TD8 #28: Harp & String Ostinato

Listened to Alan Silvestri's score to "Stuart Little" when this cool device caught my ear. In the original it was more of a phrygian feel and no "real" melody below it. Here's what I liked about it:

1) The rhythmic bed you get from combining the strings and harp, especially with the measured tremolos in the strings. (the piano also helps a lot, basically working as a pedal/ostinato since it's on the same note throughout)

2) How easy it was to apply it to another tonality. Since it's basically a scale fragment harmonized in 6ths you really get a sense of the tonality quickly.

TD8 #11: String Pad Crescendo

Download pdf's and mp3 here!

This a simple but effective device that I first picked up from James Newton Howard's score to "King Kong". It's very common though and I had probably heard something similar hundreds of times in other scores.

The basic idea is a string pad that crescendo/diminuendo's in support of a melody. As you might suspect it's very flexible harmonically and can also be used with woodwinds or brass instead of strings. 

The ostinato helps establish a clear beat since it can be a bit obscure when the pad "fades" in and out. Harmonically it's Fmaj7-Gsus4-G for the first two bars and then Fmaj7-Gsus4. Leaving it unresolved gives a feeling of "what comes next" which can be useful in the right context.