Soundtrax: Episode 2021-5 Special Edition
June 27, 2021
WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN?
A Conversation with Composer Jeff Morrow
Interviews by Randall D. Larson
Film & TV Music News
Our full column format including reviews will return in July.
Honoring the “everyman” creator, Charles “Sparky” Schulz, WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN? is an Apple Original Documentary that celebrates the significance and global multi-generational popularity of the comic strip and its timeless artistry and design, to profile the man whose simple characters would touch the lives of millions through the decades and become beloved cultural icons. Narrated by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and featuring interviews with Jean Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz, along with Drew Barrymore, Al Roker, Kevin Smith, Billie Jean King, Paul Feig, Ira Glass, Noah Schnapp, Miya Cech, Keith L. Williams, Chip Kidd, Lynn Johnston, Robb Armstrong and more, the documentary interweaves a new animated story that follows Charlie Brown on a quest to discover himself.
Jeff Morrow’s music can be heard in award-winning indies, blockbuster hits, and everything in between. He’s been entrusted by Apple and the Schulz family with continuing the rich musical history of PEANUTS, and his music can be heard in the Netflix hit comedy IBIZA, the hit Netflix documentary MUCHO MUCHO AMOR, and the documentary SCIENCE FAIR. He received a 2018 Annie Award nomination for Best Original Music for Disney’s OLAF’S FROZEN ADVENTURE. In demand as a collaborator, Morrow has worked with renowned composers Christophe Beck and Henry Jackman on Fox’s THE PEANUTS MOVIE, Dreamworks’ TROLLS, Marvel’s ANT-MAN and its sequel, Disney’s WRECK-IT RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, and more.
Watch the trailer for WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN:
Q: What initially brought you into film scoring?
Jeff Morrow: As a kid I always loved music and loved film, but I actually didn’t think of it as a career until fairly late – the only reason being that I just didn’t know anyone who did it, so I couldn’t imagine in my head who was the person making the music. I would go see a film and be totally transfixed by the music but it never occurred to me to be a thing to do. And then in my early 20s I was a jazz trombonist and at some point I decided if I’m going to do a career in music, I need to get myself a job, and so I googled “music production Toronto,” because I was living in Toronto at the time, and dropped off my jazz trombone CD at three places. Somebody took a listen to that and called me up and said “Hey, we really need some one to write music for TV shows. Will you come in next week?” That’s how I got my start. I spent the last fifteen years doing things that are mostly not jazz related. It’s been the last year or so getting back to my roots with Peanuts and jazz, which has been a very nice thing.
Q: You’ve worked with Christophe Beck for many years, and in fact composed additional music for THE PEANUTS MOVIE for him, which apparently led to your scoring the TV series shorts, PEANUTS IN SPACE and SNOOPY IN SPACE. What can you tell me about working with Christophe, and then how did scoring those Peanuts shows lead to composing the music for WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN?
Jeff Morrow: Christophe is one of my most important mentors. I learned so much, not just about music, but about how to use it to create specific feelings for specific moments in film. The process of writing music for a film involves a lot of organization and planning, getting a recording session happening, all that kind of stuff. There were a lot of things to learn and to know and to gain experience from working with him, and that was invaluable. There’s no way I would be where I am had I not done that. One thing led to another, and then I got called to score these Peanuts things for Apple, starting with PEANUTS IN SPACE: SECRETS OF APOLLO 10, a funny little mockumentary starring Jeff Goldblum and Ron Howard. That was the first thing that I did with Ron Howard’s company, Imagine Documentaries, and WildBrain Entertainment who do the Peanuts films, and that all led to me scoring the documentary. The first thing that Vince Guaraldi did was a documentary about the Peanuts that actually never aired when they produced it. So it’s been fun to be able to jump in and do this documentary some fifty-five years later.
Q: Tell me about scoring the documentary. Obviously the iconic music of Vince Guaraldi is so much a part of the Peanuts TV specials, and it is used sparingly here. How did you work with the filmmakers to determine where to use that and where to place your own original music into the doc?
Jeff Morrow: When people think of the Peanuts I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t start humming the tune to “Linus and Lucy,” it’s such an iconic piece. We definitely wanted to use that somewhere in the documentary, because it’s a piece of music that is so integral to the life of Charles Schultz and the Peanuts. That being said, it is a piece that is about the Peanuts themselves – it’s not a piece written for Charles Schulz, so when we get into the more adult, real-life scenarios, we definitely needed something else, which is where I came in. The idea behind the score was to pull bits from the world of jazz and Guaraldi, but just use that as a starting point. Mostly, in terms of instrumentation, we have piano, bass, and drums, like they did in the original Vince Guaraldi stuff, but I’ve added vibraphone, cello, flute, and clarinet to this one to expand on it a little bit, and give us a little more range when telling the story about Sparky.
Q: I like your music for the end credits, where the Guaraldi theme plays at length, but then your own Peanuts theme plays at length as well, after it.
Jeff Morrow: There was a great process working on this film with the director, the editor, and the producer. We talked about the film and then I sat down and watched a very early cut, but then I actually composed most of the themes away from the film itself. I didn’t have it up on the screen or anything like that, I was just thinking about how the film made me feel and thinking about Charles Schulz and what kind of a person he was, and that particular theme came about when I was thinking how empathetic Charles Schulz was. He was an amazingly observant person, which is how his characters ended up with so much depth and so much realism. He was somebody who felt a lot for other people, so that’s what I was thinking about when I wrote that piece. I wrote five or six pieces based on these general ideas and sent them in, and a few weeks later most of my music was cut into the film.
Q: The film mixes stock footage of Charles Schultz at work, interviews with people who worked with him and admired him, clips from the newspaper strip and TV specials, and original animation that tells its own story about Charlie Brown. How did you treat those different elements or was it part of your overall thematic material?
Jeff Morrow: We definitely wanted to separate them. So for anything about Charlie, I was definitely more firmly in the jazz world, to feel like the Peanuts. During the recording process we used different microphones on the piano to give it it’s own character. Then it’s one of these things… as a composer the music is my reaction to what I’m seeing on screen and how that makes me feel, so naturally the music will end up differently when I’m looking at Charlie Brown as opposed to Sparky.
Q: You also arranged some Beethoven and Chopin for piano when Schroeder is playing at his house, which is something obviously we never heard in the strips, but was created for the TV specials…
Jeff Morrow: I take after Schroeder, I occasionally got called Schroeder because I was a piano playing little blonde kid, and there were some parallels there! So yeah, we just pulled up some music that I thought would be stuff that Schroeder would be into and had our amazing pianist Jordan Seigel perform it, which our animated Schroeder plays on screen.
Q: There’s a great moment you have when the film launches into a Snoopy vs. the Red Baron bit, and the music is wonderfully aggressive and dramatic. Tell me about scoring those scenes.
Jeff Morrow: One of the things that I’ve discovered scoring for Peanuts over the last couple of years is that Snoopy’s imagination allows for all kinds of music. You can really turn the knob up to eleven, and in this case, pull out the whole symphony orchestra because his interior world is so fantastical. To me the sound of the Peanuts and the jazz trio is very much on at home and on the ground, and when Snoopy’s on his doghouse taking off and flying through the sky, it allows you to just go full on, so that’s where the orchestra comes into play.
Q: In the strip Schulz always plays it straight. It was a comic strip and it was funny but all the characters were presented very realistically as you do with the music. You’re not necessarily doing funny music, unless it called for it, but you’re treating these characters in such a way that they come across realistically.
Jeff Morrow: Yeah! The joy of writing music for this thing is that these kids have real emotions, and so I don’t have to write arch emotional, overly dramatic, or funny music, it can just be music that makes you feel something, but that’s because these characters are so compelling and sophisticated.
Q: It’s fun but it’s heartfelt in its presence.
Jeff Morrow: Yes.
Q: Did you treat the various Peanuts characters with unique music as they were introduced and had their moments, or did you stay with a general theme for the Peanuts group as a whole?
Jeff Morrow: Not for the doc. There wasn’t enough time to get that in. I’m working on some upcoming stuff at the moment where some of these characters get themes, but right now that’s all I can say about that. But I do have a Charlie Brown theme that I wrote for SNOOPY IN SPACE and then Snoopy has a theme as well, and those do appear in the doc.
Q: Was your score recorded with live instruments, digital samples, or a mixture – and how did the recording sessions go during the COVID situation?
Jeff Morrow: I felt that, to do justice to the hand drawn nature of the strips and the fact that Schulz himself drew every strip, he didn’t pass that on to other people, you need the human element of live players, so yes everything in the score is performed live. With COVID, it was six or seven musicians and we just did them one at a time. You do one, and they’re there with the drum, and then the next day I recorded the pianist, and the day after that I recorded the bassist, and then the cellist, and then the flautist, and the clarinet player. It built it up like that. A lot of time spent on Zoom!
Q: You find a way, with these things.
Jeff Morrow: Exactly. It’s not as fun as doing it in person, but these musicians are incredible. Actually, one nice thing, they’re all in their homes, and they’re very comfortable in their home recording studios, so the performances we were able to get were amazing.
Q: Especially in an intimate score like this, they’re recording it in a place of intimacy, so maybe that added a vibe that was unique.
Jeff Morrow: Yeah, exactly. Even, for this, the pianist has a studio in his house with a grand piano in it, but we actually decided to record the upright piano that he has in his living room, just for that sort of charming intimacy.
Q: Looking back on this project, did you find it challenging to become part of the Peanuts music tradition, and how do you feel about the project now that it’s finished?
Jeff Morrow: Yes. I will say that sitting down to write my first bits of Peanuts music a couple of years ago was obviously very intimidating, stepping into that musical legacy which is so huge and which everyone has so many feelings about. I can’t remember a Christmas that I didn’t throw on the soundtrack to the Christmas Special. That’s intimidating but there was no way I was going to write anything if I kept thinking about that! Once I got over that, the characters themselves – the Peanuts themselves – are so compelling and Sparky’s story of how the Peanuts came to be and his amazing empathy and personality and how that led to these characters who have so much depth to them, it’s so inspiring that the music came pretty easily. The challenge is always at the beginning of every project, I’m pulling my hair out a little but in the end I’m so proud of how it turned out and the moment, for me, is when it first comes to life with the real musicians, which is always magical.
WHO ARE YOU CHARLIE BROWN premiered on Apple TV on Friday, June 25th. A soundtrack of Jeff Morrow’s score is intended to be released shortly.
Film Score Monthly returns with a special 251st album: a unique, two-disc limited edition Blu-ray/soundtrack CD release of Lukas Kendall’s sci-fi short film, SKY FIGHTER. The film was funded (in part by fans on Indiegogo) and filmed in 2018, and released in January 2020 by the DUST channel for sci-fi shorts. It was well received and has accrued over 2M views across different platforms. For the soundtrack, Kendall enlisted composer Bobby Villarreal to create a retro-synth score. The music alternates between alien menace and soothing calm, empathizing with the protagonist’s plight while carefully misdirecting the audience.
The Blu-ray/soundtrack CD combo is available via screenarchives.
On July 9th, Silva Screen Records will reissue on CD Robert Mellin and Gian-Piero Reverberi’s evocative score for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE TV series (1964). The reissue will include the music material discovered in 1997 and new packaging, featuring never seen before cover and pictures as well as a definitive history of the music and series. The audio was digitally cleaned by BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s producer-composer Mark Ayres. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE was a French-German drama series made by Franco London Films as an adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. It was the first, and often quoted as being the best, television adaptation of the original story. The series would enjoy a huge European audience in what would be the very first European Television Channel co-production. A premiere vinyl release of the full album with a lovingly prepared package will be released this Autumn.
Roque Baños has scored the family comedy A TODO TREN: DESTINO ASTURIAS (To All Trains: Destination Asturias), directed by and starring Santiago Segura. This is the composer’s eighth film for this director. Synopsis: Ricardo has been chosen to take all the kids to a camp by train; but on a stop, Ricardo and grandma Felipe take a smoke-break outdoors, and the train leaves with the children but without the grownups, setting off a hilarious chase. The film opens in Spain on July 9.
STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH, Volume 1 (Episodes 1-8) was released on July 25th by Walt Disney Records. Award-winning composer Kevin Kiner composed and produced all 37 tracks on Volume 1. The second volume soundtrack, featuring music from episodes 9-16, is scheduled for release on August 20. Said Kiner: “I hope you enjoy our latest installment of Bad Batch cues from Season One. THE BAD BATCH continues to add to some of my favorite themes I’ve written for the STAR WARS universe, most likely because many of these are co-written with my sons Sean and Dean (“Omega’s Theme” especially)! Some fun stealth music is in here with a bit of an homage to THE DIRTY DOZEN, or THE GUNS OF NAVARONE. I played the solo guitar viol instrument on ‘Zygerrian Camp.’ Also, check out ‘Cad Bane is back!’ May the Force be with you.” The series follows the elite and experimental troopers of Clone Force 99 (first introduced in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. The series debuted on May 4, with new episodes releasing each Friday, streaming exclusively on Disney+ through August 11.
The score album for F9 (also known as F9: THE FAST SAGA and FAST & FURIOUS 9) is directed by Justin Lin and again scored by Brian Tyler. It is the sequel to THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017), the ninth main installment, and the tenth full-length film released overall in the FAST & FURIOUS franchise. Following on the release of a song soundtrack album, the album of Tyler’s score will release on July 2nd, digitally from Back Lot Music, with 112 minutes of music.
La-La Land Records presents a limited edition remastered and expanded CD reissue of John Williams’ original score to the 1989 feature film ALWAYS, directed by Steven Spielberg. Produced and mastered from studio vault elements by Mike Matessino, and approved by the composer and the director, this expanded CD is limited to 3500 units and includes never-before-released material and exclusive, in depth liner notes. The label also presents a limited edition reissue of Williams’ score to the Warner Bros. science-fiction drama A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, in commemoration of the film’s 20th Anniversary. This 2001 Spielberg-Williams collaboration gives birth to yet another masterful score – one that is complex, lyrical, and deeply haunting. Produced, assembled, and mastered by Mike Matessino, with the cooperation of the composer and the director, this limited edition re-issue of 3000 units presents the film score across two CDs, with a third disc of additional music. Note: This re-issue contains the same presentation and content as the label’s original 2015 release of this title. This album is reissued in a limited edition of 3000 units. For more details on both CDs, see lalalandrecords
I covered the release of LISEY’S STORY, the Apple Original series based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King and scored by Chris Clark, who composes and produces under the mononym “Clark”, in my regular June column, but have recently received this short but illuminating behind the scenes video about scoring the series, which is well worth watching:
Milan Records has released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack from the Sony Picture Classics and Stage 6 Films’ romantic drama I CARRY YOU WITH ME, composed by Jay Wadley (I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, DRIVEWAYS). The soundtrack is composed of 19 lush tracks, which Entertainment Weekly calls, “a wrenching score that swells and fades to the rhythms of these men’s lives.” Said Wadley: “In the score for ‘I CARRY YOU WITH ME,’ I aimed to create a vibrant sense of nostalgia and longing using a combination of textural electronics and piano, string orchestra and some familiar sourced sounds from the streets of Mexico. [Director] Heidi [Ewing] sent me a collection of sounds she recorded in the streets to inspire the sound world and make unique connections to the specific sense of time and place. One of the most prominent sounds you can hear woven into the score is the sound of the Camotero whistle from the food trucks in Mexico. I tuned and stretched out the whistle to use as a musical punctuation and thematic device to help call back to Ivan’s childhood memories working the streets with his father.”
Written and directed by Matt Mercer and Mike Testin, DEMENTIA PART II (a follow-up to Testin’s feature debut, the creepy 2015 film DEMENTIA) is a horror comedy about Wendell, an ex-con who, to avoid a parole violation, takes a job as a handyman for Suzanne, an unstable elderly woman, and soon realizes he’s made a very bad decision. The pair of visiting freeloaders gradually ripping off the old lady doesn’t help matters, but more significantly, Wendell soon realizes that something is seriously wrong with Suzanne, something more than Dementia… The film’s score has been composed by David Labovitch and is his first feature film score after having scored several shorts including 2013’s BLISS and 2018’s PRETTY UGLY DREAMS. Labovitch has released a digital soundtrack album of his which is now available to stream/download on Amazon and other major digital music services.
Robin Schlochtermeier is an award-winning composer for film, television, and commercials. He won the award for Best Music for his original score for the psychological thriller RETREAT at the British Independent Film Festival.
He has also composed the music for award-winning broadcast documentaries, for the features THE SPY WHO FELL TO EARTH (Netflix), QUEENS OF SYRIA (Black Pearl Award, Abu Dhabi Film Festival), OH NO, NOT RUDY AGAIN! (EFM Cannes), and for STRINGS (British Independent Film Award). His original score for A SPACE IN TIME, a documentary about two boys living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy has just been released on soundtrack by MovieScore Media. For more information on the composer, see his website here.
Also released last week by MovieScore Media are soundtracks to:
HERO MODE, a 2021 action comedy scored by Bill Brown, about a teenage coding genius who has just 30 days to create the world’s greatest video game or his family loses everything. “The main message of HERO MODE is about the challenges we face in that experience of creating,” said Brown. “And it really hit home for me. I could relate to having a high-stakes puzzle that needs solving and all that it takes to harness your creativity (and maybe even some sweat and tears) to make it happen… On this album, I added a suite of some of those thematic ideas I was trying out as I began scoring the film. I thought that starting the album from the very beginning of my creative process (with a “demo suite” of ideas) would be perfect.”
BETTER DAYS, an Academy Award nominated 2019 drama feature film directed by Derek Tsang and released by Well Go (USA) and Magnum Films (UK) about a bullied teenage girl who forms an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young man who protects her from her assailants, all while she copes with the pressures of her final examinations. The original score is by Varqa Buehrer, who says: “We went through many revisions to find the right sonic palette, keeping in mind the innocence and optimism that lies stubborn in youth, but being a little more daring when it came time to lay bare the juxtaposing reality of the cruelty of human nature. In doing so, we tailored the sound of the pianos for each scene in order to strike the right emotional tone for that moment, and even musical drones and pads were slowly crafted over time to ensure every sound heard in the film adds value to the characters’ experience.”
GAIA is a 2021 horror feature film about an injured forest ranger on a routine mission who is saved by two off-the-grid survivalists. But what is initially a welcome rescue grows more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest… Directed by Jaco Bouwer, the film is scored by Pierre-Henri Wicomb, who says: “This film explores nature as experienced through the stories of four very different characters who all find themselves in an old forest. As we are drawn deeper into it, magical elements are revealed that finally lead to the revelation that something unknown, even divine, is present… My choice of acoustic instruments had to speak to all of these elements simultaneously.”
And more: see moviescoremedia.
The horror comedy film WEREWOLVES WITHIN, directed by Josh Ruben from a screenplay by Mishna Wolff, is based upon the video game of the same name from Red Storm Entertainment. The film takes place in a small town of Beaverfield, where a proposed gas pipeline has created divisions among the townsfolk. When a snowstorm traps its residents together inside the local inn, newly arrived forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) must try to keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community. Composer Anna Drubich (SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666) has provided the film’s score, which is now available via Ubisoft Music on Amazon and other digital/streaming sources. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this month, and was released to theaters in a limited release on June 25, followed by video on demand on July 2, 2021, by IFC Films.
Disney and Pixar’s animated film LUCA tell the fanciful story of two teenage sea monsters who experience a life-changing summer. The film was scored by Dan Romer, who was brought onto the film due to his playful work on prior films like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Both LUCA and BEASTS center around a fantastical story driven by the main character of a child and Romer whole-heartedly captures the whimsical nature of youth and adventure in LUCA. His music evokes the feeling of friendship and forming fast and long-lasting relationships with new people in your life. The score was recorded with an 82-piece orchestra at the Newman Recording Stage, and was orchestrated and conducted by Mark Graham. Romer performed on accordion and acoustic guitar. The soundtrack is now available from https://disneymusic.co/Luca.
Dominik Scherrer’s eerie, period-warping score for Netflix’s 70s-tinged hit THE SERPENT is being released on luxury LP and CD formats by Svart Records of England. Emmy Nominated, Swiss-born British composer Scherrer’s score for THE SERPENT slithers appropriately between period grooviness and nail-biting suspense. For his score, Dominik spent time in Thailand, where some of the series was filmed, recording traditional instruments including the Ranat and Khong Wong Yaifor. The vinyl edition features venomous green vinyl, limited to 500 copies, includes a booklet with photos and liner notes. These physical editions include music not found on the digital version.
Order either vinyl or CD from Svart Records here.
For more details on the score, ICYMI, see my interview with Scherrer about scoring THE SERPENT in my May 2021 column.
Sony Music has released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY, with music by film and television composer Dominic Lewis (THE KING’S MAN, DUCKTALES, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE). The film is the second installment of the Peter Rabbit film series, based on the beloved stories written by Beatrix Potter. In the new film, Peter, bored of life in the garden, goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and ends up creating chaos for the whole family.
Lakeshore Records has released Max Aruj’s powerhouse orchestral score for Netflix’s THE ICE ROAD, setting the perfect soundscape for the intense Liam Neeson-starring action-thriller. After a remote diamond mine collapses in far northern Canada, a ‘big-rig’ ice road driver must lead an impossible rescue mission over a frozen ocean to save the trapped miners. The film is written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and alongside Neeson stars Laurence Fishburne, Amber Midthunder, Benjamin Walker, and Marcus Thomas. “The movie had a classic structure, so once we had the thematic tapestry nailed down, the rest of the film score flowed out,” said Aruj. “It is a challenge to gracefully shift from action to emotion multiple times over within one scene, but is so rewarding when the picture edit (Douglas Crise) and music go hand in hand. We recorded a live orchestra to get our strings soaring and the brass punchy. It’s a lot of preparation, but so worth it to take the score to the next level.” The 26-track soundtrack is available on all major platforms and the film is now streaming on Netflix in the U.S.
Composer and producer Greg Kalember has scored the four-part docuseries, MYSTERIES OF MENTAL ILLNESS, which premiered June 22 on PBS. The series dives deeply into the conditions of mental illness in both science and society. Composer and producer Kalember has been creating original music for film and television for over 20 years, and his television scores include the PBS documentary series CIRCUS and CARRIER, as well as docuseries EXPLORER (National Geographic), BIOGRAPHY (A&E), and the classic anime series SHAMAN KING (Fox). His film credits include VOICES UNBOUND: THE STORY OF THE FREEDOM WRITERS, SHOOT DOWN, and BLOOD IN THE SAND.
The second season of the Emmy and NAACP Image Award-nominated Apple Original series CENTRAL PARK made its debut with the season’s first three episodes last Friday, June 25; the second half of Season Two will return later this year with additional episodes. The additional episodes will stream Fridays through August 6th. Each new episode features at least 3 original songs, which will be released on the series’ soundtrack from Hollywood Records on Apple Music and other digital service providers day and date with their episodic debut on Apple TV+. In addition to the original songs by guest songwriters, there are also several tunes in each episode written by the show composers, Kate Anderson & Elyssa Samsel.
Watch the Season 2 trailer:
RECORD OF LODOSS WAR: DEEDLIT IN WONDER LABYRINTH is a 2021 action role-playing video game co-developed by Team Ladybug and Why so serious? for Microsoft Windows. It is based on Ryo Mizuno’s Record of Lodoss War series. The music has been composed by the musical group Peposoft, who had scored Team Ladybug’s two previous games. Read a review of the soundtrack at greatestgamemusic.com.
The soundtrack is available from Steam.
Randall D. Larson was for many years publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: 100+ Years of Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror Film Music and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes more than 300 soundtrack CDs. He can be contacted via https://musiquefantastique.com/