The life and art of film scoring
Christine Sham’s music compositions have aired on TV and played on big screens. The multi-hyphenate musician has scored films such as the award-winning Be With Me (2005) and composed music for ESPN and Universal Production Music. Her composition Salsa Spice Simple Mix was recognised by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore in 2016 when she received its Top Local Contemporary Instrumental Award.
Her journey in music-making started at age four when her mother sent her for piano lessons. Having a keen ear for music, she later enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and graduated with a major in Professional Music.
She got her start in the music industry composing music for TV commercials, and she soon built up a strong portfolio. Her reputation as a musician and her industry connections led to her first film scoring work on Be With Me by Singapore filmmaker Eric Khoo.
Scoring the film that was inspired and based on the life of a blind and deaf teacher, she says, was eye-opening because it taught her the importance of silence and absence of speech. The movie had minimal dialogue, so it relied on powerful visuals and evocative music to tell the story. Although the experience was new, “the music came so naturally to me,” she says. “It felt like something I was meant to do.”
She has since scored a dozen other films, including Ramen Teh (2018), In The Room (2015), and Tatsumi (2011), all by Khoo. Sham, 46, has also travelled the world with some of the biggest names in Chinese pop, including singers A-Mei, Stefanie Sun and David Tao, as she rearranges their songs and recordings for live concerts.
Her true passion, however, lies in teaching music. She finds it especially meaningful to be able to inspire and nurture a love for music in others.
She says: “I’ve met a lot of people who had negative experiences learning music through rigid discipline. I want to make learning music fun, engaging and enjoyable for my students.” She has been a part-time lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts, and School of Music and the Arts since 2008.
She will be partnering with filmmaking platform Cine65 to conduct an online workshop on the fundamentals of film scoring on 8 Apr. She says: “I want to share the joy of storytelling through film music and encourage the appreciation of filmmaking.”