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Michael Gordon Shapiro
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Cue of the Week: I’m going deep into the archives for this one, back to when I was a film scoring student at the University of Southern California. I wrote this finale for an adorable thesis film called Big Bucks for Buddha, pitched as “a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and a dog”. You can probably figure out the tone of the film from that of the music.

Budding composers were treated very well by USC in those days, with access to a pro-grade recording studio and some the best student musicians and filmmakers in the country. Digital instruments being primitive at the time, we were “forced” to work with real orchestral players. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise: my sampler-based music from that era is unlistenable, but I find that live-recorded cues like this have aged rather well.
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Cue of the Week: The film "Genie and the Shark" pits a clever genie against an opponent who can match her trickery: a film and TV agent. This was an especially fun project in that I got to write both underscore and opening theme song.

This week’s music is a medley from two moments in the film: mid tug-of-war negotiations, and the happy resolution. I gave the traditional orchestral sound a light dusting of mideastern folk music to reflect the flavor of the story.
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Cue of the Week: In the movie "Siren", the protagonist’s band (for whom we’re all rooting) competes in a giant battle of the bands, only to come in second place. They sulk in the green room, to the strains of this week’s music selection. Fortunately, the movie isn’t over at this point. Guitar props go to Tom Strahle, here channeling a little B.B. King.
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Cue of the Week: an atmospheric main title for a supernatural thriller called Vermilion. In the film, a painter is slowly haunted by his works, which take on a life of their own… literally. I gave chromatic harmonies to piano, cello, bass clarinets, and muted strings in order to create a disquieting mood.
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Cue of the Week: Having had a lovely time at the Edinburgh Fringe (no I didn't eat haggis this year), I'm back stateside and will happily resume sharing excerpts from my work.

This cue from the game "Empire Earth II" introduces the Korean faction. As with most of the music in this game, I used an orchestral interpretation of national folk music, supplemented with ethnic instrumentation. (In this case the wooden flute.)
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Cue of the Week: This week’s music from "Wizard Ops Tactics" portrays the game’s swamp level as a damp and ominous place. Plaintive woodwinds ease in and out over low string undulations, while excerpts of the game’s main theme recur in the brass. The low string lines themselves are just the main theme, slowed down and altered to fit into 7/8 time. (Yes, I’m lazy and prefer to re-use existing material rather than write more.)
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Cue of the Week: this cue heralds one of the bad guys in the original Wizard Ops game: a hulking, missile-spewing worm. (I hate when I find one of those in my lawn.)

As befits a worm of this stature, I wrote an apocalyptic piece for chorus, orchestra, and pulsing drums. The choir chants the words “chaos” and “maker”, the latter being part of the ultimate villain’s name.
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Cue of the Week: Last week I highlighted the music of the game Wizard Ops. The followup game Wizard Ops Tactics wasn’t a pure sequel, in that it was a turn-based strategy game rather than pure action. The new music needed to maintain continuity of style and reference the prior game’s theme, but suggest a somewhat different mood.

The opening music for Tactics is urgent rather than frantic. A new theme is introduced at the start, and the reprise of the Wizard Ops melody takes on the character of a militaristic march. To my own set of associations, this was a good match for the “sitting around a battle map” visual of the splash screen.
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Cue of the Week: The main theme from a visually delightful shooter (or, more accurately, magic-wand-zapper) for iOS and Android. The musical concept was a beat-driven cousin of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, capturing the grumpy supernatural quality of wizardry but adding a frenetic pace appropriate for an action game.
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Cue of the Week: One joy of the digital music era is being able to go back to old recordings, particularly live recordings, and breathe some new life into them. It’s the composerly equivalent of tinkering with a beloved old car.

I love the musicianship in this bittersweet piano-and-strings cue, but its recording always struck me as a bit thin-sounding, and its stereo spread a bit narrow. Thanks to today’s audio tools, I was able to give the sound more warmth, and width. Enjoy this re-release!
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