- No upcoming events available
In a tough urban environment, being loud and proud is something reserved for the macho occupations of drug dealing and gangsterism, certainly not in the far more vulnerable act of proclaiming oneself as gay. It’s a contrast that marks both filmmaker Barry Jenkins’ artistically subtle approach to “Moonlight,” and his composer Nicholas Britell’s classically ethereal score. As divided into three “chapters,” Jenkins paints the quiet coming of age of Chiron, the seemingly meek son of a crack addicted mother who falls under the foster fatherhood of the sympathetic dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali, currently impressing as the far more villainous crime kingpin Cottonmouth in Netflix’s “Luke Cage”). Just as important in Chiron’s bullied upbringing is his friendship with Kevin, whose advice in navigating violent 9 year-olds progresses into something far more as “Moonlight” traces the youths to the age of 16, and then adulthood, where Chiron turns from victim to a man no one will mess with – his muscular remaking inspired by a life-shattering betrayal that must find peace with Kevin in the present.
It’s an evolution told in a powerfully quiet, almost dream-like way by Jenkins that deals firmly with the reality of the street, though not in a way that plays into the expected affirmation of orientation. Given a beautifully yearning piano theme for a boy whose few words always yield punishment, Britell tracks Chiron’s evolution with a classical lyricism that one might expect from a Terence Mallick film as opposed to “Boyz N the Hood,” a refined, poignant style that’s a poetic match for Jenkins’ uniquely powerful storytelling. It’s a quivering tension and melodic stare up into an ethereal “Moonlight” that marks an uncommonly beautiful and inventive score with more “street” roots than one might expect from music that hearkens to the white maestros of yore.
As a Julliard-trained musician, Britell has his own footing in both the classical and hip-hop worlds, performing as a keyboardist for The Witness Protection Program, whose rhythmic popularity saw the band open for the likes of Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious. Producing both the short and featuring versions of “Whiplash,” Britell applied his hip hop grooves to the acclaimed indie bombing dramedy “Gimme the Loot” in 2012, then to ironic rhythmic effect for “The Big Short’s” groovy financial meltdown. Britell reached back to far more chilling urban roots in 2013 to arrange songs, and compose additional music for “12 Years A Slave,” then fully immerse himself in the struggle for liberation with 2016’s “Free State of Jones,” a restrained, rustic score that brought to light the unusual partnership between Confederate deserters and runaway slaves. Now with “Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell continues his musical exploration of not only ethnic identity, but of hearing one’s true self for one of the year’s most poetically haunting scores, and films.
You started playing piano at a very young age. Could you tell us about your musical upbringing and how film scoring caught your ear?
I started playing piano when I was five years old, and in fact, it was film music that first inspired me in music. When I was growing up, we had a very old upright piano in our apartment. After watching the film “Chariots of Fire,” I fell in love with the theme music for the film;. So I went to the piano and tried to figure it out on my own. I was so inspired by that music that I asked my parents for piano lessons. So truly, in a lot of ways, it was film music that got me started. I then pursued classical piano for a very long time. For a while, I considered being a full-time concert pianist. I went to Juilliard for their Pre-College program, and from there I continued pursuing music, joining a hip-hop band in college at Harvard and scoring films for the first time there as well.
You produced both the original short of “Whiplash” as well as the feature film. How did you become involved with the project, and did you have any kind of Mr. Fletcher-like teachers who pushed you to your limit?
I had always been very fascinated with the way in which movies are actually made and produced. I have a very dear friend, Helen Estabrook, who was quite a few years ago in the process of putting together the film “Whiplash.” One day we were having a phone call and talking through the process of financing films, and she mentioned the idea of producing a short-film version of this fascinating screenplay written by Damien Chazelle, which was called “Whiplash.”
Damien had written a full-feature script, and they had this idea of creating a short film, which would be one scene from the feature’s script. By producing this short film, it could serve as a proof-of-concept for the feature film, which could get then financiers excited about the project and help fund a feature-film version of the movie. So because of my curiosity with that process and my belief in the script and the team, I agreed to come on board, and I actually financed the short-film version of “Whiplash.” I was then was able to stay on board to help, and I served as a co-producer on the feature as well. So that was an opportunity for me really to just explore another side of filmmaking outside of my passion for composing.
About the question of whether I ever had a Fletcher-like teacher, I think one of the elements of the script that really resonated with me was my own musical background obviously. I never had a teacher who was Fletcher-like. But I will say that I think some of my more intense musical learning experiences were the ones that pushed me the most, and in hindsight, it was the times when I was working the hardest, when I had potentially the most pressure on me, that I feel I did make great strides. So in some ways, I think the intense experiences did lead to musical growth.
How did you become attracted to hip-hop, and how do you think that walking in both urban and classical musical worlds adds to your voice as a composer?
I was in junior high in the early 1990s, and 1993 was obviously a very big year in hip hop. Early on, I was really fascinated by the sound of hip-hop, and over the years, although I was pursuing a classical music path in college, I became very inspired by the idea of writing hip-hop music and beats. A group of friends and I started a hip-hop band in college, and we ended up performing quite a bit. We spent really almost the entire four years of college performing and pursuing it. We even ended up opening for Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious, and touring throughout the Northeast. We used to play a lot in New York at places like Arlene’s Grocery, Don Hill’s, CB’s, and Lion’s Den. In Boston, we performed at the Paradise, the Middle East, House of Blues, and others. We played many, many colleges throughout the Northeast, and I really immersed myself in hip-hop through those years. I had a very focused approach to writing music because of the band.
I think the habit of writing music so continuously as part of a band was a very formative experience for me in the sense that it paved the way for, I think, the sort of regular activity of composition, which I’ve pursued fully since then. It was through the band that I became very active as a composer, and it never felt like there was anything but a very natural interplay between my composing for films or classical music and the songwriting that I was doing for our band.
Can you tell us about the “Chopped and Screwed” technique that can be heard in the Moonlight score?
“Chopped and Screwed” is a technique that first seems to have originated in the early 1990s. It’s a genre of Southern hip hop where songs are taken and slowed, and in the process of slowing them, the pitch bends lower, and so you get these tracks which are deepened and enriched in their musical texture, and so, a typical chop and screw might be take a song where you slow it and pitch it and then edit it by chopping it up in different ways, sort of remixing it in a sense.
When I was first working with Barry on “Moonlight,” among our early conversations, Barry expressed his passion for Chopped and Screwed music, and immediately I was into that idea because I felt that there was this real exciting possibility of taking instrumental classical-oriented music and applying this technique to it. So in some ways, it was both my classical background and my hip-hop experience that came together in that moment, and then led me to sort of very quickly think of the possibilities of applying the Chop-and-Screw approach to a score.
“Moonlight” has a beautiful elegiac classical approach to the score. What was the process of developing the score with Barry, and how would you describe his musical vision?
The process of developing the score for “Moonlight” for me really began first with my experience of reading the screenplay, and then followed by seeing some of the early cuts of the film. My first reaction to reading the screenplay was that it was incredibly poetic. It was intimate. It was sensitive. There was a tenderness to it. There was a deep beauty to it, and I was really, really overwhelmed by how powerful it was.
I think the first instincts that I had because of those feelings were that the music had to express and reflect some of that feeling of poetry. In my first conversations with Barry, and among the first ideas that I sent over to him, I actually called one of the early themes “Piano and Violin Poem.” That musical “Poem” was one of the early pieces where I was trying to evoke that feeling of poetry. I think that what evolved from that was a score that actually had many different characteristics. There were elements certainly of tenderness, of quietness, of soft atmospheres; but at the same time, there are moments in the score that get very large and almost soaring and operatic, and I think that one of the really wonderful things about the relationship that Barry and I had was that there was this huge scope of possibilities. Barry is deeply passionate about music and has a really, really wide knowledge of music; and I think because of that, he was very open to exploring a wide range of possibilities for the score.
Our collaborations really entailed a lot of discussion, a lot of experimenting to see what kind of music different scenes merited and what kind of music was needed. But we also kept our minds open as to the many different directions that the score could take. So it was definitely something that continued evolving as the film was edited, and over the time period that we were working, we continued to come up with ideas as the process evolved.
There are cues, particularly “You Don’t Even Know,” that have the impression of an orchestra warming up, along with the rising cellos of “Don’t Look at Me.” What was your intention musically with those cues?
There definitely were elements of the score where I utilized the sounds of an orchestra tuning up or instruments getting ready to play. I’ve always found that to be a very beautiful sound because on the one hand, the instruments are tuning up so they’re not yet in their “fully-prepared” tuning, they’re not yet playing a piece, and there’s this sort of chaos involved in that. But because they’re musical instruments and because musicians have specific approaches to their instruments, there is also an order to the way that it happens, and I always love that sound of the combination of order and chaos. I think there’s something very evocative about sounds like that, so as regard to the development of Chiron’s journey in the film and certain of those scenes, it felt like that kind of a texture could play an interesting role within the score.
As far as the cellos in a cue like “Don’t Look at Me,” some of those interestingly are actually violins, which we Chopped and Screwed and bent so they sound more like cellos. The riff I think you’re referring to within the track “Don’t Look at Me” is linked with the violin concerto-like texture in the piece “The Middle of the World,” which plays in the swimming sequence early on, so there are definitely elements of continuity that we were trying to have over the course of the film as the story evolves.
The film reflects three ages that the characters go through. How did the music reflect that in relation to the character themes?
Following some of my previous thoughts on, for example, the violin-cello motif in the “The Middle of the World” track and the “Don’t Look at Me” track, there were absolutely thematic elements that I wanted to provide as a thread that could connect the different chapters. So certain themes do recur. For example, the track “Chiron’s Theme” melodically occurs in a few places in the film. It occurs in the very beginning, where we call it “Little’s Theme,” (that’s the piece which I had called “Piano and Violin Poem” when I first sent it to Barry), and that piece is really a contemplative piano and violin prelude of a piece, which serves, in a sense, of trying to get inside of Chiron’s point of view. It was trying to provide a sense of his internal emotional state, and that piece of music appears through the course of the three chapters. But in each chapter it is modulated into a different key. It’s orchestrated differently with varying instrumentation as it evolves, and it’s also Chopped and Screwed in certain places.
For example, “Little’s Theme” in chapter one becomes what we call “Chiron’s Theme” in chapter two where it’s pitched down and bent. It then also occurs in a very Chopped-and-Screwed manner in the schoolyard fight where it’s almost entirely in the subwoofers, and it’s pitched about three octaves down and played on top of itself. There’s almost a double version of it playing. Then, in chapter three, it comes back again, and there it’s actually an ensemble of cellos performing it, so I think one way that we did evolve things while also linking them was by having these types of recurring themes, which in each chapter would morph both in their sonic pitch range, the keys, but also in the instrumental textures and in the techniques we used to actually create those sounds.
How did you want the score to contrast with the more rap, funk, soul tracks on the soundtrack?
I think that in a lot of ways, it’s a credit to Barry’s wide range of musical instincts that he was open, like I was saying before, to such a huge range of musical possibilities existing in the same film. And I think that one of the really fascinating things that we did was incorporating elements of the hip-hop texture into the score through the Chopped-and-Screwed technique. So while the score doesn’t actually perform any hip-hop tracks, there is this feeling of rumbling and power and depth that you might have in a really great hip-hop track, which we tried to evoke in the score’s soundscape.
You did a truly unique score for the financial meltdown comedy The Big Short. What was it like coming up with a rhythmic approach that could play with such intensively complex dialogue?
“The Big Short” was an amazing experience. Working with Adam McKay and editor Hank Corwin was something I’ll never forget. Your question brings up, really, one of the key challenges of that score, which was that the financial concepts that are being explained and demonstrated in “The Big Short” are really, really sophisticated. One of the important focuses that Adam had was on making sure that there was no simplifying of these concepts. Really, part of the point of “The Big Short” was to demonstrate and showcase these financial concepts in all of their extreme sophistication. In doing so, the hope was to demonstrate how overly complex all this stuff is and how that actually may be potentially quite negative for our society.
Within “The Big Short’s” music, one of the things that I faced was how do you have a score that doesn’t get in the way of the audience understanding all of these concepts? Also, how do you have a score that doesn’t invade a lot of the voiceover and dialogue as well? That’s something that I think you always face to some extent in a score. But in “The Big Short,” there were certain moments where it was really a focus. I think that my approach was just being very aware of it, by I was constantly trying to see how it felt as I was writing the music. Did the music enhance the understanding of a concept? Did it get in the way? There’s a scene, for example, where Margot Robbie’s in a bathtub, and she’s talking about shorting subprime bonds, and there were a couple different pieces of music that I put there to try out.Both of them were hip-hop tracks of mine, and one of them had a harp line that was really cool musically but which seemed to get in the way of understanding what was being said in the scene. So I ended up utilizing a different track that I wrote called “The Dopeness.” This track had a lot more musical space so that what Margot was saying was very clear; that beat sat perfectly underneath what she was saying. I think that gets to the essence of how a film score literally can fit inside of a film — inside of the audio space of a film.
Another powerful score you’ve done recently is for Natalie Portman’s directorial debut, “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” based on the memories of the writer Amos Oz, growing up in Jerusalem in the years before Israeli statehood. In the film, Amos’mother falls into a dark depression. What was it like working with Natalie in creating a score that could hit those titular emotions without being too draining and “down?”
It was a truly memorable experience working with Natalie on “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” Natalie is a dear friend of mine. We actually went to college together, and I was incredibly honored when she asked me to work with her on her film. With regard to the music specifically, I think it was very clear to both of us early on that we wanted the score to be rather restrained because the story is very intense, and we wanted to make sure that the musical approach never felt like it was pushing the emotion too much. With this as our guide, I pursued a variety of textures in some ways inspired by Amos’ family’s love of Western European classical musical traditions and also by their background as coming from Eastern Europe. In addition, their immigrating to Palestine and the formation of the state of Israel provided another layer of potential inspirations. So there was a true variety of musical possibilities; but there was no one region’s approach that I focused on. If anything, I was trying to create a sound that felt like it wasn’t from any one place but was perhaps inspired by these multiple influences. I focused very much on the recording of the instruments in the score, really close miking a lot of the instruments, and focused on enhancing the sound of, for example, the bowing on a viola. In the recordings in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” you can actually hear really very clearly the bowing itself, because we wanted there to be this feeling of closeness, at times a feeling of claustrophobia, but above all, we wanted the music to have a sort of intimacy.
You recently teamed with Gimme the Loot director Adam Leon for “Tramps.” What can we expect from that score?
Yes, I worked with Adam on “Gimme the Loot,” which was an awesome experience. “Tramps” recently premiered in Toronto and was acquired by Netflix, which we’re very excited about. With “Tramps,” it’s a multi-faceted score: it’s actually a combination of score-like pieces and also songs that I produced for the score. I would describe it as a very wide range of sounds, kind of an eclectic approach where at times the score is wood blocks and sticks and rhythms, and other times it’s electronic landscapes. It’s a very interesting, fun score, which Adam and I really enjoyed working on together.
Given how you’ve often taken an avant-garde approach to scoring, do you see yourself and such rising composers as Mica Levi (“Under the Skin”) and Jay Wadley (“Indignation”) as a new wave of musicians who are bringing a modern concert-hall approach to scoring?
For me, the way that I think about it, and the approach I take, is really determined by the film itself. The key is discovering a unique sound for a film. Sometimes it could be creating something which feels like a concert-hall, perhaps, more avant-garde approach. But other times it might just be discovering something unexpected musically, which really feels like it works with the picture. It’s about the film and what music resonates most strongly to the essence of that film. And overall it’s really about working with the director to discover that sound. I’m certainly drawn at times to nontraditional ensembles and arrangements because I find they often can create unexpected atmospheres and emotional responses. It’s also just really fascinating to try new combinations of instruments and to uncover colors that you hadn’t experienced before.
“Moonlight” shines on October 21, with Nicholas Brittel’s sore available on from Lakeshore Records on iTunes October 21st, and then on CD November 18th HERE
Hear Nicholas tell Natalie Portman “A Tale of Love and Darkness” HERE
Visit Nicholas Brittel’s web site HERE
One might expect composer Mark Isham to have had a tender musical upbringing that resulted in a soft-spoken composer who carried a powerfully blown trumpet. No doubt he was given some very different life choices than Chris – a highly functioning autistic youth with a natural gift for math and an equally big bullying target on his back, one that makes his military dad train Chris and brother in the killer skills that mature a budding genius into “The Accountant’s” cross between Rain Man and The Punisher.
Certainly one of the crazier Hollywood films to give socially challenged characters a shot at equal screen time, filmmaker Gavin O’Connor’s follow-up to the macho sibling dynamics of his “Warrior” is a story that shouldn’t work. But given the absolute commitment of O’Connor’s vision, the silent charisma of star Ben Affleck and the subtle scoring of his returning “Warrior” composer Isham, “The Accountant” pays off as one of the odder avenging “superhero” films to come down the action hero pike in quite a while, especially as given Isham’s rhythmic, melancholy score that gets inside of unusually unique headspace, where figures are put down with just as much brutal efficiency as the villains who dare cross Chris’ code of honor.
With scores numbering well past the century mark since his film debut with 1983’s beautifully soulful “Never Cry Wolf,” Isham has played just about every conceivable genre, including the sweeping, Oscar-nominated vistas of “A River Runs Through It,” “The Cooler’s” crime noir, “The Longest Ride’s” country romance, “Crash’s” ethereal intersection of prejudice, “42’s” noble sports plays and the enduring fantasia of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.” Hard-hitting action and suspense have long kept Isham delivering justice and a body count, including “Time Cop,” “Nowhere To Run,” “Point Break,” “Don’t Say A Word,” “Homefront” and two entries on “The Mechanic’s” kill list. But what makes Isham’s approach to good guys making mincemeat out of legions of highly armed villains is the propulsive, atmospheric intelligence he brings to these big gun downs, especially for “The Accountant.” Wielding a unique fusion of orchestra and electronics that say much about the composer’s jazz fusion background, Isham gives a deadly match magician not only a propulsive joy in putting numbers together, as well as steely, stealth militarism. But most importantly, Isham brings a haunted, yearning emotion for a man cursed to remain in his own world. It’s a mix of real world and crime avenging skills that constructs this Affleck dark knight out of a wholly different musical suit.
Starting out on such peaceful, ethereal scores as “The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” and “Never Cry Wolf,” did you ever figure out you’d also become in demand for the action genre, particularly when it came to violent thrillers?
No – in fact I was a bit standoffish about those sorts of scores. I really enjoy those type of films but at the time I had no idea how to score them, having never studied film scoring.
What was your stylistic, and philosophical adjustment that you took to get so adept at it?
I basically just decided to rise to the challenge and dive in. I remember studying some other composers – Toru Takemitsu I think, for dissonant energy etc. And working diligently on my percussion programming!!
As you developed your skill set in that particular field, how important would you see the especially hard-hitting score of “Time Cop” was? And were there other films that toughened you up as it were?
“Time Cop” was definitely a big learning experience for me. Learning ‘on the job.” “Point Break” was probably the biggest challenge and most successful new adventure for me. Kathryn Bigelow was great at getting me thinking the right way and helping me create the right energy and vibe.
“The Accountant” successfully walks a crazy tonal tightrope as a cross between “Rain Man” and “The Punisher.” How important was it for you to help keep the film on balance without slipping into a parody that some people might object to – i.e. playing Chris as some superhero?
It was crucial! And Gavin was very clear on that point. Chris is a VERY unique character and his abilities as a warrior were NOT to be glorified. His violence is a very efficient means to a very precise end.
“The Accountant” marks your second score for Gavin after “Warrior.” He’s a filmmaker whose themes often deal with the idea of manhood and brotherhood. What do you think makes you his go-to guy, and what’s your collaboration like?
Our collaboration has always been fun and fruitful – a real adventure. Gavin is very meticulous and communicates extremely well about his films, the storytelling and how the score should enhance and support it. He encourages experimentation and is open to any intelligent idea! I think what makes us work well together is a mutual respect for each other and agreement on the value of open, honest and continuing communication. He loves my music – I love his films!
You’ve often dealt with “outsider” characters, especially in “Nell” – people who communicate in their own language as it were. Given a character with more than highly functional autism, how did you want to capture Chris, especially given how the music has to “speak” for a lonely, isolated man who’d rather not talk at all?
The score is very eclectic – partially because of Chris’s character. There are times when the music represents the turmoil in his head and times when it communicates his experience with the beautiful abstraction of mathematics. There are several times when he has to face “real life” and interact with others, in tender ways and in tumultuous ways. So the music has very complex moments and extremely minimal moments. It represents and supports other people’s view of Chris as well, adding to further diversity.
How did you want to use percussion to play Chris’ mathematical genius?
I ended up basing the big ‘math scene’ on the piano. We used three! The instrument has the advantage of being percussive and melodic – it can communicate great precision and great beauty at the same time. This was the hardest nut to crack in the score. We went around and around trying many ideas. I started out very electronic but it made him too robotic. A big orchestral approach didn’t work at all. But the effect that three pianos created worked beautifully.
There’s an interesting, almost classical sound that comes to the fore in such cues as “The Accountant” and “The Trial of Solomon Grundy.” What inspired that approach?
As I mention above, there’s a beauty and precision that wants to be communicated with Chris. In “The Accountant,” the rhythms of classical minimalism really worked, along with a very simple theme that could grow and expand. Likewise in “The Trial of Solomon Grundy,” very classical harmony seemed to bring the right gravitas to Chris undergoing a life changing experience. That is our biggest cue, as it uses orchestra, choir, and a solo cello. It has a high emotional impact when he decides as a young boy not to be a victim anymore!
How did you want to capture Chris switching into equally analytical, and militaristic killer mode?
Gavin did some experimenting with temping those scenes. There is no gratuitous fighting here. If Chris needs to get into a house guarded by bad guys, he goes in absolutely the MOST efficient way possible! So the music is VERY EFFICIENT! Sometimes just one BIG hit! I had to go back and thin out my first pass quite a bit to get this right – and record special BIG drums!
The flashbacks to Chris’ childhood and what makes him into the unique accountant he is are a driving force in the film. Given that “Warrior” also dealt with highly dysfunctional family, how did you want to play that idea here?
The dysfunction is represented by the cello – and a unique theme. It is a more melodic approach than I used in “Warrior”. That was done with low overly compressed guitar notes and very little motion. A very stultified feeling. With Chris, it’s more heartbreaking. People are desperately trying to make good decisions in a situation they can’t grasp the meaning of. We want the audience to empathize with him in that way.
While “hybrid” scores are the rage now, you were doing unique combinations of electronics and orchestra from the start with “Point Break.” What do you think of how that sound has become a big part of action scoring, and how did you want to make it unique for “The Accountant?”
I have always loved blending sounds from all sorts of genres. It makes it possible to create a very unique sound for each score one does. I’m sure that’s why it’s caught on – “ear candy” for the audience! It allows the score to feel “contemporary” as well. “The Accountant ” is unique for me by its eclecticism. The score has many different sounds but holds together as a whole by its use of themes and motifs. There is a simple idea of overlapping rhythms that appears in every cue somehow. A pattern of 2 out of 3 – overlapped with a pattern of 5 out of 7 for example. Sometimes in different tempos….
In spite of its action, do you think there’s also the soul of a “little boy lost” to Chris’ musical character which reflects a skill set some people might think he never should have been given that irrevocably altered his life – a poignancy that really comes across in the cue “A Unique Remarkable Young Man?”
There is definitely a sense of his character starting out as a “little boy lost.” But the film actually allows us to see into his life and learn that he has in fact found a rich and fulfilling life – even though he denies himself certain human pursuits and pleasures. The cue, “A Unique Remarkable Young Man”, not only refers to Chris but to others as well who are equally unique and remarkable.
When it comes to lethally proficient antiheroes, you recently returned to the “Mechanic Resurrected,” a sequel that I enjoyed even more than the original, especially as it took pains to humanize Jason Statham’s character. What was it like returning to a cleaner who’s now given a love interest that drives his assassinations?
The “Mechanic” movies are fun – with a comic book type character that allows you to score in an over-the-top style. He’s a poor man’s James Bond! So it was fun to write a theme and score in that tradition. The new one does add a touch of romance to the equation – a perfect chance to channel some John Barry moments!
We recently lost Curtis Hanson, a director most widely known for intense film noirs like “L.A. Confidential.” Yet you scored the soft and lovely “In Her Shoes” for him. What was that experience like?
Curtis was lovely man. Very much like “In Her Shoes.” He was very thoughtful, weighing all his options. Curtis was a wonderful artist and a pleasure to work with.
Another, recent and quite lovely score you’ve done was for “Septembers in Shiraz,” about the desperate escape of an Iranian Jewish family during that country’s revolution. What made that film, and soundtrack particularly moving for you?
I really enjoyed Adrian’s performance. And the story was quite compelling. And it’s always fun to score with a touch of some ethnic influence.
“Once Upon A Time” stands as the most popular, and enduring series you’ve worked on. Why do you think it’s caught on, and what does the opportunity to embody this modern-day fairy tale (and now literary) characters give you?
OUAT is so much fun! I never studied traditional film scoring. I don’t think I’ve ever written a theme for a character like Indiana Jones. It’s always been for the idea of the film – betrayal – family – etc. But with OUAT, when Prince Charming comes on the screen, you hear his theme! Snow White, Red Riding Hood? These are iconic characters that I have a chance to write for. But there’s a twist – the creators did write “Lost,” remember? So it’s a very cool story line and plot at the same time. The scoring style is very traditional. Melody is desired and appreciated! And ABC is very supportive and we have an orchestra every week!
On that note, you’re taking on your first, fantasy-oriented YA score with the angelic romance and battles of Scott Hicks’ “Fallen.” What can you tell us about your score?
This was a fun one as well! Scott Hicks is a fabulous director and such a pleasure to work with. The score is pretty big – piano solos, soprano soloist – but with orchestra, choir, and LOTS of cool electronics. It’s epic but modern at the same time. Big choir and orchestra moments all under a pounding Tangerine Dream-ish type sequence! Beautiful moments of soprano and strings followed by Throbbing Gristle!
Given how uniquely powerful “The Accountant” is for the action genre, where do you hope it takes you with these films, while showing Hollywood just how far you can dangerously tread with this idea?
I know that the unique quality of this score comes from the unique quality of the film, and the desire and willingness of the filmmaker to search for a different and unique approach. I always try to create a score that helps tell the story the best I can. And that usually means finding a unique and special voice for that particular score. When you have the support of your director, producers and studio to do so, it’s an ideal situation to explore new ideas.
As a musician, do you find it more interesting to dwell in light, or darkness after the musical body count that you’ve accumulated?
When I started, I found the darkness easier and more rewarding. But as time went on, I realized that that is partially because our culture tends to look down on the brighter, lighter emotions and sees them as not as “artistic.” It seems to be harder to communicate those emotions at an artistic level. Certainly in concert music dissonant music has reigned supreme for years. But in the last decade or so, tonal music has re-emerged. (John Adams, my favorite example). These days I love the challenge of writing a great victory piece! And I work hard to bring to it as much innovation and artistry as I can muster!
“The Accountant” counts October 14th as its opening, with Mark Isham’s score available on WaterTower Music on October 7th HERE
Visit Mark Isham’s website HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.237]Hans Zimmer ([m.41760]Boss Baby), [c.1703]Jacob Groth ([m.46925]Flatliners), [c.1018]Steve Jablonsky ([m.45458]Transformers: The Last Knight), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 43 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-9-26]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42201]Deepwater Horizon ([c.1018]Steve Jablonsky), [m.42574]Masterminds ([c.1271]Geoff Zanelli), and [m.38199]Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ([c.13924]Mike Higham and [c.2159]Matthew Margeson). [m.45496]Queen of Katwe ([c.1205]Alex...
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.18647]Sully Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture digitally [da.2016-10-07]October 7 and on CD on [da.2016-10-28]October 28, 2016. The album features the original music composed by [c.54]Clint Eastwood, [c.19108]Christian Jacob, and the [c.19109]Tierney Sutton Band.
"One day he [director [c.54]Clint Eastwood] called and very casually asked if [c.19108]Christian Jacob and I would come down and see how he had provisionally used some of our music in the rough cut of [m.45380]Sully," Sutton recalled. "We thought he was interested in just using a few bits of our recorded music--or perhaps asking us to recreate some of that mood in a new piece for the film. But after screening the entire film, we were asked to score the...
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.”
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: DEEPWATER HORIZON Buy the Soundtrack: LONE SURVIVOR Buy the Soundtrack: BATTLESHIP Visit Steve Jablonsky’s Facebook page
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1480]Henry Jackman ([m.41746]Kong: Skull Island), [c.752]Alexandre Desplat ([m.44370]Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), [c.1224]Craig Wedren ([m.46721]How to Be a Latin Lover), 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.2016-9-19]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.44376]The Magnificent Seven ([c.9454]Simon Franglen and [c.89]James Horner) and [m.43705]Storks ([c.652]Jeff Danna and [c.257]Mychael Danna)....
Soundtrack Picks: “THE LITTLE PRINCE” is the top soundtrack to own for September, 2016
Also worth picking up CUTTHROAT ISLAND, CHARLES FOX: SEASONS, GENIUS, PETE’S DRAGON, IS PARIS BURNING?, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, SE7EN, STRANGER THINGS and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) CUTTHROAT ISLAND / ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE
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.
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.
3) THE LITTLE PRINCE
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.
4) PETE’S DRAGON
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.
5) STRANGER THINGS VOLUMES 1 and 2
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.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
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.
. CHARLES FOX: SEASONS
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.”
. DON’T BREATH
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.
. GAME OF THRONES: SEASON 6
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.
. IS PARIS BURNING?
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.
. JASON BOURNE
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.
. STAR TREK BEYOND
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.
WHERE DID THEY FILM THAT?: THE MUSIC JOURNEY
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
The Tenerife International Film Music Festival (Fimucite) celebrates its tenth anniversary with the launch of the Fimucite Film Scoring Academy, aimed to students and professionals who want to receive specialized training. [c.1169]Lolita Ritmanis, [c.]Christopher Carter and [c.531]Michael McCuistion, members of the Dynamic Music Partners, will offer a workshop addressed to musicians, and a seminar for audiovisual composers and students of music composition will be given by [c.1174]Richard Bellis.
All activities are free entry and will be held at Aula Magna in Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, during the festival week happening from September 23rd to October 1st, sponsored by Cabildo Insular de Tenerife, the Canary Islands Government and Santa...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.534]Michael Giacchino ([m.41980]Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), [c.401]Rolfe Kent ([m.47313]Crash Pad), [c.171]John Powell ([m.35214]How to Train Your Dragon 3), 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.2016-9-12]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.46498]Blair Witch ([c.5401]Adam Wingard), [m.44792]Bridget Jones's Baby ([c.519]Craig Armstrong), [m.41536]Hillsong: Let Hope Rise (songs by [c.19506]Hillsong United), and [m.43534]Snowden ([c.519]Craig Armstrong and [c.2809]Adam...
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
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the winners of the 2016 68th Emmy Awards. Some of the highlights are as follows:
Original Main Title Theme Music:
- WINNER: [t.44162]Marvel's Jessica Jones ([c.678]Sean Callery)
- [t.44784]Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ([c.17045]Rachel Bloom and [c.2719]Adam Schlesinger)
- [t.44216]Narcos ([c.16577]Rodrigo Amarante)
- [t.43903]Sense8 ([c.515]Johnny Klimek and [c.516]Tom Tykwer)
- [t.45300]The Night Manager ([c.1744]Victor Reyes)
- [t.41998]The Whispers ([c.927]Robert Duncan)
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score):
- WINNER: [t.43390]Mr. Robot, eps.1.0_hellofriend.mov ([c.3207]Mac Quayle)
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1213]Walter Murphy ([m.47256]The Late Bloomer), [c.452]Theodore Shapiro ([m.45727]Collateral Beauty), [c.1318]Daniel Pemberton ([m.46955]Gold), 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.2016-9-05]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42042]The Disappointments Room ([c.361]Brian Tyler), [m.45380]Sully ([c.19108]Christian Jacob and [c.19109]The Tierney Sutton Band), [m.43475]When the Bough Breaks ([c.70]John Frizzell), and [m.45792]The Wild Life (no composer).
Among all new...
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?
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
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.18551]Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom Original Motion Picture Soundtrack out both digitally and on CD [da.2016-09-23]September 23, 2016. The album features the original music composed by [c.19417]George Streicher.
"Being a huge Williams/Goldsmith fan, I couldn't help but bring some of that flavor to the score," Streicher stated. "Those aspects definitely come out in some of the more action-adventure driven cues in the film, but for the most part, I tried to keep things light--it is a movie for kids, after all." When scoring the first scenes, Streicher used the opening shot as inspiration for the tonal palette. "The first scene where the camera flies into the window of the house and we meet Howard for the first time I had been...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.452]Theodore Shapiro ([m.46274]Office Christmas Party), [c.1480]Henry Jackman and [c.2159]Matthew Margeson ([m.44923]Kingsman: The Golden Circle), [c.8161]Danny Bensi and [c.1781]Saunder Jurriaans ([m.47235]The Discovery), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 38 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-8-29]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43881]The Light Between Oceans ([c.752]Alexandre Desplat) and [m.45053]Morgan ([c.1746]Max Richter).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits...
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:
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...
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:
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...
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...