Brian LaGuardia - Composer, Orchestrator, Arranger

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Requiem for a Bean

by Brian


Amidst a sea of woes from other composers and their experience scoring advertisements, I was admittedly hesitant to plunge myself into that aspect of music business. However, after having had my first taste of it a few months ago, I can honestly say it’s a great time! Working on advertisements has been likened to “whoring” yourself as an artist, while others simply look at it as an opportunity to put food on the table. My experience was neither: it was a creative endeavor every bit as fulfilling as the coolest film or video game. It’s all about the content, not the medium.

The advertisement I worked on was for a brand-new coffee company called Cartel de Cafe. They’re brand is a coffee lover’s dream: just good quality coffee, without the pretentious bullshit that so often accompanies coffee shop chains. Even their website is the epitome of simple elegance: you can buy a brick, or buy a coffee making kit. That’s about it.


But their real genius is their marketing campaign, which doesn’t fall into the all-too-common trap of being irritating. Instead, it is a parody of drug cartel movies. This does several things: it actually creates a narrative within the ad, which grabs your attention. It makes it not feel like an ad, because there is a serialized story. And finally, it makes it fun without it being completely stupid or ridiculous…in other words, there’s some wit and good taste behind it. It was also exceptionally well shot, and it’s clear that everyone involved (from director to producer to the actors) were really into the project. This is how all advertisements should be, honestly.

At any rate, I was asked to put together some South American percussion sounds, akin to my Takanakuy score only a little more subtle (to make room for the coffee prep sound effects). The result is a pretty cool synthesis of South American, Native American, Cuban and Jumanji-like percussion sound during the montage. Then finally, I was asked to develop a catchy, short hook. I did this with a Spanish Guitar, punctuated by a final percussion riff at the end. I encourage you to check out the ad and their website, even if you have no interest in buying their coffee, because it’s a shining example of how to do advertising correctly. And above all, it’s entertaining.

Cartel de Cafe from Zac Titus on Vimeo.

Piano Summer Intensive

by Brian

I’m beginning to realize that I love teaching. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present an introduction to Film Scoring to about twenty kids at the Piano Summer Intensive camp in Pasadena. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

group shot

I put together a presentation designed to engage them as much as possible. After a couple of scenes illustrated musical techniques in relation to drama, we had a theme game where the kids were challenged to identify a movie theme as quickly as possible. Then we walked through things like spotting and temp tracks, and many of them either picked up on this very quickly or were already intuitive about it! I must admit that I had underestimated these amazing kids! There was nothing more gratifying than to see them excitedly and critically answering my complex, subtle questions about drama and music theory.

We ended the whole thing with another challenge: two volunteers came up to the piano and scored a scene! I told them not to worry so much about the notes (it’s a horror scene after all; dissonance is encouraged), but instead to worry about where they were stopping and starting the music (spotting) and when to get louder and softer. I demonstrated before I had two come up, and all three of us had different interpretations, none less valid than the other. What better way to demonstrate the beauty of film scoring.


I can’t wait to find another opportunity to share this passion with more eager young minds. This was an incredible experience that filled me with hope for our future!