I’m Your Canvas

Benjamin Weigand, filmmaker
Troy Yilmaz, composer

List of Music Cues:

My original starting point was to set the structure of the music, with piano only and no beat. And those were the initial sketches I sent to Ben. I first came up with a “main theme” and then model and format everything based on the main theme.

 Main Theme

My initial idea was to make the piano the leading sound in the mix sit on top of the layered synth chords. Ben favored more dominant synth sound in the mix. So once we established that I moved on to the other cues.

I wouldn’t say I came up with traditional cues for Ben’s film because Ben’s film is not traditional, it has an avantgarde approach, even unsynchronized dialogues. It’s a film about getting tattoos and not even thinking about their permeance. Instead, my idea was to come up with motifs per each character/tattoo artist. The motifs are my impressions and my inspirations, based on what each character looks like, acts like, tone of voice and overall demeanor.

 Ava Motif

Platinum blonde. She is the first character to be featured in the film. She has an overall leveled demeanor. So I wanted the motif to reflect that. It is similar to the main theme, doesn’t veer too much from the main theme’s mood with more.

 Buddy Motif

The only male character whose face we see in the film. He is more cheerful and readily smiling. He talks often and seems to get philosophical about tattoos. So I wanted the motif to reflect that, more angular melody that uses two octaves. It’s the only motif with 6/8 time signature and a faster tempo, and the only one with a weird synth lead that employs pitch bend notes.

 Chloe Motif

Cheerful girl. Laughs a lot. Talks a lot. Tells funny stories. I wanted the music to reflect that, but not necessarily cheerful or funny, instead with a pleasant harmony and an underlying weird deep drone.

 McCayla Motif

To me she seemed like the quiet brunette girl. So the motif I came up ended up being the slowest and the longest motif, played with deeper and quieter piano. Underlined with multilayered mellow synth chords with no sustain pedal used and I loved that effect. There are some high note synth pads that come and go and mimic the piano melody.

All the motifs’ orchestration were based on piano, bass (fingerstyle electric) and high hat. I also wanted the music to be somewhat ambiguous and even interchangeable between the characters depending on how the director felt.


This is an interview about the Rwandan Genocide. The interviewee is soft-spoken, there’s not much else is heard except him speaking. So I wanted the music to be soft at least in the beginning, but in a somber tone.

I started with a D minor piano arpeggio, with notes descending. I repeated that for the duration of the film with no variation. That was the foundation for the music. Then I added an Kalimba. To me this is the sound of Africa, I think everybody associates the sound with Africa. It also plays a similar arpeggio in D minor but I wanted to use it almost as a percussion rather than melody or harmony. As most African music is richly rhythmic. For the section where we see the massacred children corpses, I wanted something heart-wrenching. The last touch was the violins on top of this looped D minor repetition. I wanted that sliding, gliding notes, with a sad, distressing, blood-curling effect. I played any notes, anything really… As long as they were within the D minor. Then I used pitch-bend to distort the notes. I thought it added to the distraught. The pitch bend effect, I thought, emulated different things, and it’s somewhat ambiguous… Cries of a grieving mother, the shock, the horror, distress calls and even cries of a hurt blue whale.

18+ only.