Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin in a house together in nice part of France. Lots of painting. Lots of arguments. Vincent turns out to be a bit of a nutter. Gauguin can't hack it. They die penniless but make some of the greatest art the world has ever known. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
A great deal of this score was spent trying to emphasize the differences between the two painters, both in their work and in their personalities. I wanted to get across the chaotic intensity of Van Gogh as well as the calm order of Gauguin. I wanted to try and record the whole score purely with live instruments, writing predominantly for harp, violin, cello, clarinet and saxophone. I ended up using a lot of ukulele on the score too as it complimented the harp very well. In a number of scenes Chris, the director, wanted me to really exaggerate what was happening with the artists, the way they painted and the methods they used. I found that the harp, coupled with the ukulele, could really give a musical language to the artist's brushstrokes and personalities.
In early cuts we tried some quite experimental scoring involving filtered bass drums, almost vaguely rave-like, which worked very well in getting across the intensity and power of Vincent. However by the time we had locked the final film I felt it was best to use these sparingly as they sounded too stylistic and not as in keeping with the rest of the music. The drums are, however, still buried within a number of cues in the film. I got a great amount of creative freedom from Chris on this project and I think we were both very pleased with how the music turned out. Hurrah!