SOUND DESIGN/COMPOSITION

Josh Loar: Sound Designer, Composer, Educator
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The Winter's Tale - Michigan Technological University. Sound Design & Music Composition by Josh Loar

Act I-III Q90Act IV-V
Sicilia Court Dance Bohemia Court Dance


Opening court dance, performed as a sort of overture. Inspired by Italian Baroque composition and instrumentation, but divorced from strict adherence to these structures.

 


the intermission storm and shoreline sounds faded completely, and this cue plays to initiate part 2 of the production. The sound of a loon, forlorn yet romantic, calls across a vast space, followed by the sound of fluttering wings escaping. Perdita, the lost babe, is escaped from Leontes’ tyranny, and is now in more nature-connected Bohemia, but the mournfulness of her situation is clear.

 



The same court music, but now darker, and accompanied by echoing percussion. Played as Leontes begins to descend into his jealous paranoia: “Too hot, too hot!” he narrates as, at a remove, Polixenes and Hermione dance a bit more slowly and closely than before, and Leontes burns.



A glancing hint of the Apollonian theme, as Florizell mentions the god (though not the Oracle) in passing.



As Hermione and Polixenes exit, Leontes’ jealousy takes firm root. The sound as bounced here starts cold at full level, but the use in theatre was very soft and subtle. It was barely noticeable at first, and then slowly built over the course of his speech, shifting in position and level as his mood developed.


The peasant dance of celebration in Act 4. Based melodically on music of Eastern European Roma and Grecian bouzouki music, and composed with intentional looseness (percussion hitting both on and slightly off rhythm, for example). A celebration, an earthly delight.

 



An impact delivered as Camillo promises to poison Polixenes. The sound is an orchestral bass drum, the slamming of a heavy door, and a bowed waterphone layered together with some falling dust/rock aftermath. It was played very quietly in top speakers, but the LF range of the cue was also played in subs underneath the audience to rumble the room.



a wobbling orchestral bass drum strike, with soft delay trail, ominously marking Polixenes’ threat to Perdita, warning her to stay away from his son or face death.



Hermione’s speech resigning herself to obey her husband’s wish that she be imprisoned. “There some ill planet reigns”. The sound consists of layers of waterphone, as well as cymbal strikes that have been reversed to creep backwards from resonance to impact. Again, spread spatially around the venue and played low and subtly. The reversed cymbals help convey the feeling that the world is improperly ordered now, and the waterphone (as is typical of that instrument’s use) helps to convey a sense of mourning and anxiety.



Perdita has a recurring leitmotif that follows her frequently. In this moment, Florizell is protesting that he will still hold true to his love for Perdita, despite his father’s protestations. Hermione feels this is doomed to fail, but is still in love with Florizell. Her theme is drawn out, made diaphanous here, ominous but with an edge of brightness and hope.



Antigonus protests to Leontes that Hermione is honorable. Echoing, cavernous, skittering accompanies—evoking both the dungeon to which Hermione has been sent and the increasing distance between Antigonus and Leontes.



Scheming between Camillo and Florizell to escape back to Leontes and Sicilia away from Polixenes’ threats. The music uses bassoon, previously heard only in the Sicilian court, and the composition begins with tense menace, and an air of conspiracy. Moments of grace and hope poke through, but continue to be drawn into melodic tension as they plan. The music ends unresolved, as the plan’s success is uncertain.



Introduction of the theme of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, as Antigonus pledges to go and learn the truth from the Oracle about Hermione. This theme returns in various forms, with altered instrumentation and/or key at different times throughout the story as the Oracle is mentioned or comes into play. The initial offering frames the Delphic Oracle as mystical, but not amorphous—determinate yet magical.



\Hermione comes to life once more (or stops pretending to be a statue, depending on your interpretation of the play). As the crowd looks on, agape, Leontes, Polixenes, et al marvel at her return. The cue is constructed of layers of Tibetan singing bowls, evoking both a meditative wonder and a tangible humanity.



Stripped down version of the Oracle theme, to announce the return of the lords from Delphi, bearing the truth.



Music that plays at the end of the production. Themes from earlier pieces recur in modified form, instruments are reversed, as the curse on Hermione has been reversed. Hope and light is in this music, but also complexity. This is not a simple happy ending, but a “problem” ending, in which the parties involved have agreed to move forward, but difficulty among them remains.



A startling impact, that layered underneath live actors’ crowd shock, all in response to Leontes’ declaration that “There is no truth at all i’ th’ oracle”, rejecting the message that Hermione is chaste and blameless, and Leontes a jealous tyrant.

 


This sequence begins with the approach of a storm as Paulina declares that Hermione is dead. It builds through the end of the first half of the production, ending with the famous “Exit pursued by bear” of Antigonus. In production, timing of the addition of layers was predicated on actor dialog (hence the individual cue numbers), but here this sequence is presented as one long edit. In production, bear sounds began offstage, and moved closer to Antigonus as the storm built, the storm grew and flushed itself around the surrounds more intensely, the hunting party began backstage and traversed the width of the space—this was all very carefully orchestrated both to ensure a steady build, and to preserve space for dialog. Overwhelming the audience while not overwhelming dialog was a fun challenge, and the use of a detailed and custom surround system rendered this possible (in stereo, as rendered here, it would almost certainly obscure dialog). Intermission followed this directly, and during intermission the storm died slowly off, leaving the sounds of the shores of Bohemia as intermission “music”.

 

"Paradise, FL"—Scene from the feature film with music and audio post production by Josh Loar and Anna Ehl

“Cisco Systems Ad”—PS Pictures--Score by Josh Loar and Anna Ehl
 
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