.”

Granados said it was the scores from films and TV shows such as works from Pixar, “August Rush” and “Steven Universe” that inspired him the most.

“I noticed that composers, whether it be as early as Bach or Mozart or as late as songwriters in today’s world, they’re all using harmonies to express whatever mood they specifically need,” Granados said. “In film, basically, that’s where music can come in and help you understand what that person is going through in their brain.”

To capture the looming nature of “Fairview,” Simmons said the group started with the phrase “southern cosmic” to describe the sound they wanted for the score.

“You have this standard southern, country bluegrass kind of idea that’s boarded in a way that makes it not as recognizable,” Simmons said. “I think we went with that basic concept throughout the whole soundtrack but kind of shifted more [toward] electronic tambours because we’ve found that avenue fit the kind of otherworldly textures of [what] we were after.”

Along with majoring in music composition, Simmons also is a double bass major. Simmons said he started playing bass in the fifth grade. When he got to college, Simmons chose  music composition to explore his general love of music and paired it with a double bass major.

Compared to projects such as the personal work he has released on streaming services, Simmons said it was tough having to navigate on a team compared to his usual individual work. However, he said he enjoyed the experience of working alongside Granados and Schnurr.

“I think we worked really well together because [Granados] has got a lot of harmonic ideas, whereas myself, I focus a lot on texture and tambour and sound design almost,” Simmons said. “So when you combine that together it’s a really interesting combination.”

Both Granados and Simmons said throughout the project, they had to work under strict deadlines in order to keep up with production, often writing roughly two songs a week, every week.

To Schnurr, deadlines and collaboration were key in creating realistic standards of how the industry actually works within an educational setting. Schnurr said he chose Granados and Simmons based on the quality of work and level of responsibility they had previously shown in his class.

“It was a great opportunity for them in that they were able to really get exposed to how this process works in the real world,” Schnurr said. “You have to learn by being part of a process, a creative process. And I think [that] is probably the most important thing for them to see is how do you engage this process and deliver work with quality and integrity, but you do it on a timeframe. Because all of those things have to fall into place if you’re going to be successful professionally.”

Currently, Granados and Simmons are putting together an EP of their work on the “Fairview Chronicles” along with scoring another film student’s project yet to be disclosed.

Featured Image: Junior music composition majors Victor Granados and Conner Simmons stand with their instruments on Feb. 7, 2020. Image by Ryan Gossett

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Jordan Kidd

Jordan Kidd

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