Rise of the Machines: The Re-emergence of Analog Synthesizers in Scoring

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June 5, 2018 –

Analog synthesizers were a prevalent part of the film scoring landscape of the 1980s but took a backseat to the digital synths that superseded them in the 90s. Now they are back and more popular than ever, with their rich oscillators and fat filters permeating the soundscapes of films, television shows and video games. This panel discussion explores the models, makes, techniques and secrets behind vintage analog synthesizers and their present day successors.

Panelists: Paul Haslinger, Jeff Russo, Sarah Schachner, Dave Smith
Moderator: Fletcher Beasley

Paul Haslinger

Paul Haslinger is an Austrian musician and composer. He lives and works in Los Angeles. Paul began his career as a member of electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream. He toured with the band extensively from 1985-90 and contributed to projects such as the album ‘Underwater Sunlight’ (1986), as well as the films ‘Near Dark’ (1987) and ‘Miracle Mile’ (1988). In 1990, the band received a Grammy Nomination for their score to the Miramar Documentary ‘Canyon Dreams’.

After relocating to Los Angeles, Paul worked on Graeme Revell’s team and eventually landed his first solo credit, HBO’s ‘Cheaters’ in 2000. The film ‘Underworld’ (2003) was his first US box office #1 opening. In 2007, he received an Emmy nomination for his work on the Showtime Series ‘Sleeper Cell’. Recently Paul worked on the critically acclaimed AMC television series ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ as well as the final installment in the Resident Evil franchise, ‘The Final Chapter’.

Notable Projects Include:
Wildling (2018) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017) Fear The Walking Dead (2015 – 2017) Halt And Catch Fire (2014 – 2017) Rainbow Six Siege (2016) Underworld Awakening (2012) The Three Musketeers (2011) Rise Of The Lycans (2009) Takers (2009) Death Race (2008) Shoot ‘Em Up (2007) Crank (2006) Sleeper Cell (2006) Underworld (2003) Blue Crush (2002) Minority Report (2002)

Notable Collaborations Include:
Jon Hassell, Brian Williams (aka Lustmord), Christian Fennesz, Adam Jones, Snorri Bros, Nona Hendryx, Sussan Deihim, and Shenkar.
Upcoming Projects:
Wildling (2018) Ride (2018)

Jeff Russo

Two-time Grammy nominee and Emmy-winning composer Jeff Russo is at the top of his field, scoring varied and compelling music for television, film and video games. Russo won the Emmy and received two additional Emmy nominations for his thrilling and angst-producing score on FX’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series “Fargo.” Russo is currently scoring Mark Wahlberg’s action-thriller film, “Mile 22,” and season two of FX’s hit series, “Legion,” based on Marvel Comic’s “X-Men,” starring Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza. He recently completed the score for season one of CBS’s reimagining of the iconic cult-classic series “Star Trek: Discovery,” Starz’s “Counterpart,” starring J.K. Simmons, and “Power,” produced by Curtis Jackson “50 Cent.” Both “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Legion” were recently nominated for Peabody Awards. In addition to film and television, Russo received a BAFTA nomination for Best Music for Annapurna Interactive’s indie video game, “What Remains of Edith Finch.”

Additionally, Russo scored HBO’s Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated series “The Night Of,”starring John Turturro, FX’s John Singleton series, “Snowfall,” and the Netflix original show, “Altered Carbon.” Russo also composed the music for Jon Avnet’s film “Three Christs,” starring Richard Gere, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and Craig Macneill’s film, “Lizzie,” starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Russo began his music career in 1990, after founding his rock band TONIC. The group quickly achieved great success and in 2003, received two Grammy nominations, one for “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” for “Take Me As I Am,” and one for “Best Rock Album.” The band was a great showcase for Russo’s guitar work and songwriting that allowed him to branch out and begin his solo career in producing and composing.

Beyond his recent success in composing, Russo created the iconic musical themes for series including Spike’s “Tut,” starring Ben Kingsley, and USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness,” starring Callie Thorne and John Stamos. Russo collaborated with Zoe Keating on both WGN’s “Manhattan” and A&E Network’s “The Returned.”

According to Variety Magazine, “Jeff Russo understands how music can affect an audience. When music is employed, he sees it as an enhancement to character development, and is careful to create music that subtly flows with the action and visuals of the scene.”

Russo has composed music for the New York Ballet Company Cedar Lake Ensemble.

Sarah Schachner

Combining her dynamic talents as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, ASCAP and IFMCA nominated composer Sarah Schachner has emerged as a bold new force in film and video game scoring for blockbuster titles such as ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’. Hailed as “a rising star in the soundtrack world” (Game Informer), Sarah’s evocative time-travelling and intergalactic cinematic scores span multiple genres; from French Revolution-era Assassin’s Creed to venturing into outer space with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, to her latest opus for Assassin’s Creed Origins set in Ancient Egypt.

Sarah made her solo debut into film composition with The Lazarus Effect, starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, and Donald Glover. She also provided additional music and arranging on films such as Iron Man 3, The Expendables 2, Now You See Me and indie thriller John Dies At The End as well as video games Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Far Cry 3.
Most recently Sarah scored Chef’s Table: Pastry (Episode 3, “Jordi Roca”) on Netflix and contributed to the Cassini Finale Music Project, a musical trilogy commemorating the end of the Cassini Mission from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Sarah is currently scoring multiple projects TBA.

Dave Smith

Dave is generally known as the driving force behind the generation of the MIDI specification in 1981. It was Dave, in fact, who coined the acronym. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis. After Sequential, Dave was President of DSD, Inc, an R&D division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. He then started the Korg R&D group in California, producing the Wavestation products and other technology.

He took over as President at Seer Systems and developed the first soft synth for Intel in 1994, followed by the first fully professional soft synth, Reality, released in 1997.

Realizing the limitations of software, Dave returned to hardware and started Dave Smith Instruments, which released the Evolver hybrid analog/digital synthesizer in 2002. Since then the DSI product lineup has grown to include the Prophet-6, OB-6, Pro 2, Prophet 12, Prophet ’08 and Prophet X synthesizers, as well as the Tempest drum machine, co-designed with friend and fellow electronic instrument designer Roger Linn.