Christmas With A Capitol C

December 17, 2017




‘It’s interesting how fate brings people together, and how it can gently,
almost imperceptibly, help us make our dreams come true.
I had always wanted to write Christmas music. The holiday season has
produced some of the best tunes ever written, and it inspired the great
John Williams to write the absolutely magical melody for the Christmas
classic, “Somewhere in My Memory.”
Had it not been for another composer having to drop out of scoring the
internet series, The Interior, I may have never met director Helmut Schleppi.
Helmut trusts the people he works with. Soft-spoken, always encouraging,
with a twinkle in his eye. That was the creative environment that made my
music for Christmas with a Capital C possible. But as with every project,
there were challenges … good ones!
While thinking about the story my music needed to tell, I had an idea for a main
theme. Excitedly, I worked on a demo, asking my friend, composer Ciarán Hope,
to record a clarinet part for me (track #17 on this album). Helmut wasn’t a big
fan of the melody. The post-production schedule required that I work on some
other scenes which would not feature the main theme, while at the same time
cracking the thematic code that would be right for this movie. Tick-tock. In the
process, I had an epiphany: My initial theme was too repetitive and too long; the
first four notes get repeated several times, and the third and fourth note have the
same pitch. This story needed something much more distinct. How does one
go about finding that? As a general rule, a melody becomes more distinct the
more different pitches it includes and the more rhythmic variety it has. So, I
created piano sketches of five more themes with the objective to avoid the
repetition of any pitch, as much as possible. Helmut loved one of those
sketches. We had our main theme, and writing the rest of the music happened
fairly quickly. I am so thankful for having gone through that process as it really
improved the score overall.’ This is a well written passage written by the composer I chose to include in the review.

When I was approached by the producer to review the material I thought… another xmas release of xmas songs with hokey arrangements. Was I ever surprised! It was a soundtrack release and it was filled with all sorts of melodies, themes, and styles. “Journey to Trapper Falls,” is a beautiful main theme introduced on the harp and then nicely carried by the piano. The flute is given a small chance in the second track “Rivals.” “My Country” is a twangy piece with loud guitar, harmonica, Jews harp but at the end there is a hint to the return of the main theme. It is a theme to be repeated often.Two choral tracks which were alternate cues and didn’t appear in the film are beautiful works which are definite winners. I somewhat understand the new system, just don’t agree with it. Bland in my book is bad.

Overall I like the new CD. and recommend it as a year long listening experience for you to enjoy. The material is varied enough to hold your interest and that theme is certainly ear catching. Available on the site for $14.95.





Sound clips are available at the website

As a reviewer many different kinds of CD material pass by my desk and it is impossible for me to review all of them thus the selection process. I’m involved with big band, marching band, classical, golden age as well as modern soundtrack material. It was the beginning of this score that got my attention.


Riparetti has 48 film credits and there are two more on the horizon. The multi talented composer has been involved in the music world since the 60’s and brings an interesting approach to the films he works with. He has recently opened a record studio where he offers other services to the industry.


As I listened to the “Intro” track to the film Cool Air (2006) the urge to get out my short stories of H.P. Lovecraft and have a read of one of the best story writers of horror material. The beginning is filled with storms, creaking doors, bats, and a perfect sound bite to play on trick or treat night! This film, made for video, was directed by Albert Pyun who has worked with Riparetti on several projects with more on the horizon. Pyun, will be best remembered for  Sword and the Sorcerer (1982).  Cool Air tells the story of a struggling young writer who moves into an ancient mansion to write his great American screenplay. The other residents include a strange doctor, a somewhat eccentric lodger, and the autistic daughter of the landlady. This is the setting for the story. Having a heart attack sets off a chain of events that will keep your attention till the exciting climax of the film told as only HP Lovecraft can write a story.


While you might think that classical guitar solos mixed with sound effects and controlled chaotic noise consisting of science fiction noises, dissonant percussion, and wordless choir would make no sense it does come across very well in the film. While there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the music, I’m sure there is and it does keep you on the edge of your seat as you wonder what is going to come next.


Invasion (2007), a novel by Robin Cook who is another favorite author of mine, was adapted to film and features another score by Riparetti, this one guitar based with pulsating percussion to build the tension.


Overall the soundtrack is going to appeal to the people who like these types of lower budget films. I’m glad I listened to it and will look forward to more releases.





If you wish to read the story it is available on line for free along with other stories.



How many films have been made about the Conan A. Doyle characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson? Well over 200 and continuing to grow as this review is being written. This film comes from Hungary and deals with two youngsters who pretend to be Holmes and Watson and solve the mystery of disappearing children who act strangely when they come back, like “Children of the Damned” only the parents don’t notice the changes only the kids. It is a fun time for all ages.


My first experience with composer Robert Gulya was with his score to “Atom Nine Adventures” a Bruce Broughton type action/fantasy score. For those who are interested, Gulya has a website with quite a few clips to introduce you to his style of music.



Gulya nicely captures the essence of Holmes in “Main Title,” with a catchy melody featuring a delicious violin solo by Gergely Kuklis, concertmaster of the Hungarian National Symphonic Orchestra. The recording and mixing of the samples truly gives the feeling that it was recorded with an orchestra. This theme you’ll hear all or part of throughout the soundtrack and would be a welcome addition to a compilation CD. I’m including this track as an audio clip so you can get the feel for the CD. in the name of sherlock holmes The opening track “Goldi” introduces a melody with clever use of the bassoon and percussion. Along with the strings repeating the “Main Title” in “120 Doorsteps” there is also use of the bassoon again. “Kettesben jo,” performed by Fool Moon” seems out of place as it’s a pop song sung in Hungarian and I’m sure it’s enjoyed by the younger set. “It’s A Bad Dream” is a bit on the creepy side with dissonant brass and chorus. Featured are the lower register strings as they suddenly break out into that catchy “Main Title.” “Someone’s Coming” is yet another melody with a Thomas Newman sound to it.


Well recorded and mixed samples help to take away that synthy sound you so often hear in lower budgets scores. It is a limited of only 500 units so it is better to act sooner than later as it will sell out. Gulya musically has something to say on this soundtrack and that is not afraid to use melodies. Yes there is some landscape music but overall the soundtrack is filled with melodies as well as offering a variety of styles.



Track listing


Goldi (01:24)


Main Title (02:45)


120 Doorsteps (01:07)


Disappeared (01:41)


Mr. Rabbit (01:05)


Location of the Last Disappearance (00:51)


Elaine (01:11)


Someone’s Coming (01:19)


Managed to Cancel (01:32)


In the School (01:48)


Not in Our Street (01:08)


The Circus Ticket (01:07)


Old Man (01:05)


Broken Dreams (02:21)


Get Out of Here (01:07)


Grass and Carrot (00:50)


On the Roof (01:41)


I Don’t Like This Story (04:10)


Augusto’s Flat (03:59)


Chase (02:15)


Tunnel (03:02)


Fireflies (01:06)


It’s a Bad Dream (05:40)


Tower (00:34)


Somnius (01:28)


This is Elaine (01:02)


Vicus (04:16)


Augusto’s Dream (03:08)


Didn’t Forget Me (00:55)


The End (00:31)


Kettesben jó (03:09)
performed by Fool Moon

Total Duration: 00:59:17

Before I begin the review I would like to introduce Howlin Wolf Records to my ever growing list of companies that have partnered with Film Music: The Neglected Art. I as a reviewer am anxious to explore their material and if this release is an indication of what to expect I am already looking forward to their next release.


While listening to the CD for the very first time, I read the liner notes authored by Gergely Hubai, who just published a book Torn Music that deals with the subject of rejected film scores and discovered that composer Penka Kouneva had a doctorate in composition from Duke University along with an impressive list of credits in composing and orchestrating over the last thirteen years. My first impression of the recording was here is yet another game sounding score minus the game with slightly less bombastic moments and a hint of a woman’s touch giving the quieter moments a nice feel. However, repeated listens produced a growing fondness for the entire work and I could begin to feel and experience at least on a small level  the style of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a work that Penka admired and patterned her tone poem after.


The prelude to the work is Waiting for Dawn to Break with its eerie sounding tick tock percussion and unusual sound from the strings. The piano enters creating a new layer of sound repeating the prelude theme with the tick tock still evident in the background. The prelude takes a turn to the dissonant with pounding pulsating percussion with harmony being supplied by the strings and brass. The first section tells the story of The Battle Begins with the attack “Storming the City,” a melding of synthesized and orchestra with the ever present percussion dictating the tempo. It becomes solemn in “Mission Fail 1” with the return of the tick tock layered with a sad cello solo. “A Soldier’s Odyssey is in two parts: the first offering a time of reflection offered by the quartet with harmony from the piano. It becomes heroic with horns and choir proclaiming a feeling of hope. Funeral is the key word o describe “A Soldier’s Odyssey” with a lonely trumpet in military style. “Sniper Attack” with staccato bars from the brass with harmony being offered by sliding trombones and backed by more pulsating percussion sets the stage for a dissonant track “Confrontation from a Lo-Fi Dimension.” The third section offers ethnic sound making use of Slavic folk tunes as well as percussion from frame drum, djembe, dumbek, taikos, and strings using tamboura, saz, and oud to complement the style of her heritage. The Battle Must Go On begins with a restating of the prelude theme before it begins a final series of contrasting styles. “Mission Fail 2 and Requiem” offers powerful bars from the piano before another somber funeral passage from the quartet making an ear opening contrast. “Broken Watch” is a return to the tick tock percussion and finale, “Airplane Bound for the Skies,” my favorite track is the perfect blend of orchestra and electronics. The brass section is center stage for the finale with an able assist from the pulsating percussion.


While I consider this material a 21st Century tone poem gamers will listen and envision a video game with victory and defeat. One should ponder what Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mussorgsky might have done if they were vaulted a 100 plus years in time. To have the electronics and mixing capabilities in today’s world would open a new door to them. Penka has given this work many hats and repeated listens will reveal layers and tone colors that are rich and fulfilling. I heartily recommend this one.

Track listing

1. Waiting for Dawn to Break (03:13)


2. Storming the City Heights (02:44)
3. Mission Fail 1 (01:57)
4. A Soldier’s Odyssey – Part 1: At a Soldier’s Grave / Part 2: Engaging the Enemy (05:09)
5. A Soldier’s Odyssey – Epilogue: Flowers at a Monument (01:12)
6. Sniper Attack (05:48)
7. Confrontation from a Lo-Fi Dimension (01:39)


8. Forgotten Steeples (01:12)
9. Chase Through Crete (01:43)
10. Between Eden and Distant Fields (01:53)
11. Minotaur Battle (03:48)


12. Fading Fortitude / The Battle Must Go On (04:04)
13. Farewell to the Pilot (02:25)
14. Pilot Bombardier and Dogfights (02:46)
15. The Wanderer (03:21)
16. Broken Watch (01:55)
17. Mission Fail 2 and Requiem (02:07)
18. Airplane Bound for the Skies (04:30)

Total Duration: 00:51:26


Howlin  Wolf Records number HWRCD012 (