Sound Scaping with Luke Ertman

May 31, 2017

Luke Ertman has been composing, recording, and performing music for over 10 years. He has composed for television, live ensembles, and over 50 theatre productions across Western Canada. He was nominated for Jessie Richardson Awards for his designs for ‘My Name is Asher Lev’ and ‘The Seafarer’, and received a Rosie Award nomination for Best Music for the short film ‘Carl’s Way’. Luke has a unique ability to morph different styles and genres of music while pursuing a sound that is unique and at the same time familiar. He received a Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the University of Alberta with specialization in Composition and Theory and Classical Singing. He runs a recording studio from his home and his band Fools Tongue has garnered national and international recognition.

Where do you call home?

I live on an acreage just outside of Leduc with my wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs, and cat.

How did you get into sound design?

I was completing my Bachelors of Music degree and wondering what practical applications it may have. I was studying composition and theory in particular and really didn’t see many needs for it in the field. I must have told Dad about that and he offered to let me write music for a theatre show. And I’ve been writing steadily for north of 10 years now.

What are the best (and most challenging) parts about working with your dad, Artistic Director Morris Ertman?

I think the best thing is that we have a similar aesthetic. Neither one of us are “realists” or “purists”. We tend to be centred around the emotional journey of a play as opposed to the specifics of SFX (sound effects) etc… I think that removes a handicap that can sometimes come into play. It allows me to write and trust what I write. I think the hardest thing is that we stay in the same house during rehearsals. There is no getting away from the play once I’m down there.

How do you approach a script? Can you give a breakdown of your process?

Well the first thing is of course reading the play. I absolutely start to hear ideas, sounds, melodies, etc… I sort of jot those down on a piece of paper as I go. Then I usually meet with the director. We talk about the other design elements, the general feel, any specific obstacles that may be in a given script. From there I usually write the top of the show or the climax of the show. I go back and forth with the director til we both feel that it’s right. After that I sort of write out from that reference point and call it a day.

What do you listen to on your drives down to Rosebud?


Anything currently inspiring you?

There is an American keyboard player called Tigran Hamasyan that I have been listening to a ton lately.

Did you have a specific inspiration when designing ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’?

The inspiration point of this show is of course, the end. There is an epic journey of humanity happening here that arrives at a sort of beautiful thesis. I think my goal was trying to create a universal theme or sound that could underpin the funny episodic nature of the piece and land an audience at the end. I wanted to play against the rapid movement of the piece and try and find continuity.

Do you have any secret hobbies?

Hmm. I like to woodwork, garden, cook. We have a 7000 or so square ft garden that we tend to each summer. It’s huge and we eat from it year long!

Any upcoming projects?

An Almost Holy Picture, at Rosebud. The Canadian Badlands Passion Play. My band Fools Tongue is super close to releasing a new album. Fall, I really hope! (Here's an unfinished preview of one of the songs)

Sound Scaping with Luke Ertman

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