LIGHT & DARK ELEMENTS
“Sometimes they won’t know what they want, and that’s the hardest when customers say, ‘I’m not sure, you have a look. See what you think!’, because obviously the world of music is huge, endless!” Tori continues. “A lot of people want pop songs, essentially the karaoke version of a pop song. They don’t often work well for freestyles because they don’t have enough light and dark elements in them, which is something that the judges always look for. So it’s much better to go down the path of a movie soundtrack because then you’ve got, for example, the love theme, or the action theme, and it all fits together really nicely and helps tell the story within a freestyle.”
Tori describes how creating a Grand Prix freestyle involves finding four songs or pieces of music – piaffe/passage, trot, canter and walk – and that finding all four can be the most challenging and time-consuming part of the process.
“I will often spend four or five hours looking for music. Sometimes I might find a really nice trot song for someone, and I’m trying to find everything else to suit that, so that can take a long time. Or someone might say they really want a particular song for the trot work, so then I’m looking for other music that all fits in. Every freestyle is unique, I rarely recycle songs,” Tori explains.
Once the right music has been found, it generally takes another four to five hours for Tori to put it all together. “I send the music to the client as a demo, then put it all together, then I’ll send that back and they’ll normally come back with a couple of edits. So we make those changes, and once they practise to it, they might decide they need three less seconds before the extended canter, for example, so I need to go back in and again to edit,” Tori explains.
“I love watching freestyles that I’ve made. Even now I go back and watch ones I made years ago,” Tori continues. “I’ll go back and watch Lindsay Ware and Aristede’s one from Dressage with the Stars two years ago, I just absolutely love watching them. I just love being part of the performance and knowing that the audience is appreciating something that I’ve been a part of creating.
“Sometimes I’m watching a freestyle that I haven’t done, and there are elements in there that I feel quite strongly have brought down the score, and they’ve just missed out on winning. And I just think, ‘If they could have just changed that element in the freestyle, then it would have been a completely different outcome!’”
Tori explains this was part of the appeal of creating freestyles for herself as a young rider; a quality, well-crafted freestyle with the right music carried the potential to outscore others who were almost impossible to get close to on technical scores alone.
“There were always one or two in the class – probably more than that these days – that were on fancy imported horses and you couldn’t quite beat them on the technical mark. But in a freestyle, the artistic mark is 50% of the score. So there’s a lot of room there to bring your score up and potentially beat those horses that you wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to beat.
“I think a lot of people underestimate how much the music mark can be worth; the technical mark is worth 200 points, which is all of the movements you’re doing, but the artistic mark is worth 200 points too!” Tori explains. “So, if you only get a five for your music, that has a times-four coefficient, which would be like scoring a five for four technical movements. So you can really make up a lot of points in your artistic mark! I enjoy thinking through the trade-offs in that artistic mark, when you’re balancing things like the degree of difficulty and your technical mark. The degree of difficulty is an interesting one; a lot of people might try to go a bit hard on the degree of difficulty, but if they overstep it, it might impact on their technical mark, or if they make a mistake in their technical mark that’s going to be reflected in the artistic mark. So it’s really about having a balance between degree of difficulty, technical execution, and music that’s suitable for the combination.”
Tori lists Jayden Brown and WillingaPark Sky Diamond’s current Grand Prix freestyle, and one she created for Lindsay Ware and Aristede, as being two of her favourites of the freestyles she’s created to date.