Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Jason Moran

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 19/12/2014 - 16:46

We all know the music that’s supposed to accompany Hollywood depictions of history, let alone the real-life, freedom-fighting icons whose charisma transcends any imagined depiction of them. For whether they’re Michael Collins leading Irish guerillas, William Wallace swinging a sword for Scotland or Mahatma Gandhi traversing India with a walking stick, audiences know they’ll hear the lofty noble strains of a symphonic orchestra – as mixed in with melodic ethnicity if the subject allows. Indeed, there’s nothing like a symphony to stoke the fires of justice, whether lit with cries of violence, or asking for the complete restraint of it in the face of those who’d do grievous harm to the righteous.

In the civilly disobedient musical case of Martin Luther King Jr. the impact of “Selma’s” score comes from its subtlety of meeting racist fury with soft dignity, as the jazz, soul and spiritual rhythms of an oppressed black nation join hands with a measured symphonic approach, especially when detailing the movement’s effect on a troubled marriage through soft strings and piano. Yet this is also a soundtrack that truly knows when to raise its emotional fist to shattering orchestral effect – both in getting across King’s still unmet call for racial equality, as well as announcing an impressive new voice on the major scoring scene.

As heard in an astonishing Hollywood debut by Jason Moran, “Selma” mixes the inspirationally expected with equal innovation, from paranoid electronics to the handclap percussion of police beat-downs. It’s an unstoppable sense of history making that could perhaps only be captured by a musician so steeped in jazz and its cultural heritage. Hailing from Houston with his craft learned in Manhattan’s jazz-infused stomping grounds, Jason Moran gigged with such musicians as Charles Lloyd and Bill Frisell, notching several releases with Blue Note records in the process. Also well established in the academic and cultural worlds as a teacher at the New England Conservatory and as the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center, Moran only had a few documentaries to his credits before his music caught the ear of “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernary (“Scandal,” “Middle of Nowhere”). Now Moran and DuVarnay are marching to the recent tune of Golden Globe nominations for Best Film, Director, Actor and Song for “Glory” (performed by Common, who also appears in the picture), For Moran, there’s nothing more moving than walking in scoring lock-step with picture that re-creates a lightning rod moment in history – one that’s never been more pertinent than now, especially when it comes to marching to the beat of music as quiet, and bold as its leader.


When you hear a score as good as “Selma” from a composer who’s completely unknown, the first question is usually “Who is this guy?” What would you say to someone asking that?

Well, he’s a jazz pianist and composer, who plays around the world giving concerts in creative venues, in world art, and jazz festivals worldwide. And he wants to be like Duke Ellington!


How did you end up getting the gig?

I’m a close friend of Bradford Young, who’s the cinematographer of “Selma.” As they were nearing the end of their shooting, the director Ava DuVernay was asking around about who could do the score. So Bradford just said to “Call Jason.” Ava’s response was “Jason who?” But we started having conversations on the phone in the spring and early summer, and we formed a close relationship through conversations about our intentions as young artists, especially related to history. That ‘s a big part of what I do as a jazz musician. It’s really kind of how to re-conceptualize history and make it somehow resonate in today’s society. I’m dedicated to that craft of looking back, in order to expose something for the future. So we found a common language that way, which made it a real joy to work with Ava on this.

What did Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you before you even became a musician?

Jazz and activism are so integral to each other, whether we think about the music of Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, the music of the vaudeville performer Burt Williams in the early 1900′s, or the music of Paul Robeson. That link, that defiance, that comes out of the origins of jazz and blues are what we know of black music in American. It has that kind of tension and history built in to it, a process of exploring sounds from James Brown to today’s artists like John Legend and Common, who perform “Selma’s” end song “Glory.” So when I study jazz, I don’t just study just the music. I study its relationship where it was in the history. “Selma” is set in the 60s, when John Coltrane was about to make his most profound work “A Love Supreme,” which is about the the way he felt about the things that were happening with the civil rights movement, as well as the four girls who were bombed in a church. John made a piece about that, so our relationship to each other has always been extremely close. It’s daunting to think about that, but it’s also how I’ve been working for my entire life as a creative artist.

What were the challenges of going from jazz to doing a major orchestral score?

The challenge is just not knowing. So I always want to work with someone who knows how deep the water is, to show where it is I need to be heading. Ava and I had lots of discussions about where we wanted to go with the score. She really wanted to have an orchestral score, as this is her biggest film, so we moved in that direction of her big films. As we developed it more, the orchestrator Matthias Gohl (“The Red Violin”) came in to calm me down, and helped me through the process, especially because he has more experience in these situations. It was helpful to have someone like that help discuss the terror that I had as to where we were heading. I was both excited and nervous about the prospect, because I had no idea of what the finished product would sound like. I had the feeling of it, but I didn’t have the full idea in my head.

What I really liked about the score is just how subtle it is. Was it difficult taking that route with such a towering figure as Martin Luther King Jr., who isn’t exactly painted as a saint here.

When I scored documentaries, my first response would be to tell the director that their movies didn’t need a score! I was always very nervous about adding music. A score can be of help, but it can also really strong-arm a theme. I didn’t want to necessarily do that here. I spent the last ten years working with a great performance artist Joan Jonas, who has worked with video, painting, drawing, movement and costumes. We’d do these performances together (and still do it now), and she’s been very helpful in teaching me the process of how to expose a narrative through sound and text. So entering this kind of phase with Ava was similar. On “Selma,” I was trying to give a just a little, because my habit as a jazz player is to actually give you a lot (laughs)! But I had to resist the temptation, because the score needs to be “felt” more than “heard.” I was thinking of how the music would get us from place to place, and how it would help the audience breathe? And sometimes it needed to be big, to put us on a boat and take us across this bridge to arrive at Martin Luther King’s final speech.

This is the first film to deal with the tension of his marriage to Coretta. How did you want to play their relationship, especially when it came to the rumors of his womanizing?

As a married man and father of two children, I can say that anybody who marries understands that any marriage is complicated. It has highs and lows. At most times it’s unresolved until the people pass away. Martin and Coretta ‘s marriage functions in “Selma” to address that state of complexity. There are a couple of scenes where they are together, and the music there is extremely “simple.” I think the way their actors David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo portrayed the relationship in a way that was so full of emotion that their scenes didn’t need much music. For years I’ve done these pieces where I played around pre-recorded voices, whether the language was Turkish, Mandarin or English. It taught me how I could “map” the directions of speech patterns, or how music could function with them. It also encompassed their breaths, and the tone of the room they were in. It was almost like playing the room they were in, rather than what they were saying. Ava and I worked hard to figure out the interplay between music and dialogue in “Selma” so we could get the sound just right.

Another thing that impressed me about “Selma’s” score was how you subtly incorporated a traditional scoring approach with African-American music, whether it was jazz, the blues or spiritual anthems.

One of the first things Ava and I talked about was where would that rural music comes into conflict with the urban tunes. That let the tambourine become one of the instruments in the score. There are so many cultures around the world, and the tambourine is something that anybody can beat their hand to, and have this rattle attached to it. The blues is a major part of southern culture, as is spiritual music. Both use that kind of percussion. I wanted to kind of have that relation between blues and Gospel music to get the idea across of the “sacred” versus the “secular,” which also represents Martin Luther King Jr. As that kind of combination has also been a big part of my music, I was happy to find places in the score where both styles could work together.


There are also cool, far more modern sampling effects in the score that create a surreal feeling at points.

I worked with a great guitarist named Marvin Sewell, whom I’ve been collaboration with for many years. As I was getting some of the themes together, we sat down and it just worked out beautifully. We weren’t worrying about the score sounding too “modern,” as Ava also wasn’t trying to perfectly recreate history. She just wanted to tell the history.

Your score finally gets bigger in a more traditionally epic way when King’s marchers confront the cops at the bridge. How did you judge when to let loose your own big orchestral guns?

When Ava said we were going to use source music for the bridge sequence, my reaction was, “Oh, good, because that was going to be a doozy!” But then she said, “Nah, we need a score here.” I was like, “Ah… ok.” A lot of my process kind of falls out of my relationship to the piano. As an improviser especially, I’m also recording myself, which is how I learned to write – to think about musical mood and how to develop it. So as we were working on that long sequence, Ava saw how the music needed to be broken down into three parts. There was the initial piece on the bridge, the conversation that happens on the bridge between the marchers, and then the confrontation with the police. Up to that moment where the police charge the marchers, it was how to look at that tension and how to represent the feeling of the police. Then there’s the tension within the marchers, who are aiming to march confidently across the bridge for what could be a long journey. But first they’ve got to see what’s on the other side. And it turns out to be pure terror. So it took us a long time to figure out what was the right mood for the sequence. We would get one part right, and then the other two would be wrong. It just took a while to figure out how to make it all work. I’m thrilled when people experience that theme there, and how the music tells you the whole story. The percussion of the marchers’ feet is also a wonderful thing to imagine, even though you don’t necessarily hear them entering the bridge.


The other big score moment of course is Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech. How did you want to accompany such meaningful, and moving words?

This was the first cue that I wrote. And I would cry every time as I was watching it and listening to my music. I called Ava to tell her that I was crying for an hour watching this speech. She said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Look, I’m going to send you my music, because sometimes you can cry for the wrong reasons! (laughs) But I was actually crying for the right reasons. Ave called me back with “I don’t know how you did it. But THAT’S IT!” It was a really good thing that had happened, because I hadn’t really thought about the rest of the film yet. I just knew how I felt about the end of it, because we know how his life ends after that speech. And we know where we are today. So the speech just seemed to be the most current part of the film for me. It was a really heavy moment each time I saw that cue come up.

It’s shocking how relevant “Selma” is right to this minute. You realize how far black people have come since those days. But yet they really haven’t come that far at all.

“Selma” is a real comment on the relationships that rule the country, and how we relate to each other. There’s an indictment it imposes on all of us, the moment where King is giving a eulogy for the child that was murdered. He kind of indicts everybody, the people who aren’t a part of the marches. He indicts the clergy when he says, “Come on y’all. You see this is a problem for people.” This film will hopefully serve as a template to show how the community that was around Martin Luther King Jr., and what we have to do now to move forward and progress. Not to just change laws, but to change peoples’ attitudes.

If a viewer decides to join the marches against injustice after hearing your music with the incredibly powerful music and images of “Selma,” will you think you’ve done your job?

Yeah. I think even people who are out there now are becoming aware of the film. Ava and Common took the film out to Ferguson and screened it down there last week. So “Selma” is becoming part of the community. They showed it last night in Boston to the mayor and the governor, and it’s now already part of their conversation. Cities are starting to find a way to discuss this film.

Unfortunately, it seems that one of the biggest racist institutions is Hollywood itself, especially when so many black composers now get pigeonholed into only doing “black” films. How do you hope to avoid that, especially as you’re just starting out in the big leagues?

I’ve always been a functioning musician who has tried to defy pigeonholes. I’m very interested in stories, and narrative, which has always been in my strategy, with or without Hollywood. I’m an artistic director at the Kennedy Center for Jazz. With this film I was just trying to be subtle, if not splashy at all – which is the way I go about all of my music. I don’t have any particular goals, just to make it all work. I try to enable those around me to have a bold vision, to make them hear what it takes to really make an effective change, There’s a scoring world you know, a directing world, a gender world, so many spaces to have a discussion about. The hole is always big but I feel like I have the option to lower the ladder into that hole, and to help myself climbing out of it as well.

“Selma” opens on Christmas Day

(A special thanks to Alexander Portillo for his interview transcription)


Visit Jason Moran’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: On the Score with Howard Shore

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 11/12/2014 - 19:14

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records


Over 150 years ago, Richard Wagner unleashed an operatic Ring Cycle forged from a symphonic and choral language of leitmotif – a theme-driven work that drew on ancient Germanic legends of dragons, barbarians, demi-gods and Valkyries. In the process, Wagner pioneered the motivic, and melodic sound of orchestral film scoring itself, as well as giving no small bit of inspiration to author J.R.R. Tolkien when he wrote his own fantasy quest over the course of four legendary books, its characters of small, beastly and valiant stature driven to acts of heroism and destructive greed due to a supernatural piece of jewelry.

It would take Peter Jackson six, similarly epic movies to adapt Tolkien’s work, their music forged in Oscar-winning gold by Howard Shore, who after 13 years is finally closing the book on his own Wagnerian saga with “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” Indeed, even a novel (written by Doug Adams) has been devoted to the massive accomplishment of Shore’s scores, where dozens of memorable themes, poetic songs in languages Elvish and Orc, and waves of magical strings and ominous brass have conjured a thunderously approximation of Middle Earth. Now, Shore’s finishes his trek back to the beginning with a new Jackson “Hobbit” trilogy, one given an eight year break between Frodo’s rescue from Mount Doom and the Bilbo Baggins’ quest to restore the honor of dwarf adventurers. They’ve traversed striking new musical realms with Shore, finally ending in a castle keep that pits dragon, demon, dwarf, elf and human into a massive fight of madness and redemption, their “Five Armies” standing as tall as ever in showing film music’s power to become the emotional embodiment of a fantastical time and place.

Yet as grand as Shore’s sound can be, the composer also reveals his intimate, poetic side inside of Iranian prison walls in “Rosewater.” In the impressive directorial debut of “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart, Shore captures the hopeful human spirit not only of a journalist, but of a country’s people striving for freedom, their always-crushed aspirations conveyed with delicate Middle Eastern rhythms and ethereal poetry. The mood is far eerier as Shore teams again with his longtime, disturbing filmmaking muse (and fellow Canadian) David Cronenberg as they chart their next disturbed look at the human condition, this time driving around movie-poisoned L.A. with a “Map to the Stars.” It’s a diverse, and busy season indeed for one of film scoring’s most intellectually striking composers, who now talks about traveling the roadmap of Middle Earth and our own psyches on this episode of “On the Score.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Buy the Soundtrack: ROSEWATER Buy the Soundtrack: MAP TO THE STARS
Buy the Soundtrack: DEAD RINGERS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SCORE Visit the website of Howard Shore’s HOWE Records
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

The Best Scores of 2014

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 11/12/2014 - 00:06

(Click on the album covers to purchase these soundtracks)

AUTOMATA
(Zacarias M. de la Riva / Movie Score Media)

Scores like “A.I.” and “I, Robot” have portrayed automatons as having infinitely more soul than their human creators, a purity of electronic spirit that makes them closer to God than any flesh and blood creation. No score has religiously captured that spiritual ghost in the machine with the beautiful, beatific quality of Zacarias M. de la Riva, whose transcendent use of the chorus, and the anguished, spare strings of homo sapien despair merge for a moving requiem to the human race, while signaling the birth of a purer, spiritual society in his musical world building for this striking sci-fi indie from Spain.


EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS
(Alberto Iglesias / Sony Classical)

In a year that’s seen a revisionist deluge of biblical films (none more so than the heathen experimentalism of Clint Mansell’s “Noah”), Alberto Iglesias (along with fellow Spanish composer Federico Jusid (“Isabel”) and Harry Gregson-Williams (“Kingdom of Heaven”)) rides a wave both heavenly, and psychological that parts the Red Sea for Moses in “Exodus.” It’s a score that powerfully taps into the ancient symphonic force of old school Hollywood scoring that befitted Elmer Bernstein’s “The Ten Commandments,” yet is modernized here with an intimate and epically propulsive manner that “Exodus” director Ridley Scott last drew from Hans Zimmer for “Gladiator.” And it’s likely that Alberto Iglesias will similarly arrive within at least-nomination foot of the burning Oscar bush for his stunning, all-enveloping score that not only achieves grand, melodic spectacle (its build to the big splash is especially spine-chilling in its symphonic majesty) but also plays the tragedy of two “brothers” rent asunder by a force beyond their reckoning, as well as the torment that comes from wreaking havoc while being on a mission from God. Iglesias’ talent for ethnically driven scores like the Academy-nominated “Constant Gardener” also lets him beautifully tap into a wellspring of ancient Egyptian and Hebraic music in a way that further pushes the studios’ new wave of putting earthy authenticity into the bible’s most spectacular stories, here paying off stupendously with a score that most importantly hears the troubling, and triumphant message between men and God.


GRAND PIANO
(Victor Reyes / Movie Score Media)

Composer-led concerts have played a notable role in thrillers, from John Barry conducting “Deadfall” to Lalo Schifrin opening “Red Dragon” and most notoriously Bernard Herrmann waving on an assassin-cueing cymbal crash for Hitchcock’s remake of “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” But no film has used this nifty gimmick as a central, film scoring coup de theatre like “Grand Piano,” which takes place entirely from the perspective of Elijah Wood’s classically traumatized pianist, whom a madman puts in the position of playing for his very life. Brilliantly synchronized to the character’s bravura movements, Reyes’ keyboard-and-symphony mash of every great concert piece from Beethoven to Mahler also has to pull double-duty as suspense score, hitting both the ivories with killer precision and the on, and off-stage cat-and-mouse game between psychopath and prodigy. It’s a score that’s all about sweat-flying control and structure, given the kind of furious melodies that one could easily imagine becoming concert favorites, especially when it comes to the most insanely rewarding piano solo yet heard on a score. One feels like jumping up and shouting “Bravo!” given the versatility of Reye’s convincingly classical work.


THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY
(A.R. Rahman / Hollywood Records)

No Indian composer has brought together the musical flavors of East and West like A.R. Rahman, who brought home an Oscar for the hip-hop Raga rhythms of “Slumdog Millionaire.” But no score is literally indicative of Rahman’s good taste like this across-the-street duel between snooty French and earthy Indian cuisines, an ultimately affection battle that Rahman turns into a delicious masala of time-honored ethnic instruments and Gallic rhythms. Seasoned with percussive playfulness, ethereal romance and heartfelt drama that musically paints a picture as to how time-honored cuisines can be turned into something new and worthy of a musical Michelin Star.


THE IMITATION GAME
(Alexandre Desplat / Sony Classical)

Desplat Photo by Brigitte Lacomble

If I didn’t have personal rule to only afford one best score per composer, Alexandre Desplat would certainly occupy several spots on this list for another year of exceptional work, particularly those soundtracks centering on World War 2. Where he infused the art geeks of “Monuments Men” with a comically marching, can-do attitude then gave a soaring spirit of nobility that allowed an athlete to soar above “Unbroken’s” Japanese prison camp, the winner must go to the ever-flowing rhythmic masterworks that Desplat uses to drive the code-breaking Turing Machine. As France’s most notable melodist since the days of Delerue and Jarre, Desplat ones again weaves terrifically memorable and flowing themes that embody the precise calculations of a beautiful, tormented mind, while also cleverly emulating such mathematical modernist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Like Alan Turing’ creation that pre-figured computers, Desplat’s music calculates on several levels at once, conveying a desperately larger, ominous scope beyond a gear-filled room to give the suspenseful feeling of the free world at stake, while also outputting the wonders of puzzling out technological creation in a way that makes a withdrawn scientist, whom others think of as more machine than man, into a tragically poignant figure as noble as any hero on the battlefield.


NIGHTCRAWLER
(James Newton Howard / Lakeshore Records)

James Newton Howard used alternately rocking and ethereal electronics to convey Los Angeles as a cross-culture melting pot as capable of humanity as it was danger in his stylistically seminal music for 1991s “Grand Canyon.” Now Howard fast forwards to his synth scoring’s next, disturbing evolution as orchestra combines with a hypnotic, industrially-tinged sound for a city gone soullessly dark in the face of a sensation-starved media beast that must be fed. Giving it a diet of car crashes and murder are pedal-to-metal percussive runs to the next crime scene, eerily beautiful washes of samples becoming the hypnotic pull of news cameras and LA neon to a hungry, camera-toting wolf – music that captures an empty, transfixed soul looking for meaning amidst the menacing, growling suspense of where he’ll find his next live-at-11 prey. Yet for a movie that’s the most caustic TV satire since “Network,” Howard is sure to bring in a pokey, humorous theme that tells us everything that makes this psychotic Sammy run, often at top speed. As he finally bursts into twisted metal and groovy percussion for its end titles, Howard upends his “Grand Canyon” riffs into the height of bleak, energetic irony for a musical city of red-splattered news footage night that’s truly lost any sense of hopeful vision the composer first imbued it with.


THE RAILWAY MAN
(David Hirschfelder / Varese Sarabande Records)

The power of awful memory comes flooding through David Hirschfelder’s impactful, movingly dramatic score as a British victim of Japan’s wartime, railway-building atrocities finds himself pulled back into a past he desperately tried to forget. The nightmares of nerve-crawling strings, body-pummeling Asian percussion and twisted sound masses come out of the worst real-life horror movie imaginable to create a pit of despair. Yet it’s in the pulling out of these awful memories to find an almost impossible-to-believe reconciliation with the enemy that is where this score’s power lies. Even the buried humanity from a former torturer comes into the present with tender flutes, met with an emotional return from his victim that’s heard as through a lush, noble orchestra and an elegiac theme, with a building, Latin chorus asking benediction for the plight of POWs that must never be forgotten.



SELMA

(Jason Moran)

Sure “Selma” is a movie that is “inspirational” to the core in every, outstanding respect, as you’d expect any film, or score to be about iconic, speechifying leaders from Abraham Lincoln to Mahatma Gandhi. But what makes this biopic of Martin Luther King’s finest hour truly soar is the beautiful subtlety with which those words come out, no more so than when accompanied by the moving notes Jason Moran, a jazzman making a stunning score debut here. Often played with spare, elegiac, and sometimes regretful melody for piano and strings, “Selma” grows with the power of conviction, ultimately assuming tall orchestral stature when meeting its baton-holding haters at the height of non-violent nobility. With Moran’s equally understated use of Afro-centric melodies to personify the civil rights movement’s leaders, Moran knows when to deal his big musical cards for maximum, emotionally affecting impact during his memorably thematic marches. It’s a score that speaks softly, while knowing how to hold its heroic head high when faced with big sticks crashing down upon it, the score’s soulful eyes on the noble prize.


SNOWPIERCER
(Marco Beltrami / Varese Sarabande Records)

Marco Beltrami has proven himself to be a master of the musical apocalypse from the Straus-ian strains of “Knowing” to the twisted rock guitar heralding “World War Z.” But he’s never heard humanity’s end with she sheer invention of the perpetual motion train that throttles through the frozen, globe-spanning tracks of “Snowpiercer.” Musically embodying a twisted locomotive as the ultimate representation of class warfare, Beltrami unleashes a twisted score that’s powered with haunting themes for piano, anguished strings and axe-pummeling action, a tone that ranges from the impressionistic to the thunderously melodic as Beltrami delivers both tragic emotion and seemingly righteous payback. “Snowpiercer” is a gripping hell of a ride down the steerage class of what humanity’s last, tolling hour.


UNDER THE SKIN
(Mica Levy / Milan Records)

More than ever, it seems like every filmmaker is looking for a score that sounds like nothing else before it to suit their vision. “Under the Skin” fits matches that seemingly impossible request in the truest sense of just how bizarrely innovative “music” can be – if that’s what you can label Mica Levy’s skittering, droning, piercing and buzzing work of sonic anti-matter. If Voyager ever sent back the soundtrack of a movie made by aliens, the utterly unique “Under the Skin” would be it, which perfectly suits director Jonathan Glazer’s movie about an extra-terrestrial, fake flesh-covered seductress capturing her horny victims with cosmic tar, all while discovering some small amount of her own romantic humanity in the bargain. Yet within the terrifyingly strange noise-music that Levy conjures from God knows-what, the composer actually finds themes, and dare one say melody from this disturbing, transfixing mass of experimentalism. Easy soundtrack listening “Under the Skin” most certainly is not, but the daring will doubtlessly find themselves being pulled in by the oil-black sensuality that Levy’s exerts with the most innovatively weird score in memory.


THE RUNNERS-UP



BIG BAD WOLVES

(Frank Ilfman / Movie Score Media)

Stop me if you’ve heard the same cinematic tune about a perceived miscreant tied into a chair for all manner of mental, and physical torture to be performed upon him. Thankfully, the Israeli breakout film “Big Bad Wolves” whistles the genre song with smashing black-humored suspense, as captured with a thunderous score by Frank Ilfman, who twists a thrillingly mean symphonic knife as he relentlessly veers between frantic action and sly, Herrmann-esque strings as a set-up for ironic, tragic outrage that hammers home that these sort of confessionals never turn out well – even if Ilfman’s work is full of truly twisted satisfaction.


THE CONGRESS
(Max Richter / Milan Records)

The blurring between animated, and real worlds gave composer Max Richter and filmmaker Ari Folman their breakout works with 2008s “Waltz With Bashir,” where a shell-shocked Israeli soldier tried to come to grips with his country’s invasion of Lebanon. Now the mesh of flesh and blood with cartoon imagery reaches an epically imaginative peak with “real” actress Robin Wright’s headspace to provide a striking meditation on art, commerce and politics with a film, and score that are the height of bizarre, artistic illusion. A musician in the tradition of John Adams and Michael Nyman, Richter uses long, ever-developing string lines to create a mood of suspended virtual reality, his beautifully floating, dream-like melodies creating a true sense of importance for a life-capturing technology bravely flowing into a new animated frontier, given a classical sensibility with its mutations of Schubert, along with plaintive strings and pianos – until the rudeness of Hollywood exploitation and a maniac toontown come rushing in with rocking, guitars and bubbling videogame-like rhythms. There’s a feeling of transcendent grace and commercial subversion to this very smart “Congress” that feels musically metaphysical in the smartest, and most graceful way even with far-out animation bashing at its walls of peaceful, melodic illusion.



DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

(Michael Giacchino / Sony Classical)

Giacchino Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar

If there’s an heir apparent to Jerry Goldsmith’s throne of mixing savage rhythms with orchestral melody, then Hollywood should be bowing down before the chest-thumping energy of Michael Giacchino, who follows up his track record with fantastical franchise reboots like “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” with what’s arguably the best “Planet of the Apes” picture new or old. A true enthusiast of the composing lawgivers before him, particularly “Apes” musical pioneer, Giacchino brings in all manner of inventive primitive percussion to create an ape society, while using a terrifically explosively thematic orchestra when it comes to their reckoning with the remaining human survivors. His furious, adrenalin-charged action writing makes this score feel like a true evolution from the time we walked through The Forbidden Zone. But it those first talking simians were mostly villainous with Goldsmith’s neo-experimental approach, Giacchino’s movingly noble orchestra and choral finery truly hails Caesar with the soaring, gong-ringing, myth-making rush of a Christ figure that truly shows how the series has developed its viewpoint that animals are more musically virtuous than any Homo sapien in musical sight.


GONE GIRL
(Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross / Columbia)

No two composers are insinuating a nightmarish industrial sound into alternative scoring like Nine Inch Nails’ guitarist Trent Reznor (L) and band collaborator Atticus Ross (R). After director David Fincher caught the razor-scratching NiN earbug by using the song “Closer” over “Seven’s” diseased killer journal opening, the director brought in the Reznor and Ross to created the ever-mutating, high tech sound of “The Social Network” to the tune of an Oscar, before creating a rhythmically sinister snowscape for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” But where Reznor and Ross have embodied David Fincher’s twisted psychology to in-your-face musical effect, the duo have now produced a score that works so brilliantly because of its mostly subtle insinuation with “Gone Girl.” Becoming the scheming housewife from hell, Reznor and Ross use their distinctively eerie fusion of alternative rock of surreal percussion to create trouble in flyover suburban paradise, cooing with sensual humor before their rhythms become far more disturbing. Otherworldly layers of synth and sample overdubs tear off the gift-wrapping from the perfect woman to shimmering, nightmarish effect as the music becomes progressively unraveled. Yet the score is never less than mesmerizing, unable to break apart from a black widow’s spell, her web of deceit weaved with equal parts black humor, suspense and shock to clever, surreally psychotic electro-shock notes.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
(Tyler Bates / Hollywood Records)

Marvel took a big gamble on a “Star Wars” goof with a third-tier group of nearly forgotten superheroes, one that paid off in smash hit spades with a winning combo of heart and humor that also delivered on the space opera – no more so than with the thrilling eccentricity of Tyler Bates’ score, as delivered by a composer whose last musical comic book (ahem, graphic novel) team was DC’s ultra-serious “Watchmen.” Sure we might have feared what Bates’ score was going to sound like, especially given how “Guardians” spent so long promoting itself with Peter Quill’s admittedly awesome mix tape of 60s and 70s oldies. But what Bates delivered in his biggest score yet was a rousing tribute to a certain 1977 score from grandpa John Williams, delivering all of that symphonic style’s thematic goods, while eccentrically goosing them up with ethnic alien-isms and a rock and roll action energy. It’s sci-fi superhero scoring where epic attitude is truly everything.


LUCY
(Eric Serra / Back Lot Music)

No one had quite heard a hitwoman played with the exotically energetic, percussion-funk approach of Eric Serra’s career-making hit for “La Femme Nikita” back in 1990. Though Serra’s sense of rhythmic experimentation has never ceased in his continued action ventures for filmmaker Luc Besson, “Lucy” builds upon “The Fifth Element’s” satiric sci-fi approach, takes the composer into the gonzo stratosphere as a very reluctant drug mule attains brainiac goddess-hood. Starting out with dark, menacing, beats for the terror of an interior super-drug, Serra gradually evolves the score with an eerie reverse-beat theme, trip-hop rock, pokey jazz and militaristic marches, finally going for the cosmic rush of a chorus-powered orchestra. “Lucy” plays like action scoring on something way stronger than LSD, creating a wildly stylistic score where it delightfully seems anything can happen.



STONHEARST ASYLUM

(John Debney / Lakeshore Records)

Those listeners who felt like they were given the shock treatment by John Debney’s nerve-jangling industrial score for the serial killer chase of director Brad Anderson’s “The Caller” will no doubt be pleased with the stormily old-school melodic suspense that fills their latest venture inside a place where the inmates have truly taken over the asylum. Debney’s thick, thrilling walls of symphonic sound are far more sympathetic here, if no less wary when it comes to representing the plot’s unhinged, build to a bravura trail of mysterioso music, its discoveries alternately playful, romantic, and terrifying. Lilting violins, piano and waltz melodies give “Stonehearst Asylum” a costumed sense of time and place before Debney brings matters to a fiery fore by unleashing some of the most exhilarating, emotionally propelled action writing of the year. Rarely has the sound of 40s Hollywood bedlam been given a vibrantly welcoming, or insanely entertaining therapy as in this “Asylum.”



A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST

(Joel McNeely / Back Lot Music)

As one of the 90s stand-out symphonic composers with such nostalgically bountiful works as “Radioland Murders,” “Iron Will” and “Squanto,” Joel McNeely has since explored TV territory in the “American Dad!” company of master wise-ass Seth McFarlane. Certainly one of the biggest soundtrack thrills this year was hearing McNeely get another major Hollywood shot as he played straight man to McFarlane’s ode to “Blazing Saddles,” riding along with the vibrant spirits of Jerome Moross, Alfred Newman, Elmer Bernstein and Bruce Broughton with nary a tip of the musical hat to the profane shenanigans around him. But then in today’s company town, you almost have to do a throwback movie to hear the kind of unapologetic, rip-roaring thematic melody on display as McNeely delivers everything you’d want to hear in a traditional western score and then some, from vast Big Country strains to hoedowns and a twanging guitar and brass showdown – with even a Stephen Foster “Moustache Dance” thrown into a symphonic range that John Wayne would certainly love riding in if he didn’t know better.



A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

(Carlos Rafael Rivera / Varese Sarabande Records)

That fact that Liam Neeson’s distinctly un-“Taken” strut into “Seven” territory was way to disturbing for his usual action hero audience takes nothing away from this stunningly gritty movie’s aura of despair and depravity, a haunted mood disturbingly accentuated by Carlos Rafael Rivera in the year’s most unsung, and electrifying composing debut – one made all the more unnerving by its subtlety Rivera’s background as a guitarist serves him well in allowing director Scott Frank to create a throwback mood to a distinctly 70s vibe of conspiratorial menace, its music practiced by such past composers as Michael Small and David Shire. Rivera impressively follows in their dark, gripping footsteps with shivering, lonely orchestrations and ghostly voices, yet somehow gives some small sense of hope for the human spirit as his score pays memorable, thematic penance for the sins of the cop past among the truly haunting, melodic tombstones that Rivera’s music lies at our feet.



WHIPLASH

(Justin Hurwitz & Tim Simonec / Varese Sarabande Records)

As the jazz sound and fury of a sadistic student-teacher relationship percussively blasts through cutthroat classrooms and performance halls to the tune of a standard-turned-nightmare, composer Justin Hurwitz (L) gets inside our poor hero’s head like the buzz after a bomb explosion. It’s a novel way of stripping down jazz-friendly instruments into a nightmarish mental drumkit, relentlessly pounding, or humming away like the sound of musical possession that takes a poor kid right over the abyss of hoped-for fame. In a less impressionistic realm, Hurwitz cannily creates a theme for “Whiplash’s” soul destruction that transforms from a spare, despairing piano into a cool cat performance from its beyond hard-ass instructor, conveying the idea of a wolf in sheep’s clothing who twists the free-form nature of the art form into something restrictively relentless. Tim Simonec (R) handles “Whiplash’s” more traditional jazz duties with equal aplomb, creating warm-ups and a swinging big band piece, with his name announced onstage to inspire career-ending dread from our hero. But then, every composer should be so lucky to get a shout out in the best film of the year.



THE COMPOSERS TO WATCH

Kathryn Bostic has her satirical, smooth way with the oblivious college uppercrust, and their particularly snooty composer named Schubert in her bitingly elegant, and soulful plea to “Dear White People” (Lakeshore Records)


Irish composer Patrick Cassidy has Catholic guilt to spare in his elegiac orchestra, ringing church bells and anguished chorus that lead a priest to an undeserved penance in the beautifully tragic “Calvary” (Varese Sarabande)




Robin Courdert
(aka Rob) twists about satanic horror with the chorus of avenging angels and a moving theme for true love rendered asunder as he gives a dark fairy tale point to “Horns” (Lakeshore Records)


Hans Zimmer knows to pick rhythmic protégés, with the Superman and Mad Max-bound Junkie XL (i.e. Tom Holkenborg) first impressing with pumped up Spartan percussion in “301” before showing exactly what class of creative multiplex composer he’s meant for, creating a rocking YA world built on engaging electro-beats and lavish orchestral empathy for “Divergent” (Interscope)

Two teens with cancer might engender all sorts of weepy bravery-in-the-face-of-death music. Instead, the Bright Eyes duo of Mike Mogis (L) and Nathaniel Walcott (R) take an approach that’s filled with ethereal, alternative life, its guitar chords and dreamy electronics truly representing the kind of poetic mood music these refreshingly honest teens would be listening to as they find “The Fault In Our Stars” (Atlantic)


Ok. They aren’t really The Newton Brothers. But Tayor Newton Stewart (L) and Andy Grush (R) are bound by musical blood with an impressive sense of invention that’s now really paying off, especially as they look into the a terrifying mirror world, and hear a dimension of pulsing sound whose samples, damned voices and slithering strings are the truly scary equivalent of ghost-filled glass for “Oculus” (Varese Sarabande Records).


John Paesano takes the YA kid gloves off big time with take-no-survivors, symphonically tribal sci-fi action that thrust a “Lord of the Flies”-ish teen society into the most rampagingly thrilling music this side of Jurassic Park, while also slamming home an awe-inspiring sense of apocalyptic realization for “The Maze Runner” (Sony Classical)

Everything synth is wonderfully retro again as Jonathan Snipes brings a enticingly evil, thematically glistening John Carpenter/ Goblin-esque sensibility to the Hollywood cult of “Starry Eyes,” (out soon on Waxworks) while Tom Raybould powerfully evokes the darkly futuristic “Blade Runner” work of Vangelis in the coldly sensuous form of “The Machine” (Movie Score Media)




Garth Stevenson
takes a poetic, 1,700-mile long voyage with a restless female spirit through an Australian outback of drifting strings and alternative rhythms, a quest that lyrically encompasses as much outer beauty as it is does an inner, psychologically longing attitude in his beautifully transfixing, subtly world music score for “Tracks” (Lakeshore Records)


Given a film that tells its unbelievably true story of a Jewish fighter donning Nazi garb to save his fellow Hungarians with a scope, and sense of heroic melodrama that could have accompanied any anti-Hitler Hollywood movie made in the 1940s, Timothy Williams’ score resounds with a thrillingly old-school symphonic approach that delineates good and evil with a passionately thematic approach for “Walking With the Enemy” (Phineas Atwood Productions)

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Grammy Nominees Announced

Soundtrack News - Zo, 07/12/2014 - 01:00

[t.42632]The 57th Annual Grammy Awards[] were announced yesterday. The nominees in film music related categories are as follows:

Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media:
"Everything is Awesome!!!" - [m.33666]The Lego Movie[] Songwriters: Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, [c.644]Shawn Patterson[], Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone, Performers: Tegan and Sara Featuring The Lonely Island
"I See Fire" - [m.31333]The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug[] Songwriter: [c.10678]Ed Sheeran[], Performer: [c.10678]Ed Sheeran[]
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" - [m.42319]Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me[] Songwriters: [c.14647]Glen Campbell[] & [c.14568]Julian Raymond[], Performer: [c.14647]Glen Campbell[]
"Let It Go" - [m.32684]Frozen[]...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: December 5, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 06/12/2014 - 01:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.149]Thomas Newman[] ([m.38342]Spectre[]), [c.8705]Junkie XL[] ([m.38979]Run All Night[]), [c.564]Christophe Beck[] ([m.38258]Terminator: Genisys[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 56 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-12-05]Click here for the full schedule[].

[m.41535]The Pyramid[] (with music by [c.1739]Nima Fakhrara[]) is the only film opening nationwide this week.

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.41535]The Pyramid[] (1 song)
- [m.41167]Wild[] (27 songs)
- [m.42293]She's Beautiful When She's Angry[] (13...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Alexandre Desplat

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 04/12/2014 - 22:26
(Photo by Brigitte Lacombe)



As France’s hardest working musical import since the days of Georges Delerue and Maurice Jarre, Alexandre Desplat has been fighting the good fight to keep a European love for themes and melody alive in an American company town increasingly going astray of either. And judging by the dozens of notable scores for both multiplex (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows,” “The Golden Compass”) and art house on this side of the Atlantic (while being just as prolific on the other with “Reality” and “Renoir”). Desplat has succeeded to the tune six Oscar nominations – among them “The Queen,” “The King’s Speech,” “Argo” and “Philomena.” But it’s unlikely he’ll remain the Susan Lucci of composers for long – as 2014 heralds another year of high quality work that demonstrates Desplat’s dazzling versatility honed from dozens of scores to his credit.

The musical encapsulation of war as something eccentric, exciting, comical, intellectual and an endurance test to emotionally survive has played an interesting, artistic constant in Desplat’s work. Staring off in March with the wonderfully eccentric, cimbalom-driven score that filled up the serio-comic, and finally soldier-filled guest list of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Desplat next went brassily stomping with a fearsomely angry score for the American army’s assault on “Godzilla.” Art buffs thrust into saving humanity’s creative heritage during World War 2 played a jaunty role for “The Monuments Men,” a film that also showed Desplat could be just as stalwart onscreen as off. This Awards season, the composer has brilliantly encapsulated the mathematical rhythms that suspensefully propel a tormented genius on the mental battlefield of “The Imitation Game.” Then to close Christmas, Desplat becomes the never-say-die spirit of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner in for the match of his life, first against the Pacific Ocean, and then a sadistic Japanese prison camp commandant in Angelina Jolie’s immensely powerful “Unbroken.” Through it all, Alexandre Desplat has never failed to be at the top of his musical game as he’s continued to prove that quantity can be quality when it comes to conjuring one remarkable score after the other – a year in review that he now encapsulates during a rare break before summoning up his next burst of memorable, melodic energy.


What were the challenges of taking Wes Anderson’s dry brand of absurdity down an Eastern European road for “The Grand Budapest Hotel?”

When I broke into Hollywood with “Girl With A Pearl Earing,” it was actually my 50th feature film. I’d done hundreds of short movies and numerous television shows in Europe, during which time I’d I could say I “trained” on every type of instrument. And by nature, I like Eastern Europe instruments and Balkan instruments because of my Greek origins. There was always something that spoke to me there about them. In fact, the very first ever soundtrack I recorded in 1986 was for a string quintet with a cimbalom. So it’s not like I suddenly discovered it. Knowing Wes’s world much better after “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” it was really fun and easy to communicate the idea for an Eastern European score, especially because we now knew which territories we wanted to explore together. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is fantastic and I think it’s his best film at this stage.

“The Monuments Men” also conveyed a serio-comic tone with drama. How difficult was it to capture that particularly jaunty tone that recalled such scores as Malcolm Arnold’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and Elmer Bernstein’s “The Great Escape?”

It’s strange as that is exactly what George Clooney wanted me to reference those scores, along with Maurice Jarre’s “Is Paris Burning?” I loved those kinds of “war scores, and have been listening to them since I was a teenager. So I knew them very well. It was a great challenge, and great fun to capture them. But strangely I think I got my worst reviews in my life because people didn’t understand that my score was homage. They thought I was doing that as a serious matter, you know? It was all about paying tribute to my idols, Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre. Even “1941” by John Williams. I don’t know. My intentions didn’t get through to the critics.

When just about every score you’ve done has got justifiably good reviews that must have been an unpleasant first experience for you.

It was actually more embarrassing for them more than for me that they wouldn’t get the idea that there was a sense of humor there. My score was not meant to be serious.


One particularly fun thing about “Monuments Men” is seeing you show up in a legitimate, extended acting role with a character that has nothing to do with music – which must be a first for a composer in a major Hollywood movie. Did you expect that kind of part in the film?

I was lucky to be with great people around me on “Monuments Men,” first of all with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who are also very good friends. We’ve made “The Ides of March” together, so I knew they could trust me, and I could trust them. It was George who came up with the idea of the character of Emile in the script. He belonged to the French Resistance and had this scarf. George said, “Oh, I know the guy.” So he wrote another scene just to have fun and to be sharing a room with me. That was really sweet and really lovely. I had a great time. And how can you not be impressed to be sharing the screen with Matt Damon? Are you kidding me? He was also very kind and very generous with me and it was a fantastic experience. And since then I’ve kept filming and being on screen. My performance was so great all of Hollywood is talking about me! (laughs)

What’s it’s like to score yourself?

I don’t look at myself, I look at the scene and what’s happening on the screen. I don’t really pay attention that it’s me


Was “Monuments Men” a very patriotic film for you to score, as it dealt with a lot about French resistance?

Of course. My father was in The Resistance. Then he fought with Patton. So that made scoring “Monuments Men” special.

Now, onto “Godzilla” What are the tricks in conjuring that kind of musical massiveness?

I knew from the start the noise level would be crazy in the film and I had to put together a huge orchestra with a lot of energy. Gareth Edwards is a really fantastic director. He loves movie soundtracks and what great music can do in the movies. We shared the same passion about Goldsmith and Williams and all of those great creators. Gareth pushed me to be lyrical and strong at the same time. I think I approached that volume in some of the sequences in the “Harry Potter” scores I did, but not with the same dimension. Because Godzilla is a monster, there’s something different about his music that had to be in even bigger. So I put a very large orchestra together where I had a double brass section and a double horn section and I had them on each side of the room at Sony recording stage in Culver City. That created great possibilities for musical energy and to use the orchestra’s stereo effect. So that certainly made a big noise!

Gareth really picked and chose where you would see Godzilla. In that respect does it make the score all the more important in communicating the monster’s presence?

Absolutely. Godzilla’s seen actually opening the film and then we don’t see him for a long time. By injecting the theme right away, we set the tone. Then when his theme or rhythm comes back, we understand he’s around or he’s on his way. But you’re right.it was very tricky because the “Muto” monsters are what I had to deal with a long time before Godzilla comes back. So I had to inject Godzilla’s themes very early on.

“The Imitation Game” is my favorite of all of your scores this year, especially with how it played the rhythmic combinations that tied Alan Turing with his code-breaking machine,

The music had to convey so many things at the same time because it’s a film with many counterpoints in the story. I felt also the music should capture that. His character is like several fast trains going in the same direction at the same time, but you can only jump from one train to another. That’s not only in his head, but is also about what’s happening around him. There’s the suspense of trying to break the Enigma code with the clock ticking and the feeling of the war that is this big menace. Alan also has a broken soul from the loss of the boy he loved. So there are many musical elements that had to be in one flow, but definitely the speed of his brain was the main element that I felt was the most important. I’ve been lucky to meet people who are geniuses, prodigy’s who go faster then anyone. My wife Dominique is a prodigy. She goes faster then anyone, like a chess player. She could even play music at three years old. People like Alan are always ahead of us. So when you are new to these people, you understand that they think at the speed of light. And that’s what I wanted to capture with these very fast arpeggios with three pianos. Some are programmed. Some are playing randomly by the computer. Some are written. There’s the Celeste the harp the woodwinds, with all of these players doing various counterpoints. It creates this fast complex web of movement, like the synapses or the neurons in Alan’s brain.

Like the art “nerds” of “Monuments Men,” “The Imitation Game” has an introverted person thrust into a battle situation, even if it’s on the home front here. What was the challenge of portraying the broader sense of suspense of the free world at stake within Alan’s ability to channel his brainpower?

That gravitas was an extremely crucial element to the story. You can’t just show what his brain is doing. You have to take into consideration what the world is going through and what is the real battle they are battling for. They’re fighting to save millions of lives. Hopefully they’re lives and the island of the United Kingdom, and also the rest of the world. And they know at midnight the clock rings and it’s the end of the work if they haven’t broken the code, they have to start all over again. It’s a real suspenseful challenge for the music, and I needed to push it in that direction – ticking, ticking, ticking and keeping the tension.

How did you want to get the tragic aspect of Alan getting outted to come across?

I think the tragedy is very early on when we flashbacks to Alan’s childhood and we see him at school with his friend. You can see this boy who will become a man is a different, not only because he’s gay. That’s not even the point. It’s that he’s just different. Alan’s difference will kill him because being different is very difficult to live with, whatever the period of time is. It’s even worse for the time because being gay in England meant you could be imprisoned or chemically castrated. Even today it’s still very difficult to be different. It’s not easy for any kid. Could it be the color of his skin? Or his origins? It makes things very difficult.

How was it to move to the actual overseas war with “Unbroken?”

Since I read the script and met Louis Zamperini, I always tried to stay with his character, as his actor Jack O’Connell is in almost in every shot of the film. This score is Louis’ story, about his incredible strength and magical force that allows him to survive anything and to always stand up and keep surviving. This is a rare, positive message that I wanted my main theme to follow and convey. Actually I don’t really emphasis any of the beatings he goes through. There’s never any music there. The silence is the key of the his prison camp tormenter “The Bird.” So adding music onto the beatings is just kind of useless. I kept my cartridges for the moment when Louis would stand up to him.

What was it like meeting the real Louis?

I asked if I could meet with him, and he said “Yes” of course. I got his address, and it turned out that he lived on my street, right down the road from me! That was just crazy. I couldn’t believe I had run past his house doing my jogging the other day. So we spoke about sounds and his training as a young athlete. It was a grateful joy he had when he was running. He felt like he was flying, like he was free. He also told me that he heard a choir in his head when he was adrift in his dingy. Funnily enough, my father came back with all this army equipment from the time he was with Patton, and one of the pieces he had was a dingy exactly like the one in the film. As a child he would go fishing and he would put me on that dingy.

Did working on “Unbroken’s” intense scenes of imprisonment have a psychological effect on you?

Frankly, no. I managed to keep myself away from the topic of the film. But then, I don’t think I’m happy when I’m doing a comedy and sad when I’m doing a drama. My mood remains the same. I’m just trying to chase the clock to make sure I make the deadline!

Another composer may have felt constrained in not making the music bigger or more soaringly patriotic. What was the challenge of taking a restrained musical approach for “Unbroken?”

Angelina Jolie never wanted me to go in that “big” direction of an overly patriotic, brassy score. She wanted the music to reflect Louis, which is exactly what my intent was. So I always focused on Louis and his incredible power. But If you look at my filmography and the way I write music, you’ll see that I’m more inclined to write restrained music that talks about the emotions, the inner thoughts of the characters as opposed to just spreading musical sparkles around them. I try to bring the core of the drama out of the film. And in that respect Angelina was on the same page. We were looking for the same target.

After working with George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, do you think there is a difference dealing with a filmmaker who started out as actors, as opposed to filmmakers who remained behind the camera?

I think the second they direct, they are in charge. It doesn’t matter what backgrounds they had. They could have been plumbers or washing cars. Directing a film only means they’ve put together a crew, and have united them with a creative vision. And you have to follow that vision. It doesn’t make a difference if they are stars or actors or anything else. Maybe on the set they may have a better way of directing actors, even though I know many directors who were not actors, and can direct very well to actors – though some actors are not very good at directing actors even though they are very good with a camera. So no, I don’t think there’s any difference.

How do you pace yourself to do this amount of quality work?

I don’t know, I wish I did. I just work as hard as I can to make the score as good as I can. And I hope I improve after each film and get better.

Do you have a self-imposed limit of how many movies you want to do in a given year?

It all depends on the size of the score you have to write. I couldn’t write 4-5 scores with 2 and a half hours of music each year. That would be a killer. But alternating between big ones in terms of the amount of music and smaller ones where there are 45 minutes to an hour of score. That’s why I keep doing movies in Europe. I keep being faithful to my loyal directors. And I keep doing smaller movies in terms of the ambition of the minutes of music that you have to write.

You’ve played “The Imitation Game.” But what’s it like to play the Oscar game, one you keep doing over and over until your hopeful win?

You know, I’m not sleeping with anyone over there. I’m not bribing anyone over there. I don’t even live in Los Angeles. What can I say? I’m lucky to be a part of great movies with great directors and great stories that went high up in the hearts of Oscar voters. That’s all I can say. It’s out of my hands. The only thing I can do is continue to do the best work and try to choose the best projects. The rest is chance. So all I can do is to just write the best music I can.


(A special thanks to Peter Hackman for his interview transcription)

Buy the Soundtrack: THE GRAND HOTEL BUDAPEST Buy the Soundtrack: GODZILLA
Buy the Soundtrack: THE MONUMENTS MEN Buy the Soundtrack: THE IMITATION GAME Buy the Soundtrack: UNBROKEN Visit Alexandre Desplat’s website
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 28, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 29/11/2014 - 01:00

Happy Thanksgiving!

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.2507]Joseph Trapanese[] ([m.40666]Insurgent[]), [c.24]Carter Burwell[] ([m.42589]Legend[]), [c.1465]Lorne Balfe[] ([m.35219]Home[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 41 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-11-24]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.38967]Horrible Bosses 2[] ([c.630]Christopher Lennertz[]) and [m.35218]The Penguins of Madagascar[] ([c.1465]Lorne Balfe[]). [m.40675]The Theory of Everything[] (with music by [c.3198]Johann Johannsson[]) is expanding nationwide from its limited...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande Celebrates Elmer Bernstein Jazz Scores with New Release

Soundtrack News - Wo, 26/11/2014 - 01:00

Varèse Sarabande Records will celebrate composer [c.15]Elmer Bernstein[] with the release [a.13899]Elmer Bernstein: The Wild Side[] available digitally and on CD [da.2014-12-09]December 9, 2014[]. This special recording focuses on the jazz and big band scores from the acclaimed composer, from such films as [m.16420]The Man with the Golden Arm[], [t.39247]Johnny Staccato[], [m.6501]Devil in a Blue Dress[], and [m.27828]Walk on the Wild Side[].

"This is an album I have been dreaming about for years," said producer Robert Townson. He would first work with Bernstein in 1989 on [m.18012]My Left Foot[]. "It was when we were in Scotland in 1997 to record some of Elmer's older scores that we first started talking about an album that would present new recordings of his classic jazz film...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

November Soundtrack Picks

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 25/11/2014 - 23:33

Soundtrack Picks: ‘THE HOMESMAN‘ is the top soundtrack to own for November, 2014

Also worth picking up BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES: VOLUME 3, BIG HERO 6, BIRDMAN, ENTER THE DRAGON: EXTENDED EDITION, FAR CRY 4, MY SCIENCE PROJECT, RIO CONCHOS, TOKAREV and many more!

(To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD covers)


THE TOP PICKS

1) BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES: VOL. 3 (Limited Edition)

Price: $59.98

What Is It?: La La Land Records is the undisputed home all of scores DC superhero animation – a realm that easily continues to out-power its live action costumed counterparts in terms of drama, and imagination. Among the characters that populate this two-dimensional universe, none remains more forebodingly impressive than the first run of Batman cartoons from 1992-93. Over the course of 65 episodes, the Emmy-winning show told TV that the caped crusader wasn’t condescending kid’s stuff anymore, especially when caped in the explosive, film noir tone that Shirley Walker spun from Danny Elfman’s seminal movie score (one she knew intimately from co-orchestrating it). Walker truly made this theme-driven, operatically orchestral approach her own, continuing a thunderous tone that was simultaneously unified, and idiosyncratic though the many unique voices of the eager, talented composers whom she trained to be her own Robins With Walker’s own scores dominating La La Land’s first volume of BTAS music, its time for a new four-disc edition to highlight her protégés’ work, resulting in what just might be the most bat-tastic entry into the CD series.

Why Should You Buy It?:
Batman might lay claim to the most eccentric rogues gallery this side of Dick Tracy’s, giving ripe opportunity for Walker’s musical Justice League to embody these foes’ bizarre villainy, Carlos Rodriguez gives “The Clock King” a plethora of chiming percussion and playfully ominous comic brass pizzicatos, while Todd Hayen brings out the jungle percussion for a most dangerous game between Cat Woman and Tygrus in “Tyger, Tyger.” Rodriguez, and Mark Koval created a dark web of Asian percussion for Batman to face-off against his old ninja nemesis Kyodai Ken in “Night of the Ninja” and Day of the Samurai,” while Lolita Ritmanis made her own thematic presence known with an alluring melody for Poison Ivy in “Eternal Youth,” with the menacing, clanging percussion of robotic duplicates distinguishing the two parts of “Heart of Steel” as engineered by Richard Bronskill, Tamara Kline and Carl Johnson.Where Walker created the shows’ most notorious villain motifs with the carnival-from-hell music of The Joker, Michael McCuiston gave his own, equally evil calliopes spin to the cackling white-faced fiend in “Be A Clown.” Walker herself is certainly back in force here with some of her best work for the show, as sinister school yard bells, innocent flutes and relentlessly suspenseful rhythms become an ex con out to snatch his kid in “See No Evil.” But while she certainly rode the Wagner-esque thunder, Walker also kept her approach instrumentally fresh as harmonica and guitar blues accompanied an amnesiac Batman into the homeless underworld of “The Forgotten.” She also demonstrates her amazing thematic recall for the Man-Bat’s furious, flying action motif (as heard in the very first episode), all while creating a new chirping motif for a She-Bat in “Terror in the Sky.” But undoubtedly Walker’s finest half-hour (minus toy commercial breaks) goes to the lush, doom-filled romance that marks the dissolution of Clayface in “Mudslide,” her rousingly dark, 1940s-style strains the equal of any Miklos Rozsa suspense score from the period.

Extra Special:
Among the twenty-plus episodes, containing over four hours of music that represent the collective effort of a dozen composers, the biggest consistent is Shirley Walker’s Batman theme (and even Danny Elfman’s on occasion), creating an overarching sense of BTAS as being part of a musical whole – a portrait of an anguished, heroic avenger driven as much by his inner demons as the evildoers he fights. It’s an epic listen that’s been exceptionally well organized, never becoming tiring due to the sheer versatility of the scores’ cohesiveness. John Takis takes up the bat-mantle once again in delineating the story behind each score in liner notes for this collection’s smartly designed booklet, its look enhancing the vibrant, retro-atmosphere of a small screen Dark Knight who couldn’t have sounded more cinematic. Doubtless there’s more powerhouse music to choose from as La La Land pays respect to the ultimate incarnation of DC’s toon avenger.


2) BIRDMAN



Price: $12.99


What Is it?:
“Babel” director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu has always had an iconoclastic, and esoteric approach as to how music should work in his often downbeat character studies like “Babel” and “Biutiful.” Now taking an unexpectedly humorous look at the screwball world of the NYC stage that might be as close as he’ll ever get to a Farrelly Brothers picture, Innaritu has inspired a truly batshit soundtrack from fellow Mexican Antonio Sanchez, a jazz artist who lays down “Whiplash”-worthy percussion for “Birdman.” But while using jazz in its uncaged form is way better in idea than it is application for the actual movie, the wild drumming of “Birdman” certainly has merit when flying solo from any picture it otherwise turns into a cacophony.

Why Should You Buy It?: Thrusting us into the back-stabbing squawking that fills Broadway’s star-driven theater scene, the impromptu, rapid-beat percussion of Sanchez’s blazing ensemble only compounds the din that’s already there, confusion upon confusion that makes it impossible to hear what characters are saying (though this seems to be the overlapping dialogue point of Innaritu’s Altman-esque approach). It’s only much later when we see the Sanchez laying down the grooves on-camera that any of this noise begins to make sense, letting it truly find a way to play with some sort of artistic coherency. But if you’re a fan of free form drumming (with just a little bit of synth sustaining here and there), chances are you’ll likely be in heaven with “Birdman” as Sanchez gives the feel of a washed-up actor banging his head on a self-made cage, until finally bursting out to the thrashing wings of unbound, percussively undulating flights of fantasy.

Extra Special:
Where Innaritu’s musical tastes truly pay off are in his bold choices of modern impressionist classical music, featuring lengthy pieces from Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Ravel. Its within the beautifully anguished passages for horn, strings and operatic voices that we can hear the noble, operatic yearning of a washed-up comic book hero to truly reveal his artistic powers to the doubters and poseurs that surround him – a soulful mission of finding the religious purity within the craft of performing that’s far more melodically rewarding in driving home “Birdman’s” journey than the crash of drums. It’s just too bad Innaritu didn’t go with this “source” approach entirely, though hearing the entire orchestral passages on this ample album definitely make “Birdman” a rewarding listen for more conventional, and classically-inclined soundtrack listeners.



3) ENTER THE DRAGON (Extended Edition)

Price: $12.99

What Is it?:
Long ago, martial arts movies meant by-the-motions choreography, awful dubbing and beyond-cheap Casio keyboard music that only accented the goofiness of a genre whose ambitions rarely lay beyond the grindhouse Dojo. But that was before Bruce Lee kicked some serious Hollywood ass into chopsocky films with 1973’s “Enter the Dragon,” its superbly staged choreography, the solid direction of Robert Clouse and lush production values given funkadelic, Asian action stylings courtesy of Argentinean composer Lalo Schifrin. As a jazz-centric musician with a solid symphonic backing, Schifrin’s scores for the likes of “Enter the Dragon” and “Dirty Harry” did for 70s he-man jazz what Alex North dramatically accomplished for the art form in the 50s with “A Streetcar Named Desire,” showing how hot brass energy could translate its fists of fury to an Oriental arena that would be truly authentic in its sound (if not exactly done with Chinese instruments) – capturing a musical vibe with its high-kicking feet firmly planted in both Eastern and Western musical worlds.

Why Should You Buy It?:
Having left his own country as a protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, Lalo Schifrin truly displayed his Hollywood chops with the spy jazz likes of “Mission Impossible,” “Man from UNCLE” and “The Liquidator,” its fat brass and sneaking percussion putting him in excellent stead for Bruce Lee’s breakthrough “American” movie, its plot of a CIA-sponsored martial arts master essentially using the trappings of a Bond film as Lee takes down a world-conquering wannabe with a truly bad hand. Schifrin whole-heartedly jumped into the chance to righteously kill a few hundred henchmen with a powerhouse combination of Asian exotica, Blaxploitation grooves a healthy dose of brass and a whirlwind orchestra, as driven by a theme that reflected Lee’s ability to jump from rage to Zen calm. But then, Lee himself had been working out to Schifrin’s iconic theme for “Mission Impossible” long before Schifrin took this career-defining gig. Indeed, few scores have been so keenly attuned to the charisma, and spirituality of its star, all while exuding ultra-70s Jim Kelly cool with its Wah Wah guitar, mirror-shimmering, neck-cracking synthesizers and strings that could creep around a compound with cat-like grace.

Extra Special:
“Enter the Dragon” has journeyed to its tournament-to-the-death numerous times on vinyl and CD. But this “Extended edition” on Schifrin’s Aleph label literally gets in the last Bruce Lee battle cry when it comes to beefing up this “Dragon,” significantly expanding Schifrin’s Asian fisticuffs with rounds of pure drum percussion and breathless brass, showing off how richly thematic the score is beyond its iconic main title. At last, “Enter the Dragon” truly grooves with the ethnic, energetic finesse of Lee’s martial arts moves while showing off all the now retro-hip Western jazz chops, as heard during a midnight jazz set-to-the-finish on Han’s island of doom.



4) THE HOMESMAN



Price: $9.99

What is it?: There’s nothing wrong with having a big symphonic score for a western, as composers from Max Steiner to Joel McNeely have more than proven when giving orchestral sweep to America’s new frontier. But now that the genre has mostly taken great pains to come across as being authentic in conveying just how much awful behavior and beautiful barrenness filled up that untamed space, musicians like Clint Eastwood and Harry Gregson-Williams have taken pains to strip down the approach to solo pianos, filling the strings with anguish, or using scratchy rustic instruments to convey an unforgiving time and place. On that note, perhaps no western score has ever sounded more “real,” or beautiful than the lyrical harshness and subtle, emotional compassion conveyed by Marco Beltrami for “The Homesman,” a score that you could truly imagine coming from a saloon in a prairie ghost town.

Why should you buy it?:
“The Homesman” marks the second western collaboration between Tommy Lee Jones while wearing the hat of filmmaker and star, the first hearkening to the modern take of “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” a truly bizarre genre piece for which the composer applied an equally unconventional approach that was the equivalent of film music Mexican peyote (heck, even Beltrami’s more standard western approach for the reboot of “3:10 To Yuma” sounded just as uppity in its mix of bizarre percussion amidst orchestral action). For “The Homesman,” Beltrami accompanies a one-wagon train back east, whose occupants are three deranged women – with a not-so old maid and an aged coot holding the horse reins with unbalance that’s nearly their passengers’ equal. It’s a set-up that could easily have made for comedy, especially if the composer was looking to play “crazy” music on the range. But it’s a tribute to just how unconventional, and beautifully done Jones’ approach here that makes “The Homesman” play out with impactful, haunting subtlety where even moments of great import are portrayed as just another day on the life-or-death prairie. While the score starts out with the relative normalcy of a string, and solo piano that’s easily the most intimately haunting western theme since “Unforgiven,” our traditionally melodic footing floats in and out with eerie abandon as Beltrami draws on his more horrific scoring roots to convey madness with weird, tingling sustains. However, this isn’t the type of dissonant insanity that screams for a trio of young battle-axes coming after the audience, but rather the sadness of women driven to despair through no fault of their own. Nothing gets played typically in “The Homesman,” whether it’s the quirky strings, skittering dulcimers and dark string sustains that sum up the to hell-with-it attitude, and surprisingly vengeful determination of Jones’ very reluctant antihero, or the ominous, tribal percussion of Pawnee warriors that’s anything but Hollywood “injun” music. Yet “The Homesman” is just as full of quiet tenderness, casting its heroine’s religious, poignantly longing attitude in a way that quotes, then recalls the hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves,” the theme the melodic constant we can grab onto amidst the score’s hypnotic weirdness – though to be sure time-honored western music traditions like the guitar and violin are on hand. Through it all, there’s a wonderful sense of experimentation in just what dusty instrument Beltrami will find from the ghost town fossil site, or create for a musical atmosphere (at times literally created from the air with a giant wind harp or recorded in the middle of the desert with a piano) so believable that you can almost smell the sod and dust coming from the CD.

Extra Special:
“The Homesman” packs both weirdness and heart to it. It’s just about as outré and memorable a score, and film that the genre has ever gotten, showing how Beltrami’s desire to push the western “sound” within a memorably thematic framework simultaneously take its scoring right to the edge of the experimental frontier while returning it right back to the place western music started, creating a work full of raw, rough edges and memorable, poetic pleasures as simple and complex as the people who tamed the frontier, and those who were driven crazy by it.



5) TOKAREV



Price: $19.95


What Is it?:
Nicolas Cage seems to be on a quest for revenge at least six times every month in the villain-filled land of VOD. Yet it’s the Cage quirkiness that makes this stuff more watchable than you’d expect, especially when given the powerfully dramatic score that Laurent Eyquem has created as a very serious counterpoint to the unintentional laughs on hand foe this particularly grim picture – understandably changed from the character’s name of “Tokarev” to the one payback-title-fits all moniker of “Rage.”

Why Should You Buy It?:
Recently impressing with his lyrical scores for the somewhat less vengeful films “Winnie Mandela” and “Copperhead,” Eyquem nonetheless knows how to play characters haunted by past acts of violence, more often than not with a sense of somber, often beautiful emotion. And he knows that the most powerful weapon in “Tokarev” are themes that cut to the bone, bringing out the mournful guilt of guys who thought they’ve put their brutal pasts behind them (or course until the VOD outrage-du-jour has them pull the knives and guns out in spades). Eyquem’s music poignantly captures “Tokarev’s” wages of sins as Cage is pulled into his inescapable descent into revenge. Lush, anguish-filled strings, delicate piano and the darkly angelic female voice of a dead daughter give no sense of pleasure, though they are certainly melodically rewarding to listen to. But when it comes to tailing the (always) Russian malefactors and getting behind the wheel for the big car chase, Eyquem knows well enough to break out the stalking, cimbalom-topped samples and rocking, percussive ammo.

Extra Special:
Eyquem’s unabashedly woeful approach ends up being a real thing of melodic beauty in “Tokarev.” He hears its Cage-isms as things of sad, musical art, determined to go the pulp exploitation distance with a score that’s playing on a whole other level of drama. Props go again to Caldera Records for continuing their pattern of nicely designed graphics, informative liner notes by Gergely Hubai, and most noteworthy of all offering an audio addendum for the composer to explain their craft. Eyquem does so with truly heartfelt passion here as he reveals his own life’s tragedies that set him upon a fare more beatific course than Tokarev.



ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

. BIG HERO 6

Henry Jackman is becoming a superhero composer in a very big way, ranging from the dark side of the steely electronica that embodied “The Winter Soldier” to the satiric strains that makes the teen thug slayers of “Kick Ass” puff their chests out with the noble strains of Superman. It’s the latter camp of conveying the thrill of kids being given super-powered training wheels in scores like “X-Men First Class” that Jackman has really been excelling in, boisterous scoring that now takes on the form of an obese, fluffy white robot and his nerd fighting force for “Big Hero 6.” Where Jackman’s given his past comic book scores the threat of major bodily damage, “Big Hero 6” is pretty much all about jetting optimism taking on brassy, dastardly villainy, even if its loss that propels its young hero to team up his own anime-inspired nanobot-busters (why Marvel can’t acknowledge this Avengers-worthy film is their property remains anyone’s guess). There’s a stupendous wealth of wonderful, symphonically-fueled themes that sock home the Americana-meets-San Fransokyo joy of the good high-tech fight, as backed up by bubbling, retro synths that make “Big Hero 6” a kissing cousin to Jackman’s similarly enjoyable Disney score for “Wreck-It Ralph.” Jackman can write bouts of action scoring like no comic book composer’s business, long stretches of two-fisted, power-shooting fun that this score thrills with. But as always with winning Disney fare, it’s our emotional bonding with the often misfit heroes that proves to be the winning equation, as Jackman beautifully humanizes what’s essentially a big white pillow in human form as a gentle ‘bot with a heart of snuggly gold. “Big Hero 6” is epically accessible in its combo of old school symphonic heroism and musical retro-tech, conveying the kind of high flying wonder that no doubt will have kids running about to imagine their own flights of fancy as this soundtrack blasts in the background. One certainly can’t imagine a better, massive entry into Superhero Scoring 101 than this “6.”



. COLISEUM: GAMES OF ROME

When you hear the bugling horns of arriving generals, rousing strings befitting a chariot race or the smashing percussion of fight to the death, you’d think you’d just slipped though some soundtrack time warp and had landed the score to “Wanted” director Timur Bekambetov’s 2016 reboot of “Ben-Hur.” But what you’re in fact listening to here is Marc Timon Barcelo’s impossibly cinematic music for a live, European-produced stadium show celebrating the first Hunger Games, where the audience is very likely entertained by seeing the “Gladiator”-esque fight for redemption of an unjustly disgraced soldier-nobleman. Judging from this immense, and lushly-produced score that Charlton Heston and Russell Crowe would be proud to call their own, it’s a show that definitely pulled out all the stops – no more so than in giving Barcelo a majestic symphonic orchestra to fill any arena with. It’s certainly a major step up from his last Movie Score Media release of “The Little Wizard,” as Barcelo unleashes a greatest hits parade of everything you loved in ancient blockbusters, yet very much in his own voice as he pays musical tribute to such predecessors as Rozsa, Zimmer and Holst. Tribal drums unleash hordes of barbarians, Egyptian rhythms dance with temptation, sweet harps serenade Cleopatra, battle sequences rock with ferocity and lavish waves of choral melody give its hero a biblical sense of nobility. “Coliseum’s” live recreation of Rome practically explodes with this old school feel of musical mythmaking that’s a glorious throwback to the days when Hollywood was confident in their thematically symphonic muscle to give real mass to men in armor. This “Coliseum” might hail Caesar, but “The Games of Rome” more importantly announces some major talent in Marc Timon Barcelo for a score that definitely deserves a home on sword and sandal celluloid.



. FAR CRY 4

When Cliff Martinez was last in Asia, it was providing an enticingly weird, Bernard Herrmann-meets-Asian techno rock beat atmosphere for “Only God Forgives,” a miserably violent film whose only dispensation was likely given to Martinez’s brilliant score. But if his music may have been hampered by a mopey western hero out to bring biblical punishment on himself in Thailand’s red light district, the even more ultra-violent (if imaginary) open-world land of Kiryat gives the composer the chance to do far more exploration, this time battling a warlord, and picking sides between those out to depose him in this Himalayan-like land. The beautifully envisioned country of snow-covered mountains and mystical tigers proves of more interest to Martinez than foes to musically harpoon, shoot and otherwise eviscerate in his overall ethereal approach to “Far Cry 4.” But then, Martinez has never been an exploding car / bullet-to-the-head kind of composer to begin with (though he certainly hasn’t shirked that call of duty). Given what’s essentially his first major videogame score, Martinez braces those usual rock-action rhythms with an array of Asian and Indian instruments with action-telling traditions reaching back to the days of Sanskrit, including the Ney, Punji, Yayli Tambour, Balinese Suling flute and Tibetan throat singing in his arsenal. This is a score that’s definitely in its own, distinctive country as opposed to a retread down avenging angel lane. The result is a miasma of action cuts that go amazingly deep in their layering of ethnic beats with techno-industrial percussion – of course given a dose of Martinez’s favored Crystal Baschet that’s distinguished such scores as “Solaris” and “Traffic.” But it’s truly the wash of meditative tunes that are the most enchanting aspect of “Far Cry 4” beyond the boys-with-death dealing toys aspect of our hero’s endeavor, as Martinez seems to take in the entire bell-ringing, horn-blowing ensemble of every Tibetan temple in sight with hypnotic, chiming melodies. On one hand, his “Far Cry 4” is about meting out electrified punishment, and on the other, it’s about turning to a mesmerizing musical spirit animal for peace. The charm is that his impressive, all-enveloping music for “Far Cry 4” works equally well in true open world fashion, delivering the rhythmic first person, Asian-inflected hyperbeat shooting while reaching to the Buddhist heavens with an open palm to achieve a hypnotic sense of transcendence.



. FOXCATCHER

Rob Simonsen is one composer who knows the rich are different from you and me, especially when it comes to their propensity for murder. But while he’d already gone inside the mind of one well-off psychopath with his drivingly suspenseful score for “All Good Things,” that musical exploration of a real-life killer who held his lethal intent close to his chest seems like pure, emotive opera when compared the absolute coldness that Simonsen brings to the hawk-nosed John Du Pont, an entitled, wrestling-loving scion of immense wealth who put one of the men he seemingly admired in his grave. This true crime plays out with near-complete detachment in the hands of filmmaker Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher,” who’s chilly direction has inspired a transfixing, tightly-wound score from Simonsen and his tag team comprised of West Dylan Thordson and composing mentor Mychael Danna. Yet surprisingly, it’s their beyond-subtle music that provides “Foxcatcher” with the true emotion an audience can grapple onto. With strings barely speaking above a whisper, Simonsen conveys a pathetic, social misfit who’s cut off from human contact, a loneliness heard through solo piano, Americana brass that conveys the nobility that’s part and parcel of a fortune made during the American revolution and the especially evocative cello work of Jacob Cohen (a musician discovered playing in the decidedly uncouth environs of a Manhattan subway by Simonsen). The forlorn, weirdly poignant score captures Du Pont’s mansion as an island of lost souls for the Olympic hopefuls he brings together, intentions of victory that reveal a quickly unraveling core through twisted cello effects, sustaining melody creating an sense of inevitable, quietly awful tragedy. Miller has also cannily chosen tunes that reflect on Du Pont’s weirdly patriotic nature, from Bob Dylan’s “This Land Is Your Land” to the brain-buzzing voice samples that dance o the edge of “Times Achanging,” with the final, poetically haunted bleakness of the soundtrack conveyed with the ten minute, solo piano of Arvo Part’s “Fur Alina,” While “Foxcatcher” looks inside the dead eyes of an inscrutable, entitled killer and finds not much looking back beyond Steve Carrell’s incredibly good off-putting performance, the melancholy lyricism that Simonsen puts into the music is anything but limited in its enforced restraint.



. HORNS

Splatter-rific director Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “Mirrors”) finally finds a heart in horror, as opposed to just ripping one out, with this unexpectedly exceptional adaptation of the novel from “Locke & Key’s” Joe Hill (a.k.a Stephen King’s son), which finds a decidedly un-Potter-esque Daniel Radcliffe as the anti-hero of a seemingly satanic spin on “Liar Liar.” One particularly blazing element that modernizes the fairy tale elements that “Horns” ingeniously plays with is its score by “Rock the Casbah’s” Robin Courdert (simply billed as “Rob” here), who takes a similarly far more emotional approach to the genre than his previously visceral score to “Maniac.” For what drives “Horns” is true love torn asunder by a vicious murder, an achingly tragic mystery captured with a strikingly melancholy theme that takes supernatural shape with strings, piano, glass-like samples and a heavenly voices. But yet there’s something more horrifically eccentric, and sometimes humorous afoot with our devilish avenger, whose vinyl-loving DJ profession is captured with grunge guitar as mysterioso orchestrations sending his investigation deeper into a pit of anger and regret. Rob builds the alternately malefic and movingly poignant intensity of Izzys’ investigation until all thematically choral hell breaks loose. Coming across like a score that could have fit an updated “Brothers Grimm” fable, Rob’s effective, and very human score works so well by showing that that devil does care.



. A MERRY FRIGGIN’ CHRISTMAS

Such is the snark culture of The War on Christmas that whenever we hear one of those old holiday chestnuts in every movie from “1941” to “Elf,” then it’s no doubt intended as the height of ornamental irony – as we know those singers are belting out their cheerful lyrics over scenes of screwball family’s going for each other’s gift-wrapped throats. It’s surefire comedy magic as golden as treetop star (or yellow snow), which makes “A Merry Friggin’ Christmas’” soundtrack an especially delicious bell ringer, led off by Rufus Wainwright’s swinging rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And the knowingly (or not) eccentric spins on the Santa standards keep rolling with a particular spin on country, from the clopping reindeer and sleigh country guitar of Chuck Meade’s “Jingle Bells” to Ryan Culwell’s weary “ho ho ho’s” on “It’s Christmastime I Know” and Aaron Tipton’s strumming “Silent Night” with a voice as deep as Merle Haggard. The Yuletide song eggnog continues to get spiked by Ben Kweller’s Sex Pistol’s approved “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The California Feetwarmers give a Dixieland spin to “Up on the Housetop,” and Anna Su‘s oh-so-adorable strumming of “Santa Will Be Flying Over the Moon.” Yet like all of these movies where even the grinchiest Bad Santa gets into the holiday spirit, “A Merry Friggin’ Christmas” finds its heart, with Spencer Shapeero’s acoustical “The Weather Outside,” Alex Rhodes’ Charlie Brown-worthy arrangement for “Best Time of Year” and John Isaac Watters’ longing “Gently, Mary Laid Her Child” warming our hearts. By the time the Rufus Wainwright returns to bookend this utterly charming album with the poignant, piano-topped “Christmas is for Kids,” “Merry” has of course revealed itself as a big old softie Scrooge. It’s an album equally good for squabbling, and hugging the relatives you can’t stand under the mistletoe.


MY SCIENCE PROJECT

It’s certainly not an easy thing proceeding in the footsteps of a legendary film composer, a task that requires one’s own voice while giving the people who hire you the feeling that they’re getting just a bit of dad’s magic in the bargain. One particularly unsung scion who’s certainly distinguished himself among the few maor studio scores (though plentiful TV ones) on his resume is Peter Bernstein (“L.A. Story”), Elmer’s talented offspring who began his career as an orchestrator on his dad’s scores like “Meatballs” and “Heavy Metal.” Bernstein got some particularly fun Hollywood assignments on his own during the 80s with “Silent Rage,” “Class Reunion” and “The Ewok Advenure.” But for all of those furball’s adorablity, no score during that decade allowed Bernstein to strut both his epic sci-fi stuff and 80s rock-pop chops like 1985s “My Science Project.” The third, and practically forgotten of of the “mad science” teen movies from that one crazy summer that counted “Weird Science” and “Real Genius” among them. This oddball Disney genre film (directed by “The Last Starfighter’s” writer Jonathan Betuel) had a bunch of high schoolers go dino-busting when their nutty professor (of course played by Dennis Hopper) goes way too far with a mysterious orb his students have discovered. Bernstein meets the challenge with a terrific, swirling orchestral score that gives a real sense of magical grandeur to the film’s often unexpectedly violent shenenigans, full of swirling strings, military percussion, sweeping romance and awe-striking moments of symphonic revelation that you can imagine opening up the dimensional barriers of Zuul. Listening to the sheer, energetically fun cosmic spectacle of “My Science Project,” it’s no wonder that Peter was an orchestrator on pop’s “Ghostbusters,” as that classic score’s rambunctious spirit is very much on display here, conveying a disbelieving attitude to an array of world-ending threats jumping from the wormhole, each given a distinctively fun voice, among them a tyranosaurus’ rampaging brass, savages’ tribal drums, Roman heraldry and playfully eerie electronic effects. And given that was a noble, if box office failed attempt for Disney to grab the 1985 youth audience, Bernstein also provides some truly groove rock-pop grooves tthat make “My Science Project” both timelessly symphonic and synthily groovy, especially when you’ve got The Tubes prividing the title song. Now at long last given voice by Intrada, a label that particularly digs Disney’s often oddball 80s output, “My Science Project” shines as one of the era’s most impressive genre scores, showing Bernstein as both a chip off the iconic composing block, and a talent very much his own who definitely deserves a return to the studio special effects laboratory.


. ONE ON ONE

Varese Sarabande follows up their release of “The Idolmaker” with another golden (if not so) oldie song-driven soundtrack with “One On One,” in this case featuring the Southern breeze-esque soft rock duo of Seals and Crofts. Their gentle, folksy voices provided the inspirational ballads that helped teen heartthrob Robby Benson sink in the points for this surprisingly smart, circa-1977 view of a basketball prodigy discovering the point spread that truly propels his college scholarship, bouncing between G.D. Spradlin’s slimy coach and the vivacious beauty of more-than-tutor Annette O’Toole. The meaningful lyrics, and often poignant vocals of such tunes as “My Fair Share,” “The Day Belongs to Me” and “It’ll Be All Right” represent a pretty much lost art in films of song-as-storytelling, effectively becoming the soft pop conscience, and yearning of a once-cocksure kid trying to find his way through the game of life, with the alternately bouncy, and gently driving rhythm of each song pushing the story forward while hitting whatever action’s on screen. With tunes like “John Wayne” having the harmonica playing, guitar-strumming energy that will satisfy Seals and Crofts fans (minus any viewing of the film itself), these also succeed as memorably melodic songs that represented the “Rocky”-sparked resurgence in underdog sports movies. If the instrumentals often feel like the opening tunes to some television series from the era, then credit to their memorable thematic hooks would go to composer Charles Fox, author of such iconic 70s TV titles as “Love Boat” and “Wonder Woman.” Here he contributes pop scoring at its best, using the song melodies as themes, while varying from lite, cheerful jazz funk to more introspective, classically-influenced piano rhythms that took off on the spirit of Bill Conti, while also being very much in the key of the smooth, electric keyboard heavy scores by such jazz compatriots as Dave Grusin and David Foster. All in all, “One on One” makes for a greatly enjoyable score that will equally please fans of Seals and Crofts, Robby Benson admirers and wearers of a certain soundtrack hairstyle age where positive, soft pop rock vibes were the real inspirational deal. Here’s hoping that Varese Sarabande keeps digging into this vast wellspring of 70s solid, sport-centric soundtrack gold like “The One and Only,” scores that are just waiting to make a CD play.


THE PRESIDIO

After such long-awaited releases as “Young Sherlock Holmes,” “Silverado” and “Tombstone” (I’ll even give “So I Married an Axe Murderer” a mulligan) Intrada continues their justifiable love of the symphonic talents of Bruce Broughton, who was at the top of his suspense game when in partnership with filmmaker-of-all-hats Peter Hyams on “The Presidio” and “Narrow Margin.” While the soundtrack for their second collaboration is long sold-out, one can now visit a certain 1988 San Francisco miitary installation with throttling action to spare for the first official time. Indeed, “The Presidio’s” “Chinatown Chase” still stands as one of the great races in cinema history, an on-foot automobile vaulting sequence between perp (of course given Hyams’ favorite villain name of Spota) and Mark Harmon’s streetwise ex-military cop. Broughton’s ever-escalating, breathlessly thematic interplay between percussion and brass is a textbook example on how to score an action scene (as is his cue for “The Car Chase”), and its this particularly beloved track that’s made “The Presidio” a favorite among his fans. There’s plenty to grippingly savor as well in this investigation guarded over by Sean Connery’s Scottish-accented American Colonel for a score highlighted by a memorable, mysterious theme for piano and keyboard, dark brass and lush strings, the tingling stuff of 70s thrillers given an 80s synth touch here, especially during the “Presidio’s” more romantic cues for Meg Ryan. And given nine minutes for a “Waterhouse Fight,” Broughton shows his sneaking dexterity for keyboard perussion, ominous strings and liquid-like gestures before shooting off bursts of his action theme, his music given tense control that’s continued to distinguish him as one of Hollywood’s most dexterously thematic composers, especially when given the chance to track a murderer in Hyams’s one-two suspense punch, or convey darkly patriotic nobility (which he’d get to do even more explosively in the underrated “Shadow Conspiracy”). Where you previously had to break into an army base to get a hold of “The Presidio’s” composer promo, Intrada’s new, unlimited release offers up the score plus about ten minutes of alternate cues that build onto this score’s deserved status way beyond its exhilarating foot chase.


RIO CONCHOS (1,200 edition)

The Wild West first helped put Jerry Goldsmith on the Hollywood map with his 1957 feature debut score to “Black Patch,” a trail he’d continue to blaze right through to the 90s with the likes “The Ballade of Cable Hogue” and “Bad Girls.” But if there was a decade where the composer’s style shot off in leaps and bounds, then it was the 1960s with “Stagecoach.” “Hour of the Gun” and “100 Rifles.” But if there’s one sagebrush soundtrack of his with blazing western attitude to spare, while also embodying Goldsmith’s burgeoning style, then it’s arguably 1964s “Rio Conchos,” wherein a bunch of revenge-crazed ex-Confederate takes on a former southerner now selling weapons to Apaches. Goldsmith gets the adventure rolling right away with a memorable, whip-cracking theme with attitude to spare, immediately setting the sunbaked Mexican environs with orchestra, harmonica and a pokey guitar in a manner that might be called a more traditional take on the spaghetti insanity that Ennio Morricone introduced the same year before with “A Fistful of Dollars.” Goldsmith’s melody drives this expansive, yet often broodingly psychological score, giving a true sense of the journey these hard men take to stop the of-course gun-crazy savages, getting across both a sense of rollicking adventure and mysterious percussion that sets a primitive tone for the Forbidden Zone his music would trek across in “Planet of the Apes.” The military rhythms and wild brass that also distinguished Goldsmith’s powerful, army-centric scores like “Patton” and “In Harm’s Way” are also on hand, while his treatment of a lonely Indian has all the sparkling, Oriental atmosphere of “The Sand Pebbles.” And when it comes to staccato, trumpeting action, Goldsmith’s cues would be right at home on stage with Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” wild rhythms that are now turned into fandango violence. Where “Rio Conchos” had come out completely before on Film Score Monthly, Kritzerland continues their tradition of shining up a score’s classic boots by releasing this benchmark score for the first time in what’s nearly all stereo, technologically made possible by soundtrack restorationist Mike Matessino, who’s also done s similarly vibrant job for Kritzerland’s new edition of Bernard Herrmann’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” The results are a real spit-shine for this benchmark Goldsmith score, a rousing tribute to the composer’s distinctive way with heroic, often mean men riding into the stuff of Hollywood legend, along with a career destined for it.


. ROSEWATER

Composer Howard Shore has usually traveled to the Middle East under nightmarish circumstances, from the surreal jazz-spiced, drug-addicted tableau of William S. Burroughs’ “Interzone” (i.e. Tangiers) in “Naked Lunch” (recently expanded on his HOWE label) to ancient, Arabic sounds literally being an exotically terrifying place of mind for a serial killer’s “Cell.” Now Shore gets locked inside of an Iranian prison whose interrogator smells of “Rosewater” in what stands as his most realistic take on a region beset by religion-dictated fascism. Yet what’s surprising is that for all of the threat that dances about, or directly pounces upon its journalist due to his appearance on host-turned-filmmaker Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” Shore mostly chooses to center his East meets West ensemble on a relative key of optimism. It’s the feeling of humanity as its own musical spirituality, with Iranian winds and percussion doing a subtle moving in subtle tandem with guitar, strings and hauntingly eerie electronics. Shore’s poetically contrasts the dark of a cell with the light its hero lets in through his memories of freedom, a score whose often-beautiful lyricism refuses to break under pressure. Given how dense Shore’s writing can get, the relatively stripped-down essence of “Rosewater” is all the more powerful for its subtlety in painting its theme of transcendence in the midst of a spirit-crushing experience, with the composer offering his most accessible, and at times hip-hop groovy Middle Eastern score to represent people desperately hoping to take its country forward into a modern, democratic society. Notable source tunes also filter through “Rosewater,” from the mental escape of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” to jazzily hip-hop rhythms of such decidedly progressive Arabic artists as 25 Band and Mahdyar Aghajani, all complementing a listen whose theme in the sound of hope flowering amidst a true desert.



. TITAN A.E.

It was a giant leap for Don Bluth to go from the talking animal, kid-friendly toon likes of “The Secret of NIMH,” “An American Tail” and “All Dogs Go To Heaven” to the interstellar, teen-targeted space opera called “Titan A.E.” Voiced by such stars as Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore and Bill Pullman, this visually impressive, if unwieldy animated epic threw in a kitchen sink of sci-fi influences from “Star Wars” to “Space Hunter.” But if its intentions of being an intergalactic animated epic (along with the similarly sunk “Treasure Planet”) succeeded on one level, then it was by giving New Zealand composer Graeme Revel one of his biggest symphonic scores yet, the entirety of which is finally offered on La La Land’s 79-minute release. This former mental asylum aid worker and avant-garde industrial SPK rocker caused a minor sensation when he rocked the Hollywood scoring boat with the 1989 import “Dead Calm,” his use of breath-rhythms and warped chorus setting him on a path to mixing more traditional orchestral approaches with alternative rock and world music beats in such relatively unconventional action scores as “Hard Target,” “No Escape” and “The Saint.” 2000 A.D.’s “Titan A.E.” was a year that marked a particular sci-fi renaissance for Revell with “Pitch Black, “ “Red Planet” and the “Dune” TV miniseries. And with the resources of a hopefully 20th Century Fox tentpole behind him, Revell showed his talent for conjuring grand, Williams-esque melodies in the service of another punk kid seeking brave new horizons, with particular emphasis on noble brass, revelatory strings and sparkling percussion for a mystical star map. But what makes “Titan A.E” way more interesting than a “Star Wars” score wannabe is Revell’s alternative touch that brings in Aussie aboriginal voices, ancient wind instruments and tribal drumming to give the score a true touch of alien exotica, as well as bizarre synth samples that bring gnarly CGI sheen to the metallic Drej villains, with percolating electronics giving extra, hip thrust to the battle sequences. It’s a combination of blazingly thematic orchestral tradition and a feel of rock and roll daring that truly makes “Titan A.E.” an especially hip, and symphonically satisfying work in Revell’s repertoire, finally given its chance to fully shine after the film’s box office reception scotched its release back in the day. Jeff Bond’s especially informative, and honest liners trace “Titan’s” evolution from live action to animation, while appreciating the epic unconventionality of Revell’s approach for a thrillingly massive score that’s sci-fi in the true musical definition of that term’s sense of coolly odd discovery.



. WORLD OF WARCRAFT: THE WARLORDS OF DRAENOR

Every time Blizzard brings out the fifth expansion of their “World of Warcraft” universe, their music gets even more titanic in matching the franchise’s Tolkien meets D & D ambitions Now with the Orc rampage that makes for the “Warlords of Draenor,” “Warcraft’s” scoring reaches the scales a new peak of sonic magnitude. Credit goes to battle-hardened WOW players Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti and Eimear Noone, humans who knows the musical ins and outs of these never-ending domains, not to mention all the powers it takes to conjure up goblin armies, mages, elves and rangers – all of whose melodic characteristics are cast in this truly wide-ranging album. Starting off with a raging orchestra whose armor is forged percussion and voices, “Draenor” hammers in its mythic menace in a “Siege of Worlds” that lives up to all the grandeur of that title. And while impressive sound and fury follow for quite a bit, “Draenor” steadily opens up its styles to show itself off as far more than thrilling fantasy thrash, bringing out tender violins, spell-filled religioso voices, bird song, mischievous flutes, Arabic winds and even a stomping Irish jig that capture all of the wonder, and perils of jumping about alternate Orc worlds. Yet though beyond dense in its cosmic wall of sound, there’s always a sense of true enchantment to this flowing soundtrack, a continuous sense of heroic, and darkly sinister discovery to familiar musical worlds of past, fire-breathing dragons and valiant warriors. With a gold-spilling wealth of themes and melody, WOW is a true musical quest that’s as constantly energetic to listen to as it is for the people to play the game, especially with a furiously skilled orchestra-of-thousands performance that puts an axe solidly into the noggin of naysayers who think that video game music hasn’t come of movie age. Indeed, one could easily imagine the music of “Draenor” rushing headlong into a battle of the bands with the armies of a certain other group of fantasy brothers hitting theaters this Christmas, with the winner of sheer, epically thematic fantasy scoring anyone’s guess.



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

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Morricone to Resume Concert Tour in February

Soundtrack News - Zo, 23/11/2014 - 01:00

[c.137]Ennio Morricone[] will resume his European tour on February 1st in Amsterdam. The Maestro's 2014 tour was delayed due to health complications.

Morricone said "[i]t is with great joy that I can finally say that I have truly, fully recovered. I am most grateful for the loyalty that my audiences around Europe have shown. It was with great sadness that I have had to cancel and reschedule so many concerts during the past year."

This past year has proved a trial for the composer of more than 500 film and television scores and winner of an Honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement. He underwent back surgery and was originally hoping to return to the concert hall next month, but physicians recommended he allow himself more time for recuperation.

Morricone's 2015...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 21, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 22/11/2014 - 01:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1154]John Paesano[] ([m.42112]The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials[]), [c.564]Christophe Beck[] ([m.35583]Peanuts[]), [c.1730]Andrew Hewitt[] ([m.42548]The Stanford Prison Experiment[]), 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.2014-11-17]Click here for the full schedule[].

Only [m.34618]The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1[] (with music by [c.151]James Newton Howard[]) is opening nationwide this week.

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.34618]The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1[] (2 songs)
- [m.41985]Pulp: A...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Scoring Session: 'Big Hero 6'

Soundtrack News - Vr, 21/11/2014 - 01:00

Disney's recent hit [m.35579]Big Hero 6[] features a score from composer [c.1480]Henry Jackman[]. Fellow composer [c.75]Nick Glennie-Smith[] conducted the recording of the score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/280/]ScoringSessions.com[] have made pictures of the session available.

[a.13776]Big Hero 6 - Original Score[] was released digitally on [da.2014-11-04]November 4[] and will be released on CD on [da.2014-11-24]November 24[]. The [a.13874]Big Hero 6 Bundle[], which includes the score on CD and a vinyl pressing of "Immortals" by Fall Out Boy, will be released [da.2014-12-16]December...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 14, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 15/11/2014 - 01:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.14]Marco Beltrami[] ([m.41410]Hitman: Agent 47[]), [c.682]Marius De Vries[] ([m.42445]Strange Magic[]), [c.14425]Mark Ronson[] and [c.1271]Geoff Zanelli[] ([m.40774]Mortdecai[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 44 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-11-10]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39563]Beyond the Lights[] ([c.91]Mark Isham[]) and [m.39504]Dumb and Dumber To[] ([c.14257]Empire of the Sun[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.39563]Beyond the Lights[] (38 songs)
-...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Alexandre Desplat to Conduct Film Music Concert in London

Soundtrack News - Wo, 12/11/2014 - 01:00

Oscar nominated composer [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[] will be conducting the London Symphony Orchestra next month in a concert which will include music from [m.30730]The King's Speech[], [m.32588]Argo[], [m.38812]The Imitation Game[], and many others. Prior to the concert, which is titled "The Magic and Majesty of Alexandre Desplat," he will host a pre-concert talk.

Thursday, December 11 at Barbican Hall
6:30 PM: Pre-Concert Talk
7:30 PM: The Magic and Majesty of Alexandre Desplat

For further details and tickets, visit...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: November 7, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 08/11/2014 - 01:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.560]Lisa Gerrard[] and [c.1836]Marcello De Francisci[] ([m.39499]Jane Got a Gun[]), [c.14354]Jason Moran[] ([m.41458]Selma[]), [c.200]Howard Shore[] ([m.42372]Silence[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 47 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-11-03]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.35579]Big Hero 6[] ([c.1480]Henry Jackman[]) and [m.36450]Interstellar[] ([c.237]Hans Zimmer[]).

Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.35579]Big Hero 6[] (3 songs)
- [m.36450]Interstellar[] (no...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'Far Cry 4' Score from Cliff Martinez Released

Soundtrack News - Do, 06/11/2014 - 01:00

Ubisoft announced that it partnered with film composer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer [c.124]Cliff Martinez[] to compose the original game soundtrack for its upcoming open-world, first-person shooter [v.39040]Far Cry 4[], the much-anticipated sequel to the #1 rated shooter of 2012.

Working with Ubisoft Montreal's [v.39040]Far Cry 4[]'s Music Designer Jerome Angelot, Music Supervisor Simon Landry and Audio Director Tony Gronick, Cliff created original music specifically for [v.39040]Far Cry 4[]'s gameplay and helped bring to life the gorgeous, yet ruthless environment and the unforgettable characters found in the game.

"Bringing Cliff on board was a no-brainer. Collaborating with him was a dream. He has the remarkable ability to portray compelling emotions and elevate the...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'Hector and the Search for Happiness' Score from Dan Mangan and Jesse Zubot to be Released

Soundtrack News - Do, 06/11/2014 - 01:00

Varèse Sarabande Records will release [a.13989]Hector and the Search for Happiness – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] digitally on [da.2014-11-10]November 10, 2014[]. The soundtrack features the original score composed by Juno Award-winning Canadian musicians [c.12731]Dan Mangan[] and [c.13918]Jesse Zubot[].

"I did something I've wanted to do for a very long time and that is to have a singer-songwriter score a film," said writer/director Peter Chelsom. "I think these days they are as much, if not better, melody makers than a lot of composers. Because it's a fable, it needed a strong identity, a 'through line'. I wanted themes that became songs and songs that became themes, rather than the usual film score."

"Peter likes music that 'almost isn't there.' He used that...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Zacarias M. de la Riva

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 06/11/2014 - 00:44

More than ever in science fiction, humans are being proven to inferior, doomed species in the face of the infinitely more compassionate creations they now want to destroy. It’s a message that science fiction cinema has increasingly hammered in, whether the lab-born synthetics were virtually indistinguishable from us (“Blade Runner,” “A.I,” “The Machine”) or had an artificial appearance that led us to think it was impossible for them to have a soul (“I, Robot”). But now, even the most pathetically abused, humanoid-shaped machines are given the grace of God in “Automata,” no more so than in the gorgeous spirituality of its score by Zacarias M. de la Riva. Infused with Latin verse, warm string melodies, and suspended electronics, these robots are truly Children of The Creator in this remarkable soundtrack, and film.

Sure “Automata” is constructed from the scrapheap of sci-fi antecedents, yet in much the same brilliant way that every next-gen genre classic from “The Terminator” to “The Matrix” has been. It’s familiarity taken to the next level of discovery as Antonio Banderas’ burned out robot insurance Jacq is sent from his gloomy, retro-fitted future city to discover what’s behind the impossible glitch in his company’s machines. But when he ends up being seemingly kidnapped through the radiation-baked wastelands by the his products, the emotionally wiped protagonist discovers that these followers of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics have their own promised land in mind.

Marking Spain’s most ambitious English language effort yet into the kind of genre filmmaking that bears the Hollywood bar code, “Automata” marks the most impressive, not to mention musically epic collaboration between director and co-writer Gabe Ibanez and Zacarias M. de la Riva after the far more horrifically-minded “Hierro.” Where Ibanez started off in CGI for agent provocateur director Alex de la Iglesias on “The Day of the Beast” and “Perdita Durango,” the Barcelonan-born de la Riva began his studies in telecommunications before switching into movie composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Serving as an orchestrator to Roque Banos on “800 Bullets” and “The Machinist,” de la Riva applied his own, impressively melodic skills to thrillers in particular with “Imago Mortis,” and “Exorcismus,” as balanced with more child-friendly, animated melodies for “Snowflake, the White Gorilla” and “Tad, the Lost Explorer” (with many of his scores available through Movie Score Media).

But it’s the orchestral majesty and memory bank of impressive themes in “Automata” that just might be de la Riva’s breakthrough when it comes to following the Spain-to-Hollywood migration of such other notable composers as Banos, Javier Navarette and Alberto Iglesias. For “Automata” is easily on the level of any studio blockbuster score, though one done with an intelligence worthy of his metallic subjects. De la Riva fuses modern classicism and impressionism as eerie electronics and percussion convey a seeming robot threat, an aching cello linking human anguish to the despair of their cast-off creations. But as “Automata’s” visual scope widens, de la Riva equally broadens his score with a symphonically rhythmic sense of wonder that reaches a striking, religious requiem, all while delivering the dark threat of humans come to permanently put the robots we’ve come to love in their place. But most importantly of all, de la Riva’s score opens up both deadened human emotion as it expresses the feelings within the blank, locked faces of what stand as some of the most realistically believable robots yet seen in film. It’s a conceptual intelligence, firing on every circuit, that makes “Automata” worthy of the Spielberg-Williams “A.I.” crown, especially with de la Riva’s sumptuous orchestral melody and use of voice to convey the holy ghosts within the machine, an emotionally organic technology he now discusses.


Tell us about what attracted you to film scoring, and were science fiction scores a part of it?

I fell in love with movies as a kid. I don’t remember exactly what movie was my first, but it was the time when all those incredible movies were being made. Films like “Superman,” “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters,” “Raiders of the lost Ark,” “E.T.,” “Back to the Future,” etc. It was through those movies, almost all science fiction movies, that I started to love film music and John Williams especially.

How do you think working as an orchestrator for Roque Banos on such scores as “800 Bullets” and “The Machinist” helped prepare you for your own composing career, and how did you make that solo breakthrough?

Working for Roque was like being in the best film scoring school in the world. I would send him my orchestrations printed on paper and he would return them filled with red markings all over the place: “This is going to sound better this way, this bowing here, double that with clarinets, etc.’ Being able to watch and learn from the inside, seeing how he managed to solve scenes dramatically, how he produced the mockups and how he used the orchestra, is one of the greatest learning experiences I’ve ever had. About my solo breakthrough. Back in 2004-2005 I had done some co-composing for Filmax in two movies “El Cid, The Legend” and “The Nun”. And they offered me their newest Fantastic Factory movie, Brian Yuzna’s “Beneath Still Waters”. I probably feel that movie is my solo breakthrough, since it allowed me to continue working for Filmax, which made me more visible to the industry.

How did you come aboard “Automata?”

I’ve known Gabe Ibáñez, the director, for some years now. We worked together in his first feature film “Hierro”. So I was one of the composers considered for “Automata.” When I learnt that Gabe had finished filming and was beginning to edit, I knew it was the time to start bothering him so I began sending him music “inspired” by what I knew about the movie. Then I would drop by to see how the editing was going. I insisted and lucky for me I got the job!

Though you’ve done horror scores like “Imago Mortis,” I believe that “Automata” is your first outright sci-fi score. What was it like tackling that genre?

Well, it’s kind of weird now that I think of it because although it is my first pure sci-fi score, the music came out more naturally than often. Probably because I am a big fan of sci-fi. I’ve done a few horror movies and animation movies as well, and it’s always so hard when I have to compose to those genres.

What do you think makes “Automata” different from the movies that have inspired it, i.e. “Blade Runner” and “I, Robot?”

I agree with you that “Blade Runner” might be an influence, but I think that the biggest influence in “Automata” are those science fiction movies of the 60’s and 70’s like “Planet of the Apes,” “The Omega Man” and “The Andromeda Strain.” “Automata” takes elements from all these movies, but combines them in a different way. I think this combination is what makes “Automata” unique.

Tell us about your collaboration with filmmaker Gabe Ibanez, and how you developed your themes for “Automata?”

The creative process with Gabe is always intense. It is an exhausting challenge, but a useful and immensely interesting one. He is extremely careful with every aspect of the creative process. During our spotting sessions we discussed at length the use of leitmotivs. “Automata” is a movie that moves constantly between two levels. The first and obvious one is the science fiction thriller. The second, less apparent is the sensorial level, the philosophical, the metaphysical, the one that dwells with the essence of the being and its reality, human or robotic. The resolution of this dichotomy was what this movie required musically. Making the coexistence of these two levels possible.

How did the use of “real” robots influence your score?

I don’t think it did influence my music. Although it was really strange to see in the first cuts of the movie all these puppeteers manipulating the robots.

It’s a given in movies like this that the robots are far more human than the humans. In that respect, how did you want to the score to develop into more obviously orchestral, and emotional dimensions as the film progresses?

For me the central axis around which the movie revolves is the spiritual axis. And it’s with accurate use of the orchestra and especially the choir that we can elevate the music to this spiritual world. Around this central axis many other pieces revolve that have their share of importance inside the score: the robotic ambiguity, the concept of technological singularity, the protagonist melancholy and the human violence. All this “themes” keep developing throughout the movie as the emotions they accompany become more and more complex.


Did you want to give “Automata” more of a classical sound then the kind of propulsive, sample-based one that most sci-fi scores have now?

I don’t think I would be able to do properly this type of propulsive sample based music you are mentioning. My belief was that for the music to work in those two levels I was talking about before (science fiction thriller and the spiritual-philosophical) I needed the use of an orchestra and a choir. It’s true that the soundtrack features a lot of samplers, but in most cases it was due to budget restrictions more than anything else.

Your use of the cello gives a particular sense of sadness that suffuses “Automata.” How important was it to play that melancholy, while also giving a glimmer of hope to the movie?

Well, that was probably one of the biggest challenges of this particular score. On the one hand, Jacq, our protagonist, is exhausted of living. We see him walking with his back bent; his face looking tired all the time. He’s had enough of this polluted city. He doesn’t like his job. He doesn’t like the flat he lives in. But on the other hand, we see his dreams of the sea, of a better future. His wife is pregnant, and that gives him a drive to keep going. I thought the cello could portray this two confronting feelings in a proper way.

Do you think the orchestra gives more a “weight” in terms of production value to a relatively lower budget movie iike “Automata?” Did you use any particular approach to get an especially epic impact when you need it?

No, I don’t really feel that way. I am familiar with complete synthesized scores (Vangelis’ “Blade Runner” to mention one) that have the same “weight” as a full orchestral score. I think it really depends on what the movie needs. This score doesn’t have that many big orchestral hits, as science fiction scores nowadays do. It’s probably because this is not the normal type of science fiction movie of today. I do remember one epic impact though, probably one of my favorite moments in the movie in which I feel that the music emphasizes the tone of the movie with proper strength and character. It is a long scene made of two very important moments in the movie, the death of the automaton Bold and the birth of a new robot. The big challenge here was to make the music flow naturally from Bold’s death, which is a slow build up till he is shot and falls to the ground, into a new and stronger musical gesture that is constantly building up through bursts of different parts of the orchestra while the choir delivers those strange syllables ending in a big epic orchestral hit as we see the new robot finally coming to live. That’s, I think, the only big epic orchestral impact throughout the soundtrack.

Was the use of voice important to reflect emotion and character from their “locked” faces?

This exact point I discussed with Gabe extensively. We decided that we needed the viewer to empathize with the robots right from the beginning. To “feel sorry for them.” A very direct way of accomplishing that is by using the choir.

Did you want to give a particularly feminine touch to the robot character of Cleo?

Well, I am not sure if it’s a feminine touch but the first time we see Cleo, is in this futuristic dungeon filled with blue neon lights. Jacq approaches her cautiously, he doesn’t know what to expect from this sex robot. It is one of the scenes I like most in the movie. I underscored it with an airy sampled voice that gives the scene a strange atmosphere; I wouldn’t know really how to describe it. But it’s neither menacing nor innocent.

How did you want to play the particular menace of the humans?

There are three distinctive scenes that feature human violence. Those three scenes are treated exactly with the same music. It’s a percussive piece created using vintage synthesizers. It’s strange sounding, raw, edgy and creates a deliberate chaotic atmosphere.

How did you want the chorus to reflect the movie’s religious metaphors as well, and what was the translation of the Latin requiem that plays over the end of “We Want To Live?”

The choir is used in three different ways:

A) Associated to the robots in a way that the viewer will empathize with them (as we mentioned before). This creates an interesting counterpoint between something genuine and natural, like the human voice and something artificial like a robot.

B) Associated to the concepts of robotic ambiguity and technological singularity. In other words, we used the choir when the robots were doing something out of the ordinary, something they were not supposed to be able to do. Like in the beginning of the album’s third track “Robot On Fire” where a welder robot sets itself on fire.

c) The third one relates to the idea of humankind being eradicated by radiation while this new robotic race takes over. This is portrayed in two different ways: 1) a two chord little anthem that appears in many different places (track 1 at 0:46, track 8 at 1:20, track 10 at 1:18, track 13 at 2:28) and The Requiem. The choir sings: “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.” These words come from the “Introitus” of any Requiem Mass. They mean more or less: “Lord give them eternal rest.”

Once Jacq is in the desert, you use some impressionistic writing that has “2001” feel to it. Did you want to convey a weird sense of wonder to this wasteland? And were there any particular composers that influenced the score’s more modernistic moments?

This desert scene you are talking about, when Jacq realizes that he is in the desert alone with this robots and commands them to go back to the city with no success, is the very first one Gabe showed me. It was temp tracked with Goldsmith’s “Planet of the Apes”. In fact, Gabe in our first conversations about “Automata’”s music frequently mentioned this Goldsmith’s score. He loved the audacity and the sound of it. He suggested that we should follow that path somehow. But when they started editing, they realized that this type of music was too “complicated” for this day and age, and that we couldn’t go as far as “Planet of the Apes” type of score. Goldsmith used many atonal devices in that score that would just not work in ours. We also knew that the standard type of science fiction score wouldn’t work also, so I think we did something in between.

Do you think Spanish, and European composers as a whole are allowed more melodic, and thematic freedom than those in Hollywood are? You almost can’t imagine “Automata” getting this kind of lush, lavish approach if it was made here.

It is hard for me to say since I don’t have that much experience in Hollywood. Probably “Automata” is the closest thing, since there is an American production company behind it. Our musical approach in this movie was very much determined by me and by Gabe. And we stood by our ideas even when people from the American production company complained about the path we were taking with the music.

“Automata” is probably the most impressively made genre film yet to come from Spain. How do you think it bodes for its cinema’s bid to appeal to more of an international audience, and how do you think your music here plays a part in that?

In Spain we’ve been making movies with an international appeal for some time now. Alejandro Amenabar´s “The Others”, J.A. Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible”, Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” are a few of those. We have exported horror movies quite successfully, and maybe “Automata” begins a new trend in which we start exporting sci-fi movies. As regarding the second part of the question, I think my music just plays the part it needs to play. It supports the story the movie is telling.



Watch “Automata” on iTunes HERE, with its release on blu ray November 18th HERE. Listen to Zacarias M. de la Riva’s score on Movie Score Media Records HERE


Visit Zacarias M. de la Riva’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Johann Johannsson

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 05/11/2014 - 00:47

One could say it’s the cold, volcanic icescape of the earth’s most forbidding land mass that have often infused Johann Johannsson’s music with a beautifully foreboding presence. Like his innovative countrywoman Bjork, Johannsson received art-music acclaim by merging modern classical and alternative music to haunted and mesmerizing effect, creating a series of conceptual albums like “Englaborn” and “Dis” at the same time he began scoring a myriad of shorts, features and documentaries – usually involving brooding, disaffected characters he could apply a psychologically-minded musical style to (even giving ennui to prairie dogs in the process). With his songs playing a major part in “Wicker Park’s,” soundtrack, Johannsson segued to English-language fiction with the 2009 Ashton Kutcher film “Personal Effects,” then gave an eerily gripping threat to David Morse’s rogue cop in “McCanick.” But the true, eerie thunderbolt of Johannsson’s transfixing and often unsettling style came with the major studio release of “Prisoners.” Using agonizingly slow, sustaining melodies, percussive menace, and a church-like organ, Johannsson’s impressively thematic score created a sense of moral guilt like few crime thriller scores before as it depicted a father’s tragic path down the rabbit hole of vigilantism.

Given how icily minimalist Johannson’s music can be, you wouldn’t think of him as being the composer to come up with an emotionally warm, mainly upbeat score, especially when put in the face of a character’s physical catastrophe. But that’s exactly what he does for “The Theory of Everything,” creating a smart, yet accessible score that personifies a scientist who’s turned seemingly indecipherable ideas about the time-space continuum into best-selling books – universe-spanning ideas that have awarded him rock star status. However, the cosmic joke is that Stephen Hawking is practically immobile, a sense of humor not lost on him or this biopic by “Man on a Wire’s” James Marsh. Tracing Hawking at the start of his seemingly lethal descent into ALS, while at the same time signaling the birth of the romantic relationship that saved his life, “The Theory of Everything” is everything but the sort of mawkish, life-affirming disease-of-the-week movie Hollywood usually offers, especially given this now “hip” ice-bucket challenge disease.

Beyond its excellent performances by Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as his first wife Jane, a major reason why “Theory” sings the body electric is due to Johannsson’s rhythmic, sparkling but no less serious score that brings affecting humanity to the story, as well as a cosmos-spanning sense of discovery that can improbably leap from a world of debilitation. For audiences only familiar with “Prisoners,” Johannson’s work is nothing less than a “Eureka!” moment, full of poignant, waltzing revelation of warmth that put “The Theory of Everything” in the same kind of classically-minded, intelligently emotive universe occupied by the likes of Alexandre Desplat. Beginning with a sense of bubbling, string-driven rhythm that will always connote a mind on the move, Johannson’s gentle, propulsive melodies for strings, harp and piano gradually take on his more familiar, haunted, sampled sustains as the disease’s affects are felt. Yet it’s a mood that never stays long in a movie that doesn’t beat its music over the head with the message of never saying “Die.” Johannsson’s elegant melodies rise with smoothly flowing ideas, while also capturing the heartfelt emotion of a wife who goes beyond the cause of devotion while coming into the realization of her own needs. The overall effect of this composer’s “Theory” is truly enrapturing as Johannsson enters the dramatic mainstream with melodic intelligence that distinguishes an intellectual approach that Stephen Hawking would likely admire.

How do you think the environment, and people of Iceland contributed to your music?

I think a person’s background and where they grow up always influences that they are and what they do, so I’m sure my Icelandic background has had an influence on my music somehow. Iceland has a very vibrant music scene and it’s a great place to grow as a musician – the scene is very collaborative and encourages experimentation and taking chances, and it greatly benefited me in my formative years as a composer.


Would you say in a manner that you were “scoring” invisible movies with your concept albums before you became a film composer? And did that move you into wanting to compose to the real deal?

I’ve always felt the need to frame my music somehow, to have a conceptual dimension to my records. My albums ‘Fordlandia,” and “IBM 1401, a User’s Manual” have a documentary and historical aspect to them that in my mind is a very important part of their conception. I always think and write very visually – I often start with an image in my head when I’m writing – either a painting, a half remembered film scene or a passage from a book or a poem. So film composing came very naturally to me and feels like a very logical extension of my natural way of writing.

Did film scores play a part in your development as a composer, and was it something you always had in mind to explore?

I’ve been a great fan of certain film composers for a long time. Discovering Bernard Herrmann was a big moment for me. I’ve always admired the way he works with harmony and the simplicity and clarity of his ideas. Morricone was an early influence as well. I’m a big fan of Georges Delerue, Wojciech Kilar, Zbigniew Preisner, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, to name a few.

Having essentially quit studying music at 11, how difficult was it for you to adapt to the technical constraints of scoring to picture?

I studied literature and languages at University and I studied piano and trombone until age 18 or so, and then continued studying composition and music theory on my own. I’ve been writing music since I was 15 or 16 and recording music for as long. I had a lot of studio experience as well as experience writing theatre music for string and wind ensembles before I started writing for film, so it wasn’t a big technical jump for me to start writing for film.

You’d worked on numerous Icelandic, and foreign shorts and features before scoring your first English language movie with “Personal Effects.” What was that experience like?

“Personal Effects” was a good experience. Although the film didn’t really find an audience, I’m quite proud of the music.

What do you think of the power of the kind of minimal style of strings and drifting melodies that suffused “Prisoners” and “McCanick,” and also play a smaller part in “The Theory of Everything?”

I’ve developed a style that favors a kind of simplicity and directness, I think. I like music that is emotionally resonant and direct while being quite restrained and often introspective somehow. “The Theory of Everything” score is more exuberant than “Prisoners” for example, but they are also very different films and required different approaches. I was very conscious of reining in the emotion in the “Theory” score – there is already a lot of emotion on screen and the music doesn’t have to repeat what’s already there. James and I were very much in agreement on this, that the music should only be there if it can add something.


What was it about your music that attracted director James Marsh, especially given how non-minimal this score is? And what was your collaboration like?

James is a great collaborator. He has a strong vision, but he has a very open approach to collaborating and he gave me a lot of freedom – which I think is the sign of a good director. He was familiar with some of the documentary scores I had written in Denmark, some of which are similar to “Theory of Everything” stylistically. So he knew I had the range to write the music that the film required.

Did that fact that ALS essentially locks-in its victim’s ability to communicate makes the role of music in opening up Stephen Hawking world even more important?

This was one of the challenges of the film as whole: how to depict in a visually interesting way the life and environment of a man who lives most of his life in a wheelchair. James Marsh and his DP Benoit Delhomme did an amazing job of creating a very colorful and visually dazzling palette for the film and this certainly influenced the way I wrote the music.

When Stephen is first introduced, he’s riding a bike. How did you want the theme there to set up the idea of rhythmic motion in the score, especially for a man who becomes immobile?

The Introductory theme, “Cambridge, 1963” was composed very early on. It was in fact one of the first themes written for the film. It underscores a sequence that shows Hawking riding through Cambridge on his bicycle in the full vigor of his youth as a young doctoral student. Knowing what we do know about his fate makes this scene very poignant. The music has a lot of forward motion and is very kinetic and exuberant. This theme provided a lot of the musical material that I use later in the film in various different guises. The four-note piano motif that begins the film re-appears in different modes in later scenes and the harmonic material is developed in subsequent cues in various ways as well. For example, there is a scene late in the film which in many ways mirrors the beginning, where we see Hawking giving a lecture in the late eighties in London, witnessed by Harry Lloyd’s character, who also accompanies him on the bike ride in the beginning. The Intro music re-appears in this scene, but in a much more serene and philosophical rendition, with the four note piano motif now in a minor mode.

How did you want the music to capture the kind of eccentricity that usually comes with scientific genius?

There are scenes that show the humor and warmth of Hawking character and it was a challenge to capture this without sacrificing the seriousness of the drama.

In spite of its tragedy, this is certainly your most “pleasant” score you’ve done yet, despite subject matter. Was it a good break from you to do this after so many moody scores, and how important was it for you to give the score its sense of hope?

The brief from James was definitely to give the film warmth and reflect the relationships depicted in the film. It’s a film about an astrophysicist, but it’s at its heart a love story. So the music had to communicate this very strongly. After “Prisoners,” I was aware of the importance of choosing a very different film project that would reflect another side of my musical personality. While “Prisoners“ is very dark, bleak and brooding and sometimes quite abrasive, “Theory of Everything“ offered an opportunity to write with more color and to really play with orchestration and to create a really lush and glistening sound. So while “Prisoners“ explored the darkness and the depths of man’s soul, “Theory of Everything“ is all about the music of the spheres, so the contrast is quite substantial.

Conversely, a movie like this offers a wealth of opportunities for the score to be overly sentimentally “inspirational” and manipulative. Was it important for you to help earn the movie’s emotions honestly?

James and I were very aware of this. With a story like this there is a lot of emotion on the screen already and the music has to be very finely tuned for it to emphasize and underscore the emotion effectively without laying it on with a trowel, so to speak.

How did you want to represent the calculations of math-based astronomy via music? And how did you want the score to go beyond dealing with one person to capturing the wonder of the universe that Hawking writing conveys?

There are sections of the film that show the philosophical aspect of Hawking’s approach to physics in a very lyrical way – an aspect that he reflects so well in his writings. We wanted to show this very poetic sense of the universe, the awe and wonder he feels when faced with the immensity and beauty of creation. One reason I chose the piano as a lead instrument in the score is because it’s a very expressive instrument but also a very precise one – it can have a mechanical, mathematical quality as well as a very expressive quality, which fit the purposes of this score very well.

Did you ever have any communication with Stephen Hawking while scoring the film? And if not, did you do your own research on his life and theories for musical ideas?

I have not met Hawking yet, but I did re-read most of “A Brief History of Time” – which I read back in college originally – in preparation for the score, mainly to get a sense of his voice as a writer.

One hears the spirits of such melodically repetitive, “new” classical composers like Philip Glass and John Adams in “The Theory of Everything.” What kind of influence did these composers play in your development as a composer, and this score?

I’m a huge fan of Reich, Glass, Nyman, Bryars and all the so-called “minimalists” in general. They were all big influences on me as a composer when I was starting out. I think there’s also some Ennio Morricone in “The Theory of Everything” score in some places – I was listening to some of his 70’s melodrama scores in preparation for it. There is also some Ravel, Debussy, some Sibelius in there and some 1970’s British folk music as well, in cues like “Forces of Attraction.”


There’s an especially luxurious, and melodic orchestral feeling to “Theory.” Could you talk about achieving this kind of glistening warmth? And how did you want to fit the far less obvious electronic elements into it to achieve the music’s “spacey” feel at times?

In this score, a lot of the music is just an orchestra playing in a room, whereas much of my previous work, both score and non-score has been created in the studio, with the orchestra being only one element of many. There are some cues, like “Cavendish Lab,” which incorporate more processed elements. All sounds are acoustic in origin so the electronic sounding material is created from processed and manipulated acoustic sounds. I like this combination of orchestration and sound manipulation and a lot of my work is informed by this approach. In terms of the orchestration, it’s a combination of strings, woodwinds and French horns, with celeste and a lot of different keyboard sounds. I recorded various pianos, both the Abbey Road grand and also various older, more lo-fi instruments, including a curious old piano with a pedal that turns it into a kind of tack piano.

Could you talk about your theme for Jane, and how you also had it work as on screen “source” music for her relationship with Brian?

There are themes in the score that relate to different relationships between characters. Jane and Jonathan have a theme and Jane and Stephen have a theme and so on. I felt it was more important to underline the relationships with themes rather than individuals.


“The Theory of Everything” is getting a big Oscar push, with your score a part of it. What’s it like to part of that, and do you think that having a memorably melodic score like this helps?

It’s a big enough thrill for my score to even be mentioned in the conversation, so that’s enough for me. Being invited to be a part of project like “Theory of Everything” is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and it was an enormous pleasure and thrill to be a part of James’s team.

Could you tell us what to expect from your upcoming score to thriller “Sicario?”

It’s still in the early stages, but it’s again shaping up to be quite different to both “Theory” and “Prisoners.” I’m recording a lot of percussion for it, some guitar and some analog synthesizers as well. Not a lot of orchestra yet, although that will certainly become a part of the texture as the writing progresses.

Where do you hope that scoring studio films takes you? And could you see yourself pushing into styles that people might not expect from you?

One of the things I love about scoring films is that every project has its own requirements and that your role as a composer is to find the voice of the film and every film is different. So the fun thing is that it’s a journey and the destination is unknown which is something I find hugely exciting.





Do you have a personal theory for everything?

Isaiah Berlin divided the world’s thinkers into foxes, who see the world through the lens of one big defining idea, and hedgehogs, who draw on many different experiences and reject the idea that the world can be defined with one single theory. I’m not a thinker, but if I were I would definitely be in the hedgehog camp. I think the beauty of the world is that it’s too complex to be understood and distilled into one big idea. I do understand the attraction of an all-encompassing theory, but I’m not enough of a mathematician to become enchanted with something like this.


“The Theory of Everything” opens in theaters on November 7th, with Johann Johannsson’s score available on +180 Records HERE

Visit Johan Johannsson’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: October 31, 2014

Soundtrack News - Za, 01/11/2014 - 01:00

Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.564]Christophe Beck[] ([m.40395]Get Hard[]), [c.124]Cliff Martinez[] ([m.42348]Beasts of No Nation[]), [c.1465]Lorne Balfe[] ([m.42312]Dough[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[].

There were 52 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-10-27]Click here for the full schedule[].

Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.38813]Before I Go to Sleep[] ([c.301]Edward Shearmur[]), [m.41399]Nightcrawler[] ([c.151]James Newton Howard[]), and [m.22583]Saw[] ([c.1133]Charlie Clouser[]) is having a 10th Anniversary Re-Release.

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

Read the full news item

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws
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