Petra Salsjö is an award-winning Film Composer who was born in Sweden and relocated to Australia as a child, she writes music for a diverse mix of screen projects including short films, animations, documentaries and feature films.
Growing up in a passionate and creative household, Petra was surrounded by a musical family that encouraged imaginative thinking, and storytelling through music. Immersing herself in the art of music-making Petra became an accomplished pianist and vocalist, improvising on the piano at a young age.
While at the heart of Petra’s music are dynamic piano compositions, her style is eclectic and guided by the project’s story and underlying themes. Thinking broadly about which instruments to include, Petra experiments with traditional western and orchestral instruments mixed with eastern sounds, vocal melodies, and ensures a modern outcome through the use of synthesizers and technology.
Throughout Petra’s career, she has collaborated with some of Australia’s finest musicians and songwriters. Her work has been recognised and awarded on several occasions both on a national and international scale.
My whole life has come into this moment and it’s the same with music, all the things that I’ve come into contact with and all the conversations I’ve had and the influences of my life, they all impact on how I express myself through music.
Can you remember the last film that really moved you, or kept you engaged for the length of the film? Did you consciously notice the music, it’s pacing, and the emotional response it created?… Maybe not, but’s it’s certainly having a subconscious effect.
Music adds another dimension to film, an original film score’s purpose is to work with the visual story being told to support it, enhance it, build tension, create continuity, and give a sense of the era or the culture being displayed on screen. It can drive and manipulate our emotions like no other sense making it a crucial component to the film experience.
If we consider music as a language then the composer is having a conversation with you throughout the film, guiding you in what to think and feel and many would argue it does a better job evoking emotion than words can. Depending on the scene, the music might be slow and quiet or fast and loud heightening the experience, and making it so memorable you reflect on it days later.
Petra’s authentic approach to music creation comes from an innate understanding of music and arts, her musical background and family’s creative influences have shaped her career, preparing her for what is a tough and competitive field. Composing for film not only requires a deep musical knowledge but the ability to comprehend the overall direction of a script, and the director’s creative goals and we see this instinctual understanding through Petra’s work time and time again.
Filming this episode was a special event, we watched Petra take her familiar position by the piano and compose songs in the moment to match the mood of the room and what she was feeling, magical!
Petra Salsjö’s work is a perfect example of music that stirs something inside you and hits your heart. We can’t wait to watch and listen to her latest score in the 2020 film ’The Flood’.
Photography by: Caspian Moore / Sophie Rogers