Audio: “On the Score” with “Deepwater Horizon” composer Steve Jablonsky

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 28/09/2016 - 15:54

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

With a career rhythmically honed through his programming and additional scoring for the likes of Harry Gregson-Williams (“Smilla’s Sense of Snow,” “Enemy of the State”) and Hans Zimmer (“Hannibal,” “Pearly Harbor”) it was only natural that Steve Jablonsky would emerge as one of Hollywood’s top scoring rhythmatists – as well as a musician who could create uniquely exciting, otherworldly samples. It’s a talent that’s been put to fun, patriotic excitement with the evolving sci-fi spectacle of the “Transformers” franchise, the recent cinematic adventures of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Vin Diesel’s brawny black magic for “The Last Witch Hunter.” But if Jablonsky’s style has often been the stuff of big, multiplex excitement that’s firmly divorced from the earth, the composer has also recently been engaging in some of his most interesting, and personal work, from a kid lured into becoming the military’s genocidal pawn in “Ender’s Game” to the retro samples of murderous, muscle-bound lunkheads in “Pain & Gain” and the desperate suspense of an American “Lone Survivor” (co-scored with Explosions in the Sky) amidst the Taliban-infested wilds of Afghanistan.

That “Lone Survivor” also marked an impressive segue from the flag-waving bombast that director Peter Berg had Jablonsky give to “Battleship” shows how personal these collaborators have now gotten for their third picture – albeit in the epic, real-life disaster of “Deepwater Horizon.” Bringing all of his filmmaking guns to bear to depict the corporate negligence that caused an offshore rig’s explosion,creating the the worst oil spill in American history.

Just as the filmmaker creates an impressively tense and emotional portrait of Americans trying to make it out alive from hell on earth and ocean, Steve Jablonsky conjures a score that’s elemental fury itself. Taking root from a deep well of sampling that’s created no end of masked maniacs and alien invaders, Jablonsky uses a strongly melodic theme to sonar-probe into an the substrata that holds the liquefied remains of dinosaurs. And like some time bomb, the music relentlessly ticks away to catastrophe, an ominous heartbeat that eventually erupts with a raging wall of sound that’s some of the composer’s most mesmerizing, and apocalyptic work. But it’s music that’s not only about the fire summoned from state-of-the-art gear, but also containing the strong sense of human resilience in a dense score that howls with the impressive fury of an oil-borne apocalypse.

Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Steve Jablonsky talks about the sonic explorations that unleash music to play nature run amuck against those that would thirst on it for “Deepwater Horizon.”

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Buy the Soundtrack: DEEPWATER HORIZON Buy the Soundtrack: LONE SURVIVOR Buy the Soundtrack: BATTLESHIP Visit Steve Jablonsky’s Facebook page
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Soundtrack Picks: “THE LITTLE PRINCE” is the top soundtrack to own for September, 2016

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 21/09/2016 - 03:43

Soundtrack Picks: “THE LITTLE PRINCE” is the top soundtrack to own for September, 2016


To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover




Price: $19.98 /$12.98

What Is it?:
Having swung from the rafters with the joyous “Jungle Book” this year, John Debney shows that he remains one of Hollywood’s most exciting composers, from an expanded release of the score that put him on the big budget treasure map to his delightful takeover for what appears to the be last, futuristic adventure of pre-history’s most famous animal best buds.

Why Should You Buy It?: The then husband and wife team of director Renny Harlin and actress Gena Davis came close to scuttling the pirate movie with 1995’s “Cutthroat Island” – at least until Jack Sparrow would resurrect the genre. But a box office boondoggle doesn’t mean that Harlin’s gargantuan, gloriously silly and often fun crossed blades salute doesn’t have an armada of scurvy, dog-eared fans, especially when it comes to John Debney’s twenty-one cannon salute to “Captain Blood,” and “The Sea Hawk.” Still a top fan favorite after nearly 200 scores, Debney’s beyond boisterous work treasure chest of symphonic swaggering on La La Land Records. With Disney blood in his own timbers, Debney started his career with an often brightly heroic sound with the likes of “The Young Riders,” “Seaquest 2032” and “Little Giants.” But it was “Cutthroat Island” that allowed him to truly play to the symphonic rafters for the first time, capturing the unhinged energy that Harlin brought to his “Island,” if with far more thematic structure. Digging back into the golden age glory days of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner and Alfred Newman, as well as such descendants as James Horner, Debney captures a rousingly melodic spirit that positively sings with shirt (and bodice)-ripping heroism. It’s an enthusiasm that immediately wins you over with the unmistakable strains of mast-swinging combat, a nimble dexterity that is inexhaustibly fun through any number of elongated action sequences, from a carriage chase to scaffold rappelling and a climactic high seas battle. With choral hosannas a’ blowing, Debney sinks in marvelous orchestral reveals, smashing percussive dastardliness and roguish romance. But if the classic pirate scores of yore might have been just a bit serious and symphonically dense in their wonderment, what makes “Cutthroat” into their worthy successor is that Debney’s approach is surprisingly light on its feet, replete with the self-aware sense of humor that Harlin gave to the film, especially when the composer engages in a snooty harpsichord waltz. The thrill certainly isn’t gone over two decades since the score that arguably made Debney’s career even as the movie smashed others’ on the rocks, and “Cutthroat” is blazingly well presented on this set, which features non-voiced versions of some major cues to boot. If Klaus Badelt turned pirate scores into electro-orchestral rock operas with the “Caribbean” movies, “Cutthroat Island” stands tall as a last, defiant gasp to the old-school symphonic way of playing brigands in all of their unapologetically symphonic glory, as accompanied by Jeff Bond’s entertainingly blunt notes about Carolco’s sinking ship.

Extra Special:
With a cartoon enthusiasm that’s positive animated in his Disney bloodline, Debney has scored no end of CGI toons from “The Ant Bully” to “Chicken Little” and “Spongebob Squarepants.” But one of the most fun, not to mention best-performed, belongs to his entry into the “Ice Age,” just in time for what appears to be its final chapter with “Collision Course.” Given a series that’s been scored by the likes of David Newman and John Powell, Debney quickly establishes his own brightly identifiable symphonic palette that’s still well in line with the past soundtracks’ frenetic energy, with friendly, pokey rhythms and busts of spastic comic energy that also bring to mind Debney’s score to “Liar Liar.” But beyond the playful warmth of his melodies, and the eccentric, whistling, mouth harps, “Right Stuff” military marches and Nirvanic Indian rhythms of Shangri-Llama, Debney brings a galactic sense of sci-fi scale to “Collision Course” for the mammal’s desperate attempts to fend off a meteor, a sci-fi touch, complete with alien chorus, also touching on Debney’s great retro score to the feature version of “Jimmy Neutron.” But then, pretty much the gang’s all here when it comes to Debney’s comic repertoire as Carl Stalling split-second antics get wrapped into adventurous melodies that avert the end of the developing world. “Collision” bursts over with a real sense of fun and enthusiasm that defines the sheer likability of Debney’s touch in the cartoon realm, at once playing the situations for sweet, bouncy and sometimes perilous reality while never missing a gag. That this “Ice Age” might just be the best in an impressive score bunch to send off the franchise ending with a big musical bang.


Price: $11.99

What Is it?: While I don’t know if Adam Cork would feel comfortable thinking of himself as the composing version of author Thomas Wolfe, it’s fair to say that they’ll share the same sense of come-from-nowhere discovery from fans with an appetite for creative passion. Hailing from the London theater scene where his all-singing neighborhood murder procedural “London Road” recently received a cinematic adaptation, “Genius” gives Cork his first proper instrumental score as such in this examination of the relationship between literary editing and the wildly over-written word, as directed by Cork’s “Caligula” stage director Michael Grandage (making an impressive debut here as well). Given the rich partnership between a bookish grammar slasher and a beyond-effusive writer, Cork manages to take a beautiful trip back to 1930’s NYC and a timeless imagination bursting with description to spare, showing how film music can succinctly describe emotions that took Wolfe thousands of dead trees to get on paper.

Why Should You Buy It?:
Just as Thomas Wolfe bursts into editor Max Perkins’ office at Scribner’s with a gigantic ego and a man-child twinkle in his eye, English-born Cork has the gentle, symphonic swagger of a North Carolinian convinced that he’s written The Great American Novel. Cord’s gorgeously melodic score balances that swoon with a rural sensibility at its heart, a lone, country-fied fiddle pointing towards the heartland that Wolfe has spent the better part of his life running from, yet also looking homeward at. As Wolfe struts around Manhattan with Perkins trying to get the erudite man of cutting words to open up, Cork subtly brings in the sense of a big city on the cusp of being transformed into a hub of all that jazz Then in a Gershwin-esque instant (or saucy uptown Scott Joplin and Dixieland swings at that), a burst of blue rhapsody shows how Wolfe uses words like free-form jazz, music that he hears as the key to life itself. Cork’s cleverness even integrates Stephan Grappelli gypsy violin with Klezmer as Perkins tries to hide bad book reviews from Wolfe while he’s travelling in Paris. There’s a surfeit of such imagination to “Genius’” soundtrack as Cork uses jazz to stoke Wolfe’s fever dream way of writing reams of copy, and the Scribner employees’ attempt to keep pace at deciphering them via a battery of typewriters.

Extra Special:
Always at “Genius’” heart is the lonely, flute and piano feeling of a little boy lost – conveying an author whose enthusiasm leaves human wreckage behind that he can’t comprehend, or doesn’t want to. Yet there’s a wondrous, often swelling magic to Cork’s score, giving off the radiance of being in the company of an all-too brief literary shooting star, basking in his fraction of light for all of its fault and splendor, and final heartbreaking majestic requiem – certainly one of the most stirring musical send-offs since Spock’s torpedo was shot to the Genesis planet. Conjuring heartbreak, melancholy and magic with touching, enervating originality that an author who can’t reach the point without his far more restrained friend’s guidance, “Genius” heralds a composer’s major sale that will hopefully only continue to grow after this memorably entry.


Price: $7.99

What is it?: “Kung Fu Panda” director Mark Osborne takes Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic, metaphoric story about wonder and mortality and dares to mix it with a way more weightily obvious modern tale about a small girl’s desire to find her own path out of cookie-cutter adulthood. It’s certainly a different approach from Stanley Donen’s faithful, musical realization of the tale from 1974. Yet even if the rhythms of this modernized “Prince” are a bit off (though thoroughly touching by the end), it’s a new fairy tale-versus-reality take that opens up big worlds of wonder for Osborne’s “Panda” co-composer Hans Zimmer, whom along here with Richard Harvey weaves an utterly enchanting soundtrack that resonates with both optimism, and fateful realization.

Why should you buy it:
Hans Zimmer has scored numerous animated talking animal features like “Madagascar” and “Shark Tale,” while equally longtime composer Harvey’s credits include such kid-friendly TV productions as “Terrahawks” and “Arabian Nights.” But what makes “The Little Prince” stand out is the numerous levels it works on beyond the fluffily entertaining, especially given Osborne’s combination of a heroine’s CG toon world with the striking, stop-motion quality of the royal boy she yearns to meet. Seamlessly combining their distinctively melodic approaches into a one voice, Zimmer and Harvey capture “The Little Prince’s” more obvious slapstick antics with a deeper, moving story that’s signifies that hard realities of growing up. The result is a charming score that stays aloft with its sense of the joy of friendship between girl and affable old coot, but one whose wings are tipped with melancholy that it’s a friendship that will be over all too soon. A master of rhythm, Zimmer’s orchestra gently moves along with its sense of discovery, paying tribute to the source material’s French origins with the accordion (though there’s nothing particularly Gallic about the movie itself). Musical invention abounds here in similarly fashion. Virtually chained to her chair by a life goal-obsessed mom, Zimmer and Harvey use voice to connote the incessant math homework thrown at her. Lush orchestra and bravura pianos swoop between worlds with the wings of George Gershwin, where just a touch of Django Reinhart inflects other whimsical moments. Brass becomes the lumbering sound of this resoundingly anti-Capitalist film’s businessmen villains, where a burst of symphonic color turns into triumph against the colorless adult world. And when it comes to eliciting emotion that signals the off-screen end of life, violins and angelic vocals effortlessly elicit tears while conveying the next, blissful flight of the afterlife.

Extra Special:
In a movie filled with planetoids and stars and their musical approximation of them, the biggest radiant force comes from Camille Dalmais. A longtime star of France’s Virgin division, Camille’s lovely voice becomes a striving, adolescent character in the score, both as a rhythmic, lullaby-like instrument and in full vocal flower as the singer of the poignant ”Equation” and the whimsical theme song “Turnaround.” Carrying the energy of a wonderfully inescapable earworm tune you might hear in a Parisian nightclub, this ditty is endearingly repeated (along with a song version of the math theme) throughout the album’s generous running time, likely no more to Saint-Exupery’s heavenly delight than in the song’s original French lyrics as well.


Price: $12.70

What is it?: 1977’s “Pete’s Dragon” was a frenetically silly, song-and-dance live action film with a green lizard who’d reveal himself in resoundingly two-dimension animated form. And if that loveable, lumbering beast has remained a fond memory for Disney fans of a certain age, this goofy specimen from a time that wasn’t exactly the Mouse House’s glory days isn’t a sacrosanct classic that would have people roaring with outrage over a far more realistically told re-boot. Now nearly four decades later, a new generation who’d have none of that foolish kid’s stuff have truly believed a dragon can fly, especially given the wings of musical wonder provided by composer Daniel Hart, a composer who maries his folksy indie cinema roots with huge, orchestral splendor to truly magical effect.

Why should you buy it?:
As a rising voice on the arthouse scoring scene, Daniel Hart has created a lyrical, often acoustically mesmerizing sound that graced “Comet,” “Tumbledown” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” the latter two conveying a particularly dreamy, rustic sound. While Hart’s ethereal melody held promise for bigger things to come, “Pete’s Dragon” has him suddenly saddle a beast of a far more epic size. Yet Hart handles the reigns of this story’s Spielbergian demands quite well for his “Saints” director David Lowry, who brings a gentle lyricism to otherwise straight-ahead “E.T.”-inspired get-it-home shenanigans. The result is pretty much as close to an indie film as a Disney multiplex picture will come to, gently moving the story of a boy and his dragon at an unhurried, poetic pace. Given a big symphony for the first time, Hart makes it swoop, soar and exhale with fiery peril with a memorable main theme, showing an often epic command of strings and brass. There’s gorgeous, heartfelt emotion in his use of flute and angelic voice as well, with a thunderous peril that brings to mind the score that James Horner likely would have done for this picture had it been made in the 80’s fantasy glory days. Conveying the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dragon in a way that uncondescending breaks out the handkerchiefs, Hart’s most emotionally effusive scores captures the kind of tenderness that makes for the kind of creature-kid relationships that’s the stuff of pure “Neverending Story” Luck Dragon enchantment. But what really sets “Pete’s Dragon” apart is just how beautifully Hart captures the guitar strumming magic of a mountain town, with a sense of mischief that’s the spirit of wild forest boy youth. But both the film and score never come across as kid’s stuff. Much like Robert Redford’s recollections of the dragon as a gently mythic story already told, Hart delivers on both verdant, picaresque beauty as well as the thrills that come from being chased by nasty adults, “Pete’s Dragon” resonates with a feeling of family, showing off an indie composer who’s as capable of far larger symphonic talents as he is of keeping his music nicely on the rustic homestead.

Extra Special:
What makes “Pete’s” soundtrack particularly interesting is just how many songs there are on it, which often play in place of where you’d think score should go (especially in a scene where Pete runs about town in his Tarzan-like glory). There are sweet country ballads aplenty with Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s “The Dragon Song,” fiddle-topped Disney-radio country western rock for Lindsey Stirling’s “Something Wild” and The Lumineers’ soulfully acoustic “Nobody Knows.” Even the original’s Oscar-nominated “Candle in the Wind” gets a thoroughly unplugged, twangy cowboy take by Okkervil River that’s likely to raise the eyebrows of “Pete’s” purists. But the cleverness of the song choices goes to the use of Leonard Cohen’s regretful “So Long, Marianne,” whose lyrics of a “Gypsy Boy” show off a clever indie spirit that’s gone into making “Pete’s Dragon” both stripped-down and wonderfully big with seamless tones of green.


Price: $16.23

What is it?: If you didn’t know better when listening to the recent batch of scores involving killer super soldiers, determined demons and ravenous kiddie zombies and misanthrope hackers, you’d think we were straight back in 1983 given the pulsating retro synth approaches of Steve Moore’s “The Guest,” Disasterpiece’s “It Follows,” Kreng’s “Cooties” and Mac Quayle’s Emmy winning “Mr. Robot.” All are using the alternately energetic and ambient sound that defined such artists as Tangerine Dream (“Wavelength”), Charles Bernstein (“Deadly Friend”) and John Carpenter (“Halloween”) back in the day (heck, even Carpenter himself is back in the game with albums of imagined movie themes). But when it comes to absolutely spot-on recreation the electronic scoring heyday, the prize would likely go to Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, two musicians from the Austin indie quartet band S U R V I V E who’ve teamed for the instant sensation retro coolness of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Like their stainless old school keyboard score,” show creators The Duffer Brothers have cobbled together elements from such cult 80’s features as “Firestarter,” “Altered States,” “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and “E.T.” in a way that appeals to both kid adventure sensibilities and far more adult horror-conspiracy terrors, More importantly, it doesn’t have the forced feeling of slavishly recreating the greats that inspired so many of today’s filmmakers (here’s looking at J.J. Abram’s otherwise decent “Super 8”). Instead, “Stranger Things” is a salutary jam session of paying tribute to the greats without self-awareness.

Why should you buy it?:
Seemingly coming from nowhere, the buzz of “Stranger Things’” trailer exploded into binge watching mania once the show hit the air, with its score receiving particular raves. It’s given 80’s retro score home Lakeshore Records the incentive to not only put out one, but two volumes of throwback synth goodness. But if there’s one picture, and score that “Stranger Things” draws from in particular, then it’s “Firestarter,” especially given its angle of a telekinetically enhanced girl on the run from evil government agents. That film’s Tangerine Dream aesthetic of energetic grooves mixed with pulsating atmospheres marks Dixon and Stein’s work, which sounds like it could have been wired together in a garage (in the best sense of that image). For where Tangerine Dream had a thoroughly polished sound that grew out of prog-rock, there’s a distinctive, rough analogue sound to “Stranger Things,” all the better to get across enthusiastic Dungeons and Dragons fans thrust into adult peril they could never have imagined. Like TD’s entrancing sound, Dixon and Stein give their numerous tracks a powerful, thematic identity, without gelling into any particular motifs as such during the score, unless you count the show’s catchily pulsating main title, certainly one of the more effective examples of writing a memorable motif (which even TD has now played tribute to). There’s a fun innocence that grows with suspense for the rhythmic pieces that comprise most of the first album. But it’s on the second collection that “Stranger Things’” scariest, and most interesting music lies. The negative light realm of the “Upside-Down” from which its Thing-like creature hails from is a great opportunity for the composers to engage in truly bizarre ambiences that reaches far further back into the electronic ether to capture the chattering sound-mass quality of Gil Melle’s 1971 score for “The Andromeda Strain.” Where that score conjured the growing threat of alien bacteria, Dixon and Stein’s swings between chilling, lonely atmospheres and evil, foggy percussion coalesce into the sci-fi horror score twilight zone, as well as the emotional horror of a little girl possessed of lethal power – gripping tonal peril that strongly elevates “Stranger Things” out of the realm of geeky homage kid’s stuff it could have been lost in the dark in.

Extra Special:
That a S U R V I V E track helped give birth to the show itself, and that the group’s work has also shown up in “The Guest’s” retro soundtrack shows how Dixon, Stein (and their group by extension) is going for the real retro deal, treating it with honor as opposed to mistaking the style for some hipster-synth art project. Now with their forthcoming album “RR7349” (among numerous call sign record titles) signals another valentine to a synth style that’s been grabbed kicking and pulsating from another dimension best loved by grown up 80’s genre fans, “Stranger Thing” stands as the next evolution in that synth style, while sounding like the first generation of hardwired keyboards and samplers budget-needy composers put together to explore a new musical realm. In Dixon and Stein’s hands, it’s nothing less than an amazing, raw time machine back to the days when keyboard ruled the genre earth, and dimensions beyond.



Sure Rocky may have had a hard time taking on Ivan Drago to prove American superiority to a stadium full of Commies, but that doesn’t compare to Steve Armstrong throwing a punch for the entire human race against the giant, foam rubber filled aliens that enter the boxing ring of a space station “Arena.” One of the many, fun genre rumbles that exec producer Charles Band filled his Empire Pictures with in the late 80’s (including the boxing “Robot Jox”), an obvious contender in the musical corner was Band’s brother Richard, who’d provided any number of orchestral t.k.o’s for the family business with such scores as “The Day Time Ended,” “Metalstorm” and “Re-Animator.” But while orchestral scoring for final days of picture like these getting any kind of theatrical release were on the ropes (as was the soon to be knocked-out Empire), Band was far from down and out as he proudly walked into “Arena” with a dynamic synth-sample score (abetted by “52 Pick-Up” Gary Chang at ringside). Not only did Band have a uniquely powerful Fairlight and Synclavier electronic ensemble in his corner, but more importantly, he had the energy to match his impressively rubber-ized opponents. Giving “Arena’ heart and punchiness, Band infuses his grand symphonic sound with a percussive, rock and roll energy and twinkling, percussive themes that not only captures a fun, sense of sci-fi wonder, but also a defiant human energy that does a great job of telegraphing the fist-versus-claw (or tentacle) punches. It’s fun, well-choreographed music that’s distinctively Band in sound, keeping up the suspense of alien fixers determined to make a mere man take the dive with punchy, dramatic defiance. With a new mix that brings out all of the stereo richness from Band’s first real step into the electronic ring, “Arena” captures the sheer, ludicrous fun of the outsized imagination of his bro’s genre spectacles.


Much like a melodist such as Vivaldi, some composers are continuously gifted with conjuring one memorable tune after the other. And while the themes for “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” might not be in the culturally elite pantheon of “The Four Seasons,” they’re instantly identifiable to score fans – let alone the bouncy work that composer Charles Fox has done for any number of movies like “9 To 5,” “Foul Play” and “One on One.” Varese Sarabande has certainly been celebrating Fox’s lyrical repertoire by re-releasing the latter two soundtracks. But perhaps none is as meaningful to the composer as their U.S. premiere of “Seasons,” a concept album that Fox recorded in 1980 with an orchestra at Burbank’s long-missed Evergreen Studios. Where these alternately sweeping and intimate covers of Fox’s work saw an album release overseas, this nicely refurbished CD (produced by Varese’s retro specialists Carey E. Mansfield, Bryon Davis and Peter Hackman) mark “Season’s” welcome American debut. Fox offers sumptuous string odes to the classics with the title track, as well as a gorgeously lush “Pachelbel’s Cannon in D Major,” a tune familiar then from the success of “Ordinary People” at the time, and giving birth to an album where Fox could show his ability to make Baroque upbeat while collecting any number of his chart-topping collaboration with lyricist Norman Gimbel. Their most famous song “Killing Me Softly” displays Fox’s virtuoso piano, to bring out the tune’s melancholy nature, a soft lyricism that also fills the duo’s stage music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with “I Need You Now.” Symphonic passion raises with Fox’s “Reflections” the album’s unique track amidst its clever, pop friendly reworking of past material. One particularly catchy Fox and Gimbel instrumental is “Elusive Blue” (from the unknown Treat Williams romantic comedy “Why Would I Lie”), music whose synth-mysterioso beat brings to mind Fox’s Hitchcockian cheekiness for “Foul Play.” However, voices do grace the lovely, guitar-flavored song “My Fair Share” from “One on One” which is once again graced with the folk voices of Seals & Crofts. A new, notable addition to “Seasons,” and the continued versatility of “Killing Me Softly’ is The Harlem String Quartet and clarinetist Eddie Daniels’ haunting performance, one that resonates with a yearning, virtuoso jazz vibe that’s very much uptown (though recorded in Sante Fe in 2015). Fans of Fox and Gimbel will find much enjoyment here, while I can only hope that the composer’s renaissance of re-releases might see the actual, official release of his eternally groovy 60’s score with Bob Crewe for the shagadelic space age “Barbarella.”


In much of today’s horror scoring, composers tend to throw a kitchen sink of percussion at the listener to convey fear. But rarely has a musician literally thrown every household appliance at the listener, plus the entire contents of a musty garage and garbage-strewn backyard at the same time with the pointed, blunt effectiveness of Roque Banos in “Don’t Breath” A prolific Spanish composer of horror scores who pricked up American ears with his eerie Theremin-topped Bernard Herrmann-esque score for “The Machinist,” Banos truly made his Hollywood box office splash with director Fede Alvarez’s reboot of “The Evil Dead” before his beautiful score for “In the Heart of the Sea’ sank along with the film. But while the composer can write beautifully melodic scores like no one’s business, it’s horror that keeps pulling him back in and putting him back on top, as proven by the smash reception to Alvarez’s “Don’t Breath.” Accompany a trio of woefully unfortunately home invaders who get their just deserts at the hands of a blind vet with mad human-hunting skills that Daredevil would envy, Banos comes up with the high concept of beating, winding, and raking a battery of “found” percussion instruments that likely required a tetanus shot to work with. Given that he used a wind-up alarm to signal terror for “Evil Dead,” it’s an idea that’s taken to an insane extreme here in conjuring a blind man’s bluff house of horrors, the sonic equivalent of stumbling about in the dark into one awful metal tool after the next, all while a monster breaths down your neck. It’s a sound design score that feels like someone slowly scratching a gigantic rake across a chalkboard, only to have metal percussion explode into frenzied chases. But where most of this subwoofer-trashing score is the stuff of dissonant nightmares, Banos also provides a memorable piano theme for a heroine who puts up a mask of being hard-bitten. It’s a poignant piano motif that becomes a melodic thread to desperately hold onto as the score becomes progressively more manic, pouring on the adrenalin with an equally memorable chase theme, a stomach-churning slow burn theme for its seemingly superhuman “villain,” and any other number of motifs that stick out like razors amidst the noisy terror. A score most definitely not to be played with the lights out, “Don’t Breath” exhales with a sadistic effectiveness that’s in perfect, nasty tune when not shredding any semblance of harmony as its truly dumb characters desperately try to find the light switch.

. FAMILY GUY: MOVEMENT 1 (5,000 edition)

Mea Culpa. I have not seen one episode of “Family Guy” (or any other Seth MacFarlane animated show for that matter) in the fifteen seasons it’s been running, though I certainly enjoyed Walter Murphy’s jazzy work on the smart-ass entrepreneur’s “Ted” movies. So while I might not know who the heck the Griffins are, I can imagine that they part of a Simpsons-esque seditious sitcom universe given this hilarious collection from Murphy and Ron Jones that can easily be enjoyed for its vibrantly snarky music alone. But while I might not have an idea of “Family Guy,” I most definitely did my time as a kid watching any number of 70’s and 80’s sitcoms and their wonderfully insipid scoring – a peppy, “act out” style that “Family Guy” is unmistakably having fun with, along with referencing any number of other cult disco-symphonic shows like “CHiPS” and “Buck Rogers,” and big screen soundtracks like “North By Northwest.” It’s a mix of on-the-nose sentiment, geek love and outright, over-dramatic hysteria a la Ira Newborn’s “The Naked Gun.” And there’s certainly enough material from over a decade to pull from for this consistently entertaining album. As the Nelson Riddle to MacFarlane’s Sinatra, Walter Murphy gets most of the big band stuff, and gets a surprisingly lush orchestra to sock home its jazzy nostalgia while spilling over with Frank Drebin-esque retro cop show energy. For those used to the straight-laced approach that Ron Jones took for the next generation of “Star Trek” shows, hearing “Family Guy” allows us hear the composer’s talents when he’s really let out to play. A longtime TV vet. Jones has an obvious blast lampooning the network’s wonderfully dated sound, while his more action-oriented cues have an unmistakable “Trek” signature to them. Swinging from sexy sax to apocalyptic excitement and music from the days of when network stars battled, the “Family Guy’s” insanely entertaining stylings are a love letter to kitsch TV music and the big band era in equal measure, making for a totally delightful album of meta-cartoon scoring that’s way more about taking down musical live action clichés.


The sword and sorcery version of “The Godfather” reached epic heights with taking care of the family business for the show’s most thunderously magnificent season yet – especially when it’s came to the work of its constant composer Ramin Djawadi. Increasing both his creativity in tandem with his orchestral forces, his sixth tour of duty in Westeros and its adjoining realms yielded memorable work that’s been collected for this album, no more so than when incorporating his inimitable violin-topped theme into the music (particularly when sung in an ancient tongue for “The Winds of Winter”). The frightening, white walker zombie percussion of “Hold the Door” goes from relentlessness to tragedy for the loss of the beloved, monosyllabic character, the title melody slamming home the revelation, and likely loss of what “Hodor” actually means. But then it’s this kind of character-driven emotion that’s behind the success of the show itself, vengeful battle music signaling the payback of a “Bastard” against the GOT villain to rule them all. Where a chorus gives majesty worthy of a fire and dragon-controlling goddess to the Khaleesi, there’s just as much cruel intimacy to the score, or downright creepiness in the theme for “The Red Woman” and the assassin followers of The Many-Faced God. But surely one of the finest moments of Djawadi’s Medieval-flavored approach goes to the nearly ten-minute “Light of the Seven.” As Cersei Lannister fully steps into Michael Corleone’s show, Djawadi creates the definition of building suspense. Starting off innocently enough with piano and violin, the composer creates both lyricism and suspense over the brilliantly developing cue, an organ bringing in the sense of a religious cult about to meet its maker, a boy’s chorus is added, until a full, rhythmic orchestra takes us to the point of a big green bang.

. GHOSTBUSTERS (Score Soundtrack)

Where enthusiasts like to say that Elmer Bernstein was so funny because he played things “straight,” you can always hear the bright side even in his most “serious” scoring for plane disasters, military incursions and college frat barbarism. Hence, while formidably cloud roiling, Elmer’s “Ghostbusters” score wasn’t likely to scare anyone. The same cannot be said for Theodore Shapiro’s girl power reboot and its sense of terrifying purpose. A composer who played the movie ‘Nam, male modeling and a Trumped future for all of its hilariously dramatic, over-the-top worth “Tropical Thunder,” “Zoolander 2” and “Idiocracy,” Shapiro takes an adventurously frightening approach here that’s positively unisex in its effectiveness. Though Ray Parker’s song gets quoted at just the right moments (and quite rousingly for some ectoplasmic machine gunning), any O.G. Elmer music is conspicuously absent as this “Ghostbusters” strives to be its own score. If anything, having a brassily heroic theme battle with raging, unholy choruses and dissonant effects that wouldn’t be out of place in “Alien 3” make this akin to a supernatural “Avengers” score as its mix of slasher-rific horror music, frantically heroic suspense and towering dark choral chanting (organ included) set up pure demonic evil versus boisterous, brassily thematic team spirit. Sure Iron Man might not musically show up, but using blasting, western-styled bad-assery for women armed with proton packs makes these SNL stars the musical equal of any Marvel superhero. Sure this isn’t your outraged geek daddy’s “Ghostbusters’” music. But in terms of hell blazing spirit smashing, Shapiro’s positively scary music is as gargantuan in sound as the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, symphonically socking home its girl power with the epic force of Marvel’s Night on Bald Mountain, as staged in Times Square. That there’s nothing at all funny here works quite nicely in making this “Ghostbusters” its own person.


Some composers write war scores from the thankfully safe vantage point of a piano. Others actually live the events, which gives a particularly memorable sense of Parisian patriotism to Maurice Jarre’s most epic WW2 score – now given new thunderous vigor on the occasion of its 50th anniversary by the once-occupied players of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. A young man when the Nazis marched into his country, Jarre would have numerous chances to play France’s indomitable spirit during the period in such scores as “The Longest Day” and “The Train.” But no Hollywood-sponsored all-star resistance was as impressive as director Rene Clement’s 1966 film “Is Paris Burning?” a sprawling true story of the citizenry’s struggle to stop the Germans from blowing up The City of Lights before the Allies ride in – and the equally dangerous struggle of conscience of Hitler’s high general of whether or not to defy these apocalyptic sore loser plans. As can be heard on this CD’s second WW2 disc in its re-performed selections from Jarre’s “Night of the Generals,” “The Train,” “Weekend at Dunkirk” and “The Damned,” the composer particularly delighted in contrasting anthemic marches and waltzes with the brutalist, brassy music of the Germans – a constant battle between melody and a blaring, brassy assault that powerfully rages in “Is Paris Burning?” duel of marches and the nationalistic pride of good versus evil. Defining the struggle with a theme that rings with both patriotic pomp and sacrifice, with a glorious waltz conveying victory, Jarre’s music conveys an indomitable spirit against unimaginable odds, his strings both romantic and a suspenseful race against time. But as gloriously proud as the orchestra gets in its “La Marseilles” – like swells of defiance (with the Allies getting in quotes of “Over There” and “Yankee Doodle Came To Town”), “It Paris Burning?” also offers surprisingly delicate, and ominous use of the piano (of which there were twelve at the original scoring session – overdubbed with two here), the instrument’s keys often hushed as the strident percussion of Nazis soldiers coming perilously close. But just as the people mock their occupiers as soon as their jackboots have passed, Jarre employs an oompa-esque brass section and satirical Strauss-ian dances as a raspberry blown in the Huns’ direction. The of-course accordion topped “Paris “is constantly on the melodic move in conveying the grand scope of a the world’s most famed metropolis in dire peril, all while trumpeting its never-say-surrender valor in this giant march of a score (whose Resistance peril Jarre would later play humorously in “Top Secret”), the hit theme given lovely new voice by Melinda Million. Where a compilation of Jarre’s original soundtrack had long ago been issued on LP and CD, Tadlow producer James Fitzpatrick and conductor Nic Raine’s spot on rendition of the complete 68-miute score is a revelation to the scope, and proud emotion that Jarre pays to his compatriots, a grand salute that firmly placed “The Lawrence of Arabia” composer in the front ranks of Hollywood’s epic composers. Having brought new glorious life Jarre’s most iconic score, as well as “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” “Villa Rides” and “The Message,” “Is Paris Burning?” gets an equally assured and vigorous treatment, with Frank K. DeWald’s liner notes providing an informative look at how Jarre got to re-live his own history with memorable, flag-waving vigor.


Fourteen years ago, John Powell went rogue with a world-running agent to change the face of action scoring with “The Bourne Identity.” Combining supersonic speed rhythm with Afro-beat percussion and lushly mysterious strings, “Bourne” was more music for a whirling dervish dancer than a murder-programmed spy, a fusion of alternative club stylings with solidly symphonic tradition, graced with a memorable theme to tie its kinetic energy together. That Powell’s style has only gotten more shakey-camera frantic over the course of its two following films (with James Newton Howard doing a decent job of interpreting it for the non-Bourne spin-off). Now the band has been put back together to frantically powerful effect in “Jason Bourne,” with the significant addition of David Buckley to keep the character vibrantly on his toes. Buckley is a composer who’s certainly shown he’s good at playing with others, especially when it comes to action with his collaborations with John Ottman on “The Nice Guys” and Eeran Baron Cohen on the deceptively serious sound of “The Brothers Grimsby.” With “Jason Bourne,” Buckley does more than heading up the Powell tribute band, even though you might not hear anything different about the basic beat beyond mostly subduing the ethnic part of it. The usual thematic suspects are also thrillingly on hand in a score that barely stops over its literal two hour running time (half of whose music has been well-chosen for this album). But among enough metallic percussion to fill up several Blue Man shows, a fan of the “Bourne” scores can hear how much smoother the score is given its biggest orchestral component yet. Even if the score never stops, “Bourne” is exceptionally well modulated as it goes from breathless chase to computer laptop-typing suspense, never losing its sense of melodic ideas while insuring enough rhythm to hit the shakey cam visuals as strings take the form of incredibly suppressed emotion. It’s like Bourne’s trend-setting scores never left, but have only grown with more vibrancy without breaking the mold of what worked, and set the action scoring trend that’s still kept going without a break. It’s a chase that just keeps on giving, let alone with the second time the series has awesomely ended on Moby’s “Mysterious Ways” – whose lushly improved groove sums up the score’s as well.


He may not have had Stallone’s biceps. But Jerry Goldsmith’s steroid action defined America’s vengefully heroic masculinity more than any score of the 1980’s. Where his “First Blood” certainly had no shortage of rousing, brass-fueled action, Goldsmith’s 1982 treatment of John Rambo was far more melancholy, with a trumpet reflecting a gravely wounded ‘Nam vet trying to find his place in his unforgiving country. Given the chance in 1985 to avenge our loss to the Vietnam (while rescuing POW’s in the bargain), Goldsmith leaped to the chance with gleeful, berserker fury with a score whose continued popularity has resulted in almost as many CD soundtrack re-issues as DVD editions of “The Evil Dead.” Now Intrada gloriously gets in the last note with their adrenalin-pumping two-disc edition that offers two presentations of the score in both blasting stereo and 35MM three-channel mixes, with both sounding terrific. Where “First Blood” had been a primarily symphonic score, “Rambo” really gave Goldsmith his biggest opportunity yet to flex both electronic and flesh and blood orchestrations in service of a patriotic body count, beginning with rattlesnake-like synth percussion. But where lesser composers could have let the music go through the explosive motions, “Rambo” is an exemplar or Goldsmith’s method of basing just about all of his music on memorable themes, as backed with militaristic might and the lone horn of a wounded warrior who will never win his internal battle. The villains are appropriately cartoonish, with ching-chong Asian music for the dirty Vietcong Reds (along with unexpected beauty that reminds you that Goldsmith wrote “The Sand Pebbles”), and boastful, Prokofiev-like music for their Russian controllers. It’s a comic book dynamic that sneakily dances around the bad guys for Rambo to spring forth with his gigantic knife and make triumphant bursts of heroic musical mincemeat out of them. Eventually reaching fever pitch heroic excitement, Goldmsith unleashes some of the best, ballsy escape-and-chase music of his career, with Rambo’s emotion always at the center of the sound and fury. Intrada’s ultra-deluxe edition not only offers Goldsmith’s variation on his “Rambo” music that begat the Carolco logo music (a studio his music helped build), as well as alternative tracks, original trailer music and its coolest find – a boisterously happy end title. Replacing it would be be bro Frank Stallone’s ballad “Peace In Our Life,” a song also on hand here to demonstrate the underrated vocal chops of a master of 80’s action anthems whom I’d be happy to see in concert any day. Intrada head Douglas Fake writes an interesting detective tale in how he completed the mission of putting Goldsmith’s not utterly complete, and still-vibrant score under the company label, alongside the now-complete composer trilogy for America’s kick-ass ambassador of foreign policy.

SE7EN (The Collector’s Edition)

Howard Shore might be film scoring’s version of Will Graham. For even though he has yet to score the remakes of “Manhunter” that keep appearing with the regularity of a lost tooth, the soft-spoken composer has found himself time and again in the musical company of psycho killers – most notoriously with Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs,” and time before and again with “The Brood,” “A Kiss Before Dying,” “The Cell,” “and “A History of Violence.” Yet somehow, Shore manages to hear each of his chilling muses differently, though no more terrifyingly than in 1995 with David Fincher’s game changing “Se7en,” For if mainstream audiences thought that serial killers couldn’t get worse than Hannibal Lector and Buffalo Bill, they hadn’t reckoned on the fiendish punishment meted out by the sin-eating John Doe. If music could be an avant-garde nightmare, than Shore certainly conjured an utterly relentless, yet somehow melodic tone poem to pure evil that’s lost none of its shocking power – especially in the first release of the soundtrack’s complete form after 21 years. Now expanded from the original soundtrack’s 20 minutes to 60, what makes this musically reborn “Se7en” all the scarier is just how densely melodic it is. For while while many composers would attack these kinds of artsy atrocities with a full, percussively stabbing fury that would be barely “musical,” Shore took a far smoother approach here as it were, yet with striking themes with a slow inevitability akin to drowning in a corpse-filled tar pit. “Se7en” is all about a build to an impossibly nihilistic ending, the score’s lurching motifs getting darker and darker, while avoiding Bartokian impressionism for the most part. To be sure there are punctuations to the score’s grisly discoveries, as with a somehow noble orchestra for a Swat armada before stumbling upon the desiccated Sloth in one of cinema’s most shocking jump-scares. Where “Silence of the Lambs” took more of a subtle approach as it were, what also sets “Se7en” apart is the sheer level of pounding volume the score goes for, especially in the ever rising, sharp strings of a rain-soaked pursuit of a trench coated killer. By the time our luckless detectives find Doe’s copious entries in Apartment 604, Shore’s music has achieved a level of throwback, ominous string gloom that would be right at home in a Universal horror film of the 1940′s given the density of its orchestra. The only ray of hope is provided in the lyrical opening cue “The Last Seven Days” – of course unused in the movie itself, but hear with great surprise here. When it comes to hammering the listener, Shore’s ever-escalating assumption of becoming Wrath still stands as the most unnerving cues of this genre, conveying a sense of inescapable dread determined to drown out everything before it. Yet for all the punishment that “Se7en” unleashes, the brilliant, ghastly thematic architecture of Shore’s work remains nothing less than hypnotic on this sumptuous new presentation. For a score that’s the epitome of punishment, “Se7en” still hurts so good.


There’s no better composer when it comes to cinematic reboots than Michael Giacchino, who’s re-imagined the classic strains of Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith and John Willams, all while keeping their stylistic imprint intact for his scores to two “Mission: Impossible” pictures, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Jurassic World.” But the jewel in Giacchino’s crown of continuing voyages remain aboard The Enterprise, the biggest pop culture cult property of them all. Given spiffy, homage surroundings by J.J. Abrams for “Star Trek” and “Into Darkness,” Giacchino’s wondrous, large-scale scoring encapsulated the classic Trek TV work of such composers as Alexander Courage, Fred Steiner and Gerard Fried, not to mention such big screen franchise composers as Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner (who gets a particularly nice shout out here) an enthusiasm that remains unabated for the franchise’s 50th anniversary under the new directing helm of Justin Lin for “Star Trek Beyond.” Knowing that personally identifiable themes that are just as important as the characters that fans keep coming back for, Giacchino reprises his own memorable “Trek” motifs for the this most TV-esque of the “Kelvin universe” films, which resembles one of those episodes in which Kirk beat the stuffing out of a fellow officer gone mad (as we’re definitely not going to be getting a sense-of-wonder movie after the financial disaster of the unsung “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” anytime soon). Yet another destroyed Enterprise and scaly baddies give Giacchino a real action workout here that makes “Beyond” close in spirit to “Jurassic World.” Giacchino’s ability to keep the excitement emotionally centered is the glue of his score, which conveys a brass-pounding sense of jeopardy to our beloved crewmembers, even if the main foe makes far less sense than the Khan of the somehow reviled, and far stronger film “Into Darkness.” Giacchino certainly isn’t on autopilot as he stretches his familiar themes to new heights, especially with this score’s impressive use of chorus, most powerfully as it’s the only thing that plays as Kirk’s pride and joy meets its maker. There’s also fun tribal, Gamelan-centric sound for the sexy, white alien warrior-ess who’ll be the stuff of fanboy crushes. By the time that its last act pretty much reprises “Darkness” spaceship city-smashing Giacchino’s score is right at the point of excited exhaustion, yet somehow keeps its pedal to the Beastie Boys-enabling metal. Given that Varese has a way of putting out the complete “Trek” scores, there’s doubtless more than meets the ear of Giacchino’s “Beyond” to arrive at a later Score Date.



While we’ll always have Paris, there’s no foreign country that Hollywood seems to visit more often to stage unbridled romance than Italy. It’s a land with song in its heart, especially having given birth to the robust style of opera, whose performers sing their passion to the theater rafters and well beyond. Given that form of music is a few centuries old, we can leave it to such modern, wonderfully emotive performers as Romina Arena to invest it with a distinctly modern rhythm that has taken it into the realm of “popera,” of which she is one of the premiere practioners. Put that ebullient approach into any number of classic, Italian-flavored movie songs, and you’ve got Arena’s charming album “Where Did They Film That,” a tie-in to her other talent as an author for the fun, similarly-tiled book that tracks down famed movie locations (available HERE). Arena has done a nice job selecting such standards as “To Rome With Love’s” “Volare,” “A Time for Us” from Franco Zeferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” and of course “The Godfather” waltz “Speak Softly Love.” Just as enticing are less familiar, robustly sung tunes as “Rome Adventure’s” “Al Di La,” Il Postino’s “Mi Mancherai” and the slow-burn tango of “Portifino’s” “Love in Portofino,”songs that all share a yearning, star-crossed quality. Beyond her alternately uptempo and heartfelt backing, what often gives “Where Did They Film That?” a spin that’s both truthful, and accessible is how Arena starts many of the songs in Italian, then segues to English lyrics halfway through them, making us fall in love with the poetry of of the language itself, then in its “actual” lyrics – though Arena’s gorgeous rendition of the Trevi-set “Three Coins in a Fountain” is entirely American for its lovestruck visitors. Also quite beautiful is Arena’s rendition of Ennio Morricone’s theme for “Cinema Paradiso,” an instrumental now given emotionally affecting voice. Another nice surprise is being joined by tenor Aaron Caruso for the standard “O’ Solo Mio,” which “Only You” used to swooning affect for yet another lovely Yankee woman lured to a country that’s sung in the shape of pure romance, especially given this unique collection of eternally Italian movie themes.

CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Moviescoremedia and Screen Archives Entertainment

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Simon Franglen

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 14/09/2016 - 22:24

Few fans were aware of James Horner’s taste for daredevil thrills that made the soft-spoken composer rival just about any of the action heroes he scored. When Horner’s plane crashed into the desert far outside of Hollywood, a legion of admirers were at first astonished to find out how he perished, then swiftly overcome by the shockwave of just what the sudden loss of one of modern film scoring’s most notable signature voices meant. For where so many of Horner’s compatriots had fallen to the wayside over the decades when he first came to the fore, Horner had been on a steady ascent in recent years, especially with the robustly heroic score of “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the dark, gritty electronic score to “Southpaw.” Now aside from a few concert and ballet works yet to be released, it seemed that it was all over, a tragedy given that “Southpaw” director Anton Fuqua’s next movie was an all-star remake of a remake of “The Magnificent Seven.” Then, like some impossible sighting of a phoenix, it was announced that Horner had indeed written themes for the western. When listening to the spectacular results, one might assume that Horner himself had risen from the desert ashes for one last, glorious gallop into the sunset, with an utterly complete, complex score that summed up all of the bells and whistles of a signature, singular career.

However, if there’s a real hero who deserves to have his name emblazoned after “The Magnificent Seven” musically ride again, then it’s Simon Franglen. The Chris Pratt to Horner’s Denzel, Horner’s long-time man of action has lassoed a collection of themes from potential oblivion into a powerhouse example of he-man vengeance and righteousness, sweeping into an evil-soaked town with brassy, blazing melodies, robust ethnicity, echo-plexing trumpets, myth-making voices and all the glorious fury of a western super team’s last stand. Even if the iconic theme of Elmer Bernstein, that other ghost that hovers over these “Seven,” might not have that melody present here, his Jedi spirit is standing alongside Horner – and how. An accomplishment on many levels, let alone for making one believe in the power of musical resurrection, the yeoman determination of Franglen and Horner’s saddlemates have created a tribute unlike any other.

Yet Simon Franglen’s certainly been his own musical man, working as a synthesist who’s graced the work of Alan Silvestri (“The Bodyguard”) and Thomas Newman (“Spectre”) and a song producer that received accolades for “Titanic’s” “My Heart Will Go On” and “Avatar’s” “I See You.” Franglen’s own voice will rise to the heavens indeed with his forthcoming score for musically esoteric director Terrence Malick’s Imax documentary “Voyage of Time.” But right now, we can revel as Franglen rousingly shoots the flaming arrow into a western Viking funeral as the co-composer of “The Magnificent Seven,” succeeding against all odds in a way that any outmatched gunslinger would certainly admire.

Could you tell us about your musical background?

Start with Bach and Beethoven from birth, introduce a teenage blast of “New Rose,” bring in a side of “Dr. Mabuse” and liberally sprinkle some “Snowflakes are Dancing” and “Wardance” and you’ve got my youth! I came from a family where classical music was an important part of our lives and since my great-uncle Hans Keller was one of the bastions of what became Radio 3 in Britain, we were immersed in music.

After time at university doing no work but spending too many nights in the Haçienda, I jumped into recording studios just at the birth of the first digital samplers and sequencers. I got spotted early as having some talent with them and was hired by Trevor Horn to act as his Synclavier programmer, which was an experience and a half. After working on bands like Yes, there came a point where I decided to leave and went freelance.

What drew you to being a part of the world of film scores?

I always enjoyed finding the edge. Some people love playing live, not me, I did that once and six months of playing the same tunes drove me crazy. I need new challenges. From doing records, I was introduced to John Barry, as he was finishing scoring “Dances With Wolves” and my first project with him was working on the soundtrack album. I continued to work with him over several years. For a Brit, that’s like receiving the stone tablets of film music. He was an incredibly giving man, a friend and joy to spend time with. His unique way of creating melody and emotion to build a film score and how themes speak was one of the most important lessons I have learned.

More connections followed. From working with Bill Ross on records, I was introduced to Alan Silvestri, and then I started working with Howard Shore, and then James Horner. More recently I collaborated with Tom Newman, which has been immensely fun. Each of them gave me their own insight into how scoring worked for them. Alan’s spectacular ability the turn on a dime, the mind-boggling train cue for the “Mission: Impossible” score that never was, working with Howard to create the grim synthetic textures for Se7en, John’s heart-wrenching theme to “Chaplin,” Tom’s rhythmic approach and use of dissonance, I was lucky enough to be able to experience these from the creative end of the process, rather than the technical.

Film scores allow you to challenge yourself at another level to anything else I’ve experienced. You want to write an action scene as a tango in 5/4 – check.

What were your first scoring experiences like for English television? And what ended up bringing you to Hollywood?

Unmemorable with the exception of doing my first TV show “Eye Contact,” starring a first known screen appearance of an unknown actor called Jason Isaacs (Hello to Jason Isaacs). I was producing independent bands and writing TV ads, which was an education in getting quick as a composer and a programmer. This was an essential step after my experience with Trevor where time was not an issue. A combination of a hit in America and producer Humberto Gatica’s urging persuaded me to move to Los Angeles. When I arrived in LA, there were two types of keyboard players, the concert level pianists or the more technician programmers with little arrangement or production skills, I found a niche between.

Within a few months I started working with David Foster, who was in one of the lulls that every career has. He and I hit it off immediately. I think I gave him a British edge that complemented his incredible musicality. He was a master of song arrangement and his internal chord work was second to none, you could listen to him and see a direct line to Bill Evans. We worked naturally together, he would play down a keyboard part, I would then create the drums and synths in the Synclav and we would collaborate on the remaining elements. Gradually he returned to forefront of production, with the big turning point being “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, which is a vivid memory. There followed a decade of hits and gradually our relationship evolved so that later on we were co-producing songs. Working in LA meant I had the joy of working with a fabulous array of talent, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Toni Braxton, Barbra Streisand and so on. Every day was a new adventure; watching great engineers like Bruce Swedien, Hum, Al Schmitt and great arrangers like Bill Ross, Johnny Mandel, Jeremy Lubbock and others as they crafted these exquisite masterpieces gave me an education in how to bring out the best in a piece of music, whether score or record. Of course working with Quincy was a university degree in itself.

Over the past couple of decades, I’ve done drastically different genres of music, from hits with South London grime rappers to operatic tenors to working with Mongolian throat singers in northern China. There’s a rainbow of music out there and one of the perks of this job is discovering it.

You’ve played a part through the evolvement of synths and samples from “Ferngully” to “Spectre.” How do you think it mirrored the change in the sound of film scores as a whole?

I never think when using computers in music, they are just an extension of my musical thoughts. If you have struggled to use an instrument then find something else. It ends up being a barrier to your creativity.

There’s been an inverse ratio between musicality in scores and technology. You only have to look at great scores like Jarre’s “Witness,” Vangelis’ “Blade Runner” or James’ “Field of Dreams” – all featuring Ian Underwood by the way – to understand that a synthesizer can be more than just a chugging machine to fill space between explosions. The proliferation of one-fingered musical weapons has been detrimental to the quality of the scores they inhabit. Look at them as being like sugar and salt in fast foods, they artificially hype the flavor, they make you feel full but ultimately they are bad for your health. The chuggomatics give a director fast music whilst you drink your coffee with the other hand. They are instantly satisfying but leave no trace of their existence except a rather bloated feeling after the film is finished.

Even in “Titanic” and “Avatar,” I always wanted the synth sounds to breathe, have life and even in the most modular of synth parts, have an organic texture that makes you feel the humanity within. Working with Tom Newman on the last two Bonds was a revelation for me. He has a completely unique approach to scoring that I deeply enjoyed learning. One of my musical heroes was the late Isao Tomita, who dwarfed all who have followed on. His ability to make a modular Moog sing was unparalleled. I was very pleased to see that Jóhann Jóhannsson has signed on to do “Blade Runner 2” as he still seems to be someone who is creating a signature sound with care and attention to emotion.

What was it about your music that brought you to James’ attention? And how did you fit into his musical team?

Although I’d met him on a couple of singles before, my first real work collaboration with James was on “Titanic.” The synth team was James, me and Ian Underwood, synthesist and James’ long-time collaborator, who is one of the great heroes of film music as far as I am concerned. I brought something different, perhaps a little more record based. I think that difference between us helped the score’s feel.

What were some of your memorable experiences coming up with James on scores like “Titanic” and “Avatar,” and how do you think they helped your grow as a composer? And conversely, what do you think you brought to James’ scores in your time together?

“Titanic” was the score with no money, hard to believe but true. I was brought in initially to create the “mock orchestral” elements, but that role evolved into sequencing and recording all the synths for the score in a studio out in Calabasas. I remember borrowing gear from manufacturers to try to save money. There was a cramped control room, with Underwood, Horner, Franglen in a line and regular visits from Jim Cameron who would squeeze in between whilst we played him cues and he would make changes.

“Avatar” was a different beast, I’d moved to the UK for family reasons when I got a call asking if I’d like to come and see five minutes of something. James showed me the first 3D footage of “Avatar.” It was a no-brainer to say yes. We spent close to a year being challenged by Jim to give him the score that he needed.
James gave me a free hand to arrange the electronic elements and the rhythmic soundtrack to the film. I still take pride in things like the sound and feel of the glowing forest, or the rhythms and non-orchestral textures of “Jake’s First Flight.”

Overall I think I brought a more contemporary edge to James’ work. Years of producing records from R&B to classical and my happiness with technology has given me a set of tools that extends outside pure scoring. I would also challenge him to work in different ways, perhaps pulling James outside his comfort zone.

What was your experience like working with Antoine Fuqua for the first time on “Southpaw?” Given how necessarily moody and synth spare that the music was, was there the anticipation of doing a truly fun “old school” score for “The Magnificent Seven?”

“Southpaw” was a score I urged James to chase when it first came on the radar. The urban electronica was like breathing for me but importantly it felt like another good way of challenging James to push himself into new territory with a new director. The budget was microscopic, which also meant that James had to think differently. Once we were in the score, we immediately knew that Antoine was special. He had a deep love and understanding of music, a willingness to change his mind and a great set of ears. Constantly he’d find a texture or a line in a cue and say, “That’s it, that should be the sound of…”, something thrown in as ear candy became an integral part of the score.

James, Simon Rhodes and I talked at length about “The Magnificent Seven” while we were working on “Southpaw.” James was worried that it could be a poisoned chalice. How do you ever beat Elmer? Ultimately it was an easy decision to make. After all, it was a cowboy film. We all dream of scoring a cowboy film.

What was your initial collaboration like on the score? How far did you “map” it into the future?

James came to London and he worked on themes for the film with me and Rhodes for a week as he prepared to record “Collage.” This was a normal occurrence, we would usually meet to work through themes and discuss how the films should be arranged and feel. We had a very full schedule over the coming years and the time crunch meant that he wanted to get some material in front of Antoine sooner rather than later.

After James’ death, did you think there was a chance his “Magnificent Seven” would ever make it to the film, becoming a concert piece instead? Or was it always a given that his music would be saved and adapted? In that sense, was it a mission of you all to fully realize the score?

After James’ death, we were devastated. I couldn’t just let James’ final compositions disappear. In talking with the other members of the team, Jim Henrikson, Joe E. Rand, J.A.C Redford, they were unanimous in encouraging Simon Rhodes and me to complete a suite of themes that could be presented to Antoine. Two weeks later, I was in Louisiana playing the music to an astonished director from his friend.

Given the practically all major scores are done to picture, what was the extent of the “configuring” that you had to do to with the themes to work to make it into a true score?

If you plant an acorn, you’re going to get an oak tree, but of course environment matters will affect how that tree grows. The nature of a 107-minute score is that it evolves with the edit in the same way and obviously this was no different.

What was it like for you to take on this kind of gargantuan task you never expected? Was the confidence always there that you and the team could pull it off?

I never doubted it. We have the best team in the world, bar none, with experience of hundreds of scores. It is extremely important that I highlight Simon Rhodes’ writing and arranging, in addition to his engineering and mixing. He’s utterly awesome at all of them. Since I had produced scores and arranged for James for several years, handling multi-million dollar budgets and production challenges was normal. As the long as the music wins, I’m always happy

What do you think makes a James Horner score? And how did you get inside of James’ “head” to write so well in his “voice” as it were?

James was the master of the emotional arc within a score and a film. That sense of themes and arrangements that evolve with the characters. His ability to reflect the heart of the film was unparalleled. We’d all worked with James for so long we breathed his style, so combining where he started with the direction changes that post production bring to any project was never going to be difficult. Ultimately the most important thing was that Antoine got the score he needed.

When you visited the set, what was it like playing the themes to Antoine? And how did being on location give you an idea of where to take the score?

It was an emotional moment for us all as you can imagine. He was extremely moved by this gift from his friend, it meant a lot to him. Antoine was on that set in Louisiana largely because of James’ urging that he should make the film when he was considering moving to another project. Being there was crucial, it allowed me to understand the detail, the sweat and especially the grit that was in the film. You are surrounded by hundreds of extras, horses, dust, and noise. That takes you to the place and time better than just the pure image.

The score has all of James’ trademarked bells and whistles in terms of its ethnic instrumentation, vocals and symphonic power. Could you talk about how it was orchestrated?

Giving the score a balance between the classic western orchestra and a contemporary grit and rhythmic sense was crucial to reflecting Antoine’s film. The score needed to be based in the dirt of the west; chuggomatics and a DX7 don’t quite give you that. It needed cinemascope; we recorded the 80-piece orchestra in the whole, rather than striping different sections, you lose so much of the unity of sound when you split the sections. Many of the ethnic elements came from Antoine’s urging. He was referencing James’ “Thunderheart” often and that really helped define those textures. I wanted to find an organic way to give the rhythmic and contemporary feel that a modern score needs, so we used live instruments, acoustic baritone guitars and guitarróns, disgruntled banjos and distressed qenas, rather than anything electronic for the vast majority of the score.

What do you think makes a great western score? And what are the ones that have always stood out for you? And how would you say the genre has changed in between the time of “The Magnificent Seven” and this new version?

A displaced European neo-classical composer is usually a prerequisite. There’s a need to get the sense of the hero and the land. Westerns give you so much more room, both spatially and effects-wise. There are no helicopters, tanks or robot wars that limit how you can write. Even horse hooves are relatively kind to your mix. In choosing my favourite western scores, can we presume I throw in Jerome Moross’ “The Big Country,” Dmitri Tiomkin’s “Red River”” and “The War Wagon” etc… For my Saturday afternoon fix, the ones I’d hug closest would be Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone’s “Once Upon A Time In The West” and John’s “Dances With Wolves” obviously. For the new “Magnificent Seven,” we wanted to find a home for Elmer’s original theme, but as we tried it became evident that it felt anachronistic within the body of the new movie. Films are so much wider, deeper, grittier and louder than then, arrangement styles have changed and whether we like it or not scores have to reflect the films they inhabit. The solution is not dissimilar to Michael Giacchino’s use of Alexander Courage in “Star Trek.” It’s an essential item. Fuqua has made a different film to what John Sturges did, but we still need to remember the master.

How would you describe Elmer Bernstein’s “Magnificent Seven’s” place in the western soundtrack cannon? Did you want to give a tip of the hat to Elmer’s iconic theme without actually using it?

From the outset, James wanted to have a score that felt related to the Bernstein. I think we found a way to tip the hat that pays respects to the boss.

What kind of “cool” do you think Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt bring to the score?

A man in black rides into town on a black horse packing two silver six guns, Denzel couldn’t fail to be cool if he tried. Add Chris Pratt, who couldn’t fail to be charming and it’s a match made in heaven. Add five exceptional actors to make up the seven and you have something pretty damn special. In one cue in particular, “Seven Angels of Vengeance, we tried it a couple of ways, one as you hear it now and also as a lighter heroic version. It was no contest, the grit and swagger” needed to come through in the first gunfight, these men are dangerous to know. The score needed to reflect that.

How did you want to personify each of the heroes? Were there ones that musically stood out for you?

Mostly it was case of playing the emotions rather than the surface layer. With nine main characters, you can get carried away with trying to give each their own leitmotif. There are a few that we tried to incorporate: a Baritone guitar twang when Denzel spins his guns, a nod to Jerry Goldsmith with the echoplex voices and trumpets, the handclaps and men humming. My favourite would be the disgruntled banjo that took almost a week to refine. I used this as part of the villain Bogue’s theme; it needed to hypnotise and unnerve you. It involved distressing a banjo and then sending it into rooms and surround echoes to build the musical equivalent of finger nails on a blackboard. I was pleased with that.

Was it particularly fun to play the ethnic characters of an Indian and a Chinese assassin?

We weren’t trying to hit ethnic music directly but Antoine had specific ideas about how we played Red Harvest’s initial appearance and that guided the score there. As I said earlier, Antoine was referencing “Thunderheart” and that brought in many of these textures. As far as Billy Rocks goes, he’s just waaay cool. After my time in China for James “Wolf Totem” last year I’d become very taken by Mongolian instruments. Perhaps Billy rubbed off subconsciously in my instrument choices, for one action cue I based the groove around a rhythm I asked George Doering to play on a Moorin Huur.

How did you want the score to unite these disparate characters to thematically team up into a singular fighting force by the end?

If I learned one thing from James, it was that a score has to evolve with its characters. These men, who don’t know each other, have no links to what they are fighting for, end up trying to save a town they have no stake in, they become true heroes. The score needed to reflect the heart and soul of these men as they fight together. That can only be done using long thematic cues with an orchestra at the top of its game.

How did you want to musically personify the villains?

I mentioned the disgruntled banjo earlier, however Bogue’s theme is a violin line I wanted to weave its way through the scene like a snake. I use it throughout the film as the personification of evil. Where most of the western colours and themes are more evolved, this was primary, dark and empty; very little counterpoint, very little embellishment; the character of the man and his henchmen.

What were the most challenging sequences of the film for you?

Undoubtedly the final battle, I wrote much of the final reels as a series of four connected cues across about fifteen minutes. Getting the thematic and emotional arc across the entire battle whilst still retaining a contemporary feel to an action cue was key to the process. That may be difficult to hear on the album, as like elsewhere in the CD, the cues have often been split into smaller pieces, as we had to discard so much of the 107 minutes just to get what we could fit on the album.

Though “The Magnificent Seven” is most definitely an uptempo, 21st century western, the score has a great, muscular “old school” sound to it. Do you wish there was more of that kind of unabashedly orchestral scoring going on now?

Damn right. The sound of 80 people breathing in and out, giving of themselves and their talent to bring your music to the screen, there is nothing finer. Orchestras and orchestral writing are the heartbeat of film. I think that often film producers do themselves a disservice by failing to grasp that. They forget that four chords played in repeating sequence, tutti, fff with the ‘blastomatik epic’ patch in D minor for ten minutes does not always an Oscar™ winner for best score make.

What was the mood like at the recording sessions? Do you think the musicians felt that they were making history, as well as providing the last notes of it?

Love, genuinely. At the beginning we all took a minute of silence for James, a man that many of us had known for two to three decades, a man who was as full of love for the musicians in that room as they were for him. He was never happier than on the stand with his band. This was a labor of love for all concerned and you can clearly hear that sense of community between everyone in the recording. They wanted to do their very best for their departed friend.

Given that this score is truly James’ last ride into the sunset, how do you think his “Magnificent Seven” will be remembered? And what do you think it will be like for his fans to hear him come alive here with such resonance?

I hope they look at this as a fitting eulogy for a man who loved film scores with such passion and gave so much to the art. I think a cowboy film is exactly the right film to end on for the reasons you put so eloquently in your question. He rode off into the sunset.

Your next score will be for Terrence Malick’s documentary “The Voyage of Time.” Given that James didn’t have the best experience on “The New World” with him, how do you think you’ve personally found the key to the kind of music that Terrence likes? And given how long this project has been in production for, how has your score developed with it?

About six months ago, an avant-garde piece of pure music I’d written was given to Terrence by Richard Bernstein, his music editor and my friend and collaborator on any number of films, including “Avatar.” I got a call from Dick saying “Terry wants to talk to you” and he handed the phone over. Terrence had a very specific idea about how intervals and changes could be used musically within the score that he wanted to weave. I was asked to write about thirty different four to six minute pieces, for various ensembles, some string, some vocal, woodwind and some synthetic that reflected his thoughts. He and Dick then weaved my music in with other elements, as has been his process as far back as “Badlands.” I know I’m in good company, Bach, Mahler and Poulenc amongst others. More recently I was given picture to score directly to, which has been utter joy. Writing counterpoint to a virus is not something you do every day. I can’t stop gushing about the images and the way he winds the storyline through the picture. It’s a film to immerse yourself in, almost like the Laserium experiences of old. Look up at the screen and gaze in wonder at the universe.

How important is it for you now to step into your own place, and voice as a film composer? And what can people expect from it?

I hope that in the coming years I can remind people that machines can breathe and flow as well as groove in 4/4, that orchestral writing is not a box of samples playing at full volume, that emotion in music is a good thing and most importantly, themes are not old fashioned. Finding the soul of a film in the score is what I love to do.

“The Magnificent Seven” opens on September 23, with James Horner and Simon Franglen’s score released September 16th by Sony Classical HERE

Listen to Simon Franglen’s score for “The Voyage of Time” when it soars onto Imax screens October 7th

Visit Simon Franglen’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Christian Jacob and Tierney Sutton

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 09/09/2016 - 22:38

Catastrophe and American heroism have long been passengers together in Hollywood, as square-jawed, macho men save the chosen few with the aid of scores as fiery as their commanding voices. But sometimes real life miraculously allows everyone involved in a disaster to not only survive, but to become a movie whose savior is as resonantly soft-spoken as his score. Such is the astonishing case to be seen, and heard in filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s gripping, and moving dramatization of “The Miracle on the Hudson,” when white-haired pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger somehow managed to land U.S. Airway Flight 1549 in New York City’s famed river, with all 155 souls intact. Where sound effects and the Imax screen repeatedly convey the desperate suspense of engines exploding and a smash into water, the music of “Sully” remains in steadfast, tonal control of both heart and bravery. It’s the definition of how a tough guy icon has matured into a senior citizen director-composer, whose youthfully vital work more remains the definition of playing quietly and carrying a big emotive stick.

Composing themes and score with an emphasis on the piano, Clint Eastwood’s melodies demonstrate simplicity at its finest, from the regretful “Claudia’s Song” of “Unforgiven” to “The Bridges of Madison County’s” lyrical “Doe Eyes” and the transcendent lyricism of “Hereafter.” Where Eastwood has applied his film’s soundtracks in in short, effective measure “Sully” follows perhaps the most interesting musical flight plan of his repertoire. It offers more score than usual (If still less than thirty minutes), and does so in a uniquely jazzy tone for what’s essentially a disaster movie with a happy ending. Taking the navigator seats to incorporate Eastwood’s themes with their own is jazz pianist Christian Jacob, while his stage leader Tiernery Sutton and her band apply beautiful voice and cool grooves to a embody a quiet, commanding hero who first faces death, and then the disbelieving faces of a government panel determined to question his judgment.

“Sully’s” score is a collaboration between like-minded jazz lovers that works as both club piece and score. Jacob’s confidant, lyrical piano theme captures the relief of improbable survival, with nobly subtle strings gracing the confidence of a command decision. Sutton’s lovely vocalese speaks for a wife’s tender concern, and nightmares the captain still can’t escape from, while tight percussion runs with Sully to view the air force jets that fueled his love of flight. “Airport” this score is not, with all respects to Alfred Newman.

Chalk it up to Clint Eastwood’s admiration of The Tierney Sutton Band, and its Grammy nominated leader-singer. As a vital sound of their lyrical tones, pianist Christian Jacob’s own background includes stints with such well-noted performers as Maynard Ferguson and Bill Holman. Sutton’s band also counts among its members drummer Ray Brinker (who’s appeared on such soundtracks as “Chicken Little” and “Assault on Precinct 13”), bassist Trey Henry (who’s jammed on “Rush Hour” and Eastwood’s “J. Edgar:”) and fellow bassist Kevin Axt, who’s been similarly busy as a score session player. The band’s own prolific discography has included “American Road,” “On the Other Side” and a new interpretation of the songs of Sting. Now with their soulful work alongside Eastwood and “Sully,” these bandmates have made a strong impression on how to play jazz perilously close to the angels, and survive with both dignity and cool vibes.

How does respectively growing up in France and Milwaukee differ when it comes to gaining an appreciation for jazz and classical music?

Christian Jacob: I don’t know about Milwaukee, but in France, jazz has always been popular. It just didn’t reach my ears until I was nine and I heard “Take Five” from Dave Brubeck on the radio. It is true that at the time classical music was considered (for lack of a better word) “serious music” and that jazz was ignored by my teachers. So while I was an arduous student, raised 100% focused on becoming a classical concert pianist, surrounded by all the greatest classical pieces, I was hearing jazz more and more and became drawn to it. Oscar Peterson was my next discovery, and many more came after that…

Tierney Sutton: In Milwaukee I wasn’t exposed to jazz at all, except in film soundtracks or occasional ambient music. I didn’t discover jazz until college. As a child I sang in classical choirs and school musicals, but that music didn’t “grab” me or make me want to be a professional singer. Serious classical music, of depth and sophistication, also wasn’t around…only “surface” and popular classical music made it to my ears. My jazz heroes introduced me to serious classical music.

When it comes to jazz and classical music, what links do you find between one distinctly American form of music that’s about improvisation, and the other a European style that’s about control and structure?

Jacob: The reality is that classical and jazz are two different styles of music, and even though improvisation is known to belong to jazz, it used to be an existing art form in classical style that unfortunately has been lost. I remember that even Pierre Sancan, my classical master loved to improvise. Jazz has a freedom of expression, which is a style enhanced by improvisation. But improvisation is made over a structure of harmonies and rhythm that are very similar to classical. So while they are different, they both own structure and freedom, so I would consider jazz and classical as two different areas of the same world.

Sutton: Because I was never educated or steeped in classical music—or jazz for that matter—maybe I shouldn’t answer…but for me, I hear melody, structure and form in both styles and don’t have them separated in my head. A beautiful melody is a beautiful melody and, as Christian said, there was improvisation in classical music first. I’m hoping to do a project with my friend Natalie Dessay, the great French soprano. When we talk about songs or melodies we like, it’s just as likely to be Rachmaninov or Mompou as it is to be Coltrane or Bill Evans.

How did you first team together for the Tierney Sutton Band?

Right to left: Tierney Sutton, Christian Jacob, Kevin Axt, Trey Henry, Ray Brinker

Jacob: Trey Henry, Ray Brinker and myself have known each other since the 90’s. We were playing together in Maynard Ferguson Big Band. I remember hearing Tierney sing at a Jack Sheldon rehearsal where Trey, Ray and I were the rhythm section. We all loved her voice and ability to swing and improvise on a tune. We knew right away she was a complete musician. She on her side was impressed by the quality of musicianship she was hearing. Soon after, she got a recording contract for her debut CD, and asked us to be the rhythm section. Ten CDs later, we are still together…

Sutton: It was good luck for me that I moved to Los Angeles within a year of Christian making the same move. I knew his reputation from Boston and when I heard him play (and the other band members) I knew I had found some special musicians. Earl on, Oscar Peterson told Telarc my trio was terrific and they should let me record with them. That was a big help to form and keep together a band. We went on to make 7 CDs for Telarc and the soundtrack for “Sully” and our latest CD “The Sting Variations” will be our 10th and 11th releases as a band. It’s been over 20 years, That’s not bad. It’s also worth noting that we are incorporated partners, which is unique as far as I know.

From watching Clint Eastwood’s past films as a director, what struck you about the music he composed, and his use of it?

Jacob: Even though people say Clint Eastwood uses very little music in his films, I never found myself missing the music, so that tells me he is doing something right. I’ve watch many films where I found myself rolling my eyes when the music swells and forces its emotional opinion on me. I do like to mention that I am a fan of Lennie Niehaus. He has been such a big part of the music in Clint’s movies.

Sutton: Clint’s composition style is patient, quiet and conversational. (the first 2 adjectives describe his personality as well). I was struck by his melody (that became “Flying Home”, the end title song of the film) when he played it for Christian and me. I woke up the next morning with the phrases stuck in my head. At that time I hadn’t given any thought to writing a lyric to it. I just knew that I would be singing it for cues in “Sully” —that day! So I wanted to be steeped in it. That time with the theme helped a lot when I decided I wanted to write lyrics. I would agree with what Christian said about Clint’s musical sense in his films. He uses it sparingly, but he’s thinking about it and understands it. I don’t know if that’s so true with many other directors. One thing that I think might surprise people is what a time commitment Clint made to this creative process —he was with the band for 10 hours at a time, experimenting with cues and themes with the picture. He was right there.

What was it like finding out that Clint was a fan of the band, let alone that he wanted you to score, and sing on the soundtrack?

Jacob: Clint has been following the band for around 10 years. What a great honor. A couple little stories that are dear to my heart: last year, the band was playing Catalina Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd for 3 straight nights. Clint came to see us on the 2nd night, I unfortunately had a prior commitment and wasn’t there that night. I am sure he enjoyed his evening, but did inquire as to why I wasn’t there. Anyway, he came back again the next day so he could hear me play with the band. I was thrilled.
Here is another ego boosting story; when Tierney and I attended the very first screening, he turned to us and said, “I’d like to have my favorite singer and my favorite pianist on this movie.”

Sutton: This has been a surreal experience and a great honor. The band did a private concert for Clint and some friends in Carmel last March and it just happened that my father passed away (after a long illness) the day I flew up to Carmel for the show. Somehow this feels like my dad—he was such an enormous fan of Clint’s and would have gone crazy over all of this.

When you heard about Sully’s story on the news, what was your reaction?

Jacob: When the real thing happened, it was a mixture of disbelief and amazement. I remember thinking how scary this whole event must have been as a passenger, and how the crew’s professionalism was imperative in a moment like this one. I never heard about the doubts that ensued, and not knowing that made me so receptive during that first screening that it probably helped me come up with the atmosphere of the theme.

Sutton: I remember feeling very happy and proud—and I remember hearing what a lovely, noble guy Sully was on top of the “feat.” Like Christian I knew nothing about the stress and trials that followed.

Given that Clint was a fan of jazz from its be bop days, how do you think his knowledge of the art form played into his appreciation of knowing how jazz could work in a film score?

Jacob: I think it was just a natural thing for him. Anyone who is a fan of a certain style of music will be influenced to use that particular style. Clint has been very open minded with the music. He was clear he wanted something different than the usual approach. He was very attracted by the collaborative approach of our band. In this movie I find the jazz element being more harmonic than rhythmic. Of course the improvisational aspect comes from jazz, but I am not sure that “jazz” is the right word to define this score. Jazz has so many interpretations, it is part of such a big umbrella, it blends into so many other types of music. It is all about change, and labeling something “jazz” is a very vague description. Even in our band, we are not convinced that we should be called a “jazz group.”

Sutton: Yes, I agree. Certainly there is jazz in the score, but Christian’s orchestral writing is, to my ear, in the tradition of the great classical orchestral score writer’s out there…and the songs in the score…I don’t think they’re really “jazz” per se. Clint obviously has a sophisticated musical palette, let’s say that.

Could you talk about Clint’s composing process in creating the themes? Is it as easy as him sitting at a piano and tinkering about to create a memorable melody? And do you think there’s something to be said about that kind of melodic “simplicity” that defines his music?

Jacob: While seeing the unfinished movie for the first time, I perceived Sully’s personality. I immediately had a musical idea in my head. By the end of the screening, this idea had developed into a pretty clear melody. I told Clint that I already had an idea and he told me that he had a theme in mind as well, so he invited me to come back the next day and we shared our ideas over a piano. Clint had worked out a beautiful melody, and hearing mine, he said: “I’m glad we are on the same page”. He said that I didn’t have to use his theme if it didn’t fit with my approach, but I eventually fell in love with that melody. I then harmonized it my way and we used it quite a lot in different settings. We ended up with a total of 4 themes I have written 3 of them: one being my original idea while screening the movie, another one was a vindication theme (“Arrow”), while the 3rd one was more of a stress harmonic series. Tierney, Trey, Ray and myself then improvised versions of those 4 themes while following the movie on the screen, and while Clint was intently listening and guiding us towards his preferences. Some of his comments: “I would like more space here”; “I love the lower range of Tierney’s voice”, “only piano on this scene”, etc. Tierney later wrote lyrics for Clint’s theme and for “Arrow.”

Clint’s themes for his main characters always have a noble, Americana quality to them. How would you describe Sully’s?

Sutton: “Noble” is a good word to describe the theme Clint offered that became “Flying Home”. Apparently he had been playing around with the melody for several years and at first I was a bit intimidated to approach adding lyrics. I asked a songwriter friend of mine, JB Eckl, to come and collaborate with me. I’d completed the lyrics to “Arrow”, one of Christian’s themes and was afraid I was tapped out. We both decided that the approach should be intimate and conversational. We did one draft and I showed it to Clint and I don’t think he loved it…and I didn’t love it yet! But I knew we were getting there. I think the phrase Clint used as a suggestion was “down to earth.” I knew he was also a big fan of Alan and Marilyn Bergman (who are close friends of mine) so I also was committed to a certain craft of rhyme and form in the lyrics (something that often is considered old fashioned). So I hunkered down and spent a few more long days honing it. I even went to consult with Alan and Marilyn—who offered one word to the lyric- (I’m not telling!) Then I had another consultation with JB the morning it was to be recorded. The final question about one word was literally answered in my car on the way to Warner Brothers. When I sang it that day, Clint said he cried. I figured then that we’d succeeded!

What was your collaboration like with Clint in turning his themes into the score? And how did the score develop from what you’d initially planned?

Jacob: We know that a lot of music would be cut from what we originally recorded. Clint was actually clear with us right away telling us that he would rather have too much than not enough. So we did record quite a lot. I think the soundtrack album will be witness of that. I really appreciated Clint’s trust in all of us; he was really letting us do our thing, while having many ideas of his own. He became like another part of the band, and I could tell he loved it.

Sutton: Yes. This really was just a 6th artist adding his vision and colors to the band process. Clint is now an auxiliary member of The Tierney Sutton Band for life – if he wants to be!

Tierney, your jazz vocalese adds a quietly haunting power to the score. How did you get the idea to use your voice on the score, and how did you want your voice to reflect the emotions of such an inward man?

I have always loved to do workless vocals. It’s pretty much my favorite thing do. I also have the aesthetic that if the vocal is right, it should be transparent and disappear, like a watercolor. I think that’s a pretty natural fit for a film score. I did find myself wanting the volume and level of the vocal to be soooooo quiet so as not to distract from the film or draw too much attention to it. I’m happy with how it turned out.

The piano is a strong voice in “Sully,” as well as the lush use of strings. Was that direction a given at the start?

Jacob: It kind of ended up this way. Remember, those cues were improvised on the spot, Clint liked a lot of piano solo cues. \He particularly liked the very spacey ones. Quite a few times he asked me to try a version with more space. He had used my recording of “Body & Soul” from my newest release “Beautiful Jazz” in the temp music. So, for the film, I reproduced the same feel on Sully’s theme used on the hospital scene.

What do you think the score says about what makes an American hero?

Jacob: I like to think that the score, while being mainly improvised, has a depth to it, a purity, and a human nature that touches your soul. I was very touched myself by this movie, and I needed to have a seriousness, a wisdom in the score, but also a freshness in the result.

Sutton: Christian wrote his French butt off… in a very short time. Keep in mind that we were asked to do the score on Thursday afternoon and by Saturday morning, we were in the studio, with picture, scoring this thing…with Clint directing us scene by scene. Christian arrived at that session with Clint’s theme harmonized beautifully and 3 themes of his own. After those 2 days, Christian wrote and orchestrated like a mad man to prepare the orchestra Suite for the end title (9 1/2 minutes and sweeten the band cues). The result is the beautifully crafted, many-layered score that will only be fully heard on the soundtrack album.

You could call “Sully” a real-life “disaster film” with a thankfully happy ending. How did you want the score to contrast with the bombastic expectations that usually accompany the genre, especially in its use of jazz?

Jacob: I knew right away that a bombastic approach to the music would be totally wrong; the sound effects, the IMAX, the screams, etc. are enough to make you feel the disaster part of the movie; I thought the real life aspect of the music would be much more welcome by enhancing the human element of such a story, and I think that Clint had the same feeling.

Sutton: Christian and I both immediately felt the film was about deep emotions and the last thing we wanted was something bombastic. The think that moved me the most in the first screening was the fact that Sully never gets to a place of false or forced confidence. He allows himself to stand in the questions, in the doubt. That’s where the phrase “standing inside the questions” came from in the lyric I wrote to “Flying Home”. That tenderness and doubt and vulnerability are so compelling and we wanted the music to reinforce that.

Clint’s movies usually have very sparse use of score, while “Sully” seems to feature more music than most. How did you decide where to place the music, especially when it came to the water landing?

Sutton: In the end, all these decisions were Clint’s (of course!) and he knows what he’s doing. He told us that in a film like this, there are a LOT of special effects nowadays and that music is often sacrificed. But I have to tell you, we had the glorious and as I understand it RARE experience of feeling like the director was always on our side and always wanted to hear the music and see if it could work, even if the scene seemed fine without it. Several times cues were put back in and Clint said, “It’s just too beautiful. It’ll distract from the scene,” I mean, if your cue’s gonna get the axe, you can’t complain about the reason given.

Where the music plays emotion without specifically trying to hit the action, the one, most “score”-like sequence of the film involves the simulations of Sully’s landing as the government tries to cast blame on him. How did you want to capture the tension of the scene?

Jacob: This started again as a group improvisation while watching the scene, it did fit the scene very well in an interesting way because of the drumbeat. I then later scored those takes for low strings, low horns and bassoons, and wrote a few for the orchestra without the band, using the same feeling of tension.

How would you describe “movie jazz” versus “band jazz?” And what would you say was the biggest difference between accompanying each other in a group, and on a film score?

Jacob: When we work within the band, we usually develop an arrangement over a certain period of time; performing it in front of an audience makes an arrangement grow, our way of performing it develops with time.
With the movie we really got the seed of the cues on those first improvisations. Sound effects being added later made it difficult for us to guess whether certain cues would survive or not, but we didn’t want to censure ourselves, so we kept our juices flowing as much as we could.

“Sully” was recorded at the Eastwood Scoring stage at Warner Brothers. What’s the experience like of being in a studio named after your director, let alone being given top Hollywood players to perform your first score?

Jacob: It did feel like an incredible opportunity. I personally was especially blessed, since I did all the orchestrations, and had this incredible orchestra at my disposal. The feel of trust I was given was out of this world. I was hopeful the entire time that my writing was worth that amount of trust. The orchestra’s response has been very warm to me, which was very gratifying. I should point out that Trey Henry, Kevin Axt and Ray Brinker are three of the top LA studio musicians themselves, and are usually first call on these types of sessions.

Sutton: Several members of the orchestra came into the both where I was sitting next to Clint and thanked him for using such great music.

Could you talk about writing, and performing the songs “Arrow” and “Flying Home,” and how you wanted them to thematically reflect the film, and score?

Sutton: Everything in the score was developed and finished in one month. The lyrics came in the second two weeks. I’ve already spoken a bit about this process, but I will say that in order to prepare to write, I read Sully’s memoir “Highest Duty; My Search for What Really Matters” and took copious notes. I wanted the songs to reflect the film of course, but maybe more than that, I wanted them to contain something of the inner life of the man himself. I have no clue if I succeeded, but he’s a wonderful guy and it was a pleasure to have the ideas from his book as my starting point, along with the film.

Tell us about the band’s The Sting Variations, and what inspired the album. Given that his songs have a strong jazz element, what kind of spin did you want to put on them?

Jacob: For basically our entire career as a band we always have worked on jazz standards, mainly the American songbook. We knew that we wanted to challenge ourselves in a slightly new direction. Trey Henry became very inspired and for the first time ever, one of us took the lead as producer; He came up with many brilliant ideas that inspired all of us. Being together for more than 20 years, he knew how every band member could develop his ideas. The fact that we all love and respect the music of Sting made it a perfect choice.

Do you think “Sully” has inspired you to continue pursuing film music, and title songs? And in a bigger picture, what do you think that Clint’s choice of you for “Sully” says to the broader picture of giving artists you wouldn’t expect to do a major Hollywood score the chance, especially when it comes to creating an “offbeat” soundtracks like this one?

Jacob: I do hope to pursue film music. Composing and orchestrating has always been a major passion of mine, and to be part of a team like the team that created “Sully” is an immense honor. Many years ago I scored a Japanese series named “Zentrix” for a studio in Los Angeles, and that I believe gave me a good foundation for this project. Being chosen for this film feels like a gift. We are well aware that many composers would have loved to score “Sully,” and the music could have been done in many different ways. I also believe that Clint Eastwood chose well in having the Tierney Sutton Band doing the music for “Sully.”

Sutton: I just want to add that I think the team was more fortunate that they knew to have Christian’s skills at the ready for this score. I also think that our band process, that necessitates a high level of collaboration, patience and detachment, made us a great fit. We’d love to do it again.

Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band smoothly land their “Sully” score with Clint Eastwood soon on Varese Sarabande Records, (the longtime home of many Clint Eastwood Soundtracks), available digitally on September 30th, and on CD October 21st

Buy The Sting Variations HERE

Visit Christian Jacob’s website HERE

Visit The Tierney Sutton Band’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: August 26, 2016

Soundtrack News - Za, 27/08/2016 - 02:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.3198]Johann Johannsson[] ([m.45794]Untitled Blade Runner Sequel[]), [c.1354]Benjamin Wallfisch[] ([m.43178]Rings[]), [c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh[] ([m.38138]Thor: Ragnarok[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 25 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-8-22]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.46039]Don't Breathe[] ([c.1287]Roque Banos[]), [m.45842]Hands of Stone[] ([c.1664]Angelo Milli[]), and [m.42415]Mechanic: Resurrection[] ([c.91]Mark Isham[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Patrick Watson's 'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Vr, 26/08/2016 - 02:00

Varèse Sarabande will release [a.18372]The 9th Life of Louis Drax – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] out both digitally and on CD [da.2016-09-02]September 2, 2016[]. The album features the original music composed by Canadian singer-songwriter [c.17323]Patrick Watson[]. "The director was a fan of my albums and contacted me to ask if I would do the score. I believe he needed music that was able to help support the dream states in the film," Watson stated. "The feeling of having chosen the musical direction together with the director helps to keep me on the same page for the rest of the score [especially] when scoring the opening credits first. It had a lot of the tones from the film in it which allowed me to really sink my teeth into the heart of the film in one...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: August 19, 2016

Soundtrack News - Za, 20/08/2016 - 02:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.237]Hans Zimmer[] and [c.4506]Pharrell Williams[] ([m.44626]Hidden Figures[]), [c.91]Mark Isham[] ([m.47158]The Headhunter's Calling[]), [c.1465]Lorne Balfe[] ([m.47156]Churchill[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 23 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-8-15]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.41058]Ben-Hur[] ([c.14]Marco Beltrami[]), [m.42722]Kubo and the Two Strings[] ([c.1069]Dario Marianelli[]), and [m.44828]War Dogs[] ([c.124]Cliff Martinez[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Alexandre Desplat's 'The Light Between the Oceans' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Di, 16/08/2016 - 02:00

Lakeshore Records will release [a.18458]The Light Between Oceans - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] both digitally and on CD [da.2016-09-02]September 2, 2016[]. The album features an original score from the Academy Award-winning composer [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[].

Director Derek Cianfrance has been a longtime fan of Desplat's work. "Filmmaking demands collaborative inspiration and trust. Desplat's music inspired the script," Cianfrance stated. Cianfrance had Desplat write a piano piece specifically for Alicia Vikander's character, Isabel, in order to actually play in the scenes. Once Alicia mastered it for the film, the piece became the emotional North Star for the tonal palette of the score. He concluded, "Over the next few months, I was able to collaborate with a true...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: August 12, 2016

Soundtrack News - Za, 13/08/2016 - 02:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.9466]Mica Levi[] ([m.47075]Jackie[]), [c.1238]Bear McCreary[] ([m.47042]Colossal[]), [c.1974]Steven Price[] ([m.44385]Baby Driver[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 27 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-8-08]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43979]Florence Foster Jenkins[] ([c.752]Alexandre Desplat[]), [m.42978]Pete's Dragon[] ([c.8594]Daniel Hart[]), and [m.39091]Sausage Party[] ([c.630]Christopher Lennertz[] and with songs by [c.294]Alan Menken[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: John R. Graham's 'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Vr, 12/08/2016 - 02:00

The [a.18484]Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV - Original Soundtrack[] will be available digitally in the US on [da.2016-08-30]August 30[] and on CD [da.2016-10-26]October 26, 2016[]. Composer [c.1858]John R. Graham[] has written the original music.

"Like Final Fantasy itself, [m.46827]Kingsglaive[] generates much of its energy through opposites. It blends magic and technology, the real and unreal, tolerance and intolerance," said Graham. "I was brought into write filmic music that would inhabit the world of the film, a counterbalance to Yoko Shimomura's beloved music for the Final Fantasy game series (Shimomura's work is also featured in the film). I ended up writing about 100 minutes of music which I hope conveys this simultaneous light-and-dark feeling and underlines the...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein's 'Stranger Things' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Do, 11/08/2016 - 02:00

Lakeshore Records will release the [a.18453]Stranger Things - Original Netflix Series Soundtrack, Volume One[] and [a.18514]Volume Two[]. [a.18453]Volume One[] releases digitally [da.2016-08-12]August 12[] and on CD [da.2016-09-16]September 16[]. [a.18514]Volume Two[] releases digitally [da.2016-08-19]August 19[] and on CD [da.2016-09-23]September 23, 2016[]. Both volumes feature the original score by [c.19143]Kyle Dixon[] and [c.19144]Michael Stein[], members of the popular Austin experimental synth band S U R V I V E.

"The directors were previously fans of S U R V I V E. They used a song from our first LP in a trailer they made to pitch their concept to Netflix. Once the show was picked up, they reached out to see if we were available to score the show," Dixon stated. Stein...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Paul Haslinger's 'Halt and Catch Fire' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Wo, 10/08/2016 - 02:00

Lakeshore Records will release the [a.18500]Halt and Catch Fire - Original Television Score Soundtrack[] digitally [da.2016-08-19]August 19[] and on CD [da.2016-09-16]September 16, 2016[]. The album features an original score by composer [c.1021]Paul Haslinger[].

"I love exploring the mechanics of how the story is told. It has become perfectly normal, these days, to tell stories in nonlinear, sometimes parallel storylines. I think this is also reflective of our time, which is that of many streams of information going on at the same," Haslinger stated. When scoring the series Haslinger decided to approach the musical themes in a different way. "Music sets the vibe and provides a musical connection between the characters, their highs and lows. As the audience witnesses their...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Christopher Lennertz

Film Music Magazine News - Ma, 08/08/2016 - 22:54

In person or conducting, Christopher Lennertz has a boyishly enthusiastic personality that could easily make you imagine he was a member of The Goonies just a few decades before. So it’s no surprise that he’s becoming a go-to composer for funny animal kids’ movies are increasingly playing a part on a diverse resume with the likes of “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Hop,” “Marmaduke” and “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.” It’s a merry melody orchestral style that sings with colorful brightness and adventure. Yet in R-rating land, Lennertz is having just as much fun getting down and dirty for adult comedies, which hit new MPAA extremes of naughty words and raunchy sex with no small help from “The Hangover.” Ever since, Lennertz has been rocking and rolling with attitude-filled musical jams of his scores to two “Horrible Bosses” pictures and “The Boss” herself (though don’t think that Lennertz doesn’t have an utterly sweet PG13 side as well with his stuff for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”).

Now Lennertz likely has his best laugh as both ratings merge with “Sausage Party” and “Bad Moms.” The latter group will doubtlessly end up taking their kids to the first movie by horrific mistake, while otherwise going in packs to attend the other picture for vicarious laughs. But that’s part of the wink-wink come-on joke of “Sausage Party,” whose delightfully gloved, kid-friendly foodstuffs are not-so subtle stand in’s for horndogs and the buns they want to get inside of as they try to find their place in “The Great Beyond” that lies outside of the grocery store. While “Party” immediately announces itself as a full-on Seth Rogen and friends’ vehicle with a barrage of naughty words, dope smoking and sex jokes, Lennertz, along with his “Galavant” collaborator Alan Menken deliver the typical toon-adventure sound with truly fresh vitality. You’d even think this score would be accompanying a Mickey Mouse adventure if said rodent was on some brave knightly quest in a misbegotten DV sequel to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” However, if Walt say what the guy who made Disney toons a habitual Best Score and Song winner was really up to, he’d likely spin more than a few times in his grave with the gleeful musical take-down that Menken and a deliciously errant Lennertz are truly up to. The result is exhilaratingly symphonic, expected PG CG toon music that’s accompanying anything but the sort.

Equally on note for a title that promises exactly what it delivers, “Bad Moms” is an often hilariously telltale film from “Hangover” co-writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who apply their foul-mouthed, drunken and sex-upped shenanigans in the service of girl power. Where Lennertz delivered a raw, rocking rhythm and blues guy’s night out sound for his two “Horrible Bosses” scores, the composer is perhaps just a little bit more sympathetically feminine in band sound as drives these desperate housewives and their bratty kids about town to take on the snooty PTA. While guitar and rock rhythms are abundant here, Lennertz’s ensemble also gets such feminine touches as a ukulele and women’s chorus, with strings providing a more emotional touch, showing that ladies can musically rough house with the guys while keeping their melodic dignity intact. It’s all part of the exuberant, comic course as Christopher Lennertz provides two of the summer’s most enjoyable comedy scores, one of which demands to chowed down with hot dog in gloved hand.

What do you think it is about your work that’s made your particularly busy composer when it comes to comedy?

Well, first and foremost, I think I get comedy. I grew up with things like “Stripes,” “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters,” and then ended up studying with Elmer Bernstein, who I consider to be the king of that kind of scoring. I also have a background in rock and jazz as a guitar player, so I think that eclecticism helps in terms of keeping things current stylistically. I think the most important thing though, is that I tend to be pretty big in terms of attitude, both with orchestra as well as other styles, which is really important when the music is playing the straight man. Whether it’s full on rock swagger like in “Horrible Bosses” or save the world type heroics here in “Sausage Party,” my instinct is always to have the music represent who the characters themselves think they are as opposed to what an audience might think they are.

How did working with Alan on the song-filled comedy series “Galavant,” help set you up for “Sausage Party?”

Two years on “Galavant” helped Alan and I develop a shorthand with each other. It also allowed me to learn a lot about his approach, which I’ve always been such a fan of. At the same time, I think he got so see and hear what I really do well in terms of action and how I deal with orchestra. By the time the opportunity came up, I think it made a lot of sense for us to work together.

Animation goes through a lot of “re-writing” as it were, and I can only imagine the challenge of “Sausage Party” on that end. How did the development process of the film affect your score?

Things definitely changed though out the process, but the great part was that our concept never changed. We all spoke at the very beginning about making this feel and sound like a huge epic Pixar styled adventure and we never wavered from that approach. Seth said on day one that he didn’t want comedic music, we knew we had to make Frank the hero and have the audience really root for him and cheer on the love story. The key to making this work was to make the audience care for the characters no matter how crazy the dialogue and animation became.

Have you always longed to screw with the Disney musical formula, let alone its animated clichés from back in the Menken days? And as the man who helped pioneer it, do you think Alan had as much fun messing with the style he helped put on the map?

I’m a huge Disney fan, so I have so much respect for all of those classics that defined a genre. More importantly, Alan’s work on things like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” are some of the reasons I wanted to score movies! The best comedies are often those that attack the classics head on using their approach. Elmer scoring “Stripes” like Jerry Goldsmith’s “Patton,” or Elmer approaching “Three Amigos!” in the same way he scored “The Magnificent Seven” makes everything more hilarious in the most respectful sense. And yes, Alan had a ton of fun. This may have been his first R rated film, but he’s actually a very R rated person!

On the other hand, how “straight” did you want “Sausage Party” to be the kind of scoring you’d expect from kid-friendly movies, especially as you’ve scored no small number of them yourself?

“Sausage Party” is as straight as can be. We didn’t want any family clichés for the most part. The only part that we approached in a family way was when the food first came home with the shopper before the ultimate truth was revealed to them. At that point, we tried to misdirect for as long as possible, so when the slaughter happens, it’s really shocking.

How did the opening song “The Great Beyond” spin itself into the score?

“The Great Beyond” was the first thing that Alan and Glenn Slater wrote for the movie. It was definitely supposed to be a huge production number that sets up the whole story, a la Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” or “The Little Mermaid’s Ariel in “Under the Sea.” The cool part was taking the initial motive from the song and weaving throughout the score in all different variations. It can be found set heroically, romantically, with a flamenco bent, as a horror motif…it’s incredibly effective and really becomes the main theme of the whole story. There are probably 8-10 character themes that we wrote as well, but it really is leitmotivic in a very classic way.

What was it like working with Seth Rogen? And did you get a contact high?

Seth was very involved from day one and had an amazing vision for what the music should do in this movie. He’s so smart and has great instincts, but he was also so supportive and enthusiastic throughout the process. Even at Abbey Road during the sessions, I’d see him laughing and clapping in the booth, then on breaks, he’d come out in the room and ask the musicians about their instruments, see if they were enjoying themselves, even hang about for a few pics. He’s a great spirit and really fun leader. And yes, I got a few decent contact highs, but I’m still holding out hope for a really great hang…hopefully if the movie’s a hit, maybe we can all celebrate for real!

How did the vocal performances inspire your work? And did you have a particular favorite character?

Whenever you have an amazing cast like this, it’s very easy to be inspired. Especially with characters like Selma Hayek’s sexy taco and the evil Jersey Shore vibe of the big baddie, Douche voiced by the amazing Nick Kroll. I used their inflections and delivery to influence both instrumentation and melody. Hard to pick…I think my favorite character would either be Theresa Taco, Firewater, or Ed Norton as Sammy Bagel Jr.

You’ve made very good use of all the ethnic food styles the score could turn into. Was that a big appeal of the score to you?

I love inside jokes within a musical score – especially hiding melodies normally heard in serious moments within source cues. The real fun in this one was also translating lyrics from the song into Spanish, Hindi, and Farsi. I even got my friend Asdru Sierra, lead singer of Ozomatli to sing the version of “Great Beyond” in Spanish for a mariachi version inside the cantina when The Douche becomes El Douche.

Is it a particular challenge to have music both humanize, and make you feel sorry for food?

Actually no. I think in general, I always score all the characters regardless of whether they are animated as I would any characters. When Ariel falls in love or Chip the teacup is sad, the score plays the emotions, not the characters. I think we do the same thing here. The thing that I hope will stand out the most, especially as it relates to the music, is how much this movie feels like a broad epic adventure tale. There’s a love story, a bad guy, a ragtag band of unexpected friends…we all wanted to make sure that regardless of the shocking dialogue and over the top images, the music’s job was to sell the emotions and the story.

You’re definitely right about that heroic, “quest”-like feel to the score that could easily mistake for a family-friendly score about knights. Was this always the intention?

Absolutely, Conrad Vernon, one of our directors, said, “Let’s make this the “Star Wars” or “Braveheart” of vulgar animated talking sausage movies!” As soon as I heard that, I was sold. Much like “Lord of the Rings” or something like that, our heroes are thrown together from different aisles/backgrounds and in the end, they learn to work together and become friends who in essence save their entire world and figure out the truth of the their universe. That’s Huge!

Tell us about your excitingly “Omen”-esque approach to the “Food Massacre”

That score is one of the greatest ever written and it was obviously the inspiration for that pivotal moment in the film. I was just thrilled to be able to write something in that style and be able to achieve it with such a great orchestra and choir. The most fun part was translating my poem about sausages and bread being slaughtered in hellfire and a river of blood. Where else could I possibly get away with that?

There’s surprising food for thought to “Sausage Party.” Beyond playing the obvious surface of animated scoring, did you want to hit the subtext of “the gods” and the meaning of existence as well?

Yes of course. I think everyone will be very surprised at all of the social commentary that Seth and the gang sneak into this one. There’s the struggle with the afterlife, all kinds of commentary on race and class, strong support of the rights to love and marry whomever you choose, and we even find common ground that could lead to love and peace in the Middle East! There’s a lot more under the surface than I think anyone is expecting.

“Sausage Party” has a terrifically lush and epic orchestral sound. How did you achieve that?

The Philharmonia Orchestra of London played their hearts out in studio 1 at Abbey Road. They got what we were going for right away and were amazing to work with. Our choir was the same. Really fantastic…and it was funny when they all saw “Canis Calidus” and started cracking up.

Having done a “macho” rock band approach for the “Horrible Bosses” films, what was it like getting into a more feminine mindset with that approach for “Bad Mom,” especially with unusual instruments for that ensemble like the ukulele?

First off, while “Bad Moms” is pretty raunchy at times, the directors wanted me to play more of the emotions. Co-director Scott Moore is actually from Hawaii and he suggested the ukulele. When I first wrote the family theme, I used it and they loved it. I think it’s a great and simple representation of the bond between a Mom and her children. Even though we wanted to connect with Moms, we needed to feel authentic, so that’s when I reached out to KT Tunstall, who I met last year and am a huge fan of. I really wanted her voice to bring the score to life so it sounded more like a record than just underscore.

Do you think there are instruments that are friendlier to women than most, and do you think making this score more emotional would make the ruder humor play better?

Maybe, I don’t know. I think it has a lot less to do with things being friendlier to women than it does with representing family and mothers with their kids. What we did do was listen to a lot of the best female pop artists and try to get some of that feeling and attitude. Everything from KT of course, to Feist and Liz Phair, even a hint of Courtney Love and Rihanna. Not literally per se, but definitely as inspiration.

In general, why do you think the “band” approach is the rage for raunchy comedies these days? And why do you think you have a particular talent for that?

I actually think that comedies, especially ones that are set in a more “realistic” setting (rather than genre stuff like “Ghostbusters” or “Sausage Party”) have always been the first to incorporate popular music stylistically. Henry Mancini did it with Jazz, Disco in the 70’s, Harold Faltermeyer in the 80’s. Comedies that want to take audiences along for a ride tend to need music that sets a mood and gives the audience permission to laugh rather than telling them when to laugh as an orchestral score might. As for any particular talent, I’d say it has more to do with my ADD than anything else. I love so many different kinds of music and the thought of incorporating different elements and styles keeps it interesting for me.

Did seeing what your wife goes through influence your score at all?

Of course. My wife and her friends would fit right in to this film. There’s so much pressure to be perfect Moms It’s natural to want to fight back and get back to what’s important: Loving your kids and doing the best that you can.

I really loved your work on “Agent Carter,” and am sorry to see the show go. Could you tell us about your experience through her saga, and how it opened up a nostalgic, jazz-tinted world of comic book scoring for you?

I loved “Agent Carter” from the very beginning. I’m a huge Cap fan and I was honored to take Peggy’s story, especially under the direction of Louis D’Esposito. Peggy was the ultimate assignment for me: 1940’s noir meets WWII military action mixed with the epic backdrop of the Marvel Universe. I had such a great time with her whole story. We were able to record with amazing musicians every week and even got to do an old fashioned MGM musical number that I co-wrote with David Zippel. It was an honor to be a part of it and I’m sad to see it go.

Would you hope for more adventures in the Marvel Universe, and is there a particular character you think you’d be well suited for?

Absolutely. I’m ready to go whenever! I have a great relationship with them and would definitely pour my heart and soul into any of their stories. It would be a dream come true. For me, right now, I think Spider Man would be the perfect fit. I could do something bold and thematic with heroism and grandeur. Plus he’s truly one of my all time favorites. I think I’d really nail that one.

You’ve done quite a bit of charity, and humanitarian work as a film composer. What inspired this, and how do you think music helps get an altruistic message across?

One of the quotes we often use is that music succeeds when words fail. I find that to be so true, especially in this highly charged climate of fear and division, where cultures don’t really understand each other. Music can bring people together, inspire emotion and empathy between those who do not share a language, and give purpose to young people at the most crucial times in their lives. Both of my parents were teachers, so I think my desire to promote education stems from this, but I also feel very blessed to have the life I do and if we all try to use our talents to give back to others, the world could be a much better place for our children and future generations.

You recently conduct a concert of Basil Poledouris’ music in Spain. What kind of influence was he on your career?

Basil was my hero, my mentor, and my friend. It was an honor for me to produce this concert with his daughters this summer. Truly unforgettable. Not only did I learn so many things from him, but his support and guidance really gave me so many opportunities. Beyond that, the love and support I got from his family was so amazing. “Conan” is still one of my favorite scores ever written and I hope that some of Basil’s passion for melody and power shows through in my writing from time to time.

Next up you’ll be scoring a satiric big screen riff on the already funny TV class “Baywatch.” What can we expect?

I’m still waiting to see a cut, but if I the director know Seth Gordon will make it very big and ballsy. It’ll probably a ton of fun and have great action sequences. I’m sure there will be a mix of a few different musical styles thrown in there and you can bet it will be huge. Can’t wait to get started.

Knowing that a bunch of under-17 kids are going to do their best to sneak into “Sausage Party,” how do you think they’ll appreciate your score?

I’m not sure if they’ll notice it, but subliminally, they’ll wonder where all these emotions came from in the middle of this raunchy movie they snuck into. That said, I’m sure Alan and I would be thrilled to see YouTube videos of kids playing the Douche theme on electric guitar or a middle school show choir doing a bleeped out version of “The Great Beyond!”

If you had to make a choice between scoring truly kid-friendly comedy, and way more seditious sex and drug humor-filled movies like “Sausage Party” and “Bad Moms,” what would it be?

Luckily, I don’t because the answer would be BOTH…and then some! As I said, being ADD and having a pretty eclectic musical taste, I tend to look for projects that contrast both with each other and with what I’ve been doing. I love following up “Agent Carter” with “Galavant” and “Thanks For Sharing” with “Sausage Party.” There’s nothing like taking stylistic and dramatic left turns for avoiding writers block and getting inspired. So if only I could follow up “Sausage Party” and “Baywatch” with some kind of Merchant-Ivory style drama, I’d be all set!

“Sausage Party” opens in theaters August 12th, with Christopher Lennertz and Alan Menken’s score available HERE.

Listen to Christopher Lennertz’s girl power with the “Bad Moms” HERE and “Agent Carter” HERE

Visit Christopher Lennertz’s web page HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: August 5, 2016

Soundtrack News - Za, 06/08/2016 - 02:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.2495]Dave Porter[] ([m.47025]The Masterpiece[]), [c.3914]Jake Monaco[] ([m.43482]Keeping Up with the Joneses[]), [c.13366]Geoff Barrow[] and [c.13365]Ben Salisbury[] ([m.46999]Annihilation[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 29 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-8-01]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43820]Nine Lives[] ([c.3669]Evgueni Galperine[] and [c.3670]Sacha Galperine[]) and [m.41974]Suicide Squad[] ([c.1974]Steven Price[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.43820]Nine...

Read the full news item

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Steven Price

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 02/08/2016 - 20:20

From “The Magnificent Seven” to “The Dirty Dozen,” Hollywood scores have rejoiced in teams of bad-asses determined to go out in a blaze of glory. But seldom has a composer done a Holy Hell blow out like Steven Price with “Suicide Squad.” Packing together a rogues gallery of wannabe Batman killers into a force of extraordinarily evil magnitude, the Oscar winner of “Gravity” creates an ironically unintended superhero score to kill them all. Taken from Arkham Asylum for their mad skills with weapons, sorcery, mutant powers and sensual psychotic chops, Price brings the hybrid rage of today’s action scoring to the next level, blending a muscular orchestra with metal guitar, adrenalin percussion samples and a myth-making chorus, as well as Joker cackles. Wrapped up with a myriad of motifs that emotionally distinguish their dysfunctional characters in a way that few super-team scores dare to attempt, Price’s “Squad” is united with a fiendishly bright, brassy theme that lets you know they’re the bad-good guys, with a Carmina Burana catchiness that’s likely to have listeners’ heads bobbing as if they were attending a Led Zeppelin concert.

Starting his career in the big league trenches as a music editor on the likes of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Batman Begins,” “Suicide Squad” represents a big level up for Steven Price, who’s positively mild-mannered when it comes to the thrilling mean-spiritedness he conjures for gang banger-as-film director David Ayer. The Oscar for outer space artiness is one thing, but striking savage gold in the multiplex with an attitude is a whole other deal for a composer who’s now brought a blast of freshness to the superhero thunder dome. It’s a perfect approach when you think of how DC superheroes are no better than psychos these days, and certainly no better way for the Squad to meet their maker when given the rocking personality that Price invests into his most impressive, and thrilling work yet.

How important was being a music editor with a particular talent for temp tracking in becoming a unique film composer?

Music editing was one of the many jobs in film music I did along my 15 year journey towards finally being able to compose for a living, and I count myself very lucky that I had all of those experiences, all of which I still draw on in my work now. Temp music is a strange subject… many composers, including me, are not the biggest fans, in that it’s so easy for people to play safe if a temp score is thought to have “played well” at some exec screening or other. You could get stuck with an approach that has already been used countless times before. I used to be able to trace the “temp chain”… hearing where one score had influenced another, and it was often pretty depressing. However, one plus point of having done my share of temping work back in the day was that I got to the point where I could watch a scene and immediately hear in my mind a number of ways I could help that scene work, different approaches and styles of scoring. Now, when I’m looking at scoring a scene myself, I find that grounding helps me to look beyond those conventions. My first thought now is, “OK, well I think I know what would work on a basic level but how can I go beyond that to give the scene something unique, something that feels like it embodies this unique film?” It might be the harmonic language, or the instrumentation, or whatever the approach ends up being, but the plan is always to make the score undeniable… make it so the scene just feels right. For me, the greatest satisfaction is when a cue just feels bonded to the picture, and for that to be the case it needs such a bespoke approach. So that’s what I push for, and that’s probably why I sleep less than I should.

Tell us about your initial scoring work with Edgar Wright’s productions of “Scott Pilgrim,” “Attack the Block” and “The World’s End,” and how they set up your particular style?

Working with Edgar has been a massive highlight of my career so far, and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunities he’s given me. I guess if I were to isolate one thing I feel I’ve been able to develop through his guidance, it’s a sense that every detail matters. There’s not a shot in an Edgar Wright film, or a sound effect, a cut or a line, that hasn’t been thoroughly worked over to its greatest effect. So often there are subtexts and foreshadowing things happening in his movies, where all departments are coming together to tell the story on multiple levels. This totally carries through to the way he likes to use music. To be a part of that, and for the detail and layering to be so intrinsic to the filmmaking is something that I feel is a big part of what I try and do with my music.

How do you think you pushed your sound, and ideas of what a score could be with “Gravity?”

My first meeting on Gravity featured the words “I hate film music.” So it was pretty clear I was going to have to find a unique way of scoring that film. The great thing about “Gravity” was that the way Alfonso Cuaron had conceived the movie just offered the most incredible, unique canvas for music. For a start, the lack of sound in the vacuum of space meant that I could write a very layered, detailed score with the confidence that any subtleties wouldn’t get lost in sound design at the final mix. Also, the way in which the film was shot to create the feeling you were up there in space opened up the possibilities of writing music for the surround experience in a way I’d never explored before. Combine all that with a director who would always push for something original, and would always focus on the emotional impact of the music, and it was a pretty much uniquely amazing musical opportunity. I learnt so much on that film. I did so many different versions of virtually every scene, and was pushed to continually come up with so many new ideas, that at the end of it I just emerged full of excitement about the possibilities of film music, and praying that I got to do another film one day. I was kind of aware that the score could go down in quite extreme ways – positively or negatively – so it was far from certain I’d get to have another go!

What was the whole Oscar campaigning, and win for “Gravity” like? What was the impact like on your career?

Looking back, it was a fantastic time, and totally surreal. You find yourself in all sorts of incredible places with people you’ve admired forever. The fact I was sitting next to John Williams, who was every bit the gentleman you would expect through the entire process, at the moment they made the award announcement; that’s something that has stuck with me ever since. To shake his hand, and that of Thomas Newman, at that moment… I still feel so fortunate to have been there and grateful to the film for giving me that opportunity. I’m very aware that it’s an honor to be invited into that particular world, and, with regards to my future career, I kind of figure that I will basically be spending the rest of my working life trying to live up to that honor. I think I’ll only really get a sense of the impact of the experience when a few more years have passed. At the very least, I got to write a couple more scores, and that’s made me very happy.

How did you first meet up with David Ayer on “Fury?” What was that collaboration like, and how do you feel that a tank suicide squad, as it were, set you up for this movie?

Again, the work on “Fury” started with a list of things David DIDN’T want the score to be. He wanted me to steer clear of what he felt were the clichés of war movies. We agreed that at no point would I write a solitary trumpet line as the sun rose over a battlefield, as effective as that had been in the past. From there it was what seems to be my usual process of evolving cues throughout the scoring period, sending David my latest work, and constantly tweaking and reworking things in trying to find the solution to the film’s puzzles. It felt like a smooth and enjoyable collaboration, from my perspective at least, and David would give the most amazing notes, really concise, but cutting straight to the heart of the relationships between the characters. I remember him telling me that one cue needed to “bring out the haunt” that a character was experiencing. Somehow when I returned to the piece it just made so much more sense, and I could move forward. I’d like to think the “Fury” experience created a level of trust between us that meant, when I started this one, I felt I could get stuck in and try some extreme things from day one.

David has directed gang-intensive movies before like “Harsh Times,” “Street Kings” and “End of Watch.” In that respect, how much of a “gangster” approach did he want that would call back the past scores he’s gotten?

Filmmaker David Ayer

We’ve never really discussed past scores together. David is always pushing for new music, and new thoughts, so looking back never really happens. But I immediately felt when working on “Suicide Squad” that the film totally had this recognizable quality of his films: that sense of the “Squad” themselves, this gang of misfits coming together in a believable way for a shared goal. Something in the way David writes and directs creates a real true sense of camaraderie amongst the characters. You instantly believe these relationships exist, and feel the shifting relationships between the gang members. The added dimension in this one, with this being a gang of, essentially, insane and troubled outsiders, who all come together and form this weird, dysfunctional and dangerous family gave me a lot to play with musically.

Did you immerse yourself in the Squad’s comic book appearances before tackling the score?

I’d read a fair bit when I was younger, but only since I finished scoring the film have I taken a closer look at the comics themselves. Before that I felt I only wanted to be responding to David’s interpretation of these characters, and this world, without any preconceptions at all. I didn’t want to drag any baggage into the process with me before I’d seen what David was doing. It’s kind of interesting now, though, looking back into the original comic books, just how much detail has gone into this film. There are so many details from the original comic books that the fans are going to pick up on, and this incredible sense of respect for the canon of it all. Hopefully, in being true musically to the way David has portrayed these characters, the score itself honors that history too.

How difficult is it to make the bad guys musically heroic? And in that way, was it particularly important to make the their treatment more than one-dimensional?

The very nature of the characters in the film ensured that the musical approach had to be multi-dimensional. These are truly the bad guys, and if there was going to be any sort of heroic feeling, no matter how skewed, it had to be earned. Take the character of Deadshot, who is Will Smith’s character and who I absolutely loved writing for. On one hand, he is, as one of the lines in the film has it, “a serial killer with a credit card.” He’s an incredible hit man, paid to kill. So nothing heroic there. But then we see how he’s fighting to see his daughter who he’s separated from, and how desperate he is to escape the life he’s in, and then see him in action, where, within his own reality, he’s someone who can be counted on in a battle, someone to fight alongside, and you start to feel way more connected to him. There’s a journey there, and I wanted the music to reflect that. And that’s just the one character! The performances in the film, without exception, allow you to believe in these complex characters and their situations, and so, for me, the job was to really immerse myself in those performances and support them in any way I could.

Was the musical direction of “Suicide Squad” obvious from the start, or did it go through any major evolutions to get there?

Some of the direction came really early. I remember going to Toronto when they were shooting to see some early scenes, and something about the colors of the film, and this sense of fun, the feeling that it’s a good time to spend with these extreme characters, sent me off to my studio knowing that I wanted to find a sound for the film that felt exciting, and gritty but, also somehow kind of rough around the edges. David and I would talk in terms of “adding the neon”, this extra layer of extreme, day-glo color that seemed to emerge from various combinations of distorted guitars, basses, analogue synths and delay pedals – some quite unhinged sounds running alongside the orchestra. That stuff seemed to land pretty quickly, and, whilst it evolved throughout, there are sounds in there that I recorded in my first couple of weeks on the film. The tricky thing was finding a way to portray some of the wilder characteristics of the Squad members in a way that didn’t overbalance things, when there’s so much extreme stuff happening onscreen throughout the film. Portraying someone with voices in their head, for example, but in a way that didn’t just feel so strange it would disorientate someone watching the film, and push them away from the character. That stuff could take some back and forth, and rethinks, but some of those moments have turned out to be the ones I’m most satisfied with

Given so many members of The Suicide Squad, did you want to attempt to give the characters their own musical signature?

I felt very strongly that I wanted this to be a thematic score. The characters are so strong and distinct it felt like it would be unforgivable to not try to give them some strong musical identities. In most cases this is the first time we’ve met these amazing people on the big screen, and I wanted to introduce them in as memorable way as I could. Obviously though, the concern would be that with such a large group of characters, the score could just become a procession of unrelated melodies, and that you’d never get a sense of things developing and truly telling this story. So I spent a lot of time thinking about that, how it would be possible to score the film in a thematic way, and yet allow the themes to earn their place, and evolve and develop along with the characters. An early conversation in the cutting room really helped me out. David talked of how each member of the Squad is, in their own way, an outsider from society. They don’t fit in, whether it be because of their abilities, or their predilections, their appearance or past crimes, or whatever else it may be. Really, the Suicide Squad, unlikely as it would seem for each of them, represents the first time they’ve actually belonged, even though it’s such an insane gang to be a part of. So, that got me thinking of ways in which the character themes could find their home in the main Squad music too, how their melodies, recurring rhythms, whatever felt right for each individual, but also somehow slightly incomplete and “other”, could also become part of the Squad’s musical identity as it starts to coalesce. So these themes could coexist, and play off each other as the film’s relationships develop. Working on that was a really fun part of scoring the film.

How did the balance between more realistic villains like Captain Boomerang, and more supernatural / comic book ones like Enchantress affect the score?

With all of the characters it was a case of finding their heartbeat and color, and then the balance came from the way they interact on the screen. Captain Boomerang is one of the funniest characters in the film, always looking for a win, always planning, but also with a really endearing quality, and his music tries to reflect that. There’s skittishness to him, but also a rough sweetness that I felt really came through in Jai Courtney’s performance. With Enchantress you’re dealing with this incredible timeless, mystical and powerful entity, which obviously led to a different approach. Her music features a lot of choral work, and some often quite extreme musical sound design. She has untold powers, and a sense of desperation that really felt like the music could fly to some quite extreme places with her.

Harley Quinn and Deadshot are the two villains who’ve gotten the most play in the press. How did you want to play these characters, and their chemistry?

As I think is clear from the trailers and surrounding press, the performances of Margot Robbie and Will Smith in this film are incredible. And their characters are so likeable but complex that they were a lot of fun to write for. Harley is this incredibly charming mixture of bad / good / happy / sad / manic / chilling… and yet you enjoy every second spent with her. So musically I just tried to join her in the journey, and capture the twists and turns. There’s some moments of real, bare emotion in her story, and it was a lot of fun to take her theme to those places, but also embrace the insanity of some of her other behavior. Likewise with Deadshot, the complexities of his character gave me a lot of musical opportunities. He’s represented by two main motives, one of which signifies his relationship with and love for his daughter, and is full of sadness and yearning, whilst another, more hopeful, reaching figure, shows him as the highly skilled soldier he is, using his skills to reach for a better life. As Harley and Deadshot get to know each other, and respect and like each other, there were moments where, as with the other characters, I got to combine their musical identities in various ways.

Tell us about your approach to The Joker and Batman. Did you want the score to tie in at all to the DC musical universe that came before it especially given your work on films like “Batman Begins?”

My aim with those two icons was always to play the characters as I saw them on screen in this specific film, and through David’s vision, rather than reflecting other differing approaches. Whilst there have obviously been so many incredible musical versions of these iconic characters over the years, here I wanted to be honest and true to this specific direction. For example in this film we see Batman from a different angle… we see him through the eyes of our villains. And to them, Batman soaring into the scene is truly bad news. So I played him musically that way. I hope when he enters the scene you really feel the same sense of dread that our protagonists do. Writing for Jared Leto’s Joker was also a massive joy. There’s so much in that performance, so much intensity and insanity, and it was fun to push those buttons. But there’s also a feeling of his true, twisted love and longing for Harley that gives the Joker’s music a sense of doomed and epic romance, all the time on the edge of falling off a cliff. Opportunities to write music like that don’t come up often!

Hybrid scores that mix orchestra with electronics and samples are all the rage now, and “Suicide Squad” hits that bill and then some. How did you want to make that mixture here stand out from the pack?

The nature of the fusion of the orchestra and the electronics was dictated totally by what was onscreen. I just had to work out how those insane images should sound! I think the film has a unique look – everything from the production design and costumes through to the tattoos on the Joker’s chest have this aesthetic that immediately made me want to find a distinctive sound that felt like it lived in the same world. Sometimes, the orchestra felt right alone in telling the story, but often I needed to find a way of distorting that, of making it less straight. The music had to feel like it had led this strange life. When I first saw the film, something abut the way it looked made me think of the kind of extreme, feedback-y guitar work of people like Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, or my first boss, the Gang of Four guitar player Andy Gill. Playing with various textures gave me a way into the score that I couldn’t find with the orchestra alone and the combination evolved to feel pretty unique, I think and hope. The palette evolved until it felt right against the images.

The chorus plays a surprisingly big role in “Suicide Squad.” What do you think voices brought to the score?

Something about the human voice just connects with me in a very pure way, and I love to work with singers, both individually and in larger groups. With a score as extreme as this, the way the human voice could be so immediately affecting in one scene, but so otherworldly in the next, meant it became an important part of my palette. Initially in the film, the female chorus itself is associated largely with the character of The Enchantress, whereby the male voice choir helped me conjure up the ancient, primal nature of Killer Croc. As things develop in the movie, it was great fun having the choir enunciate the “Ha Ha Ha!” laugh of the Joker over some critical moments of his story. The choir was superb. It was one of those sessions where things just fell into place and I feel they carry some important emotional weight within the music.

After taking a relatively sparse approach to “Gravity” and “Fury,” was it particularly cool to really go for it with “Suicide Squad?”

It was both great fun, and massively scary. Whilst my previous scores have had their share of complexities, the variety of music in Suicide Squad,” and it’s sheer scale, meant that I went into the sessions both incredibly excited to hear this music being performed by the musicians, but also utterly convinced that we’d never get through all of the music that I’d written in the time we had available! Thanks to the brilliance of the musicians it all worked out well, and there were some lovely moments where things came to life. In many ways, these recordings were less technical than other things I’ve done. With “Gravity” for example, I was recording individual lines separately so I could spin them around the surround speakers to immerse the audience in space so it was quite a dry process at times. Here though, there were occasions when the orchestra could throw themselves into a melody, and it was wonderful feeling the way that the musicians moved as one from phrase to phrase, adding those layers of humanity.

When “Suicide Squad” is in full fury, it feels like a score as a rock concert in cues like “Are We Friends Or Are We Foes?” How did that draw on your own band background, especially in giving the characters their attitude?

To me, it felt like the music for the film needed to have a lot of attitude and swagger. These people don’t fight clean, they don’t talk politely, they don’t care for niceties. So when things got lively it made sense to me that I could go big, and mean every note, and it didn’t feel right doing that in a purely traditional way. We were lucky to get Josh Freese in to play drums, and he’s one of the most powerful musicians I’ve ever spent time with. Just a great player, and grasped exactly what I was looking for as soon as I played him the demos. Added to that, there’s quite a lot of guitar playing in the score. I’ve wasted many years of my life making broadly obnoxious noises with guitars. My studio is full of far too many instruments, pedals and the like. So it was enormous fun to direct some of that energy into the score. There’s always a danger that guitars can sound a little lame in film scores, so I was determined to find the right sounds, and layer things up until they felt rough and ready enough for the Squad. I’m pleased I recorded all of the guitars on my own in the studio though, with no witnesses, as there were probably some embarrassing faces pulled as I played the main Suicide Squad riff.

Conversely, how did you want to play “Suicide Squad’s” more emotional “downtime” music in comparison to the rest of the score’s insanity?

One of the great things about the way David directs is that he’s not scared to give some space and stillness to emotional moments. He understands the value of lingering on a look, or a reaction. There are moments in the film when characters who, let’s face it, are not the nicest people in the world on a surface level, can really move you, and my job there was to find a space to allow that emotion to breathe. Within the thematic structure of the score, there were many occasions where I found myself getting more and more simple, with fewer and fewer notes, really finding the heart of a character’s theme for the moments when they were at their most damaged and vulnerable. David is excellent when it comes to clearing sound effects where appropriate in the final mix to give moments like that a resonance within the chaos of the rest of the film.

Given that you’ve worked as an editor on high-pressure studio tentpoles, like “The Lord of the Rings” films, how did those experiences set you up for the anticipation, and pressures of a movie like this?

My approach to everything that carries pressure or anticipation is to ignore that feeling as much as humanly possible. It’s not always easy, but I’m not sure thinking about the scale of a challenge too much is helpful. I kind of have this inner belief that so long as I keep moving forward and trying to do my job every day to the best of my ability, that’s as much as I can do. Everything else comes down to the way the cards fall. There’s no doubt that a project such as this brings with it a lot of pressure, and a lot of opinions and politics, but really if you can take a moment to truly focus (which can be tricky when all hell is breaking loose), you realize that most of what is going on around you is just noise, and nothing to do with what we’re trying to achieve. At the end of the day, we’re trying to tell a story. Within that story are a million decisions to make, all of which add up to the end result, but you can only take one of those decisions at a time. So I just try to keep moving forward, keep challenging myself to deliver work I feel enhances the story I’m working on, and, through it all, enjoy this amazing job. No matter what the pressures are, and really no external pressure is ever as extreme as the pressure you put on yourself to do your very best work, at the end of the day I get to sit in a room surrounded by musical instruments, and I get to share the things I come up with there with many wonderful musicians who all bring their talents to the piece. There is pressure, yes, but it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of doing the work.

“Superman Versus Batman” was criticized for being way too dark, so that when the “Suicide Squad” additional shoots happened, the news was how they were meant to lighten up the film. Seeing that reaction, did it also fall onto you to give more of a “fun” feel to the score, especially with the additional footage?

It seems with any project like this, the rumor mill can lock onto any number of leaked details, and before you know it there is an accepted story that actually may be quite a lot different from the reality! Certainly from my perspective, the score evolved in a very natural way through my time on the project, and there was no particularly specific pressure applied to me to assume any particular tone. This was always going to be a very different film from anything that had gone before in the DC world, and the very fact that I was invited to contribute meant that the score was going to sound different. Fun was always a huge part of this film, and it was one of the most exciting things that struck me when I saw the rushes way back in the middle of 2015, before any talk of reshoots.

The “Suicide Squad” soundtrack includes a bunch of bonus cues. What can you tell us about them?

I take a lot of pride in the CD (as it used to be!) presentation of my scores. I really want people to be able to listen to the score as an experience that both reminds them of the movie, but also makes sense as a standalone listen. So when it came to compiling the score album, that was my priority. But, I wrote and recorded a lot of material for this project, and whilst I’m very happy with the CD presentation, the time limits meant that there were a lot of pieces I couldn’t include. The fact that I was trying to give this group of characters their musical identities for the first time meant that I wrote and wrote, often writing lengthier versions of character’s cues that would appear in a truncated form within the film itself. When Watertower Records suggested that we could have some bonus tracks on the digital release of the score it felt like an opportunity to include some of those tracks that were really crucial to the film but that I just couldn’t fit onto a 74-minute album. With a film like this, I feel a great responsibility to the people who love these characters. Even if one person who loves Killer Croc is happy at the idea that his theme is available for them to listen to whenever they like, I think that justifies making them available digitally. Besides which, the bonus tracks contain some of my favorite performances. It was my first time recording in Hollywood with LA musicians, and there are some wonderful memories captured in those tracks.

Your other major project has been scoring the TV nature series “The Hunt.” What’s it like to score a particularly savage documentary show?

Actually, one of the joys of “The Hunt” was that is was less savage than you’d expect given the title. The show was a study in predation in the natural world, and the truth of it is that most predators fail most of the time. For me, it was a real passion project. I’ve enjoyed the natural history shows the BBC have made all my life and it was a genuine thrill to work with the amazing, often beautiful images. The truth is, there are no better stories than those that exist in the natural world, and the process of scoring the series was a joy. It was a daunting one. In my film career I’ve tended to take a long time over scores. I very much work the old fashioned way, I guess. I write every note myself and am totally involved in every stage of the process, all the way through the final mix, so the idea of producing essentially six 45-minute scores over a five-month period was kind of terrifying at the time. But it was an absolute joy. Every couple of days I’d start a new sequence with some new characters, and got to explore all manner of moods and approaches along the way. It was fast, but incredibly freeing and satisfying to do. In lots of ways, whilst I love the obsession of really focusing in on a score over a period of months, there was a great energy about working so intensely and yet so quickly for that period of time. I’m incredibly proud of the series.

In the end, would you describe “Suicide Squad” as a superhero score? And given that sequels and spin-offs have already been announced, where do you see your music for the characters going if you should continue with the franchise?

“Suicide Squad,” as a movie, feels like something very new to me. Whilst it’s undeniably a comic book movie, and a lot of fun, there’s a lot of character depth and complexity in there, and a unique feel to the whole thing. With the score, whilst I definitely got to have a lot of fun playing with, for example, the mystical and action sides of things, I was also invited to go on this weird, unpredictable rollercoaster journey with the Squad. It was a real pleasure to spend the last few months with them. I certainly would love to see where they go next, and would be very excited to see where their stories could take their music. It’s an incredible world to play in. I will miss Deadshot, Harley and the rest of them for now, but I hope people enjoy watching them as much as I have.

The “Suicide Squad” takes aim in theaters August 5th, with Steven Price’s score available on Water Tower Records August 8th HERE

“Attack the Block” HERE, Get lost in “Gravity” HERE, and take a ride with “Fury’s” suicidal tank squad HERE

Go on “The Hunt” HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: July 29, 2016

Soundtrack News - Za, 30/07/2016 - 02:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1422]Ilan Eshkeri[] ([m.46976]The Kaiser's Last Kiss[]), [c.2590]Dan Romer[] ([m.46974]Katie Says Goodbye[]), [c.6885]James Lavino[] ([m.46962]One Last Thing[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 34 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-7-25]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.45214]Nerve[] ([c.1240]Rob Simonsen[]), [m.45982]Bad Moms[] ([c.630]Christopher Lennertz[]), and [m.39488]Jason Bourne[] ([c.1620]David Buckley[] & [c.171]John Powell[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Rob Simonsen's 'Nerve' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Vr, 29/07/2016 - 02:00

Lakeshore Records will release the [a.18239]Nerve - Original Motion Picture Score[] digitally [da.2016-07-29]July 29[], 2016, and on CD soon thereafter. The album features the film's original score by composer [c.1240]Rob Simonsen[]. The soundtrack also features the original track "Let's Play" performed by Simonsen and White Sea--an energetic synth-driven track with an 80s vibe.

"The directors Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost and I talked before shooting started, and discussed about using a lot of synthesizers and drawing from an 80's vibe," said Simonsen "This worked out great as I hoping the score would reflect the excitement of the film- electricity through the nervous system, always playing on your nerves."

"We came up with the idea of using a children's choir to capture a...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: The Academy Celebrates the Music of Movies

Soundtrack News - Do, 28/07/2016 - 02:00

The Academy will highlight the art of film music with three programs in August: the West Coast restoration premiere of [m.13672]King of Jazz[], a tribute screening of [m.20960]Purple Rain[] with members of the cast and crew, and a live concert celebration of [o.]The Black Movie Soundtrack II[], featuring Oscar-winning recording artist [c.14721]Common[] and guests. The events will take place at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills and at the Hollywood Bowl.

The schedule is as follows:

[m.13672]King of Jazz[] (1930) – West Coast restoration premiere
Wednesday, August 17 – 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater

Hosted by Academy governor and Oscar-winning composer [c.534]Michael Giacchino[] and animation director David Silverman.


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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Jay Wadley

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 26/07/2016 - 19:47

A time capsule in many, almost outrageous respects, “Indignation” takes us back to 1951, a year when youths went to college for a stringent education, as opposed to schooling themselves with beer and girls. The decade’s beginning was also marked by a “police action” in Korea and a home front war against sex, whose acts taken with utter casualness now could result in social shaming, or far worse back in The Day. It’s into this Puritanical environment of higher learning that the intellectually strident Marcus (Logan Lerman) tries to find himself at a college in Cleveland, rebelling against his provincially Jewish upbringing in the big New York borough city. At first choosing to entomb himself in a world of books, Marcus’ social isolation is breached by his attraction to Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), a gorgeous WASP who proves to be his intellectual, if not mentally stable equal.

“Indignation’s” adaption from the novel by Philip Roth (“The Human Stain”) is the stuff of high-toned tragic romance and verbal parlaying that marks melancholy, a lyrical feeling impressively realized by Jay Wadley. A Yale grad himself, Wadley’s background includes the far more lowbrow humor of “College Humor Originals,” the dramatic series “Lie To Me” and “The Nine Lives of Chloe King” and the documentaries “Fair Chase” and “We Live This.” Now his heartbreaking, thematic melodies serve as an impressive introduction to Wadley’s classically attuned talents that have seen his music commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Ensemble, the Louisville Symphony Orchestra and Rufus Wainwright for his Opera and Song Cycle. Employing a chamber approach for violin and piano, Wadley reaches into Marcus’ hungry, yet shut-off mind to poignantly reflect his emptiness. But there is a tenderness as well to be discovered as well in Olivia, with sharply trembling, string lines reaching into a mental instability she masks with utter, deceptive poise.

With more rhythmic, fuller orchestral passages moving the film along with an inexorable feeling of fate, Wadley’s strikingly intimate and melodic score brings humanity to characters who’ve shut themselves off from feeling at a perilously young age. It’s an intellectual musical approach that reaches into a memorably melodic wellspring of universal emotion, matching the gauzy lensing of longtime producer, and first time director James Schamus, and Oscar nominee for overseeing “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain,” Wadley also dives into the “Indignation’s” time frame in crafting the resoundingly lush song “Is it Love,” with features Jane Monheit’s gorgeous voice as exactly the crooner you’d imagine when parking a borrowed car for some pre-curfew intimacy. With his own composing signature given it’s first Hollywood feature, Wadley’s poetically heartbreaking music is likely to create its own poetic swoon in speaking volumes for the time-honored genre of tormented romance.

You could be described as one of those “come from nowhere” composers with this score. Could you tell us about your musical background?

I grew up in Oklahoma taking piano lessons as well as playing drums, singing in, and writing songs for my punk rock band. I took voice lessons in high school and was in the All-State choir which exposed me to living choral composers who were experimenting with sonorities that challenged my perceptions of classical music. I was so inspired by that music that I purchased a basic version of Cakewalk so I could notate using midi and eventually completed my first choir piece. I organized around 40 choir friends to perform it at my school’s talent show senior year and from the moment I walked off stage, I knew I was going to be a composer.

I went to Oklahoma City University where I majored in classical composition with a minor in vocal performance. My professor, Edward Knight, was a former student of John Corigliano’s and was instrumental in helping me begin to develop my own voice and fundamental process of composition. I then attended the Yale School of Music where I received a Masters and Artist Diploma in composition while working in the Center for Studies in Music Technology engineering recordings and diving into production. I was lucky enough to study with Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis and the late Ezra Laderman. I will forever be grateful to them for taking a chance on a wide eyed kid from Oklahoma. After graduation I stuck around Yale to teach and work in the studio but had interests in getting into film and TV music. Through a composer friend in LA, I had the opportunity to demo for an additional composer job which turned out to be “Lie To Me” on FOX. Composing on that season was the first time I’d ever scored to picture and I was thrown into the fire of hour long network TV drama deadlines. It was super intense but I learned so much about working efficiently to turn around a lot of music on a tight deadline. After that I spent a few years helping Rufus Wainwright orchestrate his opera and song cycle, further honing my orchestration skills as I slowly continued growing my music production company, Found Objects, with my friend and fellow composer, Trevor Gureckis.

How did your background doing such diverse work as shorts for “College Humor” and series like “Lie To Me” prepared you to take on a super-serious movie like “Indignation?” And what was it about your work that appealed to James Schamus?

Funnily enough, those projects were initially more foreign to me than the work I did with James on “Indignation.” “Lie To Me” taught me the mechanics like how to produce, score to picture, deliver on tight deadlines, take lots of notes and how not to sleep. With College Humor, whether it required me to produce/sing my best impression of Nickelback for “Look at This Instagram” or write psychotically happy toy advertisement music for animations like “Hoverboard Lightsaber Portal Gun Fight,” I viewed every project as an opportunity to do research and expand my musical vocabulary.

With James, I was initially brought in to score his comedic short doc, “That Film About Money”, for Morgan Spurlock’s “We The Economy” series. That was about 2 years ago now, but I think we spent a lot of that initial meeting just chatting about classical music and Rufus Wainwright. We had a really great time collaborating on that project and getting to know each other. 6 months or so later he gave me a ring asking if I would be interested in working on “Indignation”. My experience on the other projects gave me practical tools and adaptability but it was my passion for classical composition and training that I think he found fitting and what allowed me to dive into the seriousness that a film like “Indignation” demands.

Given that this was James Schamus’ directing debut after producing so many prestigious films, was there an extra sense of striving on his part to make “Indignation” stand out?

James Schamus

James is a man with incredible intuitions, a wealth of knowledge and is a consummate collaborator. He invited me to peer into his process along the way from reading the script, visiting set, sitting in on edits/color etc… His thoroughness, experience and clear directorial perspective was evident from the performances and beautiful shot framing to his diligent placement of music cues. It was a pleasure to watch as he treated everyone with the type of respect and kindness that inspired and expected them to do their very best work. He had strong concepts he would stand up for when he knew they were right. If something wasn’t working, he encouraged experimentation until we found what we were looking for. Some of our favorite musical moments emerged when we stripped everything away and tried something entirely new and different. It might have been his first time in the director’s chair, but James is an experienced and creative leader who I think allowed his work and perspective to materialize very naturally.

James has overseen such memorable scores as Mychael Danna’s “The Ice Storm” and Tan Dun’s Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” What musical lessons was he able to impart to you?

James often stressed the importance of melody and thematic development so as not to fall into the trap of meandering film score filler. He wanted the score to be simple but have substance. Cues needed a reason to be there and needed to be deliberate in the way they entered and exited. It was a structured and thoughtful approach to the creative process that I’m very grateful to have experienced with him. James always came to the table having done his research and took a lot of care in making his creative decisions. I learned a lot from just watching that.

Were there composers, or scores that were an influence on “Indignation?”

Yes, but James had a brilliant way of leading me places without explicitly referencing one composer or score too soon. He wanted me to arrive at a conclusion of my own. After reading the script, I wrote a six-minute exploration on the instrumentation and themes. They ended up temping that in a few spots in the film and it became our first “in” to the sound of the score. James said he didn’t want the score to sound too polished and for it to have a classic chamber approach. At one point he showed the demo to a few people who felt like it had a “La Pou Deuce” Georges Delerue vibe to it, which was a reference that James had imagined, but never mentioned. We listened a bit to Fauré and Satie to inject a hint of French piano music into Olivia’s theme since she is a French Literature major. I’ve been influenced by a wide range of classical composers through the years but others we listened to give us new perspectives were Morton Feldman, Arvo Pärt, Lou Harrison – almost exclusively classical composers besides the 1950’s love song references.

The dialogue-driven nature of Philip Roth’s work has always made his work especially trick to adapt into film. Did that provide a challenge in creating a “literary” score as well, especially given “Indignation’s” long, almost play-like stretches?

Approaching the score with a chamber/classical sound put us in the right zone to begin with, I think. The thematic material needed to be addressed with a certain discipline that the intellectual dialogue embodies. I don’t think other musical genres would have achieved that same parity. The film also required an intimacy in the score but with enough distance in the recording to breath. We hoped to achieve that quality through a more concert like placement of the instruments and production style. I think that if the music ever felt too close to the ear or was overproduced it wouldn’t have that classic character that I think compliments the “literary” or play-like dialogue.

How did want to develop the score’s themes?

Since I was in the room from the start of the edit, composing temp cues and experimenting with James, we had some luxuries in the exploration phase. As the edit started revealing its structure, so did our themes, their variations and significance. We didn’t work as linearly as you might if the film edit had already been locked and I think that process benefited the score. James was adamant about having strong melodic material established that we could then expand and apply throughout the score in support of Marcus’ and Olivia’s character development. In addition to the more traditional thematic development, I peppered the score with little intervallic cells that are subtle but I hope helped the score succeed in its cohesiveness.

“Indignation’s” score varies between more quiet moments, and those that have more of a rhythmic force. How did you want to use those different tempos?

It was important that there were those energy peaks and valleys as we followed Marcus’ journey. Those differentiations were important in communicating the hopefulness of arriving at the Winesburg campus in “Convocation” to capturing the tumultuousness nature of his world being turned upside down and the sense of loss that he feels in “It’s Impossible/Forever”. There is a unique aloneness that Marcus experiences which can be devastatingly intimate and dark. We had to first establish the audience’s investment in his ups and downs and desire for him succeed before we could strip it all away from him and let the audience mourn.

What’s the challenge of putting yourself in the musical mindset of hyper-intellectual young adults, who talk in a deliberately stylized manner?

I think the music wanted to naturally gravitate towards a sound that complemented the intellect and import of the characters dialogue that James crafted. The look, feel and dialogue have a seriousness that is commanding and hard to fight against. I felt my job was finding a way to naturally accentuate the human condition of the characters without telling the audience too much about how to feel about their experiences. While the characters are hyper-intellectual young adults, they are still just humans with the same struggles, flaws, emotions and mortality that we all have. They just express themselves very eloquently.

Was it important to subtly reflect Marcus’ Jewish background?

We had an initial conversation about whether or not we’d make any reference to that. I think ultimately Marcus’s plight is a widely relatable coming of age experience and James felt this was a uniquely American story. While Marcus is Jewish, I don’t think it would have necessarily benefited the film to telegraph his heritage through music. Most importantly, we needed to feel Marcus’s innocent, well-intentioned struggle to find himself and his deep sense of loss. If anything felt like it reflected his Jewish background, I can’t say it was a deliberate decision we made.

Was it important for the music to lend empathy to Marcus, especially given how he’s built a wall around himself when it comes to human contact?

I could imagine some people finding the hyper-intellectual conversation style and seriousness of Marcus a challenge to emotionally connect with at times. I believe music can be a powerful tool in any film to help the audience become emotionally invested and to build that sense of empathy for a character. Marcus is a very sensitive, caring and sincere kid who is constantly being misunderstood and I think it is important that we feel each of those moments with him.

Did going to a prestigious college like Yale make an impression on how you wanted to get across the stifled nature of the college Marcus goes to?

For me, going to Yale for grad school was sort of the inverse of Marcus’s experience. Having grown up in a conservative and religious part of the country, I arrived at a liberal school that encouraged freethinking and challenging one’s core beliefs. I really hadn’t felt so at home or part of a community until I got to grad school. Those are not the experiences that Marcus is having in the film but his are ones I intensely identify with from my youth. I think I understand what it feels like to be misunderstood, to be well intentioned and naive about the world when the world is wiser and ruthless at times.

What made you want to feature the violin and piano on the score?

There was a lightness and expressive power to the violin and Tim Fain’s playing that I felt would allow for a wide range of emotional color. I had explored using cello or flute as featured instruments in the score, but besides a few highlighted exchanges between the violin and cello in some heavier emotional moments, it just didn’t stick. The piano was not initially going to be part of the score at all. It wasn’t until we got to the scene where Marcus reads the letter from Olivia that the piano felt appropriate. For some reason, prior to that the piano felt too saccharine paired with the drier dialogue. Once we got that cue working in a way that had just enough emotion without becoming too heavy handed, it became the standard for all the other piano moments in the score and we started to spread it around a lot.

Was it important that the score not become so overwhelmingly sad?

Yeah, I struggled with that a bit initially. After reading the script, I imagined the score being pretty dark and it took some time to overcome some of my initial reactions. But it was just about finding a new perspective and balance. It was important that the music first communicated some hope in order to effectively make its journey to that darker lamenting place.

If you’ve ever gone out with a person who had mental problems, did that experience get reflected in your score?

I have, and it was devastating as those qualities revealed themselves. I think if anything, it gave me insight into the complexities and misreadings of Marcus’s experiences with Olivia. It’s tough to have love for someone and want the best for them, and yet be powerless as you watch them slowly self-destruct and lose themselves – or worse yet, you are blindsided by it. Marcus’s inability to see clearly in his situation is predicated on a naiveté about some harder truths in life that I certainly identified with during that time. I think that intense sadness has found its way into some of the longer, darker melodic moments of the score.

How did you want to handle the heavy sense of fate that hangs over “Indignation?”

I think it is the slow moving, persistent, inevitability of the story that is the most devastating. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion but only in retrospect do we, as an audience, really even recognize how big the train was and how much kinetic energy each moment had. I don’t think that this concept was overtly manifested in the score itself but I think that the score had to serve that goal.

Could you tell us about creating a lushly spot-on 50’s romantic song with Jane Monheit for “Is It Love?”

Writing this song with James will go down as one of the most special experiences of my life. James came to me and asked if I’d be interested in co-writing a 50s style love tune that you could hear Tony Bennett or Dinah Shore singing. I honestly can’t say I thought I would ever be in a position to write something like that and to record it all live in a room together with a voice like Jane Monheit. When I was in college, all I wanted to sing was music from the Great American Song Book – Kern, Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein… that and maybe Gian Carlo Menotti art songs. So this music was in my voice and very dear to me.

James wrote some initial lyrics centered around the concept of “Is it Love?” and then I started working on the melody. I still have an iPhone voice memo of me humming, on the subway platform, what then became the main theme of the tune. From there it was a back and forth getting the structure and lyrics solidified and the chords fully fleshed out in a chart. I recorded a demo of me singing the song with a trio and found the best arranger I could for that sound. James had a personal connection with Jane’s voice so once we got her on board, we had our team. We left the song for the last session of three long days and the moment the downbeat played through the monitors, we all erupted with joy. It was a very cathartic experience for me and for a lot of us I think. We invited the musicians into the control room once it was tracked and we listened through it all together. I hope the affection that we had for this song really shines through.

James and Jay

Given its classical, often chamber-like approach, do you think “Indignation” is a score that could live on as a concert work as well?

I have thought about that often. I think there is something in the material that still excites me and would lend itself to some significant expansion. I was able to expand the opening piano cue with orchestra for the first part of the end credits or “Can You Hear Me? (Extended Version)” on the album. I gave it some development and growth in the string orchestrations and counter lines. Given the opportunity, I’d be thrilled to revisit the material for a time and create a concert version.

What’s up ahead for you?

I just finished recording and mixing another feature at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, where I recorded “Indignation.” I hope to be able to tell more about that soon. There are a couple of feature projects in the ether and a few smaller passion projects with friends that will be coming out over the next few months. I’m keeping myself pretty busy but always looking for new opportunities to collaborate and try something different.

So, that, a little vacation and some sleep. Yeah… Sleep sounds good.

“Indignation” opens in theaters on July 29th, with Jay Wadley’s score available on Nettwerk Records HERE

Visit Jay Wadley’s Web Page HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Giona Ostinelli 'Carnage Park' to be Released

Soundtrack News - Di, 26/07/2016 - 02:00

Lakeshore Records will release [a.18427]Carnage Park - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] digitally on [da.2016-08-05]August 5, 2016[]. The album features the original score by composer [c.9898]Giona Ostinelli[].

"I wanted to write a score reminiscent of a traditional Western, however reinvent the genre at the same time," described Ostinelli. "To achieve that, there was a lot of experimentation involved: I recorded an acoustic piano and fed the signal through an amp, I blew onto the piano strings and recorded the resonance, I recorded my breath and utilized it as a rhythmic element, I recorded a string quartet and then transformed its sound into something completely disturbing and terrifying--I wanted to demonstrate how frightening and sinister a string quartet could be as a...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws
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