I’ll let Nick explain in his own words his process for working on Crossing: “Music composition is an incredibly personal process. When I begin a new piece, I spend hours at a piano with a particular sound in mind, but no hard and fast ideas. As I improvise new sounds based on my theoretical knowledge of music and the sound I'm after, I write down anything that I believe comes close to fitting my intention. Once a few ideas are down on paper, the process of editing and tailoring them to fit the scene can begin, which for me was a labor-intensive note-by-note process. Each note of each melody has some intention and direction behind it, and perfecting the relationship between each note, the line as a whole, and the intended effect on the audience is a balancing act which I have little practical experience with before working on this project.”
It’s funny… for this article, the above paragraph is how Nick described his process. In texts with me, however, he simply wrote, “Much of what I'm doing is just f***ing around until something sticks.” And no, folks, he didn’t use any asterisks.
My role in creating the score began with offering simple sound and melody ideas to Nick and then working with him on refining certain details as he developed the music you hear in the film. We discussed countless composers and scores throughout our planning process, but the names that I recall coming up most often were Ludovico Einaudi, Marco Beltrami, Gustavo Santaolalla, Hildur Guðnadóttir, John Paesano, Peter Sandberg, and Ludwig Göransson. Part of what I love about that collection of talent is their drastically different styles and approaches to crafting music, and the very distinct corners of the world from which they all hail (two are American, two Swedish, one Italian, one Argentine, and one Icelandic).
The score for Crossing features 9 tracks:
1. Borders (3:46)
2. Dawning (2:00)
3. Cloverleaf (1:54)
4. Tau (4:16)
5. Mirror (2:33)
6. Herald (2:29)
7. Laminin (3:39)
8. Hachikō (5:22)
9. Over (1:56)
At face value, none of these titles seem even remotely related to our story. But Nick cleverly found ways to weave references to crosses, transitions, and intersections into the titles. Borders signify a beginning, a transition, the boundaries we experience in life, the invisible walls which protect us from feeling too much, and the progression of time which plods along unaided. Dawning can be synonymous with learning or becoming enlightened, a concept often represented by a cross in Christianity. The shape of a Cloverleaf of course resembles that of a cross, a rare natural beauty. Tau is a Greek letter that looks like our capital T, itself an intersection through which only one line passes, while the other is unable to continue. A Mirror displays an inverted image, but the symmetry of a cross results in an identical image, and thus crosses exhibit a degree of fortitude and steadfastness. Herald references the Heraldic or Maltese Cross, and is linked to the concepts of an official messenger bringing news and of seeking solitude on an island, such as Malta. Laminin is a cross-shaped protein found in all living things, responsible for helping to attach cells to one another. Hachikō is the name of a famous dog from Japan whose owner passed away, after which Hachikō continued to loyally wait for his owner at the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo every day for nine years before dying as well. Over, specifically in the phrase "crossing over," again suggests a transition to a new physical place, as well as offers a suitable final title.
It should be noted that, much like the film itself, the score would never have been possible without the dedication and hard work of many individuals. Amanda Roswick and Justin Hubbard both contributed extensively to solidifying the raw ideas and rough drafts, bringing them to life and allowing them to be even further built on.
Perhaps most notable, though, are the two performers, because without them there would literally not be any music. Jeremy Quick recorded a guitar performance for a duet, bringing a beautiful humanity to Nick's already fantastic score. Eric Hagmann, meanwhile, performed every piano note you hear in the film, and went a step further as well, mixing and editing each track. Eric's talent wowed me in every track... I can't wait for everyone else to be able to hear why!
The score for Crossing will be released online on December 12, the day after the premiere, but we decided to post one of the tracks early: listen to Borders at the link below.
Learn more about Eric and Jeremy at their websites, linked below, and support their music!
See Crossing on December 11.