By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Soundwaves are reverberating around the globe from musical compositions created by one of Norman’s own.
Long-time Norman resident Geoffrey Burch’s career centers on composing musical scores for film and media, with results drawing rave reviews from clients and casual listeners alike.
“I have a specific way of orchestration that’s unique,” Burch said. “Also, it’s not enough for me knowing how to compose, production is important as well.”
The University of Oklahoma alumnus has the skills to do both. In this digital-driven world Burch has mastered blurring the line between acoustic music and purely electronic wizardry. This has allowed for a professional and organic sounding product that’s attractive to film, television, animation and video game makers.
Some of Burch’s music is goose-bump inducing, suggestive of warm and fuzzy feelings or eerily suspenseful, just like what you’d expect from a soundtrack at the cinema. In fact, Burch’s resume brags of over a half-dozen movie scores.
Burch is currently working on two film projects: “I’s,” a science fiction movie by Banshee Productions in Oakland, Cali., and “Hidden Hills,” a screwball romantic comedy created by Out of the Closet Productions.
The work process is collaborative with the film director being his boss.
“Typically I’ll receive a cue sheet with a description of what kind of music they’re looking for,” Burch said. “They will consult with me and are usually very receptive to my suggestions for making their ideas better.”
Telephone calls, emails and Skype conferences bring the finished product to fruition.
“One of the things I most enjoy are the curve balls thrown to me by directors,” Burch said. “It would probably never occur to me to sit down and write an orchestral piece in the style of a Doris Day and Rock Hudson movie but that’s what I’m doing now. It’s both challenging and superbly entertaining.”
While Burch enjoys developing scores for movies, music used in video games is currently a growth industry.
“Many people don’t realize this but video game music is often more acoustically recorded than movie music,” Burch said. “I gave a lecture on this as an undergraduate at OU in 2000 and was literally laughed at by my peers and professors.”
They told him that video game music was cheap, stupid and would never catch on. Later that year the first recording by an orchestra was included in Final Fantasy VII.
“Video games last a long time and they capture the imaginations of so many people,” Burch said. “One of my more interesting projects involved composing music whose scope changed depending on how the player played, making the musical experience different every single time.”
He has composed or co-composed the music for video games “Project 13” by OSOS, Sascha Galla’s “Meteor Mess 3D” and “Resonance.” Burch undoubtedly laughed all the way to the bank on those paydays.
To save time and stay under budget Burch personally plays most of the music he records whenever possible.
“When it comes to the instruments I’m kind of a jack of all trades and master of none,” he said. “But I have a lot of experience with piano and bassoon. I use a lot of bassoon because I have one and can play it competently.”
Anyone familiar with Burch’s work knows he’s being modest — his talent has been on display for years in Norman outfits Bridge Road Caravan, Wide Mouth, Tincture and Proprietors of the Earth. Last December, Burch completed a graduate degree in music composition from Bristol University in the U.K. There he worked closely with noted film and media composer Domenico Sigalas. Burch made other international connections there that have served him well.
“I have a friend in Italy and a few in England and we will record for one another on a moment’s notice,” he said. “If I need a solo violin part he won’t even charge me because he knows I’ll do a bassoon part for him.”
Burch will borrow instruments from friends but he has an impressive arsenal of his own including a 1980s analog synthesizer.
“It can really fatten the sound up,” he said.
For more on Burch and to hear samples of his work visit geoffreyburch.com.