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Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.827]Heitor Pereira ([m.39985]The Nut Job 2), [c.1154]John Paesano ([m.46288]Almost Christmas), [c.3198]Johann Johannsson ([m.46542]Deep Water), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 22 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-5-23]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39501]Alice Through the Looking Glass ([c.58]Danny Elfman) and [m.39523]X-Men: Apocalypse ([c.159]John Ottman).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.39501]Alice Through the Looking Glass (5 songs)
ThinkSpace Education Launches World’s First Online Game Music and Sound Design Master’s Degree Programs
Enroll now for Composing for Video Games (MA), Sound Design for Video Games (MA), Game Music and Audio (MFA) postgraduate degree programs starting in September 2016
Chichester, United Kingdom (May 16, 2016) – ThinkSpace Education, a leading online music school specializing in composing for film, video games and television, in partnership with the University of Chichester, today announced the launch of three groundbreaking new master’s degree programs: Composing for Video Games (Master of Arts), Sound Design for Video Games (Master of Arts) and Game Music and Audio (Master of Fine Art)*. Commencing this September, ThinkSpace Education courses are the first online master’s degree programs focusing on the field of game music and sound design. Enrollment is now open to postgraduate students at
In consultation with leading industry professionals, ThinkSpace have developed a suite of online postgraduate courses to prepare sound designers and composers with the real-world creative and technical skills that future employers are looking for. Thinkspace Education is the only school staffed and tutored exclusively by professional working composers and sound designers, with video game franchise credits including ASSASSIN’S CREED, BIOSHOCK, DRAGON AGE, FALLOUT, MASS EFFECT, TOMB RAIDER and many more.
ThinkSpace Education’s partner institution, the University of Chichester also has close links with the games community and the program liaison tutor Dr Stephen Baystead has a long list of credits as a top game composer (NEED FOR SPEED, PROJECT CARS and many more) as well as audio director at Slightly Mad Studios.
Closing the gap between academia and the real-world of game music and sound, ThinkSpace Education courses provide personal 1-to-1 tuition from top professional composers and sound designers; work on a wide range of games including commercial releases; detailed feedback from a range of tutors, online workshops and tutorial groups, forum discussions and exclusive webinars.
Guy Michelmore, ThinkSpace Education’s course director and an EMMY nominated film, games and television composer, commented, “There are plenty of music and sound production schools yet, despite increasing interest in video game soundtracks, almost none who specialize in game music and audio. We’re excited to offer the first online master’s degrees in composing and sound design for video games.”
Composing for Video Games MA (12-months full-time / 2 or 3 years part-time) Composing for games is one of the most exciting and innovative areas of media composition. Composing for Video Games MA will bring you the real-world professional tuition you need to lay the solid foundations of a career composing music for video games. As well as developing as a composer, producing professional quality mock-ups, you will learn game technology and how to implement your music interactively inside the game using industry standard middleware. The master’s program is designed in consultation with the industry to ensure that graduates have the required skillsets to enter this extremely competitive but rapidly expanding area of the media music business.
Sound Design for Video Games MA (12-months full-time / 2 or 3 years part-time) Sound is a crucial element in the success of any game, but good sound takes a great deal of creative and technical skill. The master’s course has been designed in consultation with top industry audio professionals, to equip students with the technical, creative and team-oriented skills to work as sound designers in video games. You will learn creative audio techniques from location recording to working with dialogue and sound effects libraries, creating your own sounds and shaping your sounds inside a DAW using plugins and other techniques. You will learn not only how to create inspiring interactive sound but also how to implement your audio inside the game using industry standard middleware.
Game Music and Audio MFA (24-months full-time / 2 or 3 years part-time) For those who want the ultimate preparation for a career in game audio, this is a longer course that covers all the material included in the other two courses. The master’s degree in Game Music and Audio has been developed in close consultation with the industry to ensure you are learning the skills the industry requires.
Online Open Day
ThinkSpace holds online webinar sessions to meet the team, gain an insight into what postgraduate students will need to succeed in the business and to learn how these master’s degrees can help you.
For more information on induction events, the faculty team, modules, course fees and application requirements, please visit http://thinkspaceeducation.com.
*Subject to approval by the University of Chichester.
For a United Kingdom native with such diverse scores as “Escape Plan,” “State of Play,” Touching the Void” and “Dear Frankie” under his English language belt, Alex Heffes has likely traversed the musical continent of Africa more than any of his peers. Beginning his explorations with a harrowing escape from Uganda in “The Last King of Scotland,” Heffes took an emotional journey of education alongside “The First Grader,” then brought moving importance to the continent’s greatest leader in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Later this year, he’ll even be showing determined woman self worth through the game of chess when Heffes makes a full circle back to a far more stable Uganda in the forthcoming “Queen of Katwe.”
Now the composer’s impressive way of capturing Africa’s rhythmic cultures will literally seize its people, and one man in particular, for a new TV take on “Roots.” Author Alex Haley’s ancestor Kunta Kinte first arrived on ABC’s shores in 1977, the telling of his family history turned into a smash hit miniseries that truly created “event” television. Feeling that any great tale is worth repeating to a new generation, these newly burnished “Roots” arrive on Memorial Day to air over four consecutive nights on multiple cable networks. Given a similarly massive, star filled cast, and overseen by multiple, acclaimed directors, it’s up to Alex Heffes to become a vital chain in spanning slavery to freedom. Heffes’ impressively accomplishes this mighty task with a score that starts out with all the pride of a continent, only to be seized into a terrifying, musically modernistic world of sampling and percussion. But hope lives in the playful guitar and warm, western-styled melody of captives determined to find their own personal freedom in a strange, brutal land, creating lyrical family bonds as strong as their harsh physical shackles – the breadth of Heffes’ score movingly culminating as the worlds of Africa and America merge to give birth to a culture, and people that would reshape the country’s music itself. Indeed, “Roots” has never quite sounded this real, with all of the punishment and spirituality that Heffes has been able to capture in body and soul with his impressive, time and continent spanning work.
What do you think gives you a particular affinity for African scores, and how important was it to be authentic in the process, especially given a remake of a landmark ABC miniseries?
I think I have always been color blind with music (and people I hope). Meaning, it’s all good to me. I’ve never felt like one type of music from one place or time is any higher form of art than another. I remember when I was very young being really drawn to African music just as much as loving a Mahler symphony or a melody by Puccini (still the Don of a good tune!). I didn’t think that was strange at all. Actually, looking back on it my teachers were a little puzzled by that attitude, I think. Back then things were very much more compartmentalized. Music was really taught in very classical-centric way. Even at university my ‘modern’ music history was only taught up to about 1911. However, my school years coincided with the explosion in recordings available on LP and then CD. So I collected whatever I could get my hands on. It was an exciting time. You could feel in the early 80’s that there was a lot of music starting to become available that had never been easily found before. And that’s all before the internet kids! If YouTube had been invented then it may just have blown my mind!
But to answer your question about authenticity – I’ll put it like this: We are making a movie, so it’s inherently inauthentic in a sense. I think there are two main choices: score your film with really authentic needle-drop tracks that are the real deal, or score it with new music that captures the spirit and essence of the story you are trying to tell. Yes, you could take as a starting points some authentic performers or style of music but that’s not always the rule. In some cases using music that is really ‘inauthentic’ can also be really powerful. Nobody would argue the score to “The Mission” is musically ‘authentic’ in the film but it does something really amazing for the picture. In the case of “Roots,” I’ve tried to steer a course of using real vocalists and instruments from Gambia as part of my palette, but also to not feel constrained by that. I felt it was important for the music to also feel modern and punchy in places. This version of “Roots” needs to speak to a very different audience than the original. I wanted the music to be able to transcend being a ‘travelogue’ or a piece of history. It has to make the characters seem like real people that the audience could imagine meeting and understanding. It seems to me that if “Roots” can do anything, it is to have the audience re-think the definition of people as ‘slaves’ and take a step back to understanding that these were ordinary people leading regular lives before they were defined as slaves. However music can help with a genuine emotional connection to the characters, which is what I always go for.
Did you go back to watch the original miniseries or listen to the score by Quincy Jones and Gerald Fried before taking on its remake?
No. I thought it would be best to totally steer clear.
Given that there have been a number of iconic “African” scores like “The Lion King,” how did you want “Roots” to establish its own identity in the genre?
Well, there are no lions in “Roots” (I don’t think Gambia actually has any lions sadly!). I wrote a theme that you hear in all four nights that is transformed through the generations. That’s the backbone of the score’s musical identity. I also tried to use the African parts of the palette in a way that is not expected, mixing it with synths and other elements so that it’s not just trying to sound ‘authentically’ African. As I said before, I’m trying to give the audience a connection with the characters and what they are feeling. For example, when Kunta Kinte first arrives in America, we wanted if it seem like he had almost been taken in a spaceship and landed on another planet. Everything is foreign to him – the language, the color of the people, the fact that every African person has been made a slave. The music tries to give his sense of alienation and disorientation by using a strange hybrid of African elements mixed with synths, electric cello and other slightly “unplaceable” sounds.
What’s the particular challenge of scoring a miniseries with so many interlocking characters, especially given one with the iconic reputation of “Roots?”
In a way it makes it easier. Lots of different characters give you something to hang your hat on musically. There’s Kunta who is the Mandinka Warrior, “Chicken George” who has a southern banjo thing going on, the crazed slave owner Tom Lee, who has something slightly unhinged about him. These are all really strong places to start from musically.
What were your own explorations into African music like in “Roots?” and what particular wind and percussion instruments became important to this score?
The story starts in Gambia where Kunta is born. So I did some recording remotely in Gambia with vocals and instruments. Sona Jobarteh sang and also played the Kora. Sona comes from an incredible lineage of Griot musicians (storytellers, poets, musicians) in Gambia. Her Grandfather was the Master Griot of his generation, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh. We also recorded school children from the Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School Of Music in Gambia, which comprises children from surrounding villages. I used a wide variety of African flutes and of course percussion, as well as all the traditional drums. I recorded a lot of mbiras (thumb pianos) and other tuned percussion myself. We also did vocals in London along with the orchestra that was recorded by Peter Cobbin at AIR studios. So it’s been a very international endeavor.
What was the musical importance of Kunta Kinte?
Kunta is wonderfully played by Malachi Kirby. It’s a very strong, quiet and internal performance. So in a way he has less music than you might imagine. I think the main “Roots” theme is more of a comment on his situation rather than his character’s actual theme.
It takes quite a while for more conventionally pleasing melody to enter the score. Was it important to create that harsh sense of being thrown into a punishing world for Kunta Kinte?
The idea is that the music is more traditional and centered around really authentic Gambian music in the beginning, using source tracks (also, some of the early part of Night 1 was scored in South Africa by Philip Miller using African musicians.) As Kunta is captured and taken to America the score starts to become more movie-like. That sense of alienation and harshness is certainly a strong element of the music in the early parts. But as tough as some of these early scenes are to watch – and they really are – it was always important to leave the door open to hope. So music can occasionally give you that glimpse of something brighter inside the mind of Kunta.
How did you want Chicken George to introduce southern music into the score, as well as a sound that was more “movie score”-ish as opposed to African?
George is two generations down from Kunta so he only knows America as his home. All the characters after Kunta only have a residual memory of Africa without ever having been there. It was fun doing George. He is the fast-talking chicken fighting gambler of the family. I tried to give him something fun with banjos and washboard but also throwing in some sneaky djembes too to give that off screen African echo.
How did you want the score to reflect the passage of time and regions, especially in relation to the black experience in America that goes from slavery to freedom?
The further away the story gets from Africa the more the palette opens up to strings and other colors. There is the Civil War section in the last night which has a blend of the snare drums and brass you might expect but with wooden anklungs and African percussion give it a slightly off-kilter feel. After the Emancipation proclamation one of the first things the characters are free to do is acknowledge their African heritage for the first time, so the score finally manages to come full circle to it’s African roots for the finale.
How did you want to integrate the western symphonic approach into the African music here?
That’s always an interesting conundrum as African music (whatever that is – it’s a huge continent!) is not really harmonic. It’s driven by single lines and rhythm. So trying to translate that into something that an orchestra can add to without sounding out of place is an interesting task. I think I’ve reserved orchestra for the more thematic moments. A good tune still sings on an orchestra.
Talk about the vocal performances in the “Roots” score?
We have some great vocal performances, as I mentioned from Sona Jobarteh and Sheriffo Kanuteh in Gambia. Lincoln Jean-Marie also provided a lot of vocals from London. He is fantastic. The kids from the Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School make me smile whenever I hear them in Night 2.
There’s a suspenseful, synth-sample propulsion darkness to “Roots” as well that brings to mind your score for “Escape Plan.” In that way, do you see “Roots” as a prison break out score as well as the characters try to figure a way out of both their physical and mental chains?
Certainly when Kunta tries to escape in Night 1 it’s pretty full on dark and pounding. I think that’s how you would feel inside being chased by dogs across sugar cane fields for your life. As I said, I’m more interested in how the audience should feel rather than what instruments might be historically accurate for a scene. In some of those scenes, I processed the African percussion to make it a little more synthy, to make it impossibly tight and punchy and give it some edge. I’m a fan of re-amping drums and putting them guitar pedals to give them some dirt. So there is some of that in Night 1 for sure.
Given that four separate directors (Bruce Beresford, Thomas Carter, Phillip Noyce and Mario Van Peebles), made “Roots,” how important was a musical sense of continuity? Or was there a guiding, creative person through the process?
That was an interesting part of the challenge. There are four great directors all with very different styles and different films. So the music really had to adapt to each one while keeping a senses of continuity. I guess that comes from thematic ideas that can be shared between nights but with radically different treatment.
Television has a particular breakneck pace. What kind of challenges did that add to scoring “Roots,” especially given how much music you’d need to compose for it, not to mention that you weren’t scoring the show in chronological order?
The schedules for films can be crazy, but TV is a whole other level of madness. I think I wrote close to 5 hours of music in a pretty short amount of time. Need I say more?
Your other recent miniseries is for the Stephen King adaptation “11.22.63.” Could you talk about the challenge of scoring time travel, especially given that this was Hulu’s first, ambitious project in long form television?
“11.22.63” is very different to “Roots!” That’s one of the things I love about being a composer the most. The show is very ambitious and I think it’s come out fantastically well. The writing is amazing and it has some of the best acting performances I’ve scene in a very long time. It has that Stephen King/JJ Abrams hook to it – as soon as your start watching you just get hooked on the premise. The thing I particularly like about “11.22.63” is that although on the face of it you are watching a time travel show about stopping the assignation of JFK it really turns out to be much more. Going back in time is really a way for the James Franco character to reassess his life and start living again with a blank slate to try and get it right. He meets Sadie and their relationship really turns out to the be the center of gravity of the show. That final episode is really heartbreaking! I was very happy with how Sadie’s theme turned out.
You wrote a powerful, propulsive score to the Lance Armstrong film “The Program.” What was the challenge of playing a man who at first appears to be an American hero who then takes a major fall from grace, putting those very ideals into doubt along with him?
It’s a challenge to write music about someone that has such a mixed history. Stephen Frears is a truly wonderful director, and his main direction to me – as the master filmmaker he is – was to say very little. He let me react to the film without temping it too much. Actually I wrote a lot of music to the rough cut and they edited many scenes to the music and then I would go back and re-score the scenes again. We had a great time at throwing it back and forward to each other. My initial idea, which stuck through the film, was to find that motor inside of his head that just keeps on turning. As it’s about bikes I knew it shouldn’t be too mechanized in it’s sound. So I recorded a lot of electric cello and processed and looped it so it has a sort of mechanical motor quality while still sounding like it came from a human. I also sampled a bike being hit and strummed. We even slapped bike tires against the garage walls to make drum sounds. A lot of the percussion in the film comes from these sounds. It’s amazing how many pitches you can get out of the spokes of a bike wheel actually!
Next up you’ve scored the Idris Elba action film “Bastille Day,” where he’s a cop trying to thwart a terrorist attack in France. Could you talk about that score, and how these kinds of action scores are now becoming fact – minus the happy ending where these plots get thwarted?
Yes, this is very different again. “Bastille Day” is a great Friday night kick-back-and enjoy fun movie. I watched it with a test audience here in LA and the amount of noise they made was incredible! They just love Idris and were cheering with him all the way! The score is much less orchestral than something like “The Program.” It’s pretty gritty. LOTS of synth programming plus me hitting or bowing just about anything I could get my hands in in my studio. It has a really great rooftop chase in Paris. I scored some of it by whacking an out of tune autoharp with chopsticks… What a way to earn a living.
You’ll once again be returning to Africa’s music this September with your score for Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” which is about a Ugandan girl who tries to become a chess champion. What’s will the challenge of that score be, especially given that it’s also about a cerebral sport?
Although chess is cerebral this film is all heart. It’s just lovely. It’s really about overcoming bad odds in life and achieving more than you thought possible. Mira is a really great director and knows just how to strike a balance between authored individual filmmaking and something that is also really commercial and speaks to a wide audience. It’s a really interesting film for Disney to have made. It has a great cast and really strikes a balance between great performances from Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo and the unknown Ugandan children actors in the film who are all brilliant. It’s a very thematic and gentle score that is a more orchestral than something like “Roots,” although it’s set in Africa. It’s a really universal story. There are plenty of authentic Ugandan needle drop tracks in the film to set the scene so the score could concentrate more on the music story telling. I am very fond of it.
Do you hope that “Roots” has the same kind of impact on today’s television audience? And what kind of lessons do you hope the musical helps impart on the audience?
I really do. I’m so proud to be a part of “Roots.” I hope it makes an impact. It tells a story that is so vital in understanding modern America. It’s not a tough navel gazing experience though. It’s modern and relevant, yes, but it’s more than just an important historical document about the African American experience – it’s also a great story and quite a ride!
“Roots” premieres on Monday, Memorial Day (Monday, May 30th) and will air over four consecutive nights on The History Channel, A&E and Lifetime. Alex Heffes’ score for “Roots” will be released by on CD
Buy Alex Heffes’ score for “11.22.63” HERE
Buy Alex Heffes’ score for “The Program” HERE
Buy Alex Heffes’ score for “Bastille Day” HERE
Visit Alex Heffes’ website HERE
Lakeshore Records will release [a.17064]Vol. 1 and [a.17065]Vol. 2 of the soundtrack to the series [t.43390]Mr. Robot digitally on [da.2016-06-03]June 3, and on CD [da.2016-06-24]June 24, 2016. The label will also release a special LP package in July. The albums feature original music by series EMMY-nominated composer [c.3207]Mac Quayle.
"During the first season of [t.43390]Mr. Robot, we filtered a wide variety of emotions through the surreal mind of Elliot Anderson," said executive producer Sam Esmail. "Music was the tool that allowed me to stay nimble and consistent with the show's tone, even as we regularly pushed our main character to weirder and stranger places."
"Elliot uses programming and social engineering techniques to seek and exploit weakness in...
The Krakow Film Music Festival is now the biggest film music festival in the world and is about to celebrate its 9th edition, taking place May 24-30, 2016. Continuing their association with this remarkable event, Varèse Sarabande has again produced the official Krakow Film Music Festival CD 2016. Featuring over 75 minutes of music by the composers who will be part of this year's concerts, it is an eclectic sample of film music's incredible variety in 2016.
"One of the things I love most about Krakow FMF is the way it offers all of my brilliant friends the opportunity to shine in such individual ways and express talent and work that is utterly unique to themselves," said...
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
Since his breakthrough as both composer and editor of Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects,” John Ottman has had a talent for assembling characters to stylistically diverse ends. And perhaps no more powerfully than when he joined Singer for “X-Men 2,” a film that firmly put The Marvel Universe back on top of both the box office and critics’ lists. Ottman’s heroic adventures have since continued with the likes of “Astro Boy,” “Superman Returns” and two “Fantastic Four” movies. But it’s Professor Xavier’s band of merry mutants that continues to draw out Ottman’s most impressive work in terms of both musical and visual rhythm as he returned to defy genocidal Armageddon with “X-Men: Day of Future Past.” Now, Ottman and Singer bring on “Apocalypse” himself in their most epic “X-Men” to date. Indeed, there hasn’t been quite an “X” score like this in Ottman’s cannon, as “Apocalypse” bows down before its Egyptian-born god with ethnic grandeur and a majestic sense of worshipfulness – only to defy his plans with furiously defiant action, raising the franchise’s musical stakes with a distinctive score that’s a mutant apart.
Ottman’s approach is just a bit lighter, if no less exciting as he segues from the 80’s-set “Apocalypse” to the 1977 LA of “The Nice Guys.” In this Mafia and porn-soaked capital of bad fashion taste, Ottman reteams with filmmaker Shane Black, continuing “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s” winning combo of private dick patter and body-splattered jokes. Joining Ottman on the score is rising action composer David Buckley (“Jason Bourne”), together forming an action-comedy buddy-cop band that spins out spot-on spy jazz grooves, club funk and wah-wah guitar jams with a propulsive orchestra, along with a dramatic slice of film noir moodiness. It’s a ”Nice” killer vibe that once again hits the bull’s eye for Black’s distinctive brand of =buddy cop humor.
Now on a new episode of On the Score, John Ottman talks about the energetically contrasting scores for “X-Men Apocalypse” and “The Nice Guys,” two super team soundtracks filled with winning energy that ranges from the end of the world to a criminally cool hot time in La La Land.
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: X-MEN: APOCALPYSE Buy the Soundtrack: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: THE ROGUE CUT Buy the Soundtrack: Nice Guys Buy the Soundtrack: KISS KISS BANG BANG Visit John Ottman’s website
Quartet Records will release the [a.18010]Our Kind of Traitor Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and in select countries on CD [da.2016-05-13]May 13, 2016. A CD release is planned for the United States later this summer. The album features the film's original score by [c.1061]Marcelo Zarvos.
"Director Susanna White was very keen in exploring through the music ideas of masculinity and friendship, but being a story created by thriller master John Le Carré we also had to carefully balance the action and adventure our characters go through," said Zarvos. "There is plenty of action in both the images and the score, but we were very careful to never loose track of the emotional journey our main character Perry goes through."
"This was no ordinary spy story and...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.352]Bruno Coulais ([m.46463]Marie Curie), [c.361]Brian Tyler ([m.39550]The Mummy), [c.17600]Son Lux ([m.46461]Mean Dreams), 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.2016-5-09]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.45241]The Darkness ([c.515]Johnny Klimek) and [m.44374]Money Monster ([c.2455]Dominic Lewis).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.44374]Money Monster (6 songs)
- [m.46442]A Monster with a Thousand Heads (6 songs)
NEWS: 'Across the Stars: The Music of John Williams for Solo Piano' Performed by Dan Redfeld Released
Los Angeles-based composer [c.]Dan Redfeld announces the recent release of [a.18030]Across the Stars: The Music of John Williams for Solo Piano from BSX Records.
"The music can translate to pretty much anything and it will still communicate an incredibly emotional, powerful idea," said Redfeld of [c.231]John Williams' work. "We hope the public hears that John isn't just a one-note, blockbuster composer. His skills are much more multi-faceted and he has a created a body of work which is complex but always memorable and melodic. He's definitely the greatest American composer since Bernstein or Copland and in a class all by himself."
Distilling the orchestrations down for solo piano allows the listener to hear the purist form of Williams' melodies. "Williams's music...
Lakeshore Records will release [a.17878]The Nice Guys Original Motion Picture Score digitally on [da.2016-05-27]May 27 and on CD [da.2016-06-24]June 24, 2016. The album features original music from composers [c.159]John Ottman and [c.1620]David Buckley.
To write the music for the duo of the main characters, director Shane Black and producer Joel Silver put together the dream team of composers [c.159]John Ottman and [c.1620]David Buckley. "Joel called me before shooting began, asking for a theme that reminded us of classic cop or spy 70s TV shows and movies," said Ottman. "I wrote a balls-out theme for full orchestra, but the challenge for [c.1620]David Buckley and me was adapting the theme into a score that kept the film fun and quirky without feeling too...
Lakeshore Records will release [a.18012]1979 Revolution: Black Friday Original Video Game Soundtrack digitally on [da.2016-05-13]May 13, 2016. The album features the game's original score by [c.1739]Nima Fakhrara.
Called "A truly revolutionary video game," by The New Yorker. BuzzFeed says, "You're Going to Love This." [v.46319]1979 Revolution: Black Friday has already been featured in both videogame and mainstream press including NPR, BBC, Washington Post, and Time Magazine.
"The beauty of this game is that it has different points of views, the player chooses and explorers these views, its the players perspective not the game itself," explained Fakhrara. "The game itself has no political agenda, it's more as a platform to be a storyteller and also in some ways...
Varèse Sarabande, in partnership with Tomek Productions, will release a very special Blu-ray marking the first anniversary of the passing of Academy Award-winning composer [c.89]James Horner. [v.]Hollywood in Vienna: The World of James Horner was recorded in Vienna, Austria, as a part of a celebration of his life and music. At the annual film music gala, celebrating the world's leading film composers and produced by Sandra Tomek, Horner was awarded by the City of Vienna with the "Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award."
"For days following James' death, while fans of his music were utterly consumed by their grief and understandably inconsolable, I began hearing from many of them how much they were helped by seeing footage of the Vienna concert," said Varèse Sarabande...
If being a composer can drive one crazy, then few have stared so consistently into the mouth of madness with such interesting, and creatively invigorating results as Clint Mansell. The braintrust of the U.K. group Pop Will Eat Itself made his scoring debut drilling a distinctively electronic hole into the head of “Pi’s” crazed mathemetician in 1998. His musical mind-warping partnership with director Darren Aronofsky would mine new headtrips of creativity, from the string needles of the Kronos Quartet that filled the veins of “Requiem For a Dream’s” drug addicts to the cosmically symphonic transcendence of a truth-seeker in “The Fountain,” the wildly dancing ballet dancer breakdown to mutated Tchaikovsky in “Black Swan” and the breaking waves of religious frenzy for a hapless man relentlessly following God’s plan for Armageddon in “Noah.” Beyond Aronofsky’s orbit, Mansell’s unique boundary pushing has probed an astronaut’s rhythmic isolation for “Moon,” sent Dwayne Johnson down a rocking road of revenge in “Faster” and even unleashed metal guitar destruction for “Doom’s” jaw-dropping first-person shooter sequence.
The fans who pack Clint Mansell’s recent live concerts prove him to be one of art scoring’s most ineresting agent provocateurs with his combinations of eletronic grooves and washes of symphonic minimalism that bring to mind the work of Philip Glass. But if Mansell’s admirers delight in being simultaneously assaulted and mesmerized by Mansell’s scores, the tone of his latest “High-Rise” just might surprise them with the singular beauty of its many stories of depravity. Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard (an author whose beyond-dark satire provided the bent-metal grist for David Cronenberg’s “Crash”), “High-Rise” takes down the English class system – as built on levels of consumerism and compliance. Realized by upcoming critical favorite director Ben Wheatley (“Kill List,” “A Field in England”) “High-Rise” finds just about the only sane dweller in medical examiner Laing (Tom Hidleston), whose job of ripping off dead faces and hammering open skulls gives him little insight into what drives his apartment building into Lord of the Flies-esque chaos.
Yet as orgies, murder, idolatry and God know what else breaks out, leave it to Mansell to keep some kind of thematic order with peppy, beautiful walls of rhythmic pomp, meditative halls of hypnotic, crystalline sound and pleasantly soothing string. Harp and eerie whistles becoming a killer circle of women, with only off-kilter brass and a strident orchestral motif hinting at the mass psychosis breaking out from supermarket to pool. In fact, “High-Rise” just might be the most melodically soothing trip down the bloody rabbit hole for Mansell, or a cold, red-splattered cement one in this case. For if the warped subject matter that Mansell has often accompanied represents some new evolution in humanity, then “High-Rise” shows yet another transformation for the composer through a shocking act of lushly melodic elevation.
You’ve worked with a lot of very intellectually-minded directors, especially when it comes to Darren Aronofsky. How do you think that Ben Wheatley compares to his approaches to provocative genre material like this?
For me, Ben really continues the line of British directors like Ken Russell, Nicolas Roeg, and Lindsay Anderson. Filmmakers that make audacious choices, because within their movies there are experiences to be had. I feel that modern moviemaking really has become very formulaic with the desire just to get product made. Compromises start the moment when you start talking about casting and all this sort of stuff. We end up with a bit of a fallow field, really. So looking for directors that are interested in something outside of the regular bullshit that gets made is really paramount to me. Because I have no real interest in movies to some degree. To be inspired, I need things that turn me on to get the juices flowing. That’s what I have to look for in the films that I work on and directors that I work with. It’s a painstaking search you know. For me, Ben is the most exciting filmmaker I’ve worked with in quite a while. I think the way he does the way he presents things, and the way he thinks are quite unique.
What was your collaboration with Ben like?
I may write every note of the music but it’s a collaborative venture because I’m trying to help support and enhance the world that Ben’s creating in his film, and he’s got a lot of input on that. What excites me about working with directors like Ben is that they’ll allow you to explore even when they’re using temp scores on the rough cut. There are times when certain filmmakers get stuck to the temp and don’t want to let go. I hate it when the temp gets so dear to them that it kills the creativity of where you want to go at a composer, because part of the excitement of this job is the exploration and unknown of what the film wants and what the film will accept. This might sound pretentious, but to me it’s almost like when a sculptor says, “The statue is already within the stone. I’ve just got to get it out.” The film knows what the music it needs, so you can sort of channel it. I experiment against it and when a few things start working I’ll follow those ideas because that’s what the film wants me to do. I’d send Ben the demos so that he could play with them in the film. So to me, a great collaboration is a phase where you end up somewhere you never expected to go, and you’ve done something unique together. You’ve created something you would have never gotten to on your own.
What’s interesting for me is actually how beautiful the score is in contrast to the savagery that’s going onscreen. It’s a lush style I haven’t really heard from you before.
One hopes that one develops as an artist, I’ve been sort of doing this for 20 years, and I want my scoers to constantly push me forward. Ther were a number of things we were trying to address with this score. Obviously you can’t take all the material from the book, though I could thematically play with some of the subtext. We don’t get to know a great deal of Lange’s background, but we do know that his sister has died, so we sense a melancholy in him and his search for something more. And there’s the building itself and the people that live in the building. Both the rich and the lower classes think they’re better than everyone else, especially those who don’t live in the high rise. So you can say in that way there’s this faux pomposity about the score, the feeling of “we’re living the dream,” “it’s all going to be great,” and all that. It was something that we really wanted to try and manifest it in the music.
Before taking on this movie, what was your opinion of J.G Ballard’s book, and what did high rises themselves represent to you?
Well, I’ve known about the book since I was in school, because it was written in the eighties. I was encouraged to read, even if it wasn’t on the reading list. So you could I say I had almost forty years of preparation for the movie! In fact, I lived in a high rise block of flats when I first left home. It was on the nineteenth floor, but my apartment sure wasn’t as luxurious as the film! That experience was fine because I was twenty at the time, but I wouldn’t want to live there today.
Did that experience play any inspiration for the score?
We are everything that we’ve experienced really, so to some degree are things that I can remember from back then, like when I got stuck in the elevator between the ninth and tenth floors for an hour one Saturday morning. It was nerve-wracking, so when the bad things start happening in this high rise you definitely can relate to it.
The music breaks down with order in the high rise, while at the same time keep a sort of melodic throughline to the insanity – keeping you watching even at the same time the movie threatens to repel you. surreal that the music kind of keeps a sort of normalcy to the film. It keeps you watching it, as opposed to repelling the viewer?
Yes. We return to the grand indoor part pieces, but retain a certain thematic element of physical mass from the opening parts that sort of slows things down. It gives a sense of normalcy to the proceedings.
There’s a running theme in your work when it comes to playing people going off of the deep end.
Why do you think you have that particular talent for musically conveying madness?
Well, my manager says that I’m a method composer, so take from that what you will! I guess it goes back to the early films I started with “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream.” It’s relatable story to have people losing their minds, because we all feel overwhelmed at times. So maybe it’s something I’ve got, and have a touchstone for?
Portisthead has a great cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” in “High-Rise.” Where did that come from?
It’s like what I said earlier about Ben’s creeative way of filmmaking. He wanted a home stringed organ type of vibe with a disco beat under it. Portishead’s version is very dark, almost John Carpenter-esque in that way, and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s those unexpected things that I love about Ben’s choice in music, just like the tune he had for the soldier’s drug trip in “A Field in England.”
I didn’t expect “High-Rise” to be a period piece that looks like it takes place in the late 60’s, especially when you see a poster on someone’s wall for the David Warner comedy “Morgan”– yet another film about someone going insane.
Well, it’s supposed “High-Rise” is supposed to take place in 1975, but i didn’t want to get too attached to that. But there is one scene where Elizabeth Moss’s character is watching a daytime soap on her television, and that movie’s score becomes “High-Rise’s” score. We wanted a certain sort of flourish, a crescendo that you couldn’t do in a modern film. So that was what the main concession towards that time period as it were.
One way you capture the hypnotic quality that the high-rise has over its tenants is through the glass harmonica.
Yes. it was invented by Benjamin Franklin. It looks like a spindle with lots of glass balls to it. The spindle goes to the bottom of the bowl. It’s sort of a “tuned wineglass” that you can be quite symphonic with. People used to call it “the devil’s instrument” because if you played it you’d go mad and die within two years! That’s because they used lead paint for it, and you know what lead does. Now they thankfully use gold leaf for it. There’s an English musician named Allasdair Malloy who’s one of the few people that still plays this beautiful, otherworldly instrument. My orchestrator Matt Dunkley and recording engineer Geoff Foster had worked with him before, and told me I should give him a try for “High-Rise.” said to me Allasdair came down, and his work was fantastic. He creates a weird sound that you can’t quite pinpoint.
There’s some other particularly eccentric instrumentation going through the score.
Yes, we’ve got the marimba and organ as part of that. There are scenes where you have the janitor polishing the floor and the women dancing in the hall where you just want to have things feel strange. Those instruments can really help you give an off kilter feeling.
The “High-Rise” album is its own animal that lets your pieces go on for longer than they do in the film.
Geoff Foster and I started to rework the score into more enjoyable chunks, as my music can be very thematic where cues can come and go. Because these cues could be short and abrupt, we had enough material to make suites of the themes. You could listen to them in the more tradiitonal way that a soundtrack album lends itself to, This way you feel like you’ve gotten a great experience, and a true musical sense of the movie that’s an enjoyable listen in its own right. I enjoy creating albums of my scores like that.
Do you enjoy provoking, and pushing the boundaries of film scoring in the same way that Ben pushes “High-Rise?”
I wanted to do films that matter to me and excites me. And if I get that right, then that approach can really work for other composers too. That’s what I get from making the right kinds of choices of films and directors who have a vision that I can join in with. I’m proud of the stuff I get to work on and I’m proud that I get to be myself with it. And hopefully I’ll get to do more films like “High-Rise.”
You can now find a room in the “High-Rise” on VOD, with Clint Mansell’s album on Silva Screen Records available HERE
Visit Clint Mansell’s website HERE
Special thanks to Alexander Portillo for transcribing this interview
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There were 28 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-4-25]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.44987]Keanu ([c.1018]Steve Jablonsky & [c.6935]Nathan Whitehead), [m.44988]Mother's Day ([c.45]John Debney), and [m.42406]Ratchet & Clank ([c.2905]Jingle Punks & [c.17949]Evan Wise).
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