Composer changes film meaning with music

Ingrid Rodriguez
Staff Writer

Ivan Capillas, composer of music for films and visual media, traveled from Spain to Hollywood and finally to the University of La Verne to talk about his work on Nov. 19 in the Campus Center.

Capillas composed feature films, documentaries, animation short films, commercials, short films and a Spanish video game called “The Abbey.”

He has been nominated for his original scores 12 times and has received five awards.

The most recent award was in 2011 and was the Award of Excellence for Original Score in the Best Shorts Awards in California.

Capillas presented the importance of the musical script in films to more than 30 students and faculty.

“It’s not the same to compose a symphony than it is to compose for media,” Capillas said.

When silent films were popular, the music was not important to the audience.

Capillas said that everyone in the world is able to understand music because of the feelings and sentiments that it brings up.

“We must realize that music is a language,” Capillas said.

For example, when watching a film, people will expect something bad is going to happen if there is suspenseful music playing in the background.

Capillas said music must be properly placed in a film in order for the audience to understand what is going on.

It is the message that we want to communicate.

“Music must help, not bother,” Capillas said. “It’s very important to find where to put music.”

Capillas showed a commercial about the 2012 presidential election, which he was asked to compose a score for.

The music was very powerful and it made the message seem like a conflict.

He then showed the commercial again, but this time with different music.

The music was softer, conveying an easier message for the commercial.

“This music is changing the message of the final product,” Capillas said.

Capillas also showed a film with music that caused the audience to believe it was going to be a horror story when in reality it was meant to be a heartbreak story.

He said the director of the movie asked him to create a new score for the movie in three weeks.

Capillas created different themes for the film depending on what was happening.

On the second version of the film, the music was sadder instead of its original sound of suspense.

“You can feel what the movie isn’t showing but what music is making you hear,” Capillas said.

Gabriela Capraroiu, associate professor of Spanish, said she likes short films but did not know anything about them.

“I thought (the film) was very subtle,” Capraroiu said.

This was also new to Ernie Reyes, junior music major.

“It was rad getting to see the difference, and then hearing something a little more sophisticated was really cool,” Reyes said.

Capillas just finished composing a Cantata with an orchestra and is one of two candidates in the running of creating a score for a blockbuster film in the United States.

“I will return here if everything is OK,” Capillas said.

Ingrid Rodriguez can be reached at

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