Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Filtering by Tag: richard howarth

What is a Mullet?



Well, hello again. I had the pleasure of creating music and sound design for this charmingly funny video by my friend Giga Shane.. in which he interviews his parents to gather their theories on the age-old question: “What is a Mullet?”

I brought in some lovely live musicians for this one including:

Bass Clarinet: Eleanor WeigertBassoon: Brittany SeitsCello: Heather McIntoshVocals: Angeline Gragasin

I added some humming, then dusted off the accordion, broken guitar, and even some whole wheat spaghetti to season the music with the right mood for this bizarre conversation.

Special thanks to Richard Howarth for some very detailed work in helping get the dialog levels under control!

Speaking of… this conversation was recorded casually on an iphone, which presented some interesting challenges from a post audio perspective. Who wants to geek out!? Bear with me and I’ll reward you with a few pictures in a moment.

Usually when I’m processing vocals (from a singer tracked in studio for example), they’ve been recorded at a pretty constant distance from the microphone. Microphones will respond differently depending on how far away a sound source is, so this contact distance is helpful because it will yield a relatively consistent balance as far as low, mid, and hi frequencies in the voice. However, in this case Giga and his parents are at different distances from the iPhone which resulted in this scenario:

  • Giga (close to mic): More “harsh” or “bright” frequencies, louder volume
  • Parents (further from mic): More hiss and “muddy” frequencies (more of the “room noise”), softer volume


Since there is music underneath the dialog, it’s important for the speaking to be consistent as possible… from an EQ perspective AND a volume perspective. This will help it be more intelligible, and not as easily covered by the music.

Fortunately there are really cool “dynamic EQ” plugins built for just this type of scenario. I was able to apply a specific EQ setting for Giga (to tame the harshness) and a very different EQ setting to his parents (to reduce the hiss and muddiness).. and automatically transition between these in cases where the phone or the person speaking is moving. That is really really cool, right?

After improving the EQ balance of all the dialog, the overall volume levels could be dealt with using envelopes and compression.

Hmmm, as I seem to have gone on and on about the sound design / mix side, I will summarize the music side quickly: super fun! As promised, a few session photos:

Brittany Seits, Bassoonist Extraordinaire:

O, the delicate timbre of whole wheat thin spaghetti:

GOODY! TWO SHOES



I recently had the pleasure of scoring & sound designing this video, directed by the wonderful Celia Rowlson-Hall. She describes it thusly:

watch me demolish a city, perform in a broadway show, stroll through the jungle and turn into a ghost… all over a pair of shoes.


I’ve been following Celia’s work for a few years now and it was a real treat to team up. It was a fun challenge to figure out how to complement the stream-of-consciousness visuals in a compelling way… I’m pretty excited about the godzilla-soundscape-into-broadway-sassiness-into-electro-jungle-ominousness-into-bittersweet-death-music-with-ghost-breathing approach we landed on :)

Thank you to all the great musicians who helped out on super-short notice:

Shannon Stone - tenor sax, clarinetWalter Simonsen - trumpetAngeline Gragasin - vocalsMax Crowe - guitar

Also, thank you Richard Howarth for assisting with sound design (as with last week’s post!)

Special thanks to frequent collaborator David Fishel (who also assistant directed and edited this video) for the introduction.

Enjoy! Then check out more of Celia’s films and choreography here.

Los Reyes Omitidos



This haunting animation about the origins of Cuzco, Peru is by one of my favorite Chicago filmmakers, Gus Gavino. Check out more of his work at middle mind project (I especially love his music videos.)

My main focus with this score was tone. It features a lot of accordion.. but more for mood than melody (e.g. the “breathing”, key rattling, shakes..) Other elements instruments included: string bass, a few woodwinds, harp, faint whistling, and some close mic-ed “low sighing” for the skulls scene.

Thank you Richard Howarth for assisting with sound design on this one! With this piece especially, the sound FX are just as important as the music in making the piece feel right.

Also, my old intern Alex Wand (who gave a very inspiring MFA graduation recital at CalArts on Wednesday by the way) was kind enough to translate the text of the story:

The story begins with the telling of the founder of the Incan dynasty, Ayar Manko. Legend has it that he turned to stone once he got old. Others say he magically flew away to a place where he continues to protect his town. His Successors maintained that they were children of the sun and in this way, they were able to secure the obedience of the nations of Tawantisuyu.

The text then explains how the Spaniards, who came with an ambition for gold, conquered the land. (i.e. barbaric mistreatment of women, murders, destruction of sacred monuments). Manko II attempted to retake Cuzco from the Spanish, but ultimately lost.


Finally, thank you Mike Ambs for letting me use the audio from his project The Lonliest Mix in this animation. It’s the wonderfully low sound of a “last-known hybrid blue whale” which sings at 52 Hertz… much higher than its fellow whales, whose calls fall in the 15 to 25 Hertz range- hence the nickname, “The Lonliest Whale.” Beautiful… you’ll hear it for a few seconds starting around 1:03.

BOSS MUSIC bass clarinet recording session

http://vimeo.com/32586333

I recently collaborated with Richard Howarth on music for the game “Critter Chaos”, available soon on the Apple App Store. It was a treat working with creators Ryan Sandberg and Tim Wood on this, and I look forward to writing an in-depth blog post when it’s released!

For now here’s a peak at our BOSS MUSIC recording session with clarinet extraordinaire Eleanor Weigert.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scribble design



A glimpse of a quick foley session featuring talented collaborator/intern/professional scribbler Richard Howarth. While sound-designing a bumper at the end of my pal Angeline Gragasin’s video we began searching for the perfect scribble sound. We tried highlighters, sharpies, but finally settled on a plain old ballpoint pen.

Angeline’s vid is below, which documents (and nicely captures the spirit of) last weekend’s “Occupy LA”. Rebecca Berdel, another recent Chicago-to-LA transplant, made the awesome scribble motion graphics. Thus, a mini-reunion for team Man v Candy Machine!

Meet Alex and Richard!

I’m lucky to have two very talented people helping out in my studio this summer. They each have serious skillsets in contrasting areas of music, which is great for keeping things interesting around here. Here’s a quick introduction in alphabetical order:

Alex Wand is pursuing an MFA in Music Composition at CalArts, studying under Mike Fink. This after triple-majoring in Music, International Studies and Spanish at the University of Michigan. He’s studied composition under greats such as Bright Sheng and even spent time abroad in Spain where he also studied classical and flamenco guitar.

What drew me to Alex was his natural sounding compositions and very broad knowledge of music. Here’s one of my favorites by Alex, a track from his band Light in August:



Head on over to alexwand.com to hear more.

Richard Howarth has worked with some heavy hitters in the hip hop community including Raekwon and Ghostface Killah (of Wu Tang), Pill, Prof, and YelaWolf. In addition to the hip hop work, he’s also done soundtrack work for a sports documentary and remix work for Taylor Swift’s iPhone app.

I was drawn to Richard’s work as it’s full of creative, compelling textures that I find quite motivating to listen to as a producer. Here are 2 of my favorites: