Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Filtering by Tag: recording

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!)

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)

Catch up

I’m overdue for a post- if you’re not on my email list, here are some highlights since last time:

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While I was visiting AZ in December, my sister Ann and I interviewed Mom about her life. We’re so glad to get some of her stories on the record. e.g. when she was ~10 years old, she decided to get rid of a massive anthill with gasoline and accidentally set part of the house on fire! First she tried putting it out with her Alaskan Malamute’s water bucket. That didn’t work, but bought her enough time to get the garden hose and finish the job.

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Speaking of pets, my parents’ dog Ben is still afraid of me for being a tall person. I know it’s hard to believe, but he’s hiding somewhere in the above photo.

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Fear.

And as far as work stuff:

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Jenn Medvin and Marcus MacDougald’s Little Hero has been making the festival rounds- from Belgrade to Nevada City to DOC NYC to St. Louis where it won a Crystal Gator (the award that deserves an award.)

This article calls my score “quirkily appropriate”. NICE. It’s kazoo on every score from here on out, k?

I’ve also been doing some recording lately, both at my place..

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Poet and performer Mayda Del Valle

… and at Narnack Studios with the great engineer Griffin Rodriguez:

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Andrew Conrad (bari), Walt Simonsen (trumpet), Ryan Dragon (trombone)

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Brandon Dickert (drums), Griffin Rodriguez (hiding in the control room)

There is really nothing quite like recording great musicians live in a great room with a great engineer. I don’t miss my Chicago days of tracking everything in the kitchen!

I’m on a Timeboxing hiatus at the moment while I finish a bigger project, but here are the latest two if you haven’t caught ‘em yet:

Will and Vince both had great & insightful stuff to say. As a bonus, Will’s interview is laced with previews of my Little Hero score :)

That’s all for now!

CH's Comedy Music Hall of Fame airs on IFC tomorrow

I produced some ridiculous music involving Russia, Canada, and Elvis for CH's Comedy Music Hall of Fame, which airs tomorrow at 10pm on IFC.

Paul F. Thompkins hosts, and it features comedy music luminaries such as Tenacious D and Weird Al. Here’s a trailer:

CH wrote the lyrics and I made the music. It involved a whirlwind of recording sessions including (Kazakh-American opera singer!) Timur Bekbosunov, vocalists Igor Komar + Mela Lee, comedy rappers Siobhan Thompson + Pat Cassels, and my trusty accordion (in mid-side, audio nerds!)

I also recorded percussionist Tim Carr (in the recording scramble I spaced on taking a photo.. sorry Tim!), guitarists Sasha Birrittella + Max Crowe (recorded remotely), and Klezmer clarinetist Andrew Conrad:

You have now seen “behind the scenes”. Was it enjoyable? Terrible? Both?

2 months in photos

It’s been a busy couple of months!  Some highlights in reverse order:

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Composed a solo violin piece for an upcoming film by Jeff Lamb.  Here is the excellent violinist Barry Socher after our recording session.

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Finally met VFX Wizard Mike Ritchie of Gloo Studios after five years of working together.  One of the nicest guys in the biz.

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Found a new use for the first tie I ever owned: foley for an animation by Ahmad Al-Awadi celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid.

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Rented some fancy API pre-amps…

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and used them to record 7 songs in a single evening (!) with Brandon Dickert, a drummer of the highest caliber.

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Recorded bass with Griffin Rodriguez - an inspiring engineer/producer/mixer (Icy Demons, Beirut, ..) and person.  He actually suffered traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident not 2 weeks later.  As I’ve been mentioning on facebook, you can help support him here.  Get well soon, Griffin!

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Drove into the mountains on my birthday and bought a chromaharp from a nice banjo player named Dave.

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Joined the cult of cast iron.

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Recorded a song for The Pact II with Pat Horvath and Dallas Hallam (more on that in a future post!)

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Found out I am KILLING IT in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Back in July I visited Chicago, caught up with a lot of old friends and did a bunch of recording (thanks to engineers Dan Smart and Max Crowe).  I am humbled to have some truly world-class musicians involved… 

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Nicolae Feraru, a Romanian cimbalom player I’ve been a fan of for years.  This year he won a National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Honor National Heritage Fellowship, our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.  Though I am exhausted in this picture, I was extremely excited to collaborate with him.

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Blagoj Lamnjov, a virtuoso clarinetist from Macedonia.  

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Long-time collaborator Max Crowe on guitars & bass.  (photo: Mikel Pickett)

I also recorded more vocals with my favorite soul singer on the planet, Hawk Colman, but we forgot to take a picture!  I can’t wait to write & share more about the project all this recording was for :)

Before the recording kicked off, I also…

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Did live sound at the Museum of Science and Industry for my friends Eric McCoy & Justus Meyer as they interviewed neuroscientist David Freedman about his work with “categorization”.  I had a fun chat with David about James Brown, and enjoyed working with our cinematography/lighting team Mike and Leland.

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Saw David’s band FuzZz (which consisted of him on guitar, another neuroscientist on keyboards, and KILLER rhythm & horn sections) with my friend and colleague Paul Lazarre.  Paul is an entrepreneur and science enthusiast, and conceived of the interview video in the first place.

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Before Chicago, my buddy Rebecca Berdel and I saw Jordan Vogt-Roberts film “Kings of Summer” - a great indie film worthy of your support.

I also saw some truly inspiring concerts..

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The otherwordly Harry Partch Ensemble (featuring the talented Alex Wand).

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My friend Gina and I saw Björk!  One of my creative heroes… an Artist with a capital “A”.  I feel bad haven taken a photo after she asked the audience not to, but I promise my flash was off as to not distract anyone from the fireballs!

How’s that for a blog post?  'til next time…