On the Beach

Seven Weekly Interviews with CG by Karen Cambrell
February – March 2000

WEEK SIX. Friday 24th March 2000
Nearing the End and Orchestration.

CG: Russell has just been here and I've managed to bash through a major proportion of the score on the piano for them. It all went very, very well which is a great relief. Russell seems to be very happy with what I've been doing which is a great confidence booster to go on. As it turned out there was only one cue which he's asked me to look at, in fact not even a whole cue, it's part of one cue where we see through a periscope, we see San Francisco after it's been nuclear bombed and it's a wasteland. And I have gone for the horror and the size and the shock and the pain that the crew feel when they see it, as I was asked for. But what Russell had also asked for was that there's a sense of alien landscape. He's very happy with the second half of it and the intro is fine, but there's about thirty bars that he's asked me to re-write, so I'm not quite sure how I'm going to approach that yet, it's going to take some serious thinking because I can understand as a film maker what the film needs but I haven't actually got the sound or the notes in my head. Yesterday or the last couple of days I've had some amazing days where I've virtually caught up. I was always a couple of days behind, but now with this it probably puts me back nearly a day again so I'm not quite sure how I'm going to squeeze it in, but we'll see! I’ve been needing to write four minutes a day for a while now.

There is one cue that I have been working on for about a week. I have been doing it to relax late at night. Being quite short and just for strings I have been enjoying writing interesting inner parts for the players. It’s for one of those David Lean moments that Russell wants, when Moira and Towers first kiss on the beach. On those days when I finish my quota a bit earlier than usual it is very hard to switch off and do something else. So on those evenings I take this piece out and work on a bar or two for an hour without the pressure of fulfilling a quota, then put it away until the next night.

The Great Ocean Road (On the Beach)
Completed 16 March 2000

With something as large as a miniseries there are many threads going through it, many different characters that you follow and time is spent with those characters and what happens to them. This of course affects the music. You might have a lot of primary, overall themes and so on, but there are always side events, if you like, that you can't really set up earlier in the film and they happen somewhere in the film. And in this case an important secondary character dies and we actually go through the dying process with him and it's very, very moving. Commander Towers is with this man, Hirsch, as he dies, but somehow we also feel with the dying man, which meant that I wanted to create a sound world that fitted this situation and didn't steal my thunder for other dying scenes or other similar scenes elsewhere in the movie with the lead characters. So today I've been doing this side event (that's a very bad term for it), Hirsch and its been rather nice. I've got just low strings, just violas, cellos and basses and solo viola and I think that will create quite a different world for a moment.

Composed 24 March 2000

And that pretty much means that I've done all the small cues now. I've only got big ones left, important ones with one week to go. The one that I'm creatively really looking forward to, but physically I'm dreading, is a ride in a helicopter through the Twelve Apostles down in Victoria. It's a thrill ride so the music is fast and happy and full on, therefore it's a huge job and I'm not quite sure how I can knock that off in time, although I'm really looking forward to actually doing something happy and positive. Russell has asked me to emphasise swooping up and down of the chopper – like a thrill ride.

KC: What about orchestrating?

CG: I do my own orchestrations. I just cannot understand how you can, at some point, say I've finished composing and give it to someone else to finish off for you. I just don't get it, even though I've worked as an orchestrator, I've finished many other composers' music, I just don't, as a composer know how to do that. The final orchestration is the colouring and it's the fine details and often it contains the most important elements, more important than melody or whatever. So I don't understand how you can let someone else do it.

Getting Set Up.

Preparation and Themes.

Waiting for the Pictures and More Themes

Composing Begins.

Yachts and Choirs.

Nearing the End and Orchestration.

The End and Preparing for the Sessions.

POSTSCRIPT. August 2008