BSCkids recently got to chat with composer Heitor Pereira, who just scored THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE. The animated features is based on the best-selling iOS game of all time and Pereira went to interesting lengths to create the score for the film.
Pereira is an avid environmentalist and bird watcher who used his love and knowledge to compose the music for The Angry Birds Movie. The talented composer incorporates a large orchestra and choir, then uses recordings of bird wings flapping, feathers ruffling, woodpecker beaks pecking on a tree, and bird songs, to create original drumsets for each bird. He also created different and unique themes for each main character in the film. (The composer is also releasing educational videos (for kids) based on his bird knowledge – one of which is premiering on Rovio’s site.)
He spoke with us about his process and the movie which you can read below:
BSCkids: Heitor Pereira
How did your environmentalism and bird watching influence the creation of the score for “The Angry Birds Movie?”
My love for birds and nature definitely made the journey of writing the music for these characters a lot of fun. I listen to nature and I hear music and somehow I listen to music and I hear nature in it too. In the end it’s all related. I wonder if some of the melodies that come to me when I’m thinking of music might be melodies that I’ve heard from bird songs all my life… that’s totally possible! What a great way of being reminded of the beautiful living world of birds on our planet as you watch such fun and full-of-character animated ones from our movie, the Angry Birds. If you can make the connection and bring more awareness to the real ones, why not! The Angry Birds live in a perfect environment until the ‘polluters’, the Pigs, come and spoil their island, so similarly, we need to work together to keep the environment of our real birds as healthy as possible. Red was even appointed Honorary Ambassador for Green by the UN Secretary General! If he can speak out to defend our environment – so can we!
Tell us a little bit about your process of creating the different tracks used in the movie.
I’ve used a lot of bird sounds to create rhythms and even little melodic hooks. I used woodpeckers as cowbells, the ruffle of feathers as a shaker, and so on… After I’ve laid some ground with this very natural material, I start writing melodies that later on became full-on orchestral pieces.
How long does it take to create each track?
It varies: sometimes it may take 10 minutes and sometimes it takes a couple of days. If it’s a piece of music that requires very small orchestration, it can go very fast. But if we need to work to create a fully-orchestrated 4-5min long piece, then it will definitely take much longer. And then, you come back after awhile to listen back, and you say, “do I like this? Is this the best I can do? Is this really helping the movie?” If it is, I move on, but if I have a slight doubt, most likely I will start all over again.
How can you tell the difference between the different bird sounds, calls, songs, etc?
There are great apps nowadays out there that teach you the bird calls so you can recognize who is singing. “iBird Pro” is one of them. Some more are: “The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America”, “CornellLab Bird Q&A” and many, many more. Many of them also have quizzes to test your knowledge, which makes learning a lot of fun. Enjoy!
Do you have a favorite bird call and were you able to incorporate it in to the score of the movie?
My favorite bird is the Mockingbird. And I believe we may have taken little bits of recordings that I’ve made through the years and incorporated them into the score. But sometimes we applied filters to these bird calls, we distorted them, pitched them up and way down… so one may not recognize that a particular sound actually comes from a bird call. But, for me, I feel that it breeds familiarity, it’s a bird that I love as I said, and to have a little bit of it in a movie I love, it’s a good match.
Can you tell us a little bit about the educational videos you have released about birds for kids?
These videos contain some little bird facts that make up general knowledge of birds and then we added a little joke in the end because they always related to one of our angry birds from the Movie. To me, what is important is that we get a little bit of information about these amazing creatures and hopefully in a fun and joyful way.
Were you a fan of the Angry Birds game before scoring the movie?
I had played the game a couple of times, my kids played it a lot and I think my mother played a lot too! I was always aware of how popular it has been from the start.
If so, what do you think draws people and kids to the game?
The fact that it’s somehow in a sense, not violent even though it’s called “Angry Birds” and it was an original idea when it came out. Birds against Pigs – who would have thought?
Do you think the movie will keep the tone of the game so that fans of the game franchise will love it?
For those who already played the game, I believe that the movie will deepen their love for it and for those who have never played the game and are being introduced to these characters for the first time, I feel that they will at least try the game after seeing the film. The reason being is that Red, Chuck, Bomb, Matilda, Mighty Eagle and even the pigs are so likeable, their journey makes for such a beautiful story filled with emotion and at the same time lots of action, that I believe that this will be a movie that will become a classic. It has great jokes, the animation is beautiful and I hope you like the music too! So it’s a win-win situation.