Whispers From Hell Artwork

Campfire Radio Theater: “Whispers From Hell”

Campfire Radio Theater: “Whispers From Hell”

The latest installment of Campfire Radio Theater has arrived just in time for your Halloween entertainment! “Whispers From Hell” is an entertaining and scary story sure to please fans of the horror genre. As much as I enjoy writing music for horror stories, the ending for this particular episode was great fun to compose! Talk about anxiety-inducing intensity. Sheesh! I have been writing music for the show for around a year and a half now and continue to enjoy the process greatly. Now that the work of rebuilding my home studio has begun, my excitement is growing even more!

If you have a moment or two spare, please have a listen! I highly recommend listening in the dark with headphones for optimum enjoyment!

Speaking of writing music, I will be releasing a collection of music written for Campfire Radio Theater. It will be a fundraiser with all earnings going directly to Campfire Radio Theater to help fun additional episodes and pay for hosting costs. There are 41 tracks with two “hidden” tracks not found anywhere else included in the download as a thank you to supporters of Campfire Radio Theater. Tracks from “RIP” (parts 1 and 2), “Whispers From Hell,” “Night Delivery,” and “The Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse” are represented in the collection. More soon!

Thanks for listening! Halloween is right around the corner…waiting…in the dark!
Kev

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Campfire Radio Theater: “Night Delivery”

Campfire Radio Theater: “Night Delivery”

The latest horror story from Campfire Radio Theater is called “Night Delivery” and is set in the 80s. The story centers around a radio station, a rookie late-night DJ, a mysterious woman in red, and some devilish music! It was a wonderful challenge to assemble music for the story drawing from the archives of Overlook Hotel Records and creating new music. Quite a bit of the music written for the show was played backwards to fit the theme of backmasking. A couple of the tracks used in the story were written by friends of mine that I also played on. Pieces of the tracks were used with their kind permission. Special thanks is due to Andrew May, Joe Bartoldus, Mike Chambers, and Mat Williams!

I also auditioned for the laugh of Satan and landed the part. John Scott Ballentine said he wasn’t interested in the stereotypical hyped-up laughter so common in horror films and the like. Instead, he wanted more of a Pink Floyd “Brain Damage” approach that is rich with madness. Rumor has it that the laughter on Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” was actually Peter Watts, a road manager for the band at the time. So, John wanted crazy and I have that in spades!

You can also hear me playing the part of a “man on the street” being asked about the location of “Snake Eye Records.” John included some goofy outtakes at the end of the show which are pretty entertaining! If you like horror stories and quality entertainment, then the Campfire Radio Theater podcast is worth checking out. If you are also a fan of 80s rock or maybe you grew up in the 80s, you may find added entertainment value for your pleasure with this particular story. Give it a listen!

Hear are a couple of tracks heard in the show.

“Unless Until” is a beautiful, slow balled written by Mike Chambers and Andrew May.

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“Drones” is by The Three Minstrels (featuring Andrew May, Joe Bartoldus, and myself).

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That’s the news for today! I hope everyone has a great week!

Kev

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Audio Drama Production Podcast Logo

Audio Drama Production Podcast Ep. #49-Composing Music For Audio Drama

Audio Drama Production Podcast Interview: Ep. #49-Composing Music For Audio Drama

It was in the 70s when I first heard audio drama. I remember sitting in the car with my dad, parked in the driveway, sitting on the edge of the seat, while listening to the remaining moments of an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. For those already familiar with the show, you will already know it is hard to forget the sound of the creaking door, the creepy music, and the unforgettable voice of E.G. Marshall.  Fortunately for me, my father didn’t mind me enjoying scary stories at such a young age. One of my fondest memories with him is going to see “The Shining” together. While the film may have scarred me for life, it became my favorite film of all-time and instilled in me a love for horror films, and more significantly, fostered my love for film music (particularly anything scary and/or retro electronic). These two things merged together over time into composing music for audio drama. Speaking of…

I was recently interviewed by the Audio Drama Production Podcast, an informative and entertaining podcast created by Matthew McLean and Robert Cudmore, that discusses subjects related to all things related with the production of audio drama. Both gentlemen have a great sense of humor and it was a pleasure to be on the show. We discuss composing for audio drama, how I got started, gear, influences, tips for new composers, and more. The episode also includes an interview with the ubiquitous, highly prolific, and talented Kevin MacLeod from Incompetech.com. You can hear both interviews at the link below.

http://audiodramaproduction.com/2015/06/composing-music-for-audio-drama/

For those interested in hearing my latest work in audio drama composition, check out the entertaining and horrific Campfire Radio Theater series.





Kevin Hartnell, composing music for audio drama
Photo courtesy of MJ Hartnell

 

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Campfire Radio Theater #13 Cover Art

Campfire Radio Theater: “Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse”

Campfire Radio Theater: “Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse”

Writing music is a pleasure. Writing creepy music is even better. Over the last month or so I have worked on just over thirty short pieces of music for the latest episode of Campfire Radio Theater. “Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse” was written by Campfire Radio Theater creator, John Ballentine, and is based on an actual historical event. The Telegraph (UK) ran a short story about the event which occurred just over 100 years ago. It remains an unsolved mystery to this day.

I have seen lighthouses on the coasts of the US and in a handful of other countries and they all conjure up very specific emotions for me. Maybe it is the sense of isolation and solitude that makes me feel equally nostalgic, melancholy, and introspective. I remember a story about a lighthouse keeper who had to row his boat for hours in order to make it back to his home after his watch was over. There were no neighbors and any sort of emergency had to be dealt with on his own.

Being so alone…secluded, carrying the burden of maintaining the light without falter in order to save lives, and having to be entirely self-sufficient in so many ways seems like a rather mad way to live. Perhaps in another life where I was a lot smarter and stronger I would have taken on such a job, but in this life, I am quite content to write music in the comfort of my own home not far from grocery stores, hospitals, entertainment, friends, and family.

You can listen to the latest episode of Campfire Radio Theater below.

It was easy to visualize the lighthouse and the sea and a real pleasure to immerse myself into the atmosphere of being in such a place in my mind while writing the music. Here are some of my favorite tracks from the sessions.

“Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse: Main Theme”

“Harpsibroken”

“Bending Drone”

I hope you enjoy the show!

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Campfire Radio Theater: Audio Drama For Halloween!

 

Happy Halloween!Campfire Radio Theater: Audio Drama For Your Halloween Listening Pleasure!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’ve been a fan of audio drama since I was a child. I recall sitting in the car with my dad, parked in the driveway, listening to the conclusion of an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater. The sound of the creaking door, the voice of E.G. Marshall, and the possibility of stories about ghosts and monsters had me hooked. If you aren’t familiar with the series, you can stream audio of almost 1,400 episodes at http://www.cbsrmt.com/.

Another favorite series of mine is the infamous “Nightfall” series from the CBC. It aired in the early 80s and scared the hell out of quite a few people. With some incredible performances of classic stories, modern horror, and filled with gruesome sound effects and excellent music, “Nightfall” became a modern classic that remains extremely popular amongst fans of audio drama horror. You can stream the entire series of 100 episodes just below. I highly recommend “The Debt,” “The Porch Light,” “Angel’s Kiss,” and “All-Niter” for starters. Keep in mind that this series is NSFW and is NOT child-friendly as it is actually quite scary in some cases with implied violence, gore, and a smattering of profanity. In my opinion, it is the greatest audio drama series made to date. But don’t take my word for it. Have a listen!

Audio drama and old horror films inspired me to compose dark ambient music. Some of the scores and library music used in these programs were fantastic! Shortly after I began composing dark ambient works, I was contacted by a film director who licensed tracks for a horror film. Another piece of good fortune popped up when I was contacted by a radio station that requested a copy of my music for airplay. How often does that happen? I was shocked and thrilled!

Years back, I contributed music to “Tomes of Terror,” a Post-Meridian Radio Players series produced by Neil Marsh. Neil and I are quite possibly the biggest fans of “Nightfall” that you can find. He is also a very talented musician. I would provide a link for listening, but I can’t locate anything online at this time. I will update the page if links turn up.

Fast forward quite a few years later where I found a great audio horror series called “Campfire Audio Theater” created by John Scott Ballentine. John is also a fan of the “Nightfall” series and mentions it as one of the inspirations for his series. You can read about the origins of the show here: http://campfireradiotheater.podbean.com/p/about/

John is also a fellow audio mixing maniac. He has a great talent for creating inspired audio drama. I have listened to an estimated 12-13 thousand audio plays in my lifetime, and in my opinion, Mr. Ballentine ranks right up there with some of the best writers/producers. Now you must be thinking after hearing such high praise…”Oh really? Well then, let’s hear what he has to offer!” Can do! The episode that inspired me to contact him about getting involved with the series is called “Twilight Road.” For fans of horror, I sincerely believe you will enjoy this story. Have a listen!
“Twilight Road”

After contacting John, I sent over a “promo reel” containing some of my work. This led to contributing original music to the last couple of episodes. The first is called “The Philadelphia Xperiment.” The program description reads “Confined to a mental ward in 1951 and awaiting his impending lobotomy, an enigmatic WW2 veteran known only as Patient X recalls an ill-fated experiment to render a U.S. warship invisible resulting in nightmarish side effects for the survivors as well as uncovering a mind-bending temporal terror.” You can hear it below.
“The Philadelphia Xperiment”

Next up is a twisted take on the tale of Jack the Ripper featuring some impressive vocal talent and yet another one of John’s great mixes. It was great fun scoring new music for this episode and a wonderful exercise in composition for me. To top it off, John has the ear of a musician and weaves the pieces together into a powerful audio collage that compliments the story quite well. You can hear both parts below.

“RIP” (part 1)


“RIP” (part 2)

If you enjoy what you have heard, you can “like” and follow Campfire Audio Theater on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Campfire-Radio-Theater/206353409376944

So, in closing, thanks to Neil and John and here is hoping I’ve filled your ears with fear and that you have a Happy Halloween!

p.s. Here is an audio outtake from “RIP” that is my interpretation of the song “A Violet From Mother’s Grave” which was allegedly sung by Mary Kelly on the night of her death.

 

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My Top 20 List of Film and Television Soundtracks From 1970-1980

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 My Top 20 Film & Television Soundtracks From 1970-1980

(with a focus on horror, science fiction, and fantasy)

On rare occasions, when I am not making music, I have time to listen. When I listen, it is generally to radio plays. I also enjoy listening to soundtracks. There were a lot of great films made in the 70’s and 80’s and, as you would expect, some great music was created to go along with them. Of course, there is no guarantee that a great film will have a great score. Sometimes you can find great music in a bad film.  Whatever the case, there are many excellent films out there to enjoy and just as many fascinating soundtracks and scores to listen to.

I have enjoyed horror films and the music contained therein since I was a kid. Speaking of my childhood…the first film I remember seeing (not at home) was “Escape To Witch Mountain” at a drive-in theater in 1975.  They also played Pink Panther cartoons that night. While none of the music from “Escape To Witch Mountain” stuck with me, the theme from the Pink Panther cartoons certainly did.  It wasn’t the beginning of my life-long love affair with film and television music though.  That happened when I heard the theme from “The Twilight Zone.” There was a lot of great music in “The Twilight Zone” created by incredibly talented artists like Nathan Van Cleave, Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner, and Bernard Hermann, just to name a few.

Twilight Zone ComposersIn my youth, I also enjoyed watching classic Universal and Hammer horror films, Godzilla movies, Three Stooges shorts, Marx Brothers films, and plenty of cartoons.  Speaking of cartoons, Carl Stalling, anyone? \m/ Since I’m digressing a bit, I should mention that there are some great pieces of music hidden away in thousands of radio plays. Not just CBS EZ Cue drops, either. Okay, back to film and television. Once the 70’s came around, synthesizers became more commonly used in film music. This is where my interest comes in.

The first time I heard synthesizers, I knew it was the future pouring into my ears. Hearing them used in film music was inspiring to me…no matter how cheesy or how low the film budget may have been, I couldn’t get enough of those futuristic sounds! Quite a few of my favorite tracks from film and TV have synths in them and most are from horror/science fiction/fantasy genres with a few exceptions. I will also confess I may have some sort of Mellotron fetish, but that can be addressed in another post.

On to the list!

20. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian – Brian Song by Michael Palin, André Jacquemin, David Howman, John Du Prez, and Sonia Jones (1979)

Lyrics by Michael Palin….and fine lyrics they are!

19. Exorcist II – Magic and Ecstasy by Ennio Morricone (1977)

Sure, the movie is…uh…not the best, but this track is rockin’! Speaking of, I like Exorcist III the best out of the three. Snakefinger did a great cover of this track on his “Chewing Hides The Sound” LP from ’78.

18. Andromeda Strain – Wildfire by Gil Mellé (1971)

Talk about futuristic sounds…lots of found sounds and atonal noise to put you on edge. The soundtrack was released on a hexagonal-shaped LP and can set you back $30-400! Perfect for fans of noise and difficult listening. You can see some photos of the LP on this blog.

17. Eraserhead – In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song) by David Lynch and Peter Ivers (1977)

Yes, it was THAT Peter Ivers. This song (and the film) is haunting, to say the least. I consider this track to be an incredibly powerful earworm. The rest of the soundtrack is worth listening to…in the dark.

16. Maniac – Maniac’s Theme (Main Titles) by Jay Chattaway (1980)

This is a beautiful and fiendish piece of music. I especially love the great melody and tasty fretless bass guitar work.

15. Suspiria – Suspiria by Goblin (1977)

Goblin is one of my favorite bands. Hell, I even own a Goblin t-shirt that glows in the dark! \m/ They were originally a prog-rock band when they were called in to replace the composer for “Profondo Rosso.”

14. Zombi 2 – Sequence 8 by Fabio Frizzi (1979)

Fabio Frizzi, another talented Italian composer on my list, has created seriously creepy music for Lucio Fulci films. Does it have synths? Oh yeah! Does it sound dated? Oh yeah! Is it good? OH YEAH!

13. Kolchak: The Night Stalker – Theme by Gil Mellé (1974)

I used to watch this show with my father and it scared the hell out of me. I still love it and the theme remains a favorite of all-time.

12. Fantastic Planet – Deshominisation (I) by Alain Goraguer (1973)

Having enjoyed cartoons since childhood (Warner Brothers, Tex Avery, Hanna Barbera, Filmation), I also love quite a few animated feature films.  This is one of the best from the 70’s in my opinion and the groovy soundtrack is quite enjoyable.

11. Phantasm – Intro and Main Title by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave (1979)

Do you like silver balls? Do you like silver balls that can fly? Do you like silver balls that can fly through the air, pierce your skull, and suck your blood out? Hell yeah! Don’t we all?!? This soundtrack has a strong scent of the 70’s, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s worth throwing on your over-sized headphones, kicking your bellbottom-covered legs up onto the speaker, and staring at your black light poster collection as you wig out to the freaky sounds created for this happenin’ film from 1979.

10. The Fog – Matthew Ghost Story by John Carpenter (1980)

John Carpenter is not only a great filmmaker, he is also a very talented musician who created some of the coolest soundtracks in the 70’s and 80’s.

09. A Clockwork Orange – Title Music by Wendy Carlos (1971)

This powerful title theme  (Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, Z. 860 by Henry Purcell) reinterpreted by Wendy Carlos still resonates with me after all these years. It’s hard not to visualize pieces of the film when you hear the music. Some may accuse electronic music of having no “soul” or depth or warmth, but I say Wendy Carlos proves that to be wrong.

08. Profondo Rosso – Profondo Rosso by Goblin (1975)

Goblin returns again! This was the track that sent them into the soundtrack stratosphere.  Claudio Simonetti blends a taste of classical music, prog-rock, and his own unique compositional styling into an incredibly memorable tune.

07. Nosferatu the Vampyre – On the Way by Popol Vuh (1979)

Florian Fricke, founder and mastermind behind Popol Vuh, worked on a handful of great Werner Herzog films. While originally interested in electronic music, he returned to acoustic music and composed some of the most majestic and beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. This particular track is fairly minimal and works quite well outside of the film.

06. Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) – Main Title by John Williams (1977)

What 70’s soundtrack list would be complete without something from John Williams? What else is there to say? Well, I can still remember quite a lot about seeing this in the theater when it came out. When the music started, everyone in the room new it was going to be something special.

05. Halloween – Halloween Theme by John Carpenter (1978)

Yes, it’s the Top Five! This is a legendary piece of horror film music. I recall John Carpenter saying that the origins of the piece came from his father teaching him an exercise in 5/4. If you are a horror film fan and you haven’t heard this theme, you may live under a rock.

04. Aguirre, the Wrath of God – Lacrime Di Re by Popol Vuh (1972)

This is an incredibly beautiful piece of music. I never grow tired of it. While I have only seen the film once and enjoyed it, this track stands by itself extremely well.

03. Doctor Who – Main Theme (originally by Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire) updated by Peter Howell (1980)

Doctor Who left quite an impression on me as a young teenager. Who can forget Tom Baker and his impressive hair, long scarf, and wicked grin? The original theme is my favorite version, but this list only covers ’70-’80 and I really like the Peter Howell version too!

02. Dawn Of The Dead – L’alba Dei Morti Viventi by Goblin (1978)

If you will recall, I mentioned Goblin being one of my favorite bands, so it should come as no surprise to see them appear in the Top Five! Great movie, great soundtrack, great film library music cues, too! This track has been very inspirational to me as a musician (as well as Goblin). It is also another example of film music that needs no film to be thoroughly enjoyed.

01. The Shining – Main Title “The Shining” by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind (1980)

Finally we arrive at my #1 pick for the best film/TV soundtrack. The film itself is also at the top of my list of favorite movies. Symphonie Fantastique: Dies Irae connection? Sure! Dig those crazy tubas, man! But…this is so much better to me. I find it almost impossible to hear this theme and not picture the car driving through the mountains at the beginning of the film. I love all of the music used in the film. Krzysztof Penderecki, György Ligeti, Béla Bartók, Henry Hall and the Gleneagles Hotel Band, Al Bowlly & Ray Noble Orchestra, Jack Hylton And His Orchestra. It is an unforgettable piece of music and will probably remain at the top of my list for the rest of my life.

There you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and perhaps discovered something new. Feel free to leave a comment with your own top 20!

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