What are the ingredients to move people to tears during a vaulting freestyle? To succeed in vaulting, you must be a good gymnast, a good horse person, a good dancer or even a good actor somehow. All these ingredients are put together to please your sight. But your sense of hearing is just as powerful: the magical touch that makes you having goosebumps while watching a freestyle, is definitely the vaulting music.
> Who is Henry Benoit?
Behind some beautiful freestyles, a true artist is hiding and today we wanted to bring him to light: Henry Benoit is a French composer and producer, based in Los Angeles, USA. He discovered vaulting after meeting Jacques Ferrari and the Compagnie Noroc in Le Mans when he was back home to visit his family. Henry has been around horses his whole life as both of his parents work in the industry. He never had the opportunity to see vaulting before he met Jacques, and that was apparently a trigger:
“Since then, I have a real passion for this discipline!”
Henry already worked with Team Noroc “Envol”, Team Lütisburg “Water”, Team LAVEC “We are one”, or Anna Cavallaro “The Wolf” to create custom-made vaulting music. All these musics have a singular style: cinematic, sensitive and versatile.
“Music is my full time job, I do mostly composition and production work as well as running a record label. I love working in different fields of the music industry because I never get tired of my job. Composing for equestrian vaulting is really refreshing.”
Henry works on two different softwares: Logic Pro X and Ableton Live.
“They each allow me to do different things. Logic is really good for orchestral arrangements, while Ableton is a better tool to work with sound FX in my opinion. I can import the video of the routine in my software and score the music to it just like I would score a movie!”
Henry usually gets his inspiration from the emotions the vaulters try to convey through their routine and the theme they choose of course:
“Each one has a different story to tell and sometimes those stories come from a personal experience they have or the journey they’ve been following in this sport.
The aesthetic of vaulting really delivers a lot of emotions on it’s own already, and music comes to enhance that.”
> The creation process
If you are curious to know how he creates a vaulting music from scratch, here is the secret formula: first you might provide some musical references you’ve been practicing to. That would give him an idea of the dynamic of the performance musically and artistically. Henry knows well how to guide vaulters into their creative process: as he says himself, sometimes the references they have been practicing to has nothing to do with what they are actually looking for. In this case he likes to build a kind of “mood board”, with ideas of colors, feelings or textures that emanates from the performance.
Once the artistic direction or a theme is agreed, he would need a video of your routine either on the horse or the barrel.
“I almost always start by sitting at the piano and I try to come up with a melody and some harmonies. Based on the video of the routine I get sent, I can scheme a structure for the music and know where to incorporate dynamic parts of breakdowns. Once I finish the first version of the music, I would meet with the vaulters and finalize it.”
After having an overview of how he works to create vaulting music, we were also curious to know his vision about our discipline and its artistic maturity:
“I think the discipline grew a lot artistically speaking. From the costumes to the themes, or the choreography around the technical component of the sport. There is a real story that can be told during the performance. Even though there is a competitive aspect of vaulting, I’m always really pleased to see how artistic innovations are welcomed in the discipline!”
> A crush on vaulting
It is so delightful to see that some artists fell in love with our sport, and participate in making it more and more professional. We definitely need people to help us telling beautiful stories and music is the best way to achieve this goal.
We hope you’ll be inspired for the coming season, and we are looking forward to hear some interesting compositions, hopefully. By the bye, for those who are wondering who could be the next ones on Henry’s list, we caught some names that would definitely be a perfect match:
“I would love to work with new vaulters interested in developing more the artistic side of the sport. Since I watched the performances at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 Tryon, I would really like to one day be able to work with Lambert Leclezio and Kristina Boe.
Also, I know Jamie Hocking vaults AND makes music already and I would be really curious to see what could come out if we ever get to work together!”
“Without music, life would be a mistake”
If you want to listen to Henry’s latest compositions, click here.