As we’re still finishing up the last few shots of the trailer, i thought i’d add a little bit about the musical background of the project this month.
It was the track below that started the whole film process off 4 years ago. It was written during the winter of 2010, whilst looking out of my window as the snow settled and slowly transformed my home town of Romsey into a world of brilliant white roads and soundless streets. I wanted to capture the feeling it conjured up, the way snow seems to transport you to another world (we don’t get a lot of snow in Hampshire!)
Hampshire in the snow 2010 from the Daily Echo
The result still conjures up images of that particular Winter for me, even if it does sound a bit like a Zelda level from the early 90s:
I then decided to re-orchestrate it, to give it a more classical feel:
I’m glad i bothered to develop it (partly spurred on by some comments i got about how 80s the original orchestrations sounded!) as it formed the first piece in the original “Stina and the Wolf” story; I imagined Stina wandering off and getting lost in the snow as she’s bewitched by it, having never witnessed anything like it before. As a result I decided to attempt a piece of “Peter and the Wolf” style narrative music, but taking the audience on a darker and more mythic journey. I wanted the main character to travel through different landscapes on a symbolic quest, in a similar way to characters in Angela Carter’s book of short stories: “The Bloody Chamber” in which she re-imagines popular fairy-tales into new, strange and often darkly modern myths.
The Original Story
The original tale comes from the first completed draft of the music and describes Stina’s story as she leaves her village and goes on a journey of transformation from human to wolf and from child to adult. A lot of it has changed since, as it’s evolved into a fully fledged screen play with fleshed out characters, plot and motivations. But many of the original ideas still pop up in the film in various forms. It’s unlikely that all of this music will remain in the final movie, as it will need to be scored specifically for the drama, but below is the story in its original form, with accompanying music.
Her signature melody and main instrument is an oboe and develops, intertwines is eventually replaced by the wolf’s instrument, a muted trumpet which develops through a series of hunting calls. Her imaginative life is represented by a harp, the beast she meets in the underworld is a flute and the village and it’s traditions are represented by a gutiarviol (a crossbreed between a guitar and a viol that sounds a lot like a medieval viola-da-gamba):
Stina and the Wolf (original story and music)
1 - The Village
Stina lives in small village high in the mountains. It is a place of tradition and ceremony. It’s stifling and oppressive. She is doing her chores.They never end. She looks out of the window, towards the distant snowy mountains. She watches an eagle as it soars in a giant arc above the highest peak, disappearing into a cloud. She dreams of a better life, but is brought back into reality. (but a harp has now joined the Guitarviols of the village and her imaginative life is awakened.)
2 – The Snow
The next morning she wakes to a glorious sunny day. She creeps out into the wild meadows accompanied by her trusty dog Griot. It’s a cunning plan to escape her never ending chores. Mid way through the piece all goes quiet and the first flakes of snow start to fall. She’s excited. She has never seen snow before. She runs to play but is soon lost, although she doesn’t yet realise it.
Now Lost and alone in the wilds she imagines the village, (the guitarviol melody is now reprised by the softer harp as she yearns for home.) Suddenly the moon appears, bathing all the forest in a soft blue light. She doesn’t notice as the moon slowly begins to turn blood red. She catches her reflection in an icy lake. She is transforming. On the far side of the lake a wolf calls. Suddenly scores of glowing yellow eyes blink out of the red soaked darkness. She is surrounded by a pack of hungry winter wolves. She is now a wolf herself. She dives into the forest to feed with the pack. She is hungry and joyfully. She follows the pack into the ground under a tree root and finally curls up, content, into sleep.
Stina wakes up underground and makes her way slowly down into the earth, towards the underworld. She finally comes to a giant underground ocean. A lone wolf stands guard on a rock and calls to her (muted trumpet), saying she cannot enter. She answers (oboe). Their conversations intertwine and he finally tells her she can pass. He summons up the horde from beneath the waves. All the strange and fantastical creatures of the forest emerge and process down into the depths. They carry her down towards the beast’s lair, until finally she arrives through a giant wall of water (gong).
On arrival the lair is dark and empty. Suddenly the beast emerges from the gloom. He sarcastically reprises Stina’s melody (fluttery flute). She replies softly and they dance. Their melodies intertwine. He resists at first, but she soon teaches him to dance like her and they join in harmony. She leaves him in his lair, still dancing and the horde return to take her back to the surface, through all the levels of the underworld. Finally she bursts out into the brilliant mountain sunlight next to the village.
She returns to the village. It is full of snow. The villagers are gone but have been replaced by wolves (the original village guiatrviol melodies are now played by trumpets) They are eating viscera and staining the white snow crimson red. With her new found skills from the underworld, Stina casts a spell and returns the villagers to their human form (harp). She calls out to them, but her voice is now that of a wolf, and they throw stones at her. She watches the villagers going about their lives, now only able to look in. She knows she can never go back. She has changed into something new. Her wolf form (trumpet) is joined in duet with her human form (obe) in a final melody. She turns from the village and runs into the mountains to start her new life, now with the beasts of the forest.