The first two editions of Supporting Friends Friday (highlighting the poetry of Jeremy Miles and the music of Frederick Ingram) have been well-received, particularly by the friends being supported, and it gives me a great deal of joy to showcase their works, albeit from the humble platform of this blog (read by dozens a day!). As I have written many, many, many times over the last year, making a living through creative work, like writing books and playing music, is difficult, especially in The Age of The Virus. Building up a community of artists who celebrate one another’s works is an important part of the indie music and publishing business.
It’s also just fun, much like the music of Robert Mason Sandifer, the young composer I’m highlighting today. Mason, as I call him, is a private student of mine, so this post is perhaps a tad self-serving, but even if he weren’t my student, I would adore his music.
Mason’s ambition is to write film scores for movies and television, and his work shows the influence of modern film and video game composers. He eschews the French horn blatts of many a Hans Zimmer scores (although he possesses a weakness for harp runs), however, and writes in a style reminiscent of the melodic, programmatic film scoring of the 1980s-early 2000s. His possesses a strong sense of melody and atmosphere, akin to the great Romantic composers of the nineteenth century; indeed, many of our lessons have been spent analyzing and discussing the works of such composers.
Mason is quite prolific, too, as he still has the youthful drive and passion to churn out pieces at an almost Hadyn-esque rate (that’s a bit of hyperbole, but he composes a lot music). A couple of years ago, a colleague approached me about writing ten or eleven songs for a play she’d written, and which she hoped to adapt to a musical. A combination of excessive busy-ness, laziness, and creative aridity saw me push off the project for quite some time, until I ultimately decided to shove it off on Mason.
Mason attacked the project with gusto, churning out the requested tunes in a matter of months. He even collaborated with a singer from his home school association to record the vocal parts, which he wrote by setting my colleague’s proposed lyrics to music. While the musical has yet to be staged, it now enjoys a full score in addition to the book (Mason being the composer here, and my colleague being the librettist).
In addition to music composition, Mason is a gifted fantasy author. He is currently working on a massive novel about a tribe of canyon-dwelling cutie pies called the Skrient. One day, Caesi, a human, falls into their canyon world, and is heralded as some manner of heavenly hero, as to the earthbound Skrient, he appears to have fallen down from Heaven Itself.
Mason’s ambition is not just to publish the book—which I am very eager to read in its entirety, and to purchase—but to write a “book score” to accompany key scenes. He’s been working on this project for some time now, and we usually spend the first fifteen or so minutes of our composition lessons listening to and discussing his latest compositions for the project. His piece “Tutty’s Theme” is the Leitmotif for one of the main characters in the novel, the irascible Tutty, a hyperactive Skrient with a penchant for mischief.
At present, Mason only has three tunes on his Soundcloud page, and I hope he will establish a Bandcamp page, too, so he can hawk his digital wares the way I have done so shamelessly. That said, I’m sure he will be uploading more soon, so give him a “Follow” on Soundcloud to stay updated.
Take a minute today to support Mason’s work with a listen, and once I browbeat him into getting a Bandcamp page, I’ll let you know where you can pay him a nominal pittance for the privilege of listening to his beautiful, stirring, enriching music.