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Track & Trace: Bertus Pelser

"By finding a counterpoint between image and sound and, in doing so, to reinforce the message… to me, that is the true art of this craft."

Bertus Pelser

Music and sound design are my passions. I am a quite sensitive person and so, sound can feel very intense. I consider music to be an organized sound and, the other way around, within sound design, there’s music. I honestly get a kick from combining both, it provides you with a lot to work with. For example, in a film where emotions are controlled through music. By finding a counterpoint between image and sound and, in doing so, to reinforce the message… to me, that is the true art of this craft. The beauty of it lies within the fact that it can be so subtle. If you’d replace a sound two frames ahead in the film, it can completely change the feelings someone might get while watching it. It could even have consequences for film characters.

Music is within my genes. My father is a pianist, and my sister plays the viola. Even as a child I would tap just about anything that made a sound, whether it was a glass, my mothers pots and pans, or a chips tube, which eventually led to me taking drum lessons and later on piano lessons. I grew up listening to classical music: Rachmaninov, Beethoven, Bach, but Jazz, Rock and Electronic music as well. I am thankful that I got to enjoy a wide musical education.

The music that still touches my heart deeply and within which I still discover new things everyday are the piano concertos by Beethoven, Ravel and Rachmaninov. If I were to be a fan of anyone, it would be either Rachmaninov or Jimi Hendrix. What they’ve put in their music when it comes to feel, skills, craftsmanship and virtuosity sounds like perfection to me.

When I listen to the second and third piano concerto by Rachmaninov, I get taken away on this intense emotional rollercoaster. There’s tenderness, then parts with pure rage off to the insane, then there’s contemplation, sweet, romantic parts, dark episodes… It covers everything.

To me, good music isn’t limited to one genre. My taste in music is very wide, I just need to be moved by, for example, an original chord progression, an interesting rhythm or a surprising arrangement. That’s what we try to create for film, advertisements or brand identities.

When I was studying Arts, Media and Technology, with a focus on Music Composition and Sound Design, my teacher, Ferdinand Bolland, offered me the opportunity to go to Tanzania to work on a project. At the campus in Tanzania, I noticed a Makonde-tribe member playing a Mtonya (a drum). The rhythms were very interesting. The music of the Makonde tribe consists of rhythmic ostinatos, performed by an ensemble which can be used modularly. 

I was eager to learn these, so I asked the tribe member whether he could teach me. And so, we built my own drum from cow skin. We had to tune it above the fire. I remember being completely stoked about it all. Eventually, I learnt to play the malimba (thumb piano) as well. I made this music my own and implemented it in my own compositions.

At Amp.Amsterdam, we have five studios and an amazing team of designers, composers, engineers and producers. As Head of Studios I run the studio team, which means that I carry responsibility for all the technical aspects and all the studio productions that are made at Amp.Amsterdam. The job is really diverse, which I enjoy very much. It’s not just sound design and music for advertising, but voice-overs, searches, recordings, UI-sound creation for applications, creating what a brand sounds like and researching and applying new techniques as well. 

In doing all of that, we inspire each other to be better and to be on top of our game. The fact that we can influence one’s emotions by adding an extra dimension to images, truly gives me a kick.”

Listen to all of Bertus’ favourites:

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Bertus Pelser

Head of Studios

Contact Bertus