Composer and Sound Designer Ian Moorhead discusses his work for The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You.
How would you describe the composition/sound design you’re creating for The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You? What is the world of this play?
The composition/sound design for The Violent Outburst That Drew Me to You belongs in the world of its two protagonists. It’s immediate, a bit shouty, heightened, funny and self-aware. It pops up from nowhere and places us in moments of memory, in a hallucinatory dream, deep in a forest by night, and even in a fantasy of what might lie ahead.
What kinds of sounds/styles of music are you using in your design?
Connor and Lotte are two teenagers struggling to manage their anger. This has given me permission to create some pretty loud and angst-ridden music that reference elements of dubstep and more chaotic, growling metal. I wanted to create a sense of danger in the music that cuts against the comedy and pathos within the writing. These elements are instead supported by the sound design.
How have you gone about creating the sound/music? Field recordings/editing repertoire/studio recordings?
One of the starting places for the composition was offered by the director Prue Clarke, who drew me to the song ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ by French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. He recorded the song with Brigitte Bardot in 1968. It tells the story of Clyde Parker and Bonnie Parker, two fugitives of the run. We enjoyed the idea of Connor and Lotte being a modern day equivalent running together through the forest. I have sampled the opening chord progression from the original and have used it as a bed in many of the scene changes throughout the work. An instrumental version then reappears as Connor tunes the car radio in the penultimate scene of the play.
In your opinion, what is the play about? How does your design support the play’s big ideas?
The play for me is about the struggle for identity. Both Connor and Lotte are striving to find themselves in a world that they are still learning. As a result, this spills out in a variety of ways… including anger. However, there is also a lightness, a humour and a self-awareness in the play. I hope that my design contains moments of all of these elements.
Are there any differences in your approach or design for Part One versus Part Two?
Part One contains lots of short scenes, which has the potential to break the pace of the action. I’ve tried to maintain momentum by creating music for these scene changes that is vibrant and beats-driven, with sharp in-and-outs so that we end one scene and are thrown quickly into the next. As we move further into Part Two, these transitions become more blurred and languid as we move deeper and deeper into the world of the forest.
Is there a particular moment in the play that you’re especially excited about, regarding your composition/sound design?
One of the scenes that took a while for us to find in the rehearsal room was the montage in the second act when Connor first engages with the forest environment around him. It wasn’t until we found that moment musically that it really took off. It begins with an 8-bit video game quality (again replicating the Bonnie and Clyde chord progression) and dropping into a heightened underscore that references action movies like Rambo. From there we have a bit of fun punctuating moments with sound as Connor rather unsuccessfully attempts to conquer his surrounds.