First of all I am sorry for not having posted many comments and information about my creative process. I have been very busy working. I know that there is always time to write something into the blog, but I am a very slow writer and my “Avatar” is a bit shy. It feels like the Russian doll effect, first having to write in a different language and than projecting my “internet presence” or avatar into a different culture, oh yes so it is, if I would just directly translate my thinking from Portuguese into English believe me that some things would sound rather strange or even wired.

Anyway… today I am going to talk a little about my creative process, ideas I have taken and ideas I have abandoned. The short listed sound designers or composers were asked to prepare two soundtracks for the Savalas/Roderick Buchanan soundtrack project. The projects are entitled “Tattoos” and “Paddy’s Lament”.

As the title suggests, the video is composed by a sequence of Tattoo photos. The tattoos show pictures of Irish/Scottish national identity, pictures of imprisonment, of religious meaning, violence, death, oppression and symbols of freedom and hope. The tattoos are united by the same ideas and aspirations. The sequence of Tattoos tell a story in images, I will try to tell the story in sounds. I started by doing some research into related conflicts in Glasgow: Celtic v.s Rangers, Catholic v.s Protestant, Unionists v.s Republicans and so on. The only thing that keeps repeating is the “v.s”, representing conflict, competition, opposites and dialectic, the idea that one must be right and the other must be wrong. My first sketches are a result of the idea of conflict. I posted one .mp3 audio track, where you can hear the sketches. The audio track is divided in 5 parts: 1 is the sound of a football game, you hear to ball being kicked from the left speaker, the ball will hit a church bell in the right speaker, the idea is to combine the competitive element of football with religious elements. The second track is the sound of a table tennis game, again the sound goes from left to right to give the idea of conflict between two parts, but I have inserted the third part, as it is “collateral damage” goes always to the weaker parts like babies. The third sketch begins with the sound of a military tin drum and a church bell, mixing the religious and military elements, the sketch is composed by five national hymns, two of those hymns belong to countries starting with the letter “I” and the other one with “U” and the other with an “A”.  This made me think a lot, as national hymns have a very strong military and nationalist element, all national hymns are marching music, and some of the well known hymns have rather odd lyrics, telling us to kill and so on. The fourth sketch is directly linked to the physical element of the tattoo: the skin, so in the fourth track you will hear the sound of hands scrubbing skin, I was almost tempted to take this idea for the final submission, by adding the sound of someone taking a shower and whistling a hymn, having the element of naked skin, the water has another connotation. And finally the 5th and final sketch is very simple, but works as an idea, I managed to find all national hymns of the world and mixed them into one track, the result is noise and confusion, talking about the incommunicability between nations. These are only sketches that I used as an brainstorm exercise for the final sound. For tattoos I want to keep a very “close-up” approach, amplifying and recontextualizing everyday sounds.


Paddy’s Lament makes a historical link between past and contemporary conflicts. Paddy’s Lament is text rewritten by the author Thomas Gallagher. It is based on the original text by the English Rev. Osborne during his visit to western Ireland in 1840. Osborne writes in a rather poetic and romantic way about the famine situation of those times, showing a certain sarcasm and indifference to the situation. Thomas Gallagher’s reinterpretation emphasizes this “polite” and distant approach. It tells the situation where a young girl runs ceaseless after a coach, without words she begs because she is hungry, Rev. Osbourne and his friend sit in the coach and make comments about her will and resistance and only give her something when they fear she could die of exhaustion. It is a story of resistance. This text will be read out loud and than cuts into a similar situation filmed by American troops in Iraq. For the first part (text) I decided to have a more cinematic approach and build a more movie like soundscape to be in consonance with the romantic and poetic point of view, that I think is the main point of the text. I think that the text should be read with an Irish or American accent. Some parts of the text are talks between the English characters present in the text, in those cases the accent should be English-English. So, my approach to this soundtrack is straight dramatic and cinematographic. So is the music I have composed, resembling a little bit Yann Tiersen, but I only noticed after… the idea was to make a music that would create the “strange harmony” between the girls legs and the coach as described in the text. But when it cuts to the “real” video of the similar situation, I think we should keep the original sound, so the impact will be greater between the “poetic” atmosphere and the pure reality of the youtube video.

Both videos can have a political approach in terms of sound. My work should only have a complementary relation to the ideas and images of Roddy. Sound has the power to change the meaning of any image, I try to work intuitively on both. I would like to give my own opinions on the subject explored but that is a personal matter. I will try to hit the target from a certain distance.

Giles: What do you think about my “sonic ideas”? what approach would you take on Cinematic music for Paddy’s Lament?

Roddy: What do you thinks about my approach in relation to the poetic/romantic v.s The Real? Can I read your work that way? Can I ask you to talk a little about the historicity in your works?


Roddy’s Reply:
Hi there, I’ve only just discovered the blogging element on this ‘Roderick Buchanan’s Soundtrack page’.

Cheers for throwing your research open for all to see.

It’s very exposed out there isnt it. I had Matt the editor sending me files to proof that went out to you guys before I even had the chance to say yes, no or maybe.

I’m trying to get closer to the visual today – just as you guys send in work to coax us on board with your ideas.

It’s a tough world out their – ‘Hump of die’ as Mel brooks would say in the ‘History of the World, Part 7′.

From your audio files I liked the showering sounds and the football crowds and bell.

However, whatever you offer I’ll give it my full attention, I’m also working flat out to bring this thing together as well, fingers crossed for all of us.

Giles’ Reply:
sorry for taking so long to reply.  Likewise thanks for opening up your process.  It isnt easy and I must say I have always taken refuge in the privacy of music creation particulrly as it is so much judged in the eye of the beholder.  I am a firm believer in being as intuitive as possible when working to picture, if it ‘works’ for you then it will ‘work for the audience – whether people like it or not is a different matter.  You have really thought about the juxtapositional issues of sectarianism – not something I know a lot about but very much at the root of Roddy’s work.  I quote Roddy in saying he doesnt like dramatic artifice – he is a reality man which in some ways makes this whole process full of juxtaspoisitons because music’s power is in taking the audience away from reality and having ones emotional perceptions ‘manipulated’ altering how you percieve the pictures.  I love dramtic artifice and feel cinema is all about that.  The great thing with Paddy’s lament is with no pictures, the sound is the experience so you have a lot of creative scope.  Yes go cinematic especially as we have surround sound mixing – lets make the most of it.  I agree the contrast could work between the cinematic vs utube reality – I think you could use the sound to suggest the parallels between the narratives.  All great stuff.  look forward to hearing more.