Nightride was written as an assignment for the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s (AFTRS) 1998 Screen Composition Course with Jan Preston. We were given a short film, stripped of its original score, and asked to write whatever music we wanted to for it.

Nightride, directed by Martin Murphy, is a short horror film about a serial killer on a night bus. None of us had seen it with the original score (which won its composer, Carlo Giacco, Best Achievement in Musical Score at the Exposure International Short Film Festival in Brisbane in 1997) and it was fascinating to see the very different approaches all the composers came up with for the same visual material – and all of them different again from the original score when we finally heard it.

My version ended up being heavily influenced by having to work around technical issues. The soundcard in my computer at the time turned out to have neither chorus nor reverb effects available so I chose my sounds largely on the basis of which ones had a kind of inbuilt reverb – harp, piano sounds at the very bottom of the range, I think there’s some brass sounds used outside of the actual range possible on a physical instrument too. I also decided that I didn’t just want to compose to the obvious emotions going on, but wanted to highlight some of the nastier aspects of the film and use contrast to increase the tension. One of the delicate solo harp passages underscores a visual of blood running down the bus’s steps.

Jan Preston described my Nightride score as ‘containing flashes of brilliance’.

You can see the original film of Nightride (with Carlo Giacco’s score) online at Google Videos


Saturday was one of my first film scores. It was written in a day for a ‘live’ animation being created in Newcastle by animator Leo Martyn.

The film was a comic look at routine and how people fall into daily patterns that are hard to break. I wanted the music to be cyclical to reflect these patterns, so the work is structured around a sequence of bars: 1 – 1,2 – 1,2,3 – 1,2,3,4 etc. up to 12. The abrupt change in pace towards the end of this extract was dictated by the pacing of the film.

I later arranged Saturday for double string quartet as twelve, and it was chosen for a CD project of works for string ensembles by young composers.

The Saturday score is entirely MIDI-generated, using marimba, vibraphone, piano and string sounds


My first film score, Toybox was written for a student documentary being made at Macquarie University in Sydney. The film was focused on people’s reminiscences of toys they’d had when they were children and the score used MIDI sounds such as music box, harp and kalimba.

Toybox won 3rd prize in the Documentary section of the National Student Film & Video Awards and was screened at Sydney’s Valhalla Cinema.

haiku I

haiku I started life as a student exercise for Peter Sculthorpe’s Composition Workshop at Sydney Uni. Given 10 minutes to come up with a short work drawing inspiration from haiku poetry, I composed a short piano piece using the pentatonic scale and drawing its musical structure from the poetical structure of haiku – 3 lines (sections) of seven, nine and seven syllables (bars) respectively.

Originally written for ‘normal’ piano, haiku I was reworked for prepared piano* in 1998 and recorded (rather erratically…) by the composer as a score for Simone O’Callaghan’s web film Fetisssh (no longer online).

* The piano is prepared by attaching metal paperclips to some of the strings of the piano