Crafting the Score of APOLLO 11 with Matt Morton | TIFF 2019


[Morton] Apollo 11’s
story — these guys were really putting their neck on the line.
[Chuckles] That takes some guts! I think what I wanted to do with my score was just touch on the
sense of danger a little bit and what must have been
going through their heads when they were getting suited up. I wanted it to be a little more visceral. I’m Matt Morton. I’m the
composer for Apollo 11. Todd and I have been buddies
for a really long time; we made Dinosaur 13. It had a brief theatrical run,
but it really caught on when it went on TV. It ended up winning an Emmy for outstanding science and technology
programming in 2015. After we won the Emmy for
CNN, they approached us looking for — kind of, “Okay,
what’s your next thing?” So we did a short film
called The Last Steps, which was about Apollo 17,
the last mission to the moon. And that was very much
a dry run for Apollo 11. [Drum beats] I did that story in the
same way, but I let myself use any instrument
that came to mind, and there’s this juxtaposition between the very modern-sounding music and the period footage that you’re seeing. And that’s got its own
kind of energy to it, but, at the same time, I wondered what it would have been like if I would have stuck to only 1972 instruments. And so when we got a
chance to do Apollo 11, I took a page from that lesson and just decided to do a different approach. [Slow drum beats] My initial vision for it was to try to make it sound like you were hearing
musicians from 1969, just like you’re seeing
the faces of the astronauts and mission control and people
watching the launch in 1969. It made me go back to the origins of, “Okay, where did all this
electronic music come from?” And it just so happened
that kind of the big bang of synthesizers happened
right around the time of the Apollo missions. I completely fell head
over heels at that point. By the fall of 2017, my sonic
vision for the score was coming into focus.
It was at that point that I found out about Moog reissuing
the 3C, which is this guy. They only made 25 of them. Essentially, I just — I fell
in love with the instrument and it just totally captivated me, and I spent hours and
hours and hours down here recording all kinds of
stuff nobody will ever hear. [Mission control sounds
and synthesizer music] There’s nothing like having
the real thing and having immediate access to
all of the parameters in front of you. Like, literally,
I’ll be in the middle of experimenting and just grab patch cords and re-patch. There’s a feel to that.
It just encourages play. [Synthesizer music] There’s never really one process — tons of experimentation and
just trying to always record, and when I stumble on sounds
or ways of configuring the modular, based on what you’re hearing or the way you want to kind of, like, guide the Ouija board, then you can make changes to the instrument in real time. It’s very time-consuming.
[Laughs] You could do this all in
software, technically, and a lot of the cues are
many layers of patches. There are layers and layers
and layers of synths in there, underneath the strings and
kind of swinging them up. So I have synth versions of all those different pitches. And each of those had to
be rendered in real time, synced up with the picture
and its real audio. I didn’t use midi-notes. I played
everything in real time. But for me, there’s just
something totally different about reaching out and being
able to touch this thing. All the synths — I’m
basically slowly opening the filters on all of them
so that we get really big right here. Now, the last thing that was added to this cue is this string pad,
and we wanted to do that because, at this
point, we knew the trajectory was right, they
were on their way home, and they got a good burn.
Everything looked good and everybody in the control room
was clapping. They said — I think Charlie Duke, the
capcom, was like, “Hallelujah!” So you hear this string
bed come up and it’s kind of like everything’s going to be all right. I really went out on a limb on this score, and I felt like that
would be a cool experiment to just use instruments
of the era and then see what a modern guy could do. I’m the only element that’s modern. Everything else you’re seeing
and hearing is from back then. So I looked at my music as
being able to play the role of kind of bridging the
gap between 2019 and 1969. Even though I’m using dated instruments, I think it comes off as a bridge
to modern people because I’m using modern musical idioms to communicate with you. [Speaking on telephone]
Just this thing down is $35,000! [Laughing]
[Voice on telephone] Oh my god.

7 thoughts on “Crafting the Score of APOLLO 11 with Matt Morton | TIFF 2019

  • April 5, 2019 at 5:19 pm
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    Not really excited for film or the score, but I am very insterested in the film stock used and what cameras they used, the film has a very period appropriate look, but something about it is really special.

    Reply
  • April 6, 2019 at 3:29 pm
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    Wow… amazing

    Reply
  • May 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm
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    Great work Matt Morton!!!

    Reply
  • May 16, 2019 at 8:27 am
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    halleluja !

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 3:14 am
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    Rendezvous was amazing

    Reply
  • July 24, 2019 at 6:14 am
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    Stunning film and soundtrack….!

    Reply
  • July 24, 2019 at 6:17 am
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    I'm sure Bob Moog would have loved both too.

    Reply

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