Short Directed by Dan Canyon

Music + Sound Design

Great to work with the team again, this time on Cycene.

Similar to last time the focus was on collapsing the distance between food and diner. Gestures here are important - careful placing of garnishes, the pouring of wine at a pace that doesn't splash, the smoothness of sizzling pigeon, the contours of a room traced with incense.

This time I also utilised a new sound recording setup during the shoot - close wide stereo recordings of all the main preparation steps. This has the effect, as the sound designer Paul Davies often says, of increasing the scale of things you are recording, putting you in the middle of the action even if it is presented at a low volume in the mix, similar to ASMR.

There were also some high quality ambient recordings of each room using a Schoeps ORTF setup. Each room had a different tone due to the various unique combinations of chillers and air conditioning units for climate control.

Music is as much about performance as it is about composition - the team at Cycene introduce each dish to the diners individually. You can listen to Caitlin and Eric describing a couple of the dishes below:


Poultry Broth

The preparation is a performance, the service is a performance, so it makes sense that the main elements of the music were obvious performances too.

The dishes are very layered but have a clear hierarchy of two or three dominant flavours with support from various embedded and assigned condiments.

So it made sense that the track was made up of two to three main elements played at a speed to mirror the tempo of how the dishes are prepared. Thus the double bass 'sings' to carry the melody with more expression - Dan the director was keen on something that made us feel like we were on a oscillation that has these decelerating high note peaks and then a race down to the bottom notes again, a playful speed up / slow down cycle.

Using a viola as much for texture as for tonality I used it here to skid across various gestures to add a bit of spit, sparkle and spikiness to the roundness of the bass, the way a fire spits out occasional zingers or fir fronds interrupt the smoothness of a bowl.

The flutes at the end are a calming balm, the end point of the process, serene anticipation, palo santo hanging in the air.

The last bass note is unresolved, allowing the actual dining experience to take over next from this visual and sonic prelude.