Hirushan Maddumaarachchi

The concept of trailer music is characterized by its ability to present elements of films while preserving its larger story; a trailer is the blurb before a good novel, it is the menu before good food and the trailer music is at the crux of this story. As the crescendo builds and its pace increases, the music is often a vital component of any film or trailer in setting the tone, changing the mood, conveying the emotional theme of the story’s plot. Hirushan Maddumaarachchi was first introduced to cinematic music through films and video games. He proceeded to learn the intricacies that carried the setting and ambiance of the film in order to create them himself in attempt to share unto an audience the scintillating experience of learning the story of a film through its trailer.

From the East Asian cultural landscapes that filmed Mulan to the Southeast Asian inspired Kumandra in Raya and the Last Dragon, or the imaginative universe of Marvel and Disney, Hirushan Maddumaarachchi expertly includes tenors and beats that are inherent to the cultures that the films represent. His field of expertise allows him to study the musical significances that are emblematic to the nation or the franchise. The concept of trailer music may be vastly distinct to that of film scores, from its indicative nature to its marketing ability. What is the difference between trailer music and film scores? How does Hirushan Maddumaarachchi compose music for movies with cultural significance? In our conversation with the artist and composer, talk about his journey and work.

Q | What inspired your journey in the field of trailer music and how did it begin?

A | I was inspired by a video game to follow this career path. I was never into music in the conventional sense; film and video game music was part of my day-to-day. I was inspired by some of the music done for a game called ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and at that point I realized this was something I would like to be able to do. The initial idea was to go into film music but given where we come from, to me it felt like the idea was in the realms of impossible. I came across this field of composition called trailer music and later on, after spending years and years fine-tuning my skills and figuring out how to compose, I also stumbled upon people who were doing the same and learned the field and what would be required to become a trailer composer and followed through that. And then I left my job in 2016 and by the end of 2017 I started working with a publisher in the USA which specializes in music for films and video games. Since then I’ve been working with for almost four years now and it’s been a good four years. Throughout the years, given the fact that we work with films, I’ve been influenced by their music and music composed by the greats like Harry Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer, and John Williams.

Q | In your opinion, what would you say is the difference between trailer music and film scores?

A | Trailer music is never used in film scores, they’re pretty much a short form of film scores where you try to tell a story within upto three minutes. In trailer music, you don’t necessarily get to create the theme or set the theme for the movie. It’s very different from film scoring in that sense but the type of music you have to compose is similar in the sense that it has to be cinematic. I would say the difference between trailer music and film music is that film music is much more based off of what the movie is, whilst trailer music is more to entice the viewer through creative composition.

Q | As a trailer music composer, how do you include the cultural nuances and other significant aspects of the film in the teaser?

A | I think it comes from the fact that we, as composers work actively as we follow movies and video games. So whenever we’re asked for a specific thematic material, we know where it needs to go in terms of what the feeling has to be, and how it needs to sound. In a way, that’s also where the inspiration comes from. As composers, what we tend to do is, we look ahead maybe like a year or two, at what kind of movies are coming up based on what we get from our publishers to work on. The idea of creating music is having to create something that not only sounds good, but it has to work for everything, which is the hard part. If it's a film with an East Asian cultural theme, we study the music, study what instruments are used and then we sort of arrange around them. When it comes to composing music specific to cultures and genre-specific themes, we spend time studying that type of cultural music; what the instruments are, how the percussion would work. How would you change your strings brass and everything else? How did you being a certain section and then leave something elements of it? So you kind of go through a process of listening to a lot of traditional music.

Hirushan Maddumaarachchi composes trailer music for the big screen, from working with renowned establishments like Disney and Sony, the composer draws inspiration from video game and film scores as well as geniuses like Hans Zimmer. The artist currently holds an impressive portfolio, having composed trailer music for Hollywood movies ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’, ‘Bumblebee’, ‘Captain Marvel’, ‘Hobbs & Shaw’, ‘Disney’s Mulan’ and more recently, ‘Uncharted’ and ‘Red Notice’ as well as promotional campaigns for video games including ‘New World’ and ‘Immortals Fenyx Rising’. Hirushan currently works as a composer for Colossal Trailer Music, Hybrid Core Music + Sound, Frontier Trailer Music and Revolt Production Music.

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4th January, 2022 Performance Art