If you’re a Gustavo Santaolalla fan, a musician, or a creator — I recommend listening to the (Gustavo Santaolalla edition of) On Being Podcast with Krista Tippett. It’s the most comprehensive interview to date with the venerable guitarist/composer. The excerpt in this post is from the transcript of that interview.
I was recently asked to record and submit a score for a film. I can’t give away the details yet, because I haven’t heard back from the director, however the process was unique:
I was merely given the synopsis, location, and theme of the film — then asked to write an entire score — never having seen a single frame. This is similar to Gustavo Santaolalla’s preferred process:
“Well, the biggest example of that is Brokeback Mountain. I did the whole score of that movie just from the script and one meeting with Ang Lee.
Before they shot one frame. And obviously it was the genius of Ang Lee to say, “We’re going to put this piece here. We’re going to put here, this. We’re going to repeat it here.” But he had — by the moment he sat down to edit the film, he had a basket full of music that was inspired by the story, the characters, and by talking to him just once. But I had a great meeting with him.
I like to work that way, more in an abstract — and then obviously, adjusted to a particular scene or edited to the image or work, and if you need to extend a part or something. But the themes, the mood of the music of the film, I like to do it that way.”
Doing it this way — unleashed a flow state of creativity that I had never experienced before. In total, I wrote 16 songs in roughly 48 hours. This can only be explained by the dissociation that occurs when you’re writing for something else — and not yourself. Your ego is removed just enough to open the dam.
Intuitively, I simplified everything. My songs naturally became two parts, that’s it. Anything more would miss the point. I played just enough to convey a feeling.
As I write music now, I’m imagining a potential film, which is helpful in creating a dissociative flow state. I’m also capping it off at just two parts.
How to play Snow by Gustavo Santaolalla
Not sure why I haven’t posted this song until now, but Brokeback Mountain’s, Snow, is emblematic of Gustavo Santaolalla’s minimalist, and egoless songwriting ability. I also like the unusual dissonant chord position at the end of each cycle.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was vacuuming my apartment at the time when I noticed a commercial for Brokeback Mountain on my television. The movie was very controversial at the time, so I stopped to watch the trailer. The music in the trailer connected with me in a way that no music had before – and no music has since. That moment is the whole reason for my guitar style today, and this blog.
The guitar tab for Snow is two pages long, and played straight through, taking care to repeat |: :| as indicated in the guitar tab. Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below.
Snow is played in