Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2011-11
October 23, 2011

By Randall D. Larson

Horror and science fiction films continue to be a welcome although not totally exclusive mainstay in Marco Beltrami’s filmography.  The composer made his mark in the genre scoring Wes Craven’s SCREAM in 1996; he went on to score all of Craven’s sequels, up to and including the recently released SCREAM 4, and worked frequently with Guillermo del Toro on MIMIC, BLADE II, HELLBOY (he didn’t score HELLBOY 2 because del Toro wanted the chance to work with Danny Elfman) and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, and provided notably creepy scores for horror remakes like THE OMEN, THE EYE, and sci-fi extravaganzas like TERMINATOR 3 and I, ROBOT, focusing in each on harmony and melodic development.  I spoke to Beltrami recently about SCREAM 4 and THE THING and a couple of other projects.

Q: What was your biggest challenge on SCREAM 4?   What was it like revisiting the franchise after eleven years and being asked to carry the same sort of sensibility along?

Beltrami: The biggest challenge was that they did not have money to have an orchestra!  My budget was less I had than SCREAM 2, and it was wall-to-wall music!  What I discussed with Wes was doing the same thing we had done the other movies, with an orchestral score.  I had to record out of the country, because I wasn’t able to use the Hollywood players that had done such a great job on the other scores for me.  In a film like this, where so much of the writing is based on extended technique and extreme playing, one of my biggest challenges was how to overcome that.  I listen to it now and I can hear some of the problems with that, but luckily I had a great team of people working with me, orchestrating and helping.  I'm happy with how it came off, and certainly the studio was.

Q: Where did you go to record it?

Beltrami: It was in Bratislava.

Q: At least you weren't stuck with the sample score.  The music has a very organic texture.

Beltrami: It's a combination.  Sometimes I had to rely on samples to carry us through when it should have been orchestral. The time factor was also tough.  In the previous scores I had a lot of time with Wes to talk about stuff, and on this he was so bogged down with getting the picture ready on a very tight schedule he really didn't have much time, I think we met once to spot the movie and that was it. That's always a bit of a challenge for me – I like to share ideas on a more leisurely schedule with the director and maybe try some unusual things.  But we both knew what this score needed to achieve, and I think it definitely achieves that. The pressure can sometimes get kind of hectic.

Q: Would you describe the score’s thematic organization?  Are there new themes mixed in with those from the previous SCREAM films?

Beltrami: There are no real new themes.  I use, certainly, Sidney's theme, and that develops in new ways because of the nature of this copycat killer.  That worked with twisting Sidney's theme, harmonically and melodically, in ways that made it fun.  That’s woven throughout the score. Other themes were lifted from the other scores, like the music for the schoolyard and some of the low whistling stuff for Ghostface, but in terms of actual musical development, Sidney's theme is probably the thing that had the most development.

Q: Now when you’re faced with a film like this, which is a light, fun take on horror as opposed to something that's purely dark such as THE EYE or THE OMEN, do you approach it in a slightly different way when you're dealing with the horror versus the more fun, self-referential elements of the film?

Beltrami: One of the reasons it's fun is that I can really afford to be over the top little bit. So, yeah, you're very much aware when you're writing the scene –at the beginning, the first real kill in the movie with the garage door, that's way overly dramatic, and if that type of scene were in one of those other movies you mentioned it would probably be score completely differently, but the fact that it's SCREAM movie, I played with that little bit.

Q: Now, in THE THING, how are you approaching this?  Like SCREAM it’s got a musical pedigree, although it’s a prequel rather than a sequel to the 1982 Carpenter film.  Did you feel obligated to refer to what's gone before musically?

Beltrami: I definitely did a little homage to the Morricone score.  Unless it was a direct copy of what he did, though, it's pretty much just a musical heartbeat.  Another thing that struck me first was the isolation of the Antarctic landscape and the creature itself assimilating from the people that it encounters.  All this led thematically to have three motives. One was the wind itself that's ever present in that environment; another was this loneliness theme that turns into Kate's theme, because she becomes the lone hero; and then also this monster motive.  The way we handled this was, first of all, to work with the wind.  I was able to get the sound of the wind from the sound department, and we also recorded some wind up here at the studio – we get these Santa Ana winds that blow pretty hard up here, and we put some bottles outside and put microphones in them to capture the sound of the wind.  We were able to tune it and use it as a harmonic element, so the first thing you hear right when the movie starts is this wind.  Then through the wind you hear a minor triad chord that converges into one single note and expands again.  That becomes a motive for the monster itself and that gets developed later on with the orchestra as a whole.  I wanted to treat the orchestra like a living organism that was breathing and going for the most extreme ranges and converging into a single note and then expanding back out again. That's just an extension of what is first established earlier in the movie.  The other thematic idea that is interwoven throughout the film is this idea of loneliness and having no one that you can rely on out there, looking with suspicion upon everybody else.  It’s very different in many respects from other horror movies that I've done.

Q: What was your orchestral palette on the score?

Beltrami: I had a full orchestra. The first thing, I had some instruments come to the studio, soloists like flute and bass flute, some string instruments and wrote some gestures, things that could get manipulated electronically and used as part of a texture of the score. Then we put some filters on the orchestra to process what became almost a delay, turning the orchestra itself into pads that could be used instead of the generic synth pads.  That way we actually have the orchestra itself provide the basis for the sustained type of textures that are behind the score.

Q: How have you used the Morricone theme from the Carpenter film?

Beltrami: It didn't really work if I just played it like a heartbeat within the orchestra.  I found that the only way it really becomes recognizable is if it was used as it was recorded and we had the whole sound exactly the way Morricone wrote it to be.  That's what we ended up doing.  In the opening you hear it – just before the scene cuts inside the Snowcat as it's going across the ice you hear Morricone’s motive, and that sets it up for later in the movie where, at the very end, it goes into the actual John Carpenter film.
I think the director did a good job making this flow seamlessly into the next movie.  As this movie ends, the music goes right into the original Morricone score as we see the shots [of the dog] going into the American camp.  I think it sets it up really well. 

Q: How close did you work with director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. on establishing the music for the film?

Beltrami: Pretty close. It was my first collaboration with Matthijs and it was really interesting. He wanted to approach things in a new way. For instance, there's this big panorama where they're discovering the spaceship under the ice.  Rather than displaying it is a big orchestral moment his thought was to make it about something under the ice that's calling people, almost like a distress signal that's calling people to investigate, because obviously that's what the creature wants is for them to uncover it. So it was more about something creepy yet arousing curiosity, with music of sort of a different world.  That’s why we have this idea of processing the orchestra – you have familiar sounds that you might recognize but they don't really sound exactly like you’d hear coming from a standard orchestra. That was one of the things that we talked about - that sense of loneliness and how it should be portrayed, that was also big for me to run with. So it was really inspirational working with him and I think he has a great sense of visual style that I played off of.

Q: There's an oppressive or claustrophobic sense of isolation and horror and inevitability since we almost know how the story is going to end. What's your technique in this film to really emphasize that sense of foreboding in music?

Beltrami: It's to humanize it.  Through very different means and under different circumstances from Guillermo's movie [DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK], the idea here is for the music to help the audience identify with the characters so it's not merely just watching a spectacle, but actually feeling or having an empathy for what their plight is. That leads to some of the thematic ideas that are developed throughout. But you're right, it's a very dark story and comments kind of darkly on humanity in many ways and that all is very much reflected in the music.

Q: You worked with Buck Sanders on DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.  How would you describe your approach to the film and how you worked together on it?

Beltrami: The approach to the film was that this was a remake of the TV movie and Guillermo [as co-scripter and co-producer] made a very stylized picture and wanted the music to evoke a little bit of the feel of some of the classic horror movies from the 70s. I was more reliant on woodwinds and instruments like the vibraphone, and on melodic ideas rather than a lot of scores that would now approach it in more of a textural way. The score for the most part was purely orchestral, although there were some manipulations of sound using processes that were available in the 70s like the echoplex and all, but for the most part, it's a straight orchestral score.  It has this lullaby theme for the girl, Sally – the carousel is in her room and its sound becomes also her theme as well.  There is this corresponding theme for the goblin creatures, and these pretty much guide a good part of the score. In that respect I think it's a little different from some of the other scores that we've done together. It was a real collaboration in the sense that where some of the other collaborations concentrated more on sound principles, taking acoustical sounds and manipulating them and so forth, this was really a collaboration of ideas from a thematic point of view as well.

Q: Certainly every film has its own musical texture that you are applying here but at the same time how would you describe your technique in a film like this or even in the SCREAM films of creating and enhancing the scarability of the film?

Beltrami: The tradition was already established on the SCREAM movies – the motives were already present from the previous movies as well as the whole orchestral concept, and they didn't want anything new. In DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, the scares were there visually, but it's really the story of this lonely girl and her discoveries at the house, so I think the function of the music was to see the world a little bit through her eyes, as opposed to being these big jump-out-of-the closet scare moments that you might have had in SCREAM.

Q: Certainly not exclusively, but you've got a pretty good lineage in some very potent scary horror films. Is it ever a challenge to return to that genre again and deal with dark music and come up with something that's fresh and different?  And when you're scoring a film outside the genre do feel you have some additional opportunities there?

Beltrami: I certainly like exploring these darker movies but I don't really feel constrained by that. There is a challenge to find new ways of approaching the material and constantly feel that I'm growing as a result. It's not just doing the same thing that I've done before. I think the more important thing, rather, is that the material itself speaks to me in some way. In these other movies that I've done, like SOUL SURFER and 3:10 TO YUMA and THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, ELECTRIC MIST, and others, I find something that I feel I can contribute to the picture in some way. I probably get more calls to do horror movies because the ones that I've done have done well and made a name for themselves, but I think I enjoy doing all types of movies. I wouldn't limit myself to one genre.

Q: You also scored the TV series V, which again is a product that has a substantial past history.  It’s been some time since you worked on a weekly series... 

Beltrami: It was just a question of seeing the show and coming up with ideas that would work on a weekly basis, with character themes and sonic identifications.  Obviously the time factor is a lot tighter on a TV show, especially when there's 35 minutes of music in an episode, but with V it was done all synthetically. Once in a while we have an odd player if something was given be featured. In a way that saves time and it works on TV, where the fidelity usually isn't the same as in the theater, but there are shortcomings in that respect. Having the material already established is also an advantage, since it makes sense to continue that vocabulary from one show to the next and introduce new things while keeping it in the familiar vernacular.


New Soundtracks Releases of Note

THE CAPE/Bear McCreary/La-La Land
Bear McCreary is becoming quite a maverick television composer, with a growing filmography of very diverse and distinct series scores.  After knocking our socks off with the ethnic vibe of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, McCreary composed effective and memorable scores for EUREKA, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, HUMAN TARGET, TRAUMA, and CAPRICA before donning THE CAPE and taking off with his first super-hero show (albeit one cut short by the network, which clipped its cloak after only ten episodes).  McCreary dedicated the soundtrack album to Shirley Walker, whose music did so much to define television super hero shows with her work on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and subsequent properties, and whose work was an inspiration to Bear in his early years in music, and whose musical passion and energy find a suitable complement in his music for THE CAPE.  Unlike a lot of darker modern super-hero treatments in film and on television, THE CAPE is a retro celebration of the super-hero mythos, about a cop who has been framed for murder who falls off the grid to become the super hero known only as "The Cape" in order to prove his innocence and capture the true villain.  This concept allows the music to engage classical superhero structures while exploring some distinctive instrumental textures.  McCreary’s main theme is unabashedly symphonic, played from a 70-piece orchestra and giving the show its epic superhero stature.  For the villains of the realm, here presented as the Carnival of Crime, McCreary evokes Eastern European musical traditions (especially gypsy music) through an array of old-world instruments like hurdy gurdy, accordion, hammered dulcimer, balalaika, and a variety of small, ethnic percussion.  “The 70-piece orchestra gave THE CAPE its epic sound,” McCreary wrote in his Composer’s Note in the album booklet (which also includes lengthy notes from series creator Tom Wheeler and co-Executive Producer John Wirth), “but the Eastern European ethnic instrumentation gave the show its soul.”  The music for the series is lavish and lively, breathing with its own sense of vitality.  Aside from his main theme, the yearning melodies for the hero’s wife and her sense of loss during his absence, and the dark, arrogantly festive music for the Carnival of Crime, the music traverses a variety of ethnic place-settings, making the album (a 2-CD set that includes 49 tracks from nine episodes) extremely versatile and stimulating listening experience.  Its orchestration is varied and captivating, while the thematic material – especially the ongoing playoffs between The Cape’s theme and that of his primary adversaries the Carnival of Crime.  The striking sonic textures that merge the ethnic woodwinds and other old world instruments with the traditionally-conceptualized symphonic theme are among the score’s finest moments, as in “The Greatest Circus Act That Ever Lived” from the show’s pilot.  “THE CAPE was likely the most challenging series I’ve ever undertaken,” wrote McCreary.  “Nearly every minute of narrative required original score.  The stylistic range of the score called for many unique themes with distinct instruments.  Each episode has to be written and produced in a week, recorded with one of the largest orchestras on television.” 

CARGO/Michael Whalen/Spout MWM
Michael Whalen, known for his many documentary film scores, has scored Yan Vizinberg’s taut fact-based drama about the illegal trade in human sex trafficking, a film that manages to transcend its predictable elements and become a highly affecting story, with actress Natasha Rinis making her acting debut in the primary role of Natasha.  The soundtrack is now available on iTunes.  Whelan’s score is mostly bleak and gloomy, reflecting the psychological incarceration Rinis experiences in her sexual servitude.  The composer layers his synthetic musical base with an enhancing palette of acoustic instrumentals; the mix both envelopes the listener in an ongoing tonality of claustrophobia (the synths) while colored with the organic flavors of the character’s experiences and struggle to overcome her slavery.  A few cues are injected with more energy, such as “Bathroom Escape” with its pounding drums and rhythmic blasts of synth, but the overall flavor us one of empathetic melancholy, as we both see and hear the story through Natasha’s eyes.  It makes for a fine and provocative listen on its own.
For more information about Michael Whalen, see his website at http://www.michaelwhalen.com/
For more information about the film CARGO, See: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/cargo-film-review-251491

COMFORTING SKIN/Alain Mayrand/Screamworks
Canadian composer Alain Mayrand has composed an intricately disturbing acoustic score for Derek Franson’s COMFORTING SKIN, a drama about a lonely woman whose desperate need for emotional and sexual companionship draws her into a surreal and ultimately destructive relationship with a shifting and whispering tattoo she has willed to life on her skin (thank you imdb).  Written for a chamber music consisting of strings, woodwind, and piano, Mayrand’s score imposes a claustrophobic atmosphere of gloom and despondency, shifting between very poignant melodies and jagged, atonal orchestral colors that reflect the character’s growing sense of despair and self-destruction.  The music maintains a sensibility of disassociation, becoming a despairing reflection of the woman’s psychological state of mind as it journeys from a soft and tranquil piano melody through a discomforting landscape of discord before returning to the delicate if intangible comfort of the opening motif.  “The Arrival” is particularly noteworthy, wherein insectile twinges of pizzicato strings fester over tremolo violins, slapped percussion, relentless twinkles of piano notes, reflective rings of synth, all progressing into a migraine-worthy mélange of menacing sound that is astonishing in its cohesive disharmony and wholly effective in creating a psychological fusion of disturbiana.  This track heralds the score’s descent into alluring atonality, as a progressive mix of fragmented melodies, unhinged tonal phrases, and a Sierra Nevada’s worth of crescendo/decrescendos as the score shifts patterns, taking on the very character of the sentient tattoo, even whispering in its intricate orchestral voices as it wraps its threatening aural epidermis around the film’s soundscape.  A few musical respites offer a brief oasis of comfort between the thorny fields of sound: “A Day Out With Peg,” moments of “Girl Talk” and “Last Talk With Peg,” but the focus by this time is clearly upon unsettling music; even such innocuously titled tracks as “I Love You & Bar Scene” and “Come Back To Bed” harbor dangerously seething musical elements meant to despoil any sense of security and confidence, keeping the moviegoer very much on edge throughout the film.  I suspect the music will work best when in context with the unspooling storyline, but it’s striking textural depth and interesting orchestration make it a fascinating sonic excursion here on its own.  The horror film music label’s first digital-only release, COMFORTING SKIN is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
For more information on Alain Mayrand, see http://alainmayrand.com/

FINAL DESTINATION 5/Brian Tyler/Varese Sarabande
The fifth incarnation of this constantly-recycled yet entertaining premise features one of its strongest scores, built around an engaging primary Theme that unwraps itself in the Main Titles to evoke a strident sense of powerful inevitability, as it Tyler is musically portraying the bony hand of Charon claiming the listener as his next cargo across the River Styx.  Tyler inherited the franchise in the 4th film, after the untimely death of Shirley Walker who had scored the first three.  Shirley’s primary theme makes a reappearance in this score, as it did in THE FINAL DESTINATION (aka FINAL DESTINATION 4), but the overall musical structure is Tyler’s own, taking what is more of a reboot of the franchise than yet another continuation of the death-is-claiming-those-who-survived-the-disaster concept into a powerful orchestral dynamic.  “The music ends up being a lot more epic and orchestral than before,” Tyler said of this score. “It kind of has this whole classic, epic cinematic vibe to it.  The idea of the pervasiveness of creeping death has a whole bigger feel.” (See my interview with Brian Tyler about this score, and others, in my July 3rd column.)  The score as a result seems to be a little more cohesive than the previous one, given its more powerful melodic drive; where Walker’s theme was tentative and menacing and Tyler’s score for THE FINAL DESTINATION augmented Walker’s theme with a blistering and percussive rock and roll propulsion, FD5 benefits from more of an orchestral sensibility, lacing the previous themes through a compelling and melodic symphonic sensibility.  The main title contains a modernesque vibe with its rock rhythm and heavy drum beat over which Tyler’s main theme soars like the flying batwings of Death itself; “The Gift Certificate” embodies an innocuous and lightly percussive Thomas Newmanesque vibe that provides a familiar but very effective contemporary riff; Tyler provides his own sympathetic theme for the characters in “Meet The Gang” where it poignantly recalls the prior “gangs” who have faced Death and attracted its ire (before reprising the tapping riff of “Gift Certificate”), and “Recognition” (a variant of FD4’s “Memorial”) reprises the Walker Theme again in a more confident manner.  The elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque death scenes are scores, as per FD4, with a slamming dissonant rhythm and propulsive vengeance.  But it’s the new main theme that sets the score aside and give it a wholly new expression.

Of all recent film scores to be developed into a concert symphony, Howard Shore’s magnificent music for the LORDS OF THE RINGS trilogy is surely one of the most worthy.  Shore’s brilliantly crafted and complex score with its multitude of themes, languages, and invocations of the earthly, the heroic, and the spiritual is one of the finest and most absorbing film scores of the last quarter century.  Arranging nearly 12 hours of film music composed for the film trilogy, Howard created The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra & Chorus.  Each movement of the Symphony reflects each of the six books of Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings, the entirety of the Symphony describing the overall quest of the Rings epic.  While the music is all drawn from the film scores, it is compressed and concentrated into an uninterrupted musical presentation spanning two discs, giving the music a vibrant new interpretation without straying far from its original sensibility.  The Symphony was recorded by the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra & Chorus under the direction of Ludwig Wicki, whom Shore has commended for his masterful approach in bringing this score to life.  Surely to become a standard of new millennium classical music, Shore’s Lord of the Rings Symphony is a magnificent presentation of and important and massively intricate composition of film musical art.

THE PRESENCE/Conrad Pope/Screamworks
Conrad Pope, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and respected orchestrators (STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER, THE MATRIX), continues to make a mark as a composer in some fifteen film scores since 1992.  The majority of these have been for independent horror or science fiction films; the latest being this 2010 darkly romantic ghost story starring Mira Sorvino, from first-time director Tom Provost.  Pope’s approach is very tonal and understated, avoiding sound design and sonic collage for a gentle layer of disquieting allure that underlines the film’s sense of eerie resonance.  Needless to say, this score is orchestrated beautifully, with a breadth of instrumental layering that maintains an intriguing choir of sound, from the hollow, sinewy string sustains with hushed choir (“Talking To The Dead”) to the mélange of harp arpeggios, piping flutes, strained string chords that create an otherworldly menace to suspense scenes (such as “The Outhouse” and “Outhouse At Night”), to the melancholic string-driven melodic reflections (“The Offer,” “Epiphany,” “Revelation;” the latter is an excellent resolution of the score’s hitherto creepy melodic configuration).  These motivic elements recur and rebound across the soundscape of the score, which quietly exudes a sense of trepidation that augments the story’s insecurity as the story plays out.  The music is ominous but retains a melodic beauty that resonates nicely even when the music is traveling through somewhat disharmonious patterns (the second half of “Let’s Have Some Fun” or the elastic strings and percussive discordance of “Confrontation”).  The score, on disc, replicates the journey traveled by Sorvino’s character as she falls under the influence of the ghostly spirit.

SEVERE CLEAR/Cliff Martinez/Sirk Productions
Cliff Martinez has composed an evocative electronica score for this acclaimed 2009 documentary, which debuts this week on Blu-Ray and DVD.  SEVERE CLEAR is a first person account of the Marines who were on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In this digital age of embedded reporters and filmmakers directing their "war" pictures from the internet, the documentary strips the barriers between audience and soldier, personalizing the fear, moral conundrum and sheer adrenaline rush of life on the battlefield. The personal story of First Lieutenant Mike Scotti and the Marines in his unit is the backbone of this intimate, extreme and often times horrific tale.  “SEVERE CLEAR was my first documentary,” said Martinez.  “I have a feeling it will be an important document of a significant chapter in American history and with every average Joe now walking around with a video camera in their pocket, the beginning of an era when media managed coverage of such events will become a relic of the past.”  The very subdued music is characterized by faint synth tones that seem to exude out of the ether and recede back again, dappled by percussion and the occasional Middle Eastern ethnic texture.  Martinez lets the music take a back seat to the events depicted from Scotti’s videocam and journal entries, laying down an underlying vibe that gives the unfolding events a forward movement and an ongoing sense of peril. It’s primarily atmospheric music that paints a landscape of muted colors over which director Kristian Fraga relays Scotti’s experiences.  Even a potentially disruptive moment like “Chaos” is scored for a guitar and drum rhythm loop.  The album makes for a compelling listen apart from its extraordinary effectiveness in the film.

TRUE LEGEND/Shigeru Umebayashi/Star Entertainment
Shigeru Umebayashi's score to this new historical epic, only available as far as I can tell in a combo DVD-CD set from Hong Kong, is a massive, epic-styled action score with thunderous battle music for full orchestra and intricate emotional filigrees for poignant erhu and winds.  The film, directed by acclaimed martial arts choreographer Woo-ping Yuen is, while a box office failure, a compelling and provocatively conveyed story of a betrayed Qing dynasty general who resolves to perfect his martial arts technique to defeat his adversary and reunite his stolen family.  The film contains some massive, CGI-laden action scenes and plenty of dynamic martial arts swordplay and hand fighting.  Umebayashi, whose expressive scores made such a strong impression in recent “art house” martial arts epics as HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS and CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, provides an excellent score for that is very much the equal in sonic power to the film’s dazzling effects sequences, while still capturing the heart of its warrior and family in its sensitive poignancy.  The music is richly textured with percussion and low choir adding an earthy tonality to the orchestral passages and battle scenes, featuring a compelling anthemic main theme that nicely evokes the spirit and struggle of the protagonist.  The DVD-CD combo is available from www.yesasia.com


Soundtrack & Music News

The World Soundtrack Awards have been announced this weekend at the close of the 38th Ghent International Film Festival in Belgium. Alexandre Desplat was chosen as Film Composer of the Year 2011. Hans Zimmer went home with the award for Best Original Film Score of the Year for INCEPTION. Randy Newman received the World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song Written for Film with “We Belong Together” from the film TOY STORY 3. Alex Heffes received the Discovery of the Year Award for THE FIRST GRADER & THE RITE. The Public Choice Award went to A.R. Rahman for the film 127 HOURS. Giorgio Moroder received the World Soundtrack Lifetime Achievement Award.
For more information, see: http://www.worldsoundtrackacademy.com/

Howard Shore’s new Howe Records label will release his score to Martin Scorsese’s period fantasy-drama, HUGO on November 22nd.

Award-winning composer Christopher Young has composed the jazz-infused score for THE RUM DIARY, based on the early novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp (who stared in the film version of Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS) stars and also produced the film, which features Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins and Giovanni Ribisi. THE RUM DIARY incorporates a tone typical of Thompson’s work, with characters plagued by restlessness, violence, alcohol and fear of growing old. Originally penned in 1960, the “lost novel” was published in 1999. Young explores an exciting variety of mood and rhythm, reminiscent of the first jazz music for films released in the 60s. The music moves effortlessly from blues, fusion, funk and scat to soft Brazilian samba, threaded throughout with saxophone, organ, guitar, trumpet and harmonica.

Graeme Revell’s score for SHARK NIGHT 3D, has been issued by Cutting Edge, with a Manufactured On Demand CD from Amazon.

Alexandre Desplat has signed on to score the drama EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE for Paramount. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel and directed by Stephen Daldry, the film stars Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and newcomer Thomas Horn, telling the story of a nine-year-old boy who searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks.  Desplat recently completed scoring George Clooney directorial debut, THE IDES OF MARCH, the composer’s third time working on a Clooney project, but his first as a director/composer collaboration.

Paul Haslinger’s score for Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2011 version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS has been released digitally and on CD by Milan Records.  The film, from the folks who brought you the RESIDENT EVIL series, was shot in 3D and features Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, and Orlando Bloom. The score is said to be a massive work that reflects the adventure and thriller-like vibe of the story.

Bear McCreary falls victim to the zombie apocalypse, not once but twice this fall.  AMC began airing the second season of the acclaimed series THE WALKING DEAD on October 16th and BuySoundtrax Records has announced the November 2nd release of his original songs and score for CHILLERAMA: ZOM-B-MOVIE. “This season of THE WALKING DEAD is even more terrifying, gripping and emotionally-charged than the first,” said McCreary.  “I'm very excited to be back in this unique musical playground, working with dissonant string orchestra, electric banjo, detuned autoharps and other unusual instruments.  Fans will be thrilled with the creative direction the series and the score are taking for this next season.”  In the spirit of classic anthology films like CREEPSHOW and TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and containing films that not only celebrate the golden age of drive-in B horror shlock but also span over four decades of cinema, CHILLERAMA offers something for every bad taste.  “My score for ZOM-B-MOVIE is both epic and simple, sophisticated and juvenile, terrifyingly dissonant and melodically tender,” said McCreary.   “Writing this music made me feel like a kid again; crouched before an analog TV set flickering with a VHS copy of GREMLINS.”  Additionally, the CHILLERAMAepisodegave Bear the opportunity to expand into two new areas: acting and directing.  Bear makes a cameo as a deranged painter using, well, an unorthodox medium for his work.  In addition, Bear directed a special music video for the film's closing credits, for the single "I Don't Want to Die a Virgin" by Young Beautiful in a Hurry.  The video is currently online at www.YouTube.com/YBinaHurry.

Speaking of Bear McCreary, the composer has launched his new and improved official website, which features a ton of new material up as well as “an official FORUM for all things soundtrack-geeky.”  Bear’s web site is one of the most fan-friendly sites with an ongoing interaction with fans and readers about his music, via his regular blog, which is now fully-integrated into the multimedia and social media elements. www.bearmccreary.com

2M1 Records will release the score to Rolfe Kanefsky’s 2006 horror thriller, THE NIGHTMARE MAN, composed by Christopher Farrell. Also included will excerpts of Farrell’s music from Kanefsky’s THE HAZING (2004; aka DEAD SCARED).

Swedish label MovieScore Media will release a soundtrack album featuring music by a French composer for a Hong Kong action adventure. Nicolas Errèra’s epic orchestral score from SHAOLIN will be released digitally on October 25, with the CD release following on November 1.   The soundtrack coincides with the US DVD premiere of the film and follows its theatrical US release. SHAOLIN stars Andy Lau, Bingbing Fan and Jackie Chan in a story that takes place during the early years of the republic when China is in the midst of feuding warlords; it focuses on the struggle between the venerated Shaolin Temple, which serves as a refuge to the wounded, and the ruthless warlords who try to besiege the Temple.  About SHAOLIN, composer Nicolas Errèra says that the director, Benny Chan “wanted the score to take the point of view of an European composer mixed with Chinese sonorities.” To the point, Errèra’s music combines the forces of the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra with several solo instruments, most notably the Chinese erhu performed by virtuoso Guo Gan.

Silva Screen Records has released a superb compilation recording, Music From the TRANSFORMERS Trilogy, featuring selections from all three of Steve Jablonsky’s scores for Michael Bay’s transformative sci-fi action spectacles, very nicely conveyed by the London Music Works.  The album is available digitally and on CD – however the digital version includes an extra bonus track, which is Jablonsky’s “Prelude” heard in the trailer for DARK OF THE MOON

MSM’s associated label, Screamworkd Records, devoted exclusively to music from horror films, will release Ivor Novello Award-winning composer Daniel Pemberton’s orchestral score from the British supernatural thriller THE AWAKENING on CD on November 8, 2011 (a digital release of the album is handled by 1812 Recordings). Nick Murphy’s supernatural thriller recently created a lot of buzz during the Toronto Film Festival. Set in post-World War I England in 1921, THE AWAKENING follows a skeptical woman who travels to a countryside boarding school to investigate rumors of an apparent haunting. The stylish film features spectacular visuals beautifully underlined by a large, gothic orchestral score.  Pemberton’s music features dark orchestral sonorities, haunting vocals, and elements of operatic choir writing, which was beautifully recorded at Abbey Road in London.  Pemberton is the Ivor Novello Award winning and BAFTA nominated composer behind many of the themes and sounds heard on British TV; his ability to jump genres effortlessly yet still bring a unique and recognizable sound to every project saw him named as “one of the hottest people working in television today” by Broadcast magazine, who praised him as “a composer prepared to take risks.” THE AWAKENING is his first major British feature film.


Games Music News

Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc. presents the original soundtrack to the World War II video game Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, featuring the original music score of Award-winning composer Sam Hulick (Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2).  Hulick’s emotional and haunting music sets the mood for one of the most brutal battles in all of human history-the battle for Stalingrad.  Heroes of Stalingrad, Tripwire Interactive's critically acclaimed first person shooter experience, features a unique dynamic music system that adapts the emotional mood of the soundtrack to match the morale of the player based on the flow of the battle. To highlight the differences between the two warring powers the game features a completely unique soundtrack for both the Russian and German sides. The soundtrack is now available for digital download at www.sumthingdigital.com, Amazon MP3, iTunes, and other digital music sites. The CD soundtrack will be available at retail outlets on November 1st. 
Following the critically acclaimed soundtrack for Forza Motorsport 3, ASCAP award-winning composer and producer Lance Hayes (aka DJDM) returns to provide custom music for Forza Motorsport 4 developed by Turn 10 Studios of Microsoft Game Studios. Lance Hayes' original soundtrack for Forza Motorsport 3 was hailed as one of the best electronic albums of 2010 by G4 TV. Working closely once again with Turn 10 Studios, the creators of the Forza Motorsport franchise, Hayes crafted definitive musical statements to complement the new look and feel of Forza Motorsport 4. The new soundtrack features a broad range of music styles and overall chill demeanor encompassing primarily electronica, ambient and downtempo with forays into ambient breaks, illbient and acid jazz. “I was honored to be brought back to work on an expanded soundtrack creating over 100 minutes of music for the UI as well as the in-game experience,” said Hayes. “The score has an increased cinematic feel as well as incorporating many of the styles that made the Forza 3 OST a fan favorite.”
Added Audio Director Nick Wiswell: “The music of Lance Hayes is an integral component of the UI of Forza Motorsport 4, as it was in Forza Motorsport 3. The menus in Forza Motorsport 4 are vast and many players will spend hours in them setting up tuning options or creating liveries; Lance has provided 15 songs to make this experience as enjoyable and varied as possible for the player. He also produced 4 tracks for the in-game race soundtrack which are very different in tempo, scope and feel, showing the breadth of his compositional skills.”

For more information visit http://www.forzamotorsport.net.

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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