Q2 2023

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By Michael Brake I f o u n d m y d a d 's r e c o r d p l a y - er and headphones when I was four years old, and the first al- b u m I e v e r f e l l i n l o v e w i t h w a s D u k e E l l i n g t o n 's a r r a n g e m e n t s of selections from classical com- poser Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suites." Sitting on the floor in our house in New Bern, North Carolina, I was utterly transported through a beautif ul emotional journey — swinging, bouncing, absolute jollity. I was hooked. To this day, that album brings back some of my most joyous childhood memories. That same summer of 1977, "Star Wars" hit the theaters. That f irst moment when the music softens and a spaceship flies into frame: Wow! Laser fire! Music builds! That second ship is MASSIVE! And so is the music! I don't know anyone who saw "Star Wars" in theaters who wasn't cap- tured by the images and music. I spent many of my childhood summers on my grandparents' egg fa r m . M y g ra n d m o t h e r, No r m a , wa s a soprano and would play piano and sing for the grandkids. I loved every moment of it. I believe working on a farm taught me a work ethic that has continued to serve me throughout my life. On a farm, the work must be done, every day. Compact discs started coming out when I was in late middle school, and I started spending my after-school work money on CDs. I bought the "Koyaanisqatsi" score on CD on a high school trip to Washington, DC. Dropping that into my player when I got home was like Neo connecting to the Matrix. The intricacy and power brought up so many images and emotions. This music felt important to me. I listened to it almost daily for the last couple years of high school. There was other music I listened to, but nothing reached inside me and grabbed me like this. The film it was written for wasn't readily available in eastern North Caroli- na, but years later when I did see the film, I felt trapped by the images. I thought my im- agery was more personal and intimate. I think this is the moment I began thinking about how I would put music to picture. So of course, I went to college to be a lawyer. I loved Perry Mason novels and reruns of the TV show starring Raymond Burr and really thought it was what I wanted to be when I grew up. But during those pre-law years, I took a film history course that opened my eyes to the fact that LOTS of people make films and TV shows. I was still a rather naïve country kid who didn't really get that yet. Hollywood seemed far, far away. That same semester, I read an an- nouncement on my college radio show that North Carolina School of the Arts was opening a film school. I applied and got in for screenwriting, but I wasn't much of a screenwriter. I spent those years doing my assignments listening to albums in the university's music library ... [that] was my incu- bator where I discovered many of the composers I love to this day. I moved to New York in 1995. I spent those few years doing jobs I didn't love, but they afforded me the ability to see live music and buy a music library that expanded my mu- sical mind. The portable CD player, headphones and a backpack full of CDs were a must on the subway; walking was made so beautiful when Pharoah Sand- ers was playing "Astral Traveling" directly into my ears. After I moved to Los Angeles, I spent five years as an IT director and sound studio manager for a small multicultural ad agen- cy, and I started sound designing for some theater friends, adding sound and music to a visual medium, albeit a live one. Through those theater friends, I met Lesley Langs, a music editor. I had no clue what that was, but when she told me, I knew THAT was what I wanted to be when I grew up. She SIR DUKE A CHILDHOOD FASCINATION WITH MUSIC LED TO A POST-PRODUCTION CAREER SEE PAGE 57 26 C I N E M O N T A G E U N I O N M A D E Michael Brake with his wife, JJ.

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