When it began, the songs came in fragments, strands of melodies playing only in his head.
In June 2016, Paul Francis was battling cancer, recovering from chemotherapy and surgery that removed a tumor from his brain. As the musician lay on the couch in the aftermath, creative energy was hard to harness.
“Any melody that came into my head, I just recorded it, just to build up momentum again,” the Avon native says. “Once I wrote and recorded so many of them, I started to come up with a plan.”
The result was Contribution, 100 instrumental tracks he uploaded to Bandcamp in January for filmmakers to use free to score their work. The songs are accompanied by 11 minutes of vignettes shot by local filmmakers, so prospective users can hear the pieces in action. The two- to five-minute songs are his gift to the film community he’s reconnecting with after treatment.
“Especially during my recovery, the whole thing was pretty emotional,” he says. “Whatever emotion I was feeling that day, in the moment, had a big influence on the track.”
Split into “neutral” and “horror” categories, the ambient instrumentals could score a somber speech as easily as an eerie chase scene. Francis recorded them on acoustic guitar, his mother’s piano or a MIDI keyboard with a $100 snowball mic and GarageBand.
“I was also thinking about the art community,” he says. “It’s nice to help each other out, because a lot of people I know that are pursuing art don’t have a ton of support, especially if you aren’t going to school for it.”
Since Contribution went live, Francis has been contacted by filmmakers looking to collaborate and asked to speak at a Cleveland State University film class. He’ll keep posting free songs in his spare time.
“The project overall was a brick to lay down in building a solid foundation for my career as an artist,” he says.