Composer Interview with Peter Cavallo

Posted at 16:00 on 12th October 2016 by Cinephonix in Music

Nos Youm

We’re so excited to announce that our very own composer Peter Cavallo has been nominated for the Best TV Theme in the 2016 APRA/AMCOS Screen Music Awards; an annual award ceremony based in Australia which acknowledges excellence and innovation in the field of screen composition.

Peter's nomination is for the theme to the 35 part TV series Nos Youm. Cinephonix held the brief to provide the music for the series working with the production's music supervisor Anas Alcherbaji. Cinephonix's composer Peter Cavallo was engaged to write the opening theme for the series.

Peter is an Australian film, television and media music composer and we managed to catch up with him to have a chat about the nomination and his music.


First up, congratulations on the nomination! How long did it take you to compose the track?

Thank you! I'd like to thank Cinephonix for the opportunity they gave me that brought about this nomination. Anthony and the team here were just brilliant to work with. The original idea was written on the piano within an hour. After putting a guide track down in my DAW the rest just seem to fall into place. The brief from Cinephonix was to submit anything from a solo piano idea to a full blown demo. Even though I had the piano idea I also had most of the parts in my head and it wasn't much effort to get a quick demo together. So, I'd say from writing to finish demo about 4 hrs.

What was your inspiration for the track after Cinephonix gave out the brief for the project?

Cinephonix supplied a storyboard video from the client and a pretty detailed breakdown of the requirements for the music to follow so I made sure I had the cues tightly linked with the visuals. I knew the story was taken from the movie Original Sin so I watched that trailer to see if there was any inspiration from that, but that was fruitless so I just went back to the piano. I knew it was a Middle Eastern company doing the TV series for the Ramadan period so I tried to add some of that flavour in there although it just ended up sounding like Sinbad music which is one of their pet hates as I found out later on, understandably. So, I looked at the elements of the show, romance, suspense and action and tried to combine them all into one theme. The good and surprising thing was the track length which was 3 minutes when most TV openers are around 30sec, so it gave me plenty of room to play with different moods.

Cinephonix arranged for the track to be recorded live in Prague, how did it feel to watch your own composition being performed live by an orchestra?

The Prague gig was the icing on the cake. After a few failed attempts at hearing the session through Skype it finally came together about mid-way through the session. When I started hearing it my first response was "Wow", and quickly after that was my critical side pulling my arrangement to bits and analysing all the things I could have done better. The Prague guys were great to work with, very fast and efficient.


What is your favourite thing about the track?

The real strings. There's no sample library in the world that can replicate that live sound. The frustrating thing now is going back to sample strings and knowing they just don't come anywhere near the real thing and being happy with that.

What is the most challenging thing about composing music for a TV show?

I think for this one it was getting the mood right without detracting from the series. The theme sets the mood of the show every time it plays. It sort of prepares the listener for what's coming up so you need to be aware of that when writing.

When did you first start composing music?

I've been a self-taught musician most of my life writing music tracks here and there picking up jazz and blues licks where I could, but it's only been the last two years studying with Alain Mayrand that composition has become real. Knowledge is power.

What is your favourite thing about composing music?

It feeds my soul.


Have you got any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

This recent nomination has certainly given me more opportunities and I am in talks with a few things at the moment, unfortunately nothing I can reveal in detail. There's a game project and a couple of directors have contacted me regarding some future work once they have budgets in place. I'm still working on the illusive Classical piece that will cement my name in the Classical Genre for all eternity but nah! Hasn’t happened yet! Maybe one day.

Here is the video of Peter's Nos Youm theme being recorded live in Prague.

Once again, we’d like to congratulate Peter on his nomination and wish him luck in his future projects. The awards ceremony will take place on 8th November 2016 and will be held at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.

If you'd like to work with any of Cinephonix's rostrum of composers please contact us for more details.  

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