Julius Schön describes his music composition process.
I knew that the focus of this project was the portraits and the voices. The project is an emotional experience, so I wanted to make music that was also emotional but that didn't steal focus from the participants; music that supported the theme of love without overwhelming it; music that prepared the viewer to be a part of the project's atmosphere.
Where did the music come from? Perhaps from the Universe? I really have no idea. I tested various sounds, instruments, and effects, until something seemed to jive with the atmosphere. My preferred music is Elektronika, so my emphasis - after instrument selection - is on beat and sound. The arrangement was generally self generating. It felt like I was telling the story of that project's recording session in each song.
The voices were a problem! Recordings were live, and at the time the audio included laughter, talking, traffic, loud rooms. People whispered. Some shouted. So perhaps the longest time was selecting, editing, and enhancing the voice recordings. It was also fun to use the participants’ live comments to provide emphasis at times and to demonstrate just how emotional the project is.
People were asked to say “I Love You” in their mother tongue. But you can see that initial idea didn't work! People were so enthralled and enthused that most would say it in every language they knew.
I would say the first video score for the Barcelona portion of the project has the most emotional music; in hindsight even a bit bittersweet with the use of the cello. The most natural beat that just seemed perfect was a heartbeat rhythm that comes after the attention-getting rat-a-tat-tat of the intro. After this I wanted an ebb and flow to the music. Why? It sounded nice and dreamy..."como un sueno". We thought at one time to have music reflecting the country or city where we recorded people. But we realized this would restrict possibilities for sound and not adequately reflect the amazing diversity of languages and nationalities found in each location.
The Hessen music (Frankfurt & Giessen) could be said to be more like dance music; it has a stronger beat.This was a bit of an experiment to see if viewers would tap their feet or undulate in rhythm. I used a lot of sounds to emphasize various sections of the music with the intention of focusing people's attention on certain sections; the often present metallic echoing bell sound for example. After the intro that used phrases and moments from the recording session to share people's reactions to the project, the rest of the song was arranged in general language groups saying “I Love You”, that were then "answered" by German's “Ich Liebe Dich”. One of the best moments of my life was the two year old Spanish boy saying "...bona musica". He was referring to a loop of the Barcelona video playing in the background of the recording session in Frankfurt. His mother's reply of "Si, vi vida" - so philosophically poignant - that I simply had to include it.
The cello returned in the Berlin (Neukölln) project, but this time played more of the beat's role. Echoes were used to emphasize the idea and reflect the timelessness of "I Love You". Panning the voices was used to reflect the spectrum of languages, people, and to provide a feeling of being surrounded by love. Two people chose to whisper “Ich Liebe Dich”, and they each in turn open and close the piece.
All the music and most of the editing was done with Ableton Live 9 software. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to compose three songs for The I Love You Project. I can't wait to hear the next composer's musical interpretation of the project. My recommendation to all listeners is play these videos/tracks on the best stereo system you can find. The sounds are sometimes subtle and might not be experienced fully on weak laptop speakers. And turn the volume up!