Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2011-10
September 30, 2011

By Randall D. Larson

Photo: Peter Oso Snell

Prepped at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions, this Scottish-born composer has contributed to such scores as BATMAN BEGINS, THE DA VINCI CODE, TRANSFORMERS 2, INCEPTION, KUNG FU PANDA 2 and others; emerging into his own with shared composing credits on MEGAMIND and an impressive and densely textured solo soundtrack with the historical action drama, IRONCLAD.  Interviewed recently, Balfe described his thematic and instrumental approach to IRONCLAD and his experiences working and learning among the talent at the Remote Control collective.

Q:  How did you initially become associated with Hans Zimmer and Remote Control Productions?  What kind of a training ground did that give you to prepare for your solo career in film music?

Lorne Balfe: I’m still training!  I had a musical background – my father was a songwriter and he had a residential recording studio.  So I was brought up with musicians all during my childhood.  We’d have the likes of Ozzy Osborne coming to stay, and bands recording their albums.  So I was totally influenced by music.  I started doing commercials when I was 16 or 17. I got into it because I started helping out doing arrangements for radio jingles.  I started doing that and then I just naturally started going into commercials, and then I went off to London to Music College.  That didn’t quite work out as planned, but I was still doing commercials.  I came over to L.A. for a summer internship and I met a composer named Henning Lohner.  As I’m sure you know, at Remote Control there’s several composers here, and all the interns were in the kitchen waiting to be given a mission.  So Henning came running down, panicking, and said “can any of you read music?”  And I said “yes!” and I then started working for Henning, doing arrangements for him and writing for him.  And then it started from there.  I’d always worked for the studios back in Britain during the summer holidays and Easter holidays just to get experience, and I know it was a long plane journey to come all the way to America, but I just started coming over.  I started working for Klaus Badelt through Henning, just doing little bits of arranging for him, but then I was mainly working for Rupert Gregson-Williams.  I started with him doing lots of television and HOTEL ROWANDA and BEE MOVIE, and then I just came under the attention of Hans, and I started working with Hans on BATMAN BEGINS.

Q: The concept of the “additional music” composer has become an increasingly essential position in contemporary film scoring, and certainly an excellent training ground for new composers.  How would you define the role and what were your experiences doing that on scores like ANGELS AND DEMONS, TRANSFORMERS 2, and INCEPTION?

Lorne Balfe: You know, I had never thought about this word, “training.”  In one respect, you have to be trained to be able to do it, because it not, you’re in trouble!  But you are constantly learning.   Every film is different, it’s edited differently, the pace of it and the way things look are different, so the “additional music” role is a big pool.  There’s lots of different fish that do different things in it.  Because some “additional music” can end up being arranging, some “additional music” can be writing, some “additional music” can be taking pieces that have been cut to the picture in a certain way and moving them around.  Personally, to me, there’s not one proper way of describing what “additional music” does.  I think “additional music” can be misleading.  Some people think it’s doing all the work, but it’s not.  There has to be an intention and a source of material for where the music comes from.  It’s so important nowadays to have a team of people, because the picture changes so quickly that there has to be a support system there.  You can write the cue and then two days later it has been recut, things that were in the first act are now in the third act, and you need support to have somebody musically to be able to sit there and “oh! Wait a minute, we can do this.”  “Additional music” is one of these things, you’ve got all the ingredients, we’re just helping bake this cake.

Q: When you are actually composing “additional music” to add to Hans’ score for INCEPTION or something like that, what is your technique in grafting your music onto another composer’s score and making it fit seamlessly?

Lorne Balfe: I look at it as a big puzzle.  What I enjoy about it is that you sit there and you have the sonic ingredients of what we’re doing, and you delve into it.  There’ll be an ostinato or a melody line: you take the melody line and here’s a scene where there’s a puzzle going on or there’s a major plot line happening, and you go “oh, wait a minute, we can turn that bass line into an actual ostinato and make that an idea for a motor running through these scenes.”  The first thing I do, working with anybody, is I just constantly listen to what there is, thematically, and then start delving into it, because everything’s there.  If you’ve done your job well, then you should have all the necessary ingredients in that one piece of music.  The thing is that, I think there will be people that use the title “additional music” to mean writing a lot when they’re actually cutting and pasting.  It’s a big job description.

Q: Can you give me an example of how you did that on, say, INCEPTION or TRANSFORMERS 2?

Lorne Balfe: Here’s the thing with INCEPTION.  We hear the tune, and then we go and say “I wonder what it sounds like if that tune was sad,” so you do your own twist on what that is like sounding sad.  So you play this game and manipulate what there is.  With a lot of INCEPTION, it was trying to take what was there and arranging it so we were sonically just changing things to fit what was happening visually.  You’ll see the development of the “Time” piece in INCEPTION, how at the end you have the payoff but then if you’ll notice half or three-quarters of the way through you hear a minor version of it.  Things like that.  It’s trying to slowly take that iconic piece of music and think “how can we just slowly introduce it with a different spin?” 

Q: Some critics have claimed that Remote Control is a music factory, and the composers all come out sounding like Hans Zimmer. How would you answer this criticism and how have you strived to convey your own unique in your own scores?

Lorne Balfe: The factory thing…  I don’t think Harry Gregson-Williams sounds like Hans, I don’t think John Powell sounds like Hans, I don’t think Rupert Gregson-Williams sounds like Hans, I could make a long list!  But you look at it and you kind of go, oh, I understand what the comments mean because there is a style but there is also a genre and a period of time.   Hans kind of sonically created the tone of what action music was in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Now, I’ll go and find another fifty people not-related to this building that got influenced by what action music was, because that’s what it was, it was rock and roll music, it was just here we go we’re going to save this planet with this rocket, or whatever!  I think what happens here is there‘s so many different people from all around the world with different styles and different tastes and, yes, it’s that period of time where people say “action music is this” – we’re going through a period of time now at the moment where you can’t do what you did in the ‘80s and have rocking drums and lots of strings playing stabs everywhere, because it’s dated. You can’t do it.  So people are doing more percussive action cues, and now everyone else around the world is doing that as well.  I think “factory” is the wrong term, I think “collective” is the best term.  I think everybody does try to strive to be different, and I think it’s clear to look at John and Harry and Rupert and Klaus, they don’t sound like that; they’re making their own mark.

Q: I guess the other challenge that you and they have to face is producers that want to have a score that sounds just like the last big blockbuster than Hans or his collective have scored, they’ve temped it with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and that’s all they wants.  Do you ever feel restricted by the success of Hans having established that genre of music?

Lorne Balfe: That leads to the word, “temp,” and I think, no matter who the composer is, that music is coming from a successful film and they look at that music as “this is great for our film” but also “that film was successful so we want that music in ours.”  It’s always going to be a problem for up-and-coming composers to try to get their own voice out there, because this is what happens: it’s a spy film so they want something in the style of BOURNE, and it’s always going to be difficult to make your own mark and get your own sound out there.  Film-wise under my own credit, I’ve only done two films but I’ve tried to choose them because I know that I wasn’t going to get pigeon-holed.  There are other projects where I knew, “gosh I’m going to be in danger because the pressure’s on to make it sound like this” or “it’s got to be more like that film that came out last week.”  On CRYING WITH LAUGHTER there was no temp and I just wanted to do something simplistic and that wasn’t especially noticeable, but was effective with what was going on.  Before then we had done CALL OF DUTY and there you’re giving notes to all the different genres of action music, but that was acceptable because we’re putting our hat on and we’re going to have some fun.

Q: I want to ask you about a couple of specific projects.  In 1998 you arranged a new score for the 1924 silent classic HANDS OF ORLAC.  What musical choices did you select for that score and what were the unique challenges of writing a new score for a silent movie like that?

Lorne Balfe: That was when I started working with Henning.  He was on it for about four or five years, I think.  And I started working with him for about two and a half years.  It wasn’t because the music was being thrown it, there was no rush; it was just a case of us having the luxury of writing some good music. We had the concert in Ghent, and it was performed live.  The interesting thing about that film was, again, what we think about horror music now is far more sophisticated than what horror music was then.  At that period of time, somebody playing the piano would have simply been, doing “duh-duh-DAAAA!

Q: All melodrama.

Lorne Balfe: Yes.  Which now we would regard as comedic.  What was interesting, though, was learning about emotion from that project.  Visually the most important thing about that film was the eyes.  I know that’s contrary to what the title’s called, but there were so many close-ups of his eyes, and it got to be quite emotional.  I was always fascinated with the way Henning played it as an emotional score.  Instead of sounding overpowering, it was musically making this person lost and emotional, and it was learning how to twist something.  You could get any piece of music from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and line it up and press play and it could work. But it wouldn’t make you think.  So it was a very interesting learning curve.  That was one of the first scores I worked on.

Q: In 2004 you scored a children’s fantasy TV show called SHOEBOX ZOO.  What were your musical responsibilities on scoring the show and how did the music develop through the length of the series?

Lorne Balfe: This was the joy of television – an episode every five days!  So it was a big eye-opener.  Again, no temp, so there was no pressure.  This was two very good friends of mine, Claire Mundell and Justin Molotnikov, who ended up making CRYING WITH LAUGHTER; Justin directed and Claire produced it. Same situation with SHOEBOX ZOO, and it was for the BBC. I didn’t have a lot of credits on me and they took a big risk in using me, but I just force fed them music until they got fed up with me! I wanted this project because I just knew it was going to be great – it was fun and fantasy and it was Scottish, and that meant a lot to me because I wanted to do something that was home-based.  It was about a girl whose mother had died, and then these toy animals come alive, so you were dealing with a child’s show that adults would enjoy as well, because it was emotional – the young girl had lost her mother and was trying to get her life back together.  I couldn’t believe how hard one had to work for television, to write music that you would put into a film in such a short space of time, and also the flow of things was emotionally faster because you had to condense it.  You can’t dwell on the emotional scene too long because we need to get the story going because she has to be in the other side of the country by the end of the episode.  So it was just great fun to be able to get my themes… also it was the first time of being able to write themes longer than 28 seconds.  Coming from commercials and having done bips and bops and everything it was just great to be able to kind of write my themes and then do long scenes all by myself.  It was a big risk but it was fun and we got a BAFTA for it, and gosh, whenever I’ve been in Germany and France they still show it.  I’ve worked on a lot of films; having worked on TRANSFORMERS doesn’t help me, really, when I’m doing something like CRYING WITH LAUGHTER because it’s a totally different concept.  Robots bashing each other around the head just can’t make me get into the mindset of good character.

Q: What was your musical texture for that film?

Lorne Balfe: Whenever I tried to do something too grand it was belittling it.  It was an independent film and we didn’t want to try to overstate things.  Far from it.  In the first track I just wanted to try and do something where there was a motor running, because this lead character was a stand-up comedian, and stand-up comedians just don’t shut up, they’re talking non-stop if they can get away with it!   So there’s the first concept of an idea: something that can just keep going… a ball rolling, or a motor going around in circles.  So I thought that.  And then I didn’t want to do anything that said “Oh! This is a thriller!”  This was about a journey, and it was about somebody finding out the past. I just wanted to try to get a slight hint of emotion.  To me, I found it emotional.  Some people thought it was just minimalist music going around, but I didn’t plan out to do minimalist music, I just wanted to do something that was concise and could sometimes create an emotional of loss, where this character was.

Q: Was that an orchestral score or synths & samples?

Lorne Balfe: The old fashioned way – synths!  I kept well away from orchestra because I felt as soon as I even played the sample of a violin it ruined it.  So I tried to do a bit old school and get the synths out, so it’s just synths and guitar, and a piano.  To me, I just felt as soon as I was trying to do strings it made it melodramatic.  This was a small intimate film and trying to overstate it, musically, was just going to ruin it for all of us.

Q: I wanted to ask you about another solo credit you got on a DVD documentary, WORLD WAR II IN HIGH DEF.  What kind of challenges did that particular project pose for you?

Lorne Balfe: They were some of the easiest challenges I’ve ever had:  I wrote it for library music!  The joy of library music is that you have no idea what you are writing it for.  You’re simply sitting and writing what you want to write that day.  That piece of music ended up being the Verizon campaign music, months ago.  It’s interesting because you sit there, you give yourself a brief, “well, I’m going to write something military-based or something heroic.”  You do it, and then I can see it on WW II IN HD, next minute I’ll see it on a commercial with somebody running around with a bow-and-arrow!  So unfortunately I can’t say that I got really into the film project because it was written three years ago!

Q: With MEGAMIND and the game score CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2, you were elevated to co-composed status with Hans.  At what point does Hans decide his protégés are ready for that step?

Lorne Balfe: (laughs) You’ll have to ask him that question!  I think, no, I don’t know.  It’s not a case of handing it out.  If you’re going to bring your own voice to this and you’re going to be writing themes and you’re contributing to it, he rewards merit.  He’s always done that.  Lots of people don’t even credit additional music.

Q: I think Hans was the first to start giving that credit to his people.

Lorne Balfe: Yes.  And the thing is that with projects like MEGAMIND, we just started writing themes together, and started doing things together, and he very kindly said we’ll do it jointly.  We did a thing together called THE BOAT THAT ROCKED, or as a newspaper in Britain put it, THE BOAT THAT ROCKED, THE BOAT THAT SANK!  It was like ten minutes at the end of the film, we did a big piece.  But the same happened on THE DILEMMA – I was going to help with the arranging on it, and we started working, again, writing themes and I got the joint credit.  Also, I think, with things like that, I was working more with the filmmakers instead of just sitting back; he was pushing me more to get more prominence.

Q: Both MEGAMIND and THE DILEMMA are comedies, but very different ones – one’s a very over the top super hero satire while the other is a gentle Ron Howard dramedy. How did you approach supporting the comedy in those two scores?

Lorne Balfe: I didn’t see MEGAMIND as a satire, because I think if we had, musically we would have done a satire. I don’t think we did.  At the end of the day, there’s a villain but he’s not a villain – he’s very charming.  There’s only one cue in MEGAMIND that I think is a satire and it is “Black Mamba,” because it’s like if we can’t go melodramatic here, it’s crazy!  The main thing about looking at that was to try to think of MEGAMIND as TOMMY, an old rock and roll musical, because every movement that he had was like a stadium concert, so instead of trying to look at it thematically, like “oh he’s the villain, we’re going to give him a bad theme” or something, we should do the opposite.  This is a character who’s constantly trying to gain attention and break up ceremonies by arriving to the music of AC/DC.  It’s not normal!   So he’s got a theme tune in his head when he wanders around – he’s got “Bad To the Bone” playing in his head, that kind of thing.  That’s not serious!  But compared to that, THE DILEMMA had a lot of songs, and you can try to do your music or just try and create a thread between them.  You’ve got so many songs, it’s fragmenting things because it’s always a new song and every song had got a different production style, so musically it was trying to help the flow of the comedy but also to get our songs connected.  MEGAMIND had songs in it, but still it was score and songs.  THE DILEMMA was more laid back; we didn’t really have to hits jokes or line things up.  It was more to complement what was going on.  What was going through Vince Vaughn’s character, the whole case of not knowing whether to tell a friend or not, there was emotion in it, but you can’t play it with big strings.  Pete Haycock, who’s a fantastic guitarist who Hans had worked on TRUE ROMANCE, came over and naturally he plays two notes and you get emotion.  DILEMMA is adult comedic where you can’t just go ba-dat, ting! to the joke; the audience are far more sophisticated than that.  With MEGAMIND you can’t do that either because parents watch it, so you need to figure out your boundaries or presenting it.

Q: How did you get the assignment for IRONCLAD and how did you determine your approach for scoring that film?

Lorne Balfe: They were looking for a composer.  They wanted somebody – which is encouraging – who was new and who has a different point of view.  They weren’t looking for somebody who was going to rip off GLADIATOR or something like that; they wanted somebody that could do something different and interesting.  I flew over to Britain, had a meeting, and I came back and I wrote about 15 minutes of music after watching some of it, and then I got the job that way. 

Q: What determined your instrumental choices for the score? 

Lorne Balfe: I was looking at it and going, “Well, The Crusades was a fascinating period of time because it was people from Britain traveling, and traveling means they’re opening their ears to different types of culture.”  As soon as I saw the film, I remember when I was at school there was a trumpeter, John Kenny, who used to come in and demonstrate this instrument called the Carnyx.  It was this very, very long hunting horn with fantastic designs on it and it would make this humongous booming sound like a cry of banshees attacking.  That memory has been in my head for about 30 years, and then when I saw this film, I just thought, wow, wouldn’t it be fantastic to get this instrument and this fantastic musician involved with it.  That was my first idea.  I knew what I didn’t want to.  There are a few scenes where sonically you don’t want to play melodies and you don’t want to play tunes, but you have to create a timbre, and I wanted to create a timbre with the Carnyx.  It has a sound that we don’t know and we can’t relate to, but it’s very primitive; it is organic but it’s a call.  The whole thing about this film is that it’s a call to arms, and when you hear the Carnyx, it sounds like, yes, we’re off to war.  So the Carnyx was the first thing that I definitely wanted to use.  Obviously I couldn’t demo that and I didn’t have samples of it, and I think there’s only one person who plays it!  Thankfully my memory from being 9 was just as good as at the age of 33 – I started having doubts in my head that maybe it didn’t sound that good! But it sounded fantastic.  I was nervous of using the choir, because I thought it could slowly turn into a cliché of that period of time.  The Uilleann Pipes are in it but they invoke the spirit of that time, as do the Hurdy Gurdy and Dulcimers.  It was a very restricted period of time, tonally, but not musically. 

Q: Was it difficult to write for those instruments and fit them into a score which is ultimately action and heroically oriented?

Lorne Balfe: Yes.  Sonically they are harsh instruments, so you have to be careful when you’re dealing with dialog.  But I love the Hurdy Gurdy because you can create these fantastic timbres with it, and the Bowed Hurdy Gurdy just plays melodies fantastically.  You just sit there and you get this fantastic sound that is so unsophisticated it’s brilliant.  I was using saders and dulcimers.  But you can’t demo these instruments, you have to rely on the musicians.  You can get the sample of a bowed saz, but it sounds horrendous!   So the director, Jonathan (English), would sit here in my room and I’d say “it won’t sound like that!” and he’d say “well, how will it sound?”  You can’t describe it, so there’s a lot of trust going on!  The same with the pipes – we did a lot of Irish low whistles.  Troy [Donockley] would constantly produce different types of whistles – I never knew there were so many pipe whistles in my life!  We kept experimenting with different types.  Strangely enough, we didn’t use Uilleann Pipes that much.  At first we had it more prominent in the score, and we just slowly would take it out, because it would start sounding like a very period-based piece of music.  What I tried to do was always write things with the Western instruments and then get the musicians to play these instruments with their flair.  I brought in this German band, Corvus Corax [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvus_Corax_%28band%29 ], and I couldn’t even name their instruments!  But I saw photographs of them and I saw how they played them, so I’d write a horn line and then they would use whatever bagpipe they had and they would play it that way.  I would write an ostinato for short strings but I know I’m not going to be using short strings, I’m going to get them replaced with saders or dulcimers or something that would give me more interesting textures.  As soon as I had them play, I’d remove any of our Western orchestra and it would just sound bigger.

Q: So you recorded Corvus Corax separately and then integrated their performances into the score?

Lorne Balfe: Oh yes.  The joys of working on independent films are budgets.  You can’t have your recording dates all at the same time.  The fun thing about this was everybody was everywhere – Corvux Corax were in Germany.  Paul Brady is an Irish songwriter and I had heard him singing a Scottish lament on TV.  For King John, I wanted to evoke something of his childhood, because to be the king is not just a job, it’s a bloodline; it’s something that none of us will ever understand, and the pressure of any kind of royalty is to continue this DNA of blood).  Paul is a rock and roller, but he sang this lament and I thought, right, here’s our timbre for King John.  Again, I couldn’t mock that up, so I just wrote the melody line on the piano and I let him perform it, and I was just blown away. I loved his performance.  Some people would  ask “is he from Iran somewhere?” No! Far from that, my friend!  I think he’s in Cork in Ireland! Then, percussion-wise, we have Satnum Ramgotra, who’s a tabla player playing the Bodhrán, another Irish drum.  It was good getting different musicians, but unfortunately they had to get this done at different places all around the world.

Q: How did the score react to the film’s ambiguous moral ground as it depicts two religions in conflict?   How did you musically transpose those elements without falling into a cliché?

Lorne Balfe: I tried to ignore all of that, really!  I didn’t want to do a National Geographic history lesson.  There’s a reason with what’s going on here, it was religious-based, but I wasn’t going to go there.  The main thing is pride, and pride is based on emotion, I think.  This was about a castle or a concept: if we give in on something, then everything is lost.  And that is based on love and emotion – we protect our loved ones because we love them.  I tried to look at it as a love story, but recognize the [sense of patriotic] pride, since they’ve decided to do this.  They’ve come back from this Crusade where they’ve already witnessed the worse acts of war, so why return?  The main character is on a vow of silence and is leaving the Knights Templar, but then doesn’t because there is a mission here to save this castle from King John. And I just tried to ease emotion into it and try to make us understand that in those days people did help out and do things for free, there wasn’t always a motive!  They didn’t expect things.  You can go deeply and analyze it, but honestly it was a very simplistic way of looking at it, saying there is love, there is emotion, and passion.  Thematically there’s a King John Theme and there’s a Love Theme,  and I tried to make that into them as well. I had a Knights Templar Theme but it mainly evolved into the Love Theme.  With those themes, we could always go back to base.

Q: What’s next on the horizon for you? 

Lorne Balfe: I’m barely breathing at the moment!  I finished CRYSIS 2, the video game, with Hans, so that was another joint credit.  Then, when he was working on RANGO, the film, I took on RANGO, the game, and then another game, SPYRO THE DRAGON.  Now I’m on a fantastic documentary project called SALINGER, with a fantastic director named Shane Salerno.  J.D. Salinger and Catcher in the Rye, was not part of my vocabulary as a child – but I come to America and it’s everybody’s bread and butter, or most people’s!  It’s fascinating to be part of this.  It’s a truly breathtaking documentary, Salinger’s life was absolutely fascinating, so I’m in the middle of that, after which I start on two small independent films that are very like CRYING WITH LAUGHTER, which I am really looking forward to getting into.  And then I start SHERLOCK HOLMES 2.

Q: Are you working again with Hans on that?

Lorne Balfe: I’m producing the score.

Q: Will you still be working with Remote Control or are you ready to spread your wings on your own and see what develops?

Lorne Balfe: I think I can spread my wings and sit quite comfortably here.  I don’t look at it as wanting to leave, because it’s a very privileged situation to work on these films. To work with Hans is a privilege, and the filmmakers that he works with, to be able to sit in the room and see the work process with Chris Nolan, it’s unimaginable. I think to go and spread my wings and miss out on all these opportunities is just not going to happen. I’m very fortunate with the time to be able to take on these projects, and I’m still learning things.  There’s always something new to learn. I’ve been helping John and Hans out on KUNG FU PANDA 2, and I thought after MEGAMIND I knew animation?  I think we’re always learning and it’s just fun working with everybody. It’s a great team. 


New Soundtracks Releases of Note


Symphony of Hope” is a musical fundraising project which was originally designed to help the people of Haiti as they recover from the massive earthquake that decimated the island nation early last year.  In a unique evocation of previous shared support efforts, the Hollywood film music community found a way to lend their talents in support of a country in need.  Developed and spearheaded by Christopher Lennertz, a group of 25 leading composers (including Tyler Bates, Bruce Broughton, George S. Clinton, Elia Cmiral, John Debney, Randy Edelman, Dave Grusin, Marvin Hamlisch, Brian Tyler, Christopher Young, among others) “co-wrote” a symphony that was performed by nearly 200 musicians and vocalists, and recorded at Warner Bros. Scoring Stage. The Symphony was conducted by Lucas Richmond and featured soloists Lizbeth Scott (PASSION OF THE CHRIST) and Carmen Twillie (THE LION KING). Other artists that participated include Grammy Award Winner Arturo Sandoval, Emmy Award Winner Beau Bridges and Lucy Schwartz.  The "Symphony of Hope" begins with an original Haitian melody, then each composer contributes an additional 8-32 bars of music to the piece and then passes it along to the next composer. This is symbolic in the way that one lending hand passes on to another lending hand and so on and eventually a beautiful outcome is achieved.  The orchestral piece was recorded this spring on the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers Pictures, with everyone donating their time - the composers, orchestrators, copyists, musicians, scoring stage technicians, etc. Recording of additional pieces happened in Los Angeles following these sessions to provide additional music inspired by the people of Haiti.  The entire process was filmed in high definition by award winning filmmaker Brian Weidling and plans for a film documenting the making of the piece as well as a live benefit concert for the world premiere are also underway. Produced by Lennertz and Steve Schnur, the album is now available for download on iTunes and, on October 4th, will be available on CD On Demand from Amazon. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Haiti via the Haitian non-profit organization, "Hands Together."

“Symphony of Hope” is far more than just an impressive joint project; it’s an outstanding piece of music, seamlessly joining the talents of its many constructors, written in the melodic orchestral style of rich Hollywood symphonic film scoring.  For all of the hands that wrought it, the final work is a completely cohesive work that is set in five moments, following the experiences of Haiti and its people on January 12, 2010. “Wongolo” introduces the people and culture of Haiti through this opening movement, a folk melody of Haiti.  “Devastation” encapsulated the destruction wrought by the late afternoon 7.0 jolt by evoking its effect upon the Haitian people. “The Aftermath” takes us through those tentative moments after the shaking stopped, through the multitude if aftershocks, the search and rescue efforts, the grieving for the lost and the reunion of the survivors; its gentle melody an emotional touchstone for our shared humanity.  The movement also focuses on the resiliency of the Haitian people by reprising “Wongolo” in a powerful cry of unity.  “Rebuilding” observes the restoration of damaged communities and infrastructure, embraces humanitarian aid to Haiti, and celebrates the enduring resolution of this island nation to carry on, a theme which is jubilantly continued and celebrated in the closing movement, “Hope,” as it captures the human spirit in both the Haitian people and the kind hearts of generous peoples around the world, even as it encourages that aid and support of Haiti be continued (many aid commitments have reportedly been abandoned; see Wikipedia for details on the quake and its aftermath). The 50-minute long Symphony is followed by three tracks from Haitian artists, including a spoken reading and two Haitian folk songs newly recorded in Los Angeles.  The sum total is a breathtaking musical work embedded with a spirit of generosity, caring, and common humanity, focused on the people, land, and culture of Haiti even while it inspires the hearts of people everywhere.
A short trailer on the project is available on the site at www.haitisymphony.com

BENEATH THE BLUE/Alan Derian/Alan Derian
In 2007, Alan Derian scored Michael D. Sellers’ EYE OF THE DOLPHIN, a coming-of-age drama about a young girl who discovers she can communicate with dolphins.  The story is carried over into its sequel, BENEATH THE BLUE, for which Alan Derian has composed a sensitive and melodic score which he has made available on iTunes and on CD from cdbaby.  The new film stars David Keith, Michael Ironside, and George Harris, and is about dolphin experts who confront the US Navy when its sonar program is suspected of causing the animals' deaths.  Derian’s music attains a compelling sound with a depth of orchestration that is quite expressive; the score is melody-driven and nicely fits the film’s oceanic environment while supporting both its action and its heartfelt moments of personal drama.  “The film was nice in that there are long sections with visuals only, so it gave me the opportunity to open up with the writing,” Derian said about scoring the film.  The score works very well on the album; Derian has comprised each track of a number of short cues which blend together into a fine listening program.  While it has its moments of quiet, unobtrusive reflection, the score also manages to soar beautifully, saturated with heartfelt melodies and bold arrangements, evoking the gentleness of a family drama without sacrificing the aggression of making its action scenes potent and perilous.  The main theme, introduced in “Main Titles” and reprised frequently, is a lovely melody alternately taken by French horn and strings, dappled by splashes of acoustic guitar and reflective glimmers of piano, bright and shiny as a day on a calm sea.  The motif is associated with Rasca and the dolphins, expanded in “Spirit of the Dolphins” to reflect the natural harmony of the cetaceans and their unity with Alyssa and her family.  The score reaches darker depths in “Deep Dive and Rescue” when Alyssa suffers respiratory arrest during a dive; Derian obliges this drama with halting, pensive cycles of piano and strings that roll percussively via somber oboe strains and a whispered chorus into a dramatic propulsion of drum-inflected horn figures, provoking a powerful apprehension that gives way to sustained strings and voices that suggest Alyssa’s unconsciousness; continual rolls of drums and strings accommodate the rescue and removal of Alyssa to hospital.  The main theme is reprised for gentle piano and winds as Alyssa recovers and Rasca misses his two-legged companion; Rasca’s abduction and rescue (the latter accomplished over a vivid 10-minute track combining twelve short cues) are scored for bold strokes of orchestration, propelled with beaten drums and triumphant crescendos of the main theme.  In its generous melodies and poignant harmonies, Derian’s BENEATH THE BLUE is a captivating score and an impressive effort for a first soundtrack album release.
For more on the composer, see: http://www.alanderian.com/

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI/Eban Schletter/Netherota
For David Lee Fisher’s respectful 2005 remake of the German expressionist classic, Eban Schletter (DRAWN TOGETHER, BATTLEBOTS; see interview in my May 19 2010 column) has provided a somber intonation that seems to capture much of the mood of Robert Wiene’s celebrated 1920 film, which Fisher was clearly emulating even while updating (he shot the film on greenscreen in order to insert his cast into of Wiene’s original backgrounds).  “What I tried to do was create a sonic insanity which was still rooted in a ‘classic film’ world,” Schletter said about the score.  “I wanted a melodic theme that reflected the mental struggle of the main character, Francis. The melody would rise, then fall, then rise again, only to fall again… On top of that, I wanted to create a layer of disturbed voices and sounds – an unnerving sonic shroud over which the melody could ride, or which could simply take over when appropriate - wafting through this bizarre world and echoing in Francis’ mind.”  Schletter’s approach is one of atmosphere rather than melody, which is just what this subject needs, where it’s emulating Wiene or Fisher.  With track titles like “Despair,” “Murder,” “Cemetery,” and “Abduction,” the musical tone is extremely dark Gothic.  The music is fairly dour through the film’s first half, evoking the somnambulant gait of Caligari’s henchman, Cesare, and Wiene’s disconsolate mood is eloquently crafted.  The score maintains an oppressive atmosphere through the fusion of string quartet (sometimes quadrupled digitally to evoke a whole string section), low, morose bass clarinet (played by the composer), er-hu, a very subtle Theremin, and that nightmarish barrage of sampled voices and synthetic sounds.  This is especially notable in “Dies Irae” which, far from simulating the plainsong identified with the Catholic Mass of the Dead (that relentless walking cadence from so many horror movie scores), is a conglomeration of clapping, chanting voices, roaring synth undulations, dizzying piano string clawings and wicked fiddle scratchings; a hellish landscape of nightmare brought to life in decaying color.  The diabolical doctor is captured in the same cacophonous strokes in “Caligari.”  Schletter embodies “Caligari’s Carnival” in an array of unhappy tubular bells and other clanking percussion and sour keyboards – and those extruding layers of sampled disturbiana, enveloping the dark festivity in a dismal carpet of heavy fog.  Oddly, it is “Abduction” that proffers the first light music of the soundtrack, with a religious choral adagio that sets itself against the dark somberness of Schletter’s “Dies Irae” footsteps, which soon overpower the innocent victim of light as she is gathered up and taken away by the avatar of Caligari’s desire; that light tonality is immersed in a hopeless aria from string quartet in “What Can Not Be,” a lyrical melody saturated in resolute despondency.  The score’s finest moment – and what everything before it has been surely progressing to, is the musical epiphany of “Revelation,” which finds the dour keyboard passages joining with the light intonations of choir as the story’s climax reveals the mad confines of the characters’ true environment; after which, in “My Beloved Jane,” the cheerless chords of “Dies Irae” become a melancholic remembrance of tenacity and affection.  The score by itself, then, assumes a journey similar to the psychological terrain traversed by the film, ensnared by nightmare to ultimately wake into light; with Schletter’s landscape of musical woe and chaos concluding “Arise Caligari” with grim hope for Cesare’s fate.  “End Title” caps the score with a concise recapitulation of all that has gone before.  This is an elaborately designed, often discordant, but quite fascinating score, every bit as expressively expressionistic as the story it supports, and would be a most suitable accompaniment to Weine’s CABINET as to Fisher’s.

Chris’ Soundtrack Corner

From Germany comes this premiere archival release of a very cool 1978 Eurospy thriller.  David Janssen (in one of his final roles; he died prematurely in 1980) stars as a former CIA agent spending his retirement writing cheesy books in Greece that wind up raising the ire of his former employer – and others.  The prolific Stelvio Cipriani scored the film with his usual blend of pop tunes and impressionistic textural patterns that give the film a distinctive sonic underbelly, with the occasional Hellenic folk tune such as ZORBA-like “Journey to Athens” and “Athens Reprise.” Euroscore expert John Bender explains, in his characteristically informative and comprehensive album notes, that “Cipriani’s score… is a prime example of this artist’s unique compositional methodology, and wonderfully demonstrates his generous nature as regards full-form themes and imaginative solutions to the fictional narrative’s unending stream of people, places, and circumstances.”  The album is an expanded CD reissue of the 1978 Beat LP “Enfantasme” which included only four tracks from this film (three of them variations of the main theme); this generous 18-track release of the score provides a far richer helping of the music in its varied nuances and colorations.  Dominated by electric guitars, Cipriani supports the story’s environmental flavors as well as its action and suspense while also embodying Janssen’s character with a dour, melancholy theme and reflects his loneliness and narcissism, as reflected in “C.I.A. Agent” and “The Old Spy.”  The main theme is pure Cipriani, opening the film (and then sustaining it through reappearance in “Investigation Rhythm,” “Sad Death,” “Lester’s Book,” “Another Sad Death,” and especially the sweet fragrances of “Lester and Anna”) with an attitude of romance through its delectable melody and presentation.  The main theme in its purist form (in what Bender describes as “cosmopolitan orchestration) is heard most explicitly in the Main and End Title tune, “Relax.”  Cipriani uses pop and lounge musical formats the way other composers use symphonic orchestras – the result is not simply unassociated rhythms playing along with whatever action happens to be occurring on the screen; Cipriani’s pop patterns become rhythmic ambiances that lay down progressive vibes and jazz/pop-laden impressions that give the film’s action, chase, and suspense moments a distinctive modernistic style that works well on screen and resonates pleasingly on disc.  Sliding layers of strings build an unsettling foreboding in “Programmed Man.”  The aforementioned “Investigation Rhythm” formulates Janssen’s theme into a sustained atmosphere of guitar, bass, and drums that serves as a rhythm piece behind a nearly 4-minute scene where Janssen develops a set of incriminating photographs and identifies a killer. In “Murder in Athens” a mélange of bass guitar figures and plucked electric guitar designs over a rustling oscillation of cymbals, establishes a pensive anticipation of calamity while “Dangerous Moments” fills a raucous running motor of guitar and bass with a flurry of piping flutes and bongos to build a very potent progression for a pair of back-to-back chase scenes (the flutes and bass are explored further in “Acropolis Fight”).  A fine 70’s styled Italian thriller score.

DAYS OF HEAVEN/Ennio Morricone/FSM
In this Silver Age Classics release, FSM regenerates one of Morricone’s finest scores of the 1970s and finally gives it its due.  After director Terrence Malick hired Morricone to score his broad period drama, he elected to use only a few tracks in combination with a mix of pre-existing recordings that he felt would better serve his film’s sense of originality than relying on a conventional type of film score.  Thus one of the most serenely beautiful scores to emerge from Morricone’s imagination would be relegated to bits and pieces, relocated throughout the film (to his credit, Malick reportedly requested and received Morricone’s permission to do this first) and jostling for space among classical bits, modern and period folk tunes, and the like.  (Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall explain in detail how the score ended up the way it did in the film and on the album, along with comprehensive track-by-track notes, in the 16-page accompanying booklet.)  Mixed on the original 1978 Pacific Arts soundtrack LP among a variety of classical and folk tunes heard in the film, the dramatic progression of Morricone’s score was lost as it was sequenced between distracting tracks.  The LP’s nine score tracks were later paired up with eleven tracks from TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA on a 1994 CD from Legend; still an uneven match as each score had little in common with the other.  In this two-CD package, FSM proffers both the original soundtrack presentation in its original 1978 sequence, the Morricone cues as they were heard in the finished film (without replicating abridgements and repetitions of certain selections that Malick had done), and on the second disc a program of most of Morricone’s score as it was originally recorded; the latter in particular reflects just how diverse and passionately beautiful the score is.  The music is based on a trio of primary themes – a “main theme” that purposefully references a bit of Saint-Saëns’s “Aquarium” (Carnival of the Animals) that Malick wanted to use to open the film, an optimistic, pastoral flute melody, and an elegiac love theme.  These elements are variegated throughout the score, providing a sublime score that evokes a strong nostalgic feeling of period and place – and of passion; it remains, certainly on disc if not as effectively on screen, among the finest compositions in the composer’s filmography.  It’s a rare delight to appreciate it so fully in this carefully wrought representation.

FOREVER YOUNG/Jerry Goldsmith/La-La Land
In one of two significantly expanded Jerry Goldsmith scores to hit the marketplace from La-La Land this month (the other being the score to the spousal abuse drama SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY), the music to FOREVER YOUNG, a gentle romantic fantasy about suspended animation and seemingly thwarted love comprises one of Goldsmith’s loveliest lyrical themes and a powerhouse adventure score that even in its more energetic moments retains the graceful sensitivity with is the focus of story and film.  FOREVER YOUNG is a tale of seemingly lost love and resulting despondency that convinces a heartbroken airman (Mel Gibson) to agree to a risky suspended animation experiment that shuffles him into his elderly future as a young man only to discover the promise of lost love renewed.  Goldsmith sonically visualizes the film through the airman’s eyes (and heart), and tempers every moment of the score with the sensitivity of a lonely soul forever young and seemingly forever lost.  The exhilaration he feels when he teaches a fatherless young buy to fly in a wooden airplane (“The Tree House”) adds yet another nuance to the score, as does “She’s Alive” where Gibson’s character is renewed with spirit and hope.  The arc of both story and score are completed with “Reunited” as the orchestral urgency that opened the film with “Test Flight” are re-energized, but with the added passion of desperate love and urgency.  Heartier moments of action or drama, such as “The Experiment,” seethe with brassy excitement but remain subservient to the sympathetic flutes that sustain its romantic focus as Gibson’s character is constantly reminded of his lost romance.  Goldsmith’s soaring string writing is at its highest peak for both flight and fancy, yet he grounds even his most soaring melodies with the heartfelt honesty of true romance.  The album expands the original soundtrack release (issued with 10 score tracks by Big Screen Records in 1992) to a full 22 score tracks and then adds another nine alternate or album versions of designated cues.  It also brings in the 1938 Billie Holiday recording of “The Very Thought of You,” a source cue used in the film to reflect the airman’s bond with (and later, memory of) his love, concluding the album with it as Big Screen had done in 1992.  Detailed notes by Daniel Schweiger enhance the package by putting both film and score in their historical and canonical perspective, and proffering valuable track-by-track commentary.

FRIGHT NIGHT/Ramin Djawadi/Varese Sarabande
Bracketed by the beautiful cliché of a Gothic sounding organ, piping away in a modernistic vibe, Ramin Djawadi’s music for Craig Gillespie’s remake of the ‘80s pop horror classic, FRIGHT NIGHT, maintains the sense of fun-flavored fear that made the original film (and its Brad Fiedel score) so memorable.  Djawadi effectively captures traditional and modern elements in his score, which prowls from the weight of heavy organ and string voicings to pounding percussive action riffing, spooky female voices and choir, heavy metal guitars, and a delightful main and end title scherzo featuring nearly all of the above in vaguely Zimmeresque fashion.  There’s something almost Williams/DRACULA-esque in Djawadi’s eloquently flavored melodic descents in “A Terrible Vampire Name” and “400 Years of Survival,” as he keys in on the Gothic legendry of vampirism, adding a cool contrast to his Mercado marches and trashing guitars just as the eerie female voices who interpret the same motif in “400 Years of Survival” and “Enough with the Vampires” represent the modern, seductively alluring vampiress.  Pensive suspense cues like “No House, No Invitation” and “Tat’s A Mighty Big Cross” intone like dripping sinews of thick blood from strings and winds, eventually building into a festering scramble of beaten rhythms, punctuated by requisite slams of percussion and intricate electronic timbres.  It’s an interesting score throughout, in both its persuasive sensations of peril and its more playful grimaces, not to mention the grim effervescence of its Main Theme. Along with GAME OF THRONES (also recently issued on Varese Sarabande), Djawadi has come a long way since the thrashing rhythmatics of IRON MAN; both scores exhibit a preponderance of nuanced technique, melody, and textures that are quite pleasing.  FRIGHT NIGHT is especially entertaining in his festive ferocity and heavy, Gothic patterns.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT/Aaron Zigman/Lakeshore
Available digitally from Lakeshore Records on October 11th and in stores on November 01, 2011, Aaron Zigman’s latest romantic comedy score is just the kind of thing this type of film needs.  While surveying no new ground, it’s an entirely appealing and satisfying breeze of contemporary melodies without sacrificing honest moments of drama and reflection.  Zigman provides both the bright melodies necessary to keep the story upbeat while escorting the characters’ journeys into self-doubt, deliberation, and ultimately redemption and romantic happiness.  Based on the bestseller by Allison Pearson, I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES ITfollows the long days and sleep-deprived nights of Kate, a Boston-based working mother trying desperately to juggle marriage, children, and a high-stress job. The film stars Jessica Parker (whom Zigman scored in both SEX AND THE CITY films) along with Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan.  The score’s primary motives capture a very similar tone and catchy vibe reflective of Kate and her fast-moving life-style: The driving riff introduced in the second half of “Snowing” and reprised in “Right To Worry” is a breezy melody driven by light drums and pouncing notes from piano, fully engaging and suggests the positive demeanor with which Kate endures her active life.  The buoyant guitar-based tune introduced in “To Cleveland” over heavy raps of snare drum boast of assertiveness.  The motif heard in “Off To Work” and again in “This Is Ambitious” is a sunny afternoon skip, colorfully presented on light strings dappled with bass and percussion.  All of these motifs delineate the positive site of Kate; but her life of course casts a weary shadow, which Zigman has reflected in the more tenuous piano and guitar figures of “Kate Leaves – I Have to Go,” “In Pantry,” “Are You Done,” and “Can’t Go On,” in the pensive romantic inclinations of “Meet Jack,” and in the very poignant and reflective “Make a Snowman.”  Zigman paints a heartfelt musical portrait of Kate and her lifestyle and makes her story all the more real.  The score sounds fine as a pleasing melodic journey through familiar emotions.  What’s especially fun about the score are tracks like “Shoogie,” a deliciously toe-tapping number with a slapping beat and breezy, and the enormously satisfying moments when Zigman elevates Kate’s self-assurance to its triumphant peak, in the latter half of “Snowing,” “To Cleveland,” and the gentle satisfaction of “Tucking In Kids.”

PRIMEVAL/Dominik Scherrer/MovieScore Media
I’m especially glad to see Dominik Scherrer’s music from this British science fiction TV series reach release on album, having championed the show and its score for many years The show, which debuted in 2007 (all five seasons thus far are available on DVD), is exciting sci-fi about the exploration of random “anomalies” that open windows in time, allowing ancient – and future – creatures to emerge into our world, and the government agency charged with tracking and containing these anomalies.  A fine cast, terrific stories with a compelling arc running through them, convincing CGI special effects, and an exciting musical score made for a most entertaining show (Scherrer scored the theme and the first three seasons; when the show moved production to Ireland it switched to Irish composer Stephen McKeon).  MSM’s new soundtrack release features more than 75 minutes of music from Scherrer’s three seasons’ worth of scores. About his rousing orchestral music for the series, Dominik Scherrer said that ”on a show like PRIMEVALthe music does quite a lot, and there is also quite a lot of it – perhaps around eighty-five percent of screen time is scored, sometimes it may just be a little pulse in the background, other times full orchestral action extravagance.” Scherrer’s music for PRIMEVAL is as graceful as it is propulsive, built around a signature theme for the show that emphasizes the awesomeness of encountering the majestic creatures of prehistory.  About his theme, Scherrer explained that ”the central feel is that of majesty and adventure, reflecting the momentous occasion of mankind linking up with the pre-historic past and also the majesty of the creatures themselves – they are dangerous and wonderful.”  There are no real subordinate character themes; Scherrer preferred to accommodate story arcs, such as Professor Cutter’s quest for his lost wife, who is missing into another era in time in Season 1, Cutter’s romantic inclinations towards Claudia/Jenny beset by a change in the timeline during a trip into the anomaly, or the lighthearted romantic subplots between Abby and Connor.  With the increase in tone from a pure dinosaur fantasy into a maze of conspiracy and secret government agencies vying for control of the anomalies in Seasons 2 and 3, the score got a little darker and a little scarier, but the music always remained accessible, highly orchestral, and vibrantly dramatic, with subtle nuances of electronic texture added for tonal effect (such as the playoff between synths and violins in “Infected”).  Action cues like “Smilodon Attack” “Silurian Scorpions,” and “Gorgonopsid vs Future Predator” are vividly exciting, often enhanced by choral elements, while more sensitive moments such as “Tom Dies,” “Stay With Me,” and “Jenny Lewis” are treated with poignancy and sensitivity.  With most of the show’s episodes containing their own unique overall thematic structure, the score as represented on disc has a wide variety of musical construction and is far from being a collection of variations on a main theme or two, albeit one built out of a similar orchestral architecture.  I am thoroughly pleased with this rendering of PRIMEVA; the music cues have been nicely resequenced to lend a progressive contrast between action scenes of creature incursions and interpersonal dramatic moments, and the music is continually accessible, engaging, and stimulating. 
(Read my interview with Scherrer about this TV score about half way down in my Feb 25, 2010 column). 

RIO/John Powell/Varese Sarabande
With a songtrack album, released by Interscope, featuring the film’s mix of Brazilian pop, jazz, hip-hop and the like, Varese Sarabande now properly provides the film’s score in this captivating album.  Powell touches on Brazilian/Rio musical traditions in a couple of cues (“Meet Tulio” is enchanting in this regard), and waxes comedically here and there to match and support some of the film’s extravagant comedy and comedic-action moments (“Chained Chase,” “Idiot Glider,” “Birdnapped’), but the true crux of the score is its engaging main theme, which is a truly masterful melody that really entwines itself around the story.  By turns, it’s exhilarating, adventurous, rapturous, and always heartfelt.  The motif is dexterously threaded throughout the score’s action and comedy moments like the graceful flight of a gorgeously feathered macaw, set among a breadth of musical colors that are as vividly affecting as the film’s landscape of jaw-dropping animated visualizations.  RIO’s structure is constantly changing and moving forward, with just enough melodic content to keep the music in step, in flight, and in tune.  It’s a busy score, with some cues traipsing through a parade of adventure(“Birdnapping” is especially wild in this regard, and enthrallingly so), but Powell keeps it cohesive through the coordinating strength of his main theme and through deft orchestration that often turns on a dime (or a couple of Brazilian reais), with a payoff as dazzling as the soaring melodies and crescendos of the climactic “Flying.”  With his continued expertise in grafting affecting and exhilarating music onto these larger-than-life animated features like the last three ICE AGE movies, MARS NEEDS MOMS, and the should-have-won-the-Oscar HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Powell ‘s ability to be adept, exciting, and affecting seems boundless.  Just when I decide I am fed up with another summer’s worth of interchangeable anthropomorphic animal adventures, I try just one more and wind up being completely enchanted and entertained; and it usually has a John Powell score to keep the heart singing and the eyes misty. RIO is all of that, with a cornucopia of Carnivale.


Soundtrack & Music News

Howe Records has released Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra & Chorus.  The album was recorded live in concert in Lucerne Switzerland this past February in partnership with Bavarian Radio. The Symphony is a six-movement piece spanning Howard Shores three film scores was created from the nearly 12 hours of music composed by Shore for the film trilogy.  The six movements reflect each of the six books of The Lord of the Rings.  The Symphonywas performed by the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra & Chorus under the direction of Ludwig Wicki.  “Maestro Ludwig Wicki personally selected the musicians who comprise The 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and who perform on this recording,” said Shore. “Over the past four years he has perfected this music in Lucerne, Switzerland. His precision and supreme musicianship is evident throughout the recording. I congratulate him on his success and thank him for his masterful approach in bringing this score to life.”

John Williams’ score for Spielberg’s THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN will be out on CD in the US on December 13th (not November 1st as was reported previously), although comes out in Japan and the UK on October 24th. The UK edition can be pre-ordered on amazon.co.uk

Varese Sarabande will release Marco Beltrami’s music for the remake of THE THING on October 11th (also see my next column, posting around the same time, for an interview with Beltrami about that score).  The same day will also see soundtrack CDs of John Debney’s DREAM HOUSE and Mark Isham’s DOLPHIN TALE.  October 25 will see Ilan Eshkeri’s spy comedy score from JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN. Digital released on iTunes, etc, are usually available sooner.

La-La Land Records, in association with Sony Music and NBC Universal, presents the remastered and expanded 2-CD set of Academy Award-Winning composer John Williams' marching and swinging score to Steven Spielberg’s 1979 comedy spectacular 1941. Williams provides a delightful, full-on orchestra assault (featuring one of the most infectious marches ever written for film) to compliment this cult-classic's slap-stick tapestry of WWII-era paranoia exploding in Hollywood. Produced by Mike Matessino, Didier C. Deutsch and Mark G. Wilder, remixed and assembled by Mike Matessino and mastered by Mark G. Wilder, this special release is expanded by more than 70 minutes with never-before-released music, including alternates and source cues. The original 1979 album presentation is also presented on disc 2, remastered. 1941 Re-issue producer Mike Matessino provides exclusive, in-depth liner notes. Limited Edition of 3500 Units. La-La Land has also released the Bear McCreary’s soundtrack to the super hero TV show, THE CAPE.  See www.lalalandrecords.com

British composer Stephen Warbeck, who won an Academy Award for his Shakespeare in Love score in 1999, has composed an exquisite orchestral score for PRINCESS KA’IULANI, Marc Forby’s historical drama telling the true story of Princess Ka’iulani’s attempts to maintain the independence of Hawaii against the threat of American colonization at the end of the 19th century. MovieScore Media has reached an agreement with Island Film Group to release the sweeping, romantic soundtrack both on CD and digitally online. See http://www.moviescoremedia.com

England’s Harkit Records has reissued their inaugural release, an expanded edition of the soundtrack to 1968’s BARBARELLA.  Jane Fonda filled the cat suit as "Barbarella - Queen Of The Galaxy" in what is considered by many to be one of the most influential sci-fi movies of the 20th century.  The music, by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox, has become an icon of late ‘60s pop sci-fi filmscoring.  Harkit’s new version features the original title sequence as well as an alternate version of the main theme by Bob Crewe's Glitterhouse. The lavishly illustrated accompanying booklet also features a detailed essay on the film and its score by some writer named Larson.

Marco Beltrami has been hired to score the upcoming gothic horror thriller THE WOMAN IN BLACK. The movie is directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) and stars Daniel Radcliffe as a young lawyer who travels to a remote village in England to tend to a deceased client’s papers and soon begins to discover town’s terrible secrets. Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey and Liz White are co-starring. – via FilmMusicReporter.com

BSX Records is releasing a significant new interpretation of Bear McCreary’s impressive and influential music to the reimagined BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV series.  The Music of Battlestar Galactica For Solo Piano is a two-disc set featuring piano performances by Joohyun Park from Bear McCreary’s own solo piano arrangements.  McCreary, himself a skilled pianist, personally translated his acclaimed, world music-influenced orchestral score into unique piano solo arrangements.  “At last, fans can now be a part of the musical process themselves and experience the score as I first did: with fingertips touching the ivories,” described McCreary. “When I was recording,” said pianist Park, “I was focusing on expressing the feeling of the original tracks from the point of view of a classical pianist. Powerful but not overwhelming, calm but not boring, executing those beautiful grooves with accuracy and making the aggressive passages sound truly massive.” McCreary performed these pieces and recorded many as videos uploaded to his YouTube library.  “As I learned the pieces, I realized that another artist would be able to bring a new interpretation to these works,” he explained. “My performances, though technically correct, are strongly influenced by the studio recordings I spent years producing.  I was thrilled to collaborate with Joohyun Park because she breathed new life into these compositions.  Under her expert fingers, these pieces thrive as works for solo piano, not just pared down versions of larger orchestrations. Listening to her feel the music and re-interpret it was a real thrill during the making of this album.”
See: http://buysoundtrax.stores.yahoo.net/muofbagafors.html

Silva Screen records continues its reissues of Roy Budd’s soundtrack catalog with his debut score, the controversial western SOLDIER BLUE. The release will also include music from CATLOW and ZEPPELIN plus the CD debut of two tracks from the British comedy THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN DEADLY SINS. The label has also released Alberto Iglesias’ score to the remake of John le Carre’s TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY.  Tomas Alfredson (known for the Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN) directs this remake of the 1979 TV drama starring Alec Guinness. See http://www.silvascreen.com/

Quartet Records of Spain has announced a new CD reissue combining two classic Nino Rota scores for Fellini on one CD: SATYRICON (1969) and ROMA (1972).  For the former, a film based on the fragmented novel by Petronius, Rota composed one of his most unusual scores for the film, evoking barbaric rhythms and ancient-sounding instruments to underscore the colorful visual cacophony of the film.  The score’s only previous CD release, as part of several Fellini-Rota compilations in Europe and Japan, was reportedly produced from LP sources, whereas Quartet’s new this CD release has been mastered from the first generation stereo master tapes, recently discovered in the vaults of EMI Italy. With ROMA, Fellini created a lively portrait of Rome through a number of unrelated vignettes; Rota’s score varies from a compelling and recurring theme to a number of colorful musical sequences; Quartet provides Rota’s complete score as used in the film; albeit in monophonic as it was recorded for and heard in the film (stereo versions on LP and compilations were re-recorded, not film soundtrack).  The CD is lavishly illustrated 24-page full color booklet contains an essay by Gergely Hubai that gives a brief overview of the Fellini/Rota collaboration in addition to detailed essays on both films and scores.
See: http://www.quartetrecords.com

Italy’s Digitmovies has announced its new releases for October: including Claudio Gizzi’s music for FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN and BLOOD FOR DRACULA (known in the US as ANDY WARHOL’S FRANKENSTEIN and ANDY WARHOL’S DRACULA) combined on a single release, premiere stereo CD releases of Carlo Savina’s music, from the crime thriller INDAGINE SU UN DELITTO PERFETTO (aka THE PERFECT CRIME, 1978), and two Italian Westerns I SENZA DIO (1972; THUNDER OVER EL PASO) and …E INTORNO A LUI FU MORTE (1968; aka DEATH KNOWS NO TIME), and Luis Bacalov’s comedy-Western score for SI PUO FARE AMIGO (1972; CAN BE DONE).
See: http://www.digitmovies.com

While waiting for a sequel to SHARKTOPUS to wrap itself onto TV and home theater screens, feast your mind on the new sci-fi horror thriller from Asylum that breaks water on January 12: 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK. When a Semester at Sea ship is sunk by a mutated two-headed shark, the survivors escape to a deserted atoll. But when it starts flooding, the coeds are no longer safe from the double jaws of the monster. Chris Ridenhour (MEGA SHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS) is providing the energetic and exciting score.  See: http://www.theasylum.cc/product.php?id=194
Speaking of Ridenhour, his sensitive score for THE DEPOSITION, a mystery drama, has been released on iTunes.

The new show by Cirque Du Soleil, called Iris, features music by Danny Elfman. The show opened last week at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles and is scheduled to run for ten years.  The show takes a unique look at the history of cinema and combining that with Cirque du Soleil's traditional artistic works of dance, acrobatics, and modern circus traditions. A number of promotional videos about the show and its score have been posted at http://ojonovel.posterous.com/iris-cirque-du-soleil
See the Billboard interview with Elfman about Iris.

The Soundtrack and CinemaScore Archives web site continues to post significant interviews from the legacy of Soundtrack Magazine (1975-2002) and CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal (1980-1987), with recent additions such as interviews with Mark Isham on TROUBLE IN MIND, Riz Ortolani on CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, and David Newman on GALAXY QUEST.  The site also posts new reviews and original interviews.  See http://www.runmovies.eu/


Games Music News

Steve Jablonsky had scored Epic Games’ Gears of War® 3, is the spectacular conclusion to the celebrated video game saga. Developed exclusively for Xbox 360, Gears of War 3 plunges players into a harrowing tale of hope, survival and brotherhood. Released to retailers and for digital download from the usual sites, Jablonsky (who also wrote the music for Gears of War 2) created nearly 80 minutes of new music for the latest installment of the franchise. The score is an impressive organic and electronic hybrid mix featuring live orchestra and choir performed by the Northwest Sinfonia and mixed by Remote Control Productions.  “Gears of War 3 is huge,” said Jablonsky. “It was like scoring a summer blockbuster. I love the guys at Epic because to them, the characters and the story are just as important as the gameplay. Yes, the gameplay is awesome and badass, but there is a ton of depth to these characters, and I think that's a big part of why so many people love this franchise. Epic's commitment to story allows me to dig deeper musically and really have some fun with the score.”  The Gears of War 3 soundtrack tops 118 minutes with a surging, driving, exciting score written in Jablonsky’s finest style, with massive choirs and thunderous drums accelerating the epic drama of the profuse orchestrations.  It’s a thick, heavy score that mirrors the machinery of warfare with the heroic actions of its characters, post-apocalyptic survivors who make one last push against their enemy that will ultimately decide the fate of humanity.

Jeremy Soules’ powerful score for Elder Scrolls III: Morrowwind as well as is Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are both available online from https://www.directsong.com/index.php#/shop/product/MW101b. The game is a heroic fantasy open-ended single-player game; Soules’ epic styled orchestral scores help to immerse the player in the gaming environment.  On both soundtrack discs, the music breathes strongly with soaring melodies, booming drums, and strident surges of brass and sprinting string runs; its engaging main theme, emphasized on both game scores, is attractive and powerful.

Assassin's Creed® Revelations, the fourth installment in Ubisoft's immensely popular video game franchise, features in-game music written and composed by Jesper Kyd (who wrote the acclaimed music for the first three Assassin's Creed games) as well as music for the new game's Main Theme, cutscenes, and multiplayer music composed and produced by Lorne Balfe. To reflect the story's multicultural setting of 16th Century Constantinople, the composers have crafted a rich and evocative hybrid music score drawing on Greek, Renaissance and Middle-Eastern instrumentation. Assasosin's Creed Revelations will be available on November 15, 2011 for Xbox 360®, PLAYSTATION®3 and PC. A soundtrack is planned for release with the game.
See: www.assassinscreed.com.

Award-winning soundtrack composer, producer and recording artist Rod Abernethy has crafted the original music score for id Software's post-apocalyptic world in RAGE™, the latest game from the acclaimed designers of such classics as the Wolfenstein®, DOOM®, and QUAKE® series. Abernethy brought an immersive hybrid approach to scoring the highly anticipated blockbuster, employing traditional acoustic instrumentation and mixing experimental electronic sounds. RAGE is a groundbreaking first-person shooter set in the not-too-distant future after an asteroid impacts Earth, leaving a ravaged world behind; the game is scheduled to release for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 4th in North America and October 7th in Europe.  “Rod has created an authentic music palette for RAGE and delivered a unique score that elevates the immersive quality of our game,” said Tim Willits, Creative Director for RAGE at id Software.  Added Christian Antkow, Audio Lead for RAGE, “Rod has an uncanny ability to take a hint of an idea and make it flourish into a fully formed composition that adds the final layer of polish, helping to bridge the gap from a game to a complete cinematic experience.”
See: www.RAGE.com.

Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc. the original music score from  presents Relic Entertainment’s critically acclaimed 3rd person action/shooter, Warhammer® 40,000®: Space Marine®.  The soundtrack was released on September 20th to retail outlets and for digital download at www.sumthingdigital.com, Amazon MP3, iTunes® and other digital music sites.

Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine.  A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer.  He now writes for CinefantastiqueOnline and has written liner notes for more than 70 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, Percepto, Perseverance, Harkit, and BSX Records.  For more information, see: www.myspace.com/larsonrdl  A massively re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique will be published this Spring, see: www.creaturefeatures.com/products/books/musique-fantastique/

Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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