Composer Michael Brook Sets Tone in Disparate Movies ‘About Ray,’ ‘Brooklyn’

While upcoming independent releases “Brooklyn” and “About Ray” present dissimilar emotional experiences for their characters, composer Michael Brook found ways to make both
films resonate.

“They were both projects I felt confident I could contribute to,” Brook says.

Working off beats defined by “Brooklyn” director John Crowley, the composer chose strings for the score’s backbone, with a cello highlighting the lead.

Music also ushers the audience between the film’s two key locales: New York and Ireland. Mandolin and piano weave through segs set on the Emerald Isle, while Gotham scenes are enhanced with an upright bass and clarinet.

“There are no horns or percussion,” Brook notes. “The clarinet adds a Gershwin element that always feels like New York to me.”

For transgender story “About Ray,” Brook felt the actors’ raw performances would be best supported by stark instrumentation. He toyed with jazz rhythms, then turned to a synthesizer. While the electronic instrument isn’t typically associated with intense emotional scenes, Brook found its sound quality, laced with base guitar, drums and piano, fleshed out the film’s tone.

“I was inspired by experimenting,” Brook says. “You always start with ideas. Some survive, some don’t.”

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