Little Hero

Here's my score for the film Little Hero!

You can listen to it for free on almost any streaming service. If you love it, or you’re my Mom, you can buy it above for $4 (every bit helps me make more music!)

If iTunes is your thing, I'll owe you a hug if you write a review (but don't buy it there – those goofs want $7 for a 10-minute album!)

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Little Hero is a short documentary in which a six-year-old explains her unique relationship with her twin brother, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The way kids communicate can be so unfiltered and pure. Directors Marcus McDougald and Jennifer Medvin honor this by showing Avery and Xander's world from their perspective; there are no stats or soapbox to get you "riled up" about autism.

So my first thought on the music was "don't mess this up!"

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Xander at my studio

While we'll never know what it's like to be Xander, his story in the film is full of very relatable emotions. My aim with the music was to help us on some level feel what he feels.

The seven tracks trace the arc of the story, which goes something like:

  • contemplative on a swing
  • curious at an aquarium
  • playful while eating pizza
  • imaginative while underwater
  • uncomfortable while getting a haircut
  • stronger after overcoming a challenge
  • yay! (end credits)
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Recording at Narnack. left to right: Eleanor Weigert (bass clarinet), me, Brandon Dickert (drums), Griffin Rodriguez (engineer, behind harp), Charissa Barger (harp), Paul Curtis (bassoon). (photo: Marcus)

We recorded most of the musicians live at Narnack Studios. Our engineer Griffin Rodriguez set up a bajillion mics and projected the film on a sheet over the control room window. We took a pizza break before recording the pizza cue, and everyone ominously rattled their instruments for the haircut (Xander doesn’t like haircuts!)

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Pizza music
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Griffin in the control room at Narnack (photo: Marcus)

Later at my studio I fleshed things out (with synth bass, accordion, percussion, etc.) and mixed.

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Mixing (I love checklists)

The funniest part of this project was recording Avery back at my studio, cheering and yelling for "Yay!" I can say unequivocally that she is the most energetic performer I've had in the booth – she was literally jumping up and down while recording! Many thanks to Marcus for helping channel her raw energy into a performance AND preventing any microphones from toppling over :)

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Avery's vocal session (photo: Jennifer)
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Avery, Jennifer, and Marcus getting some ADR

Finally, Rob Kleiner of Studio Edison mastered the album while I tried to stay awake after a months-long case of mono.

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The master(-er) at work (sorry)

If you like the score, check out the film – Marcus, Jennifer, and everyone above did a tremendous job and it was an honor to work on.

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Avery, me, and Xander at my studio (photo: Jennifer)

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Music composed/produced by Carl Sondrol

Charissa Barger: Harp
Paul Curtis: Bassoon
Brandon Dickert: Drums
Eleanor Weigert: Bass Clarinet
Griffin Rodriguez: Audio Engineer

Avery Medvin: Vocals for "Yay!"
Jennifer Medvin: Vocals and Bass for the dreamy "Xander" portion of "A Peach Banging on a Drum"

Main stuff recorded at Narnack Studios
Extra stuff recorded at Sondrol Studio
Mastered by Rob Kleiner at Studio Edison

Cover Art by Jacob Sanders