For a company like Twenty Below Music, every music supervision or production brief comes with its own unique opportunities for creativity. Great music is crucial to any piece of film achieving its potential. But it’s rare that a brief comes along where the music has quite such a starring role as for HP’s ‘Orchestra’ ad.
Directed by the mighty Megaforce, with creative from Wieden+Kennedy London and sound by 750mph, the spot was created to help put HP’s thoughtful values and innovations at the forefront while the Tokyo Olympics was happening. The script demonstrates that throughout every level of the company, different perspectives are required to tackle some of its toughest business problems.
But visually, it’s just people quietly thinking. An auditory illustration of those thoughts was needed. That’s where Twenty Below Music stepped in. And the result makes perfect sense.
LBB’s Alex Reeves asked the team at Twenty Below Music and composer Lindsay Wright to tell us more about the process.
LBB> What was the brief like? And what did you think when you saw it?
Twenty Below Music> Immediately with the film titled ‘Orchestra’ our ears pricked up. We have worked with Megaforce previously and love their work. From a music supervision perspective, it’s exciting to read a brief where the creative is so connected with the music - it leads to a really creative and collaborative process.
LBB> Where did you first take it and how did your approach change as the spot/track developed?
Twenty Below Music> Our first approach was to think about how we could capture the idea of different personalities musically. Whilst still with enough continuity to bring everyone together harmoniously at the end. So we knew we were looking at characterising each person each with a unique sound, but which family of instruments or what melodic style we were going for was open to interpretation at that point.
LBB> What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Twenty Below Music> The score had to convey the contrasting characters, but also feel musically cohesive. There are different ways to create cohesiveness and on the other hand, contrast in music. We can play with melody, instrumentation, texture, harmony, so it was about working out which elements to contrast and which to maintain throughout.
LBB> What were the details that you needed to get just right?
Twenty Below Music> Firstly we needed to characterise each personality as well as each action just right. Their personality might convey one thing, and their action convey another, so it’s about getting the balance musically; finding the right instrument, as well as the right musical gesture for that moment. We needed to make sure the moments of change between each character were either blended or differentiated as fits with the flow of the picture.
LBB> There’s a strong interconnection between the creative and music in this film. How would you say the orchestra embodies the creative concept?
Lindsay> The concept was already pretty fleshed out when I came on board to work on the film, but it was so much fun experimenting with different instruments and musical ideas to reflect the idiosyncrasies of each character. I think just as it is with music (and especially within an orchestral palette) the power of teamwork and everyone bringing their own unique perspective to an overarching idea can create such unexpected, interesting and successful results.
LBB> What are you most happy with about the track?
Lindsay> While it was quite a daunting challenge to try and come up with the snippets of ideas that represented each character in such a short space of time, I'm really pleased that we managed to strike the right balance between every motif feeling completely different from the next, but still flowing as a cohesively and musically throughout the film. It's such a clever way of exploring diversity in thinking through both image and sound, and I loved being a part of the process in marrying the two together so successfully.
LBB> What do you enjoy most about composing to picture?
Lindsay> I love how images can be transformed and emotions brought to life depending on musical choices. We went back and forth honing the ideas for each character - some came to me straight away and stuck throughout every iteration of the track, but one in particular was quite tricky to get spot on.
Once we had it just right, that feeling of everything falling into place was a great payoff. When the music weaves throughout the narrative, the edit, the sound design and feels natural and connected to the film and all those trials and tweaks have been worth it... that's my favourite part!