music process

How To Make Images With Only Sound

A Sound Design Project For Theater

I just started working on creating sound design for Fordham University’s theater department.  It’s a mainstage production of the play Magnolia, by Regina Taylor, which is a re-telling of the Cherry Orchard in 1963 Atlanta, Georgia.  It takes place right in the midst of the civil rights era and the sounds of that time period.

The biggest challenge is creating this sonic montage which is to open the piece.  Taylor, who is also directing, wants to evoke a backwards countdown from present day into the past.  It’s challenging and exciting.  Given all the events in the news lately regarding racial discrimination, it feels very timely.

To start with, I began gathering source audio to sample in this newsreel type audio event.

Here’s some of the sources i gathered:

Watching these videos, I found it impossible not to get caught up in the moment.  Especially the coverage of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination.   I got so choked up.

After exporting some of these audios using an online tool, I had a file folder from which I could import into my digital audio workstation of choice, LogicProX.

Here’s a screenshot of my session today.

How To Make Images With Only Sound

What a crazy mess!  I started by just laying down a basic beat and bass line to give some kind of structure.  Later I’m going to add a tempo map that ramps up to add to the excitement.

As we were listening to these ideas, my assistant engineer (my 14 year old son Alejandro), suggested a possible unifying idea:  to take each President’s oath going backwards in time from present to 1963.  Brilliant!

So that’s where we’re at so far.  I have a terrible first mix that I don’t want to bore you with just yet.  Lots more to do and in the process of updating my sonic palette by updating my Spectrasonics Omnisphere.  That’s a way cool virtual synthesizer.   Ok, more later!







music process

Woman Parts and Composing a Fugue

The play that I wrote music for, actually variations on a theme in the public domain, opens this weekend.  It’s part of a night of two one acts by women, Sex & God by Linda McClean and Lamentations of the Pelvis by Sibyl O’Malley.  The production is by the award-winning and always interesting Son of Semele Ensemble in Los Angeles. Get tickets here.


Woman Parts Poster In working on the music which were all variations on the Coulters Candy theme, also known as Ally Bally Bee, the director Barbara Kallir was describing to me a need for some thicker more complex textures and perhaps an interweaving of melodies.

“Do you mean like a fugue?” I asked.


Definition of Fugue from onMusic dictionary.

form of composition popular in, but not restricted to, the Baroque era, in which a theme or subject is introduced by one voice, and is imitated by other voices in succession. Usually only the first few notes of the subject are imitated exactly, then each voice deviates slightly until the next time it enters again with the subject. Generally the voices overlap and weave in and out of each other forming a continuous, tapestry-like texture.


Whoa, I’ve never written a fugue I thought to myself.   Isn’t Bach only allowed to write that intricate stuff?



“Sure, a fugue.  I’ll get right on it Barbara.” I said half-jokingly.

Since the melody was already written and was a very simple jingle, perhaps I could do something like this.  It’s funny because I spent a few years composing jingles and music for advertising and now I was creating a musical score based on a jingle! The original song was to sell candy, but because it was so hummable and infectious, the melody has lasted for generations to the point that all Scottish elders know the tune.

So, I thought about it a little bit, doodled on the piano and guitar and then went to sleep.  I find that my best work comes from connecting to the source, the muse, the great GoogaMooga in the sky, a.k.a. God while I’m sleeping.

At 5 am on a Saturday I awoke, went to the computer and started writing out this fugue in Sibelius.  Now I don’t claim to come close to being Bach, but I thought it came out pretty good for a first fugue.

My composition teacher at Juilliard would probably have some things to say… Screenshot 2014-04-24 12.59.39


Download PDF Ally Bally Bee fugue sheet music






Here’s the final result.  I didn’t have time to record acoustically so these are actually generated right out of Sibelius 7.5 – a pretty nice upgrade from my previous version of 6.0.


Sex and God, now that’s a title!

I’m about to start working on a new theater production of a play titled “Sex & God” with the wonderful cutting edge Son of Semele Ensemble in Los Angeles.  This will be my third collaboration with these folks and I am as always, honored and grateful to join.

The Scottish play is by Linda McLean and features intercut monologues of 4 women spread over time.   The accents are wonderful!  I feel a brogue coming over me!

The playwright has written into the work an old Scottish tune that has become like a folk song, though it was originally written as a commercial jingle.  It’s called Coulter’s Candy and apparently old folks from the Highlands all know it as well as Americans know “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

So my job is less as a composer and more as an arranger/producer and sound designer of this piece.  Still haven’t figured out what I will do, but it will be some kind of underscore in different tempos and feelings as well as a few featured jingle-anthems.

Here’s what the song sounds like as found on YouTube.

Update – April 3, 2014.

Here’s my work in progress on the score.

art music

Music for Theater, Instinct

I wrote music for this theater production of an original play by Matthew Maguire.  It opens this weekend in NYC at the Lion Theater on Theater Row.  An outbreak is spreading and scientists are racing to save the world whilst dealing with their own troubled relationships.  The play is smart, witty, fast and very disconcerting. What’s scary is how plausible this is!

Here’s an excerpt of the music from it.


Abandon at LaMama – dreaming with ears wide open

We just finished our first weekend of Abandon at LaMama and wow…it’s like dreaming lucidly and vividly and intensely for 70 minutes. Yes I did write the music, and still, sitting through a performance is like something else. I am so proud and grateful to all involved.

As I explained to my father last night, you can approach this like an abstract painting. There is a storyline, though everyone will experience it differently.

Andrew Ingkavet is a composer with over 2 decades experience creating music for film, theater, advertising and new media.