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This year is proving to be a successful one for Alicia Morote M.M. ’16. The emerging composer is in the spotlight for scoring Bailando un Tesoro, a dance-inspired video game that celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Ballet Nacional de España, one of Spain’s most acclaimed dance companies.
Released in early October, the mobile game is an educational tool that familiarizes children with folkloric dances. Through levels ranging from beginner to advanced, players learn to master flamenco, bolero school, traditional, and stylized dances, with music playing a key role.
With this educational aim in mind, Morote composed a soundtrack that features musical references to Spanish composers like Manuel de Falla and Joaquín Rodrigo, allowing players to learn about their work as they progress through the game. In the beginner stages, the music is more simple and has fewer orchestral elements. As the levels increase, so too does the complexity and length of Morote’s compositions.
“One of the requirements was to create a magical atmosphere that evokes the positive side of learning ballet, a discipline often regarded as demanding, which is a perception the National Ballet wants to demystify with this game,” Morote says.
Watch the video game's promo video with music composed by Morote:
Learning by Doing
Morote, a graduate of the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program, landed the job after Lucio Godoy, the program’s director, recommended her for the role. The developers were looking for a Spanish composer who understood the music and dance featured in the game. Because she did not specialize in Spanish folklore, Morote had to listen to a lot of music to be able to imitate these genres.
“I learned a lot while creating the music, and although I was not so familiar with some of the genres, there are musical elements that we have naturally inherited from the Spanish culture that made the process a rich and intuitive one,” says Morote, who was born in Murcia, Spain. She also adopted a practical approach to familiarize herself with styles like flamenco by playing herself different rhythms with the cajón.
Morote traveled to Air Studios in London, UK, during the Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games graduate program's annual trip to a major recording studio to record students' final projects, as part of their culminating experience (CE).
The orchestration mixes virtual instruments with real ones like violin, cajón, and voice, and although it was her first experience composing the soundtrack for a video game, she felt like she was ready for the task. “Mixing virtual demos with real elements require a lot of detailing, but sequencing virtual music is something they taught us at Berklee Valencia. All the technology I have learned has become an essential part of all the projects I have been working on since I graduated,” Morote says.
The video game is a joint effort between Berklee Valencia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and New York University. Morote started composing the score for the game in August 2017 and she finished the project in January 2018. “I worked with the game developers who would tell me everything I needed to know to compose the soundtrack: the content of each screen, the aesthetics of the characters and settings, how the game works, and so on,” she says.
A Musical and an Award
Another recent achievement for Morote was collaborating with her sisters Blanca and Mercedes to direct the musical Rainroad, a love story set in England during the Industrial Revolution. “We had this musical in mind for a while, and some of the songs we composed and wrote years ago,” she says.
Rainroad grew from a family project to a sold-out show thanks to Morote’s work during her last semester at Berklee Valencia. “I had all the available tools at my disposal as well as the help of teachers and colleagues who guided me through the process,” she says. In a year and a half she orchestrated and arranged 28 songs, while her sisters took charge of the script and stage direction.
Watch the dress rehearsal of Rainroad, coauthored and codirected by Morote:
Musically, Rainroad combines orchestral, cinematic, and electronic sounds to create a sense of surprise in the audience. “The story happens in the 19th century, but it could be perfectly set in a futuristic environment. We drew inspiration from musicals like Hamilton to combine a palette and aesthetics that mix time periods unashamedly,” she says.
Between its actors, directors, and technicians, Rainroad is an 80-person team. The musical has been performed three times at the Teatro Romea in Murcia, and once at the Teatro Villa de Molina in Molina de Segura. And while each performance has sold out, Morote says it’s not easy to tour the rest of the country, as there is little tradition of homemade musicals in Spain.
“People from Murcia still write to us asking when we will be performing again, and where they can listen to the songs,” she says. “It would be incredible to perform in Valencia, a place where culture is highly valued, and which, thanks to Berklee, I can call home,” she adds.
This year brought further success for Morote, who won second place at the Montreal International Film Scoring Competition, where composers were invited to create a piece inspired on one of three Canadian short films. Morote chose Réflexion and composed a piece that combined classical and jazz for a brass quintet, reflecting the film’s main character’s—and her own—duality.
Morote's composition for Réflexion earned her second place at the Montreal International Film Scoring Competition:
“I was classically trained at the Conservatorio de Música de Murcia and Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid, so studying at Berklee Valencia was an eye-opener as I discovered genres like jazz, pop, and rock,” she says. Morote also highlights how important is for composers to put their works forward in competitions, as they provide exposure and industry contacts.
Orchestrating and arranging for Spanish band Maldita Nerea
While 2018 has been a busy year for Morote, she has no plans to slow down. She is currently orchestrating and arranging a symphonic concert for Spanish band Maldita Nerea and the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Región de Murcia that will be performed on December 1 at the Auditorio Víctor Villegas in Murcia.
“The producers of the band, together with Warner Chappell Music and Sony Music, thought that it would be a good idea to commission this project to someone from Berklee Valencia, so they asked the scoring department who among their alumni could be interested. Like me, the leader of Maldita Nerea is from Murcia and the project is a collaboration with the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Región de Murcia; in addition to this, I had previously worked as an orchestrator and arranger, which made me fluent with both methods of work, so program director Godoy recommended me for the project,” she says.
For the job, Morote has orchestrated and arranged songs previously composed by the Spanish band, preserving the original structure of some of them, and modifying the form, tempos and harmonies of other ones. “This is one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on so far, and it’s the first time I have such a big role in a project of this magnitude in Spain,” she says.
Aside the performance Murcia on December 1, two more concerts will follow in Teatro Circo Price in Madrid and Palau de la Música in Barcelona between February and March 2019.