Fan Composes Unofficial Music Soundtrack

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Sam Cushion, composer.
Contributed by Sam Cushion.

Sam Cushion is not John Williams. He’s not responsible for composing a music soundtrack for any big budget movie. He hasn’t won any awards. However, his name is known all over “The Hunger Games”  fan sites because he created an unofficial fan-made soundtrack for the popular books series.

After reading the first book in 2009, Cushion wrote “Rue’s Lullaby” under the name of District Tribute. The song is dedicated to one of the tributes who competes in the Hunger Games. When he finished writing this piece, which now utilizes a full orchestra, he didn’t intend to do more.

However, throughout 2010, he wrote 26 more songs for a Hunger Games-inspired album called “The Hunger Games (Unofficial Score).” Now, Cushion said as his long-term goal, he wants to “keep being able to make music for awesome books and people as long as I can.”

Cushion unveiled his second album “Catching Fire (Unofficial Score),” based off the second book of the series, in May 2011. However, Lions Gate Entertainment, the studio that released “The Hunger Games” movie, asked him to change the names of his title in 2011, which led to the birth of “Music of Panem.”

Recently, he released a deluxe edition album on iTunes, which combined all three of his original albums.

Cushion finds inspiration in composers E.S. Posthumous, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, and some of Cushion’s songs are reminiscent of their styles. Also, as he composes his pieces, he takes away parts from punk bands like blink-182 and Sum 41.

To get word out about his albums, Cushion visited fan sites of the book series and spread word by mouth.

One commenter said about his first “Music of Panem” album: “I love this soundtrack! It’s absolutely wonderful! [E]specially Rue’s Lullaby! Will they be using anything in the movie?”

Cushion replied, “Thank you! It will not be in the movie. I am just a fan who makes music about books I like.”

To write music inspired by books, he jots down specific scenes or characters that stand out to him while he reads. Cushion said, “I wish it was this big elaborate process, but it is just a matter of figuring out how to tell a story without words.”

When asked whether or not he intends to break into the music industry for films, Cushion said, “As far as the movie side of the industry, it just scares me.” He calls some of the people in the industry “cut throat.”

Overall, the movie pleased Cushion. He said: “I think it was done brilliantly! Everything from the camera work to the music was executed perfectly for me. There are of course things left out that were in the book, but there were also some new elements and scenes added that helped tell the story in a way that the book couldn’t do. I wasn’t disappointed at all.”

One of his current projects deals with “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Ransom Riggs, the author of the picture book series, had reached out to Cushion and complimented his music soundtrack for the books.

After releasing his “Hunger Games” albums, Cushion is now writing a soundtrack to Cassandra Clare’s young adult book “City of Bones.”

In a project not related to books, Cushion has also created “Life is Beautiful,” which seeks to remind people about how easy, but how wrong, it is to “forget the simple and beautiful things in life.”

Check out some of his music below and also follow his twitter (@sam_cushion):

Music of Panem: Beginning of a Rebellion Part 1
From unofficialtribute, Sam Cushion’s YouTube channel

Rue’s Lulluby
From unofficialtribute, Sam Cushion’s YouTube channel

Article published in The Mirror on March 28, 2012

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