The Unconventional Music of Antonio Ibrahine: How His Big Band Sound and Sound Design Elements Elevated “The Audience” to New Heights

Posted by Mike Schumacher

As our readers know, music composition is the art of creating music through the use of various elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It involves combining these elements in a way that evokes emotions, tells a story, or conveys a message. Music composition is a highly creative process that requires both technical skills and a deep understanding of music theory. It can be done for various purposes, such as for film, video games, theater, or purely for the enjoyment of the listener. 


Today, we will be exploring the world of music composition with renowned composer Antonio Ibrahine, whose career has spanned more than 10 years internationally. With a refined style, influenced by both classical and Brazilian music, he has worked on a myriad of productions, from film to games, theater, and video art. 


Antonio Ibrahine | Image credits to Kateryna Kurganska

In 2018, he scored the music for the independent movie The Audience, directed by Tasya Martin, which received four nominations at the Feel the Reel Film Festival, including Best Original Score for its music. The score featured an unusual combination of big band’s traditional style mixed with elements from Sound Design, showcasing Antonio’s unique musical talent and creativity.


It’s such a pleasure to be speaking with you today, Antonio. Can you describe your experience working on The Audience and your role as a composer for the movie?


The Audience is my favorite movie experience while living in Berlin, Germany. I was able to experiment so much and come up with something that both the director and I found unique.


How did you approach the task of combining big band’s traditional style with elements of sound design for the score of The Audience?


That was a great challenge for me since both styles are so contrasting to each other. The early Jazz influence came from a  “cabaret” ambience of the movie and from the movie’s audience characters. In the second part of the movie, we felt the sound design elements would be able to bring all the grittiness evoked by the main character when he shows up in the real world.


What was the biggest challenge you faced while composing the music for The Audience?


Because of the limited budget, we had to work twice as hard to achieve an impactful sound produced mainly “in the box.” That means, almost everything you hear in the score was programmed and not played by live musicians.


How did you ensure that the score supported the story and themes of the movie?


When you score a movie, it’s important for the music to highlight the main elements of the story. In the case of “The Audience,” there are two main elements that need special attention – the protagonist interacting with the audience and the protagonist in the real world. Each of them has its own theme, as well as its own style. However, the styles are not entirely contrasting since there are similarities between both parts of the movie.


Can you walk us through your creative process for composing the music for The Audience?


The Audience was one of the projects I was able to experiment with the most. I started brainstorming themes that were associated with the main concepts given by Tasya, and from there, we kept meeting and creating variations that would somehow lead us in the direction that we felt was going to resemble the best with the ambience and narrative of the movie. That’s why, very interestingly, we started with a more Balkan-based sound and ended up with a mix between classic big band and sound design.

Dj with mixer controller in night club


How did the director, Tasya Martin, influence your musical choices for The Audience?


Taysa was very important in determining musical choices for The Audience. It felt like traveling somewhere with a map that was given by her, but still with a lot of freedom of choice by my side.


What was the reaction of the audience to the musical score and how did it contribute to the overall success of the movie?

I think The Audience is the type of movie that doesn’t work without music. The characters are almost dancing, and the rhythm of the cuts induces us to feel an upbeat groove. So I believe part of the positive reception of the movie in the theater was because of the fabulous work done in the pre- and production stages. The other part was due to the music that made it shine even more! 


What did you learn from working on The Audience that you have applied to your other projects?


My compositional process tends to be very structured. I believe with The Audience, I started being more flexible in my approach or at least learning when to be more structured and when to relax and let it go as if the score was developing by itself.

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