Ting Si Hao

Music Composer for Film & Visual Media

Personal website of Film and Visual Media Composer Ting Si Hao

The Massive 110-player Orchestra from Bulgaria

Over the weekend (21-22nd May), I had an amazing time recording a cue with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (110 players) at the BNR Studio 1. I was the first person up for the session and it was really nerve-wrecking. I was hoping nothing would go terribly wrong and thankfully nothing did! The orchestra sounded really huge and due to the great suggestions Conrad had gave me earlier, the piece just soared and lifted. Big thanks to Derek Gleeson for doing an amazing job as the conductor, Debbie Smith for being an excellent engineer and Christo Parlov & Antonio Cafolla for assisting with the music supervision!

Before coming to Bulgaria, I had doubts about my piece because I felt it was too simple. However it all worked out for the best in the end.

*Check out the Video page for a full video of the orchestra playing this piece*

Two Weeks with Conrad Pope

The past two weeks with Composer/Orchestrator Conrad Pope has been absolutely amazing. Conrad is an extremely experienced musician who has worked on more than a 100 feature films and has worked with composers like John Willliams, Alexandre Desplat, Howard Shore just to name a few. His score for "My Week with Marilyn" is absolutely fabulous if you haven't checked that one yet.

Over the two weeks, it was illuminating to hear Conrad's ideas on what orchestration and music was. The big take away was to write simple and always make space (sonically) for what needs to be heard (often one thematic idea/counter-melodic idea). Orchestration in its essence is writing the appropriate accompaniment and it is always important to think about three things before committing any note to paper - Emotion, Color & Execution/Balance.

We looked at scores from many films including but not limited to Harry Potter, E.T, Godzilla, Curious Case of Benjamin Button and pieces from the masters like Ravel. He also went through the sketches of our 110-piece cue for our upcoming Bulgaria recording session. We essentially got to see how he would orchestrate our cue if we had him as an orchestrator. The insights he shared were invaluable and it was a pity that we only had two weeks to learn from him! His generosity in his willingness to share was what made the two weeks such a memorable one. Wishing him all the best in his upcoming endeavours :)

Here is a photo of Conrad and me on our last day of class:



Conducting - Click or no click?

Over the past month, we had three different recording sessions where we had to conduct. Preparing us for this were rehearsal sessions with two pianists before the actual recording sessions with the different respective ensembles.

Free-time Recording - Redemption

For the first conducting session, we had to conduct a 12-piece ensemble - (Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, 1 Solo Violin, 3 Violas, 4 Cellos & 1 Bass) in free-time. This meant no click or visual aids. It was definitely one of the tougher sessions as after the initial tempo was set, it was difficult to get the players to follow your tempo. There were times I actually slowed down to follow the players (which is a big mistake!). This resulted in slower than desired tempi of my piece overall. However, it still worked great and the ensemble was fabulous!

Click Recording - Fatal Liaison (Lust & Caution Re-score)

The next session was recorded to click. This cue was for an actual film score that we had to write to a colleague's Timing Notes alone. After the recording, I actually found out that I had a scene from the movie "Lust & Caution"! It was definitely a very interesting exercise. The ensemble consisted of single winds (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe & Bassoon) and a chamber sized string ensemble (14 piece). I personally felt that this was the most successful session as the players followed the click and I only had to worry about communicating what I wanted expressed in the music!

Streamers Recordings - Incoming Debris (Gravity Re-score)

The last session we had to conduct on our own was utilising streamers as well as bars/counters. We were given a 28-piece string ensemble to record with. I had chosen to re-score a scene from the movie Gravity and had written an action-cue that needed to be quite constant in tempo. For most of this session, I was relying on visual counter for each beat and it worked out pretty well in the end. 


Having not conducted an ensemble in a studio situation before, it was initially slightly nerve wrecking. However as we got more familiar with the rehearsals and the protocols, conducting actually turned out to be really fun! That being said, I would still prefer to be supervising in the recording booth as sometimes it is hard to clearly hear every instrument whilst on the podium.

Listen to the recordings on my music page


Conducting at Willmill Lane