November 19th, 2007
By Randall D. Larson
This week’s column features an interview with video game composer Garry Schyman about his latest full-blooded orchestral score for BioShock. We also review the scores to Enchanted, Martian Child, Sea of Dreams, We Own The Night , and others, and compile the latest film music news from around the world.
Garry Schyman: On Scoring BioShock
With a distinctly malleable musical score the video game Destroy All Humans!, composed in wonderfully retro sci-fi fashion, composer Garry Schyman emerged into the gamescore limelight, like one of the game’s marauding, human-hunting aliens emerging from the shadows of their spaceship into the broad daylight of a doomed earth. Schyman gave Destroy All Humans!a frenzied, lovingly retro science fiction horror score written in the style of 1950’s sci-fi movies such as the classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, using a Theremin as the lead instrument. Recorded in Los Angeles with some of Hollywood’s top orchestral musicians, Schyman avoided the game’s inherent humor and played it straight. “I wrote the score as if this was 1953 and I was a working composer of that era,” Schyman said at the time. “With that in mind I played it dead serious, which led to an overly dramatic score and the humor that comes from that approach.”
Schyman had started out on television, scoring episodes of such cult TV classics as: The A-Team, Magnum P.I. and The Greatest American Hero. He went on to score one of the most interesting and innovative video games from the early 1990's, Voyeur for which his groundbreaking orchestral music received an award for "Best Original Game Score" and which led to his involvement with Destroy All Humans! "Garry not only got the style for Destroy All Humans!, he helped shape it with his brilliant score. The soundtrack helped take the game to a whole new level," said Greg Borrud, Director of Production for game developer Pandemic Studios.
For the score to the sequel videogame, Destroy All Humans 2 (both scores were released on CD by Lakeshore), Schyman moved ahead a decade and has drawn from the classic sci-fi/horror scores of the 1960s for his highly-emulative yet beautifully effective gamescore.
“For Destroy All Humans! 2 I immersed myself in the scoring of that period, listening to dozens and dozens of soundtracks from that time of many different genres,” Schyman said. “However, just as in the original Destroy All Humans! was set in the 1950's, with DESTROY ALL HUMANS! 2 I never attempt to intentionally satirize the game experience with the score. Instead the humor comes from playing it dead straight and letting the irony of the 60's images, witty dialogue and straight orchestral scoring from the period create the fun.”
The result was an amazingly crafted and resoundingly effective score that mimics, pays tribute to, and re-energizes the inventive clarity of 1960s horror scoring. There’s still plenty of the 1950s style that defined the first DAH gamescore, but DAH2 is a little more progressive in its musical palette, as pervasive chords rage in colorful battle while other moments brood in reserved rage, biding its time.
Schyman’s most recent gamescore is for BioShock, a unique game that mixes a spine-chilling setting illustrated with art deco art and architecture, sci-fi themes of bio-genetic mutation and self-modification, a deep storyline with open-choice freedom to interact with the world as you choose, and plenty of first-person action.
Interviewed just before he began working on the score for Destroy All Humans! 3, Garry Schyman describes his approach to the BioShock score and his views on gamescoring in general.
Q: What was your musical inspiration for scoring BioShock? What elements of the film (or its makers) influenced your choice of how to score it?
Garry Schyman: My inspirations were mostly taken from the classical music world. I was influenced by composers such as Rachmaninoff, Alban Berg, Lutoslawski and in general the music of the first half and middle of the 20th century. I think what I did that was fresh and unique was to combine various styles of music from this period thus creating something really interesting and new while working really well with the visuals and storyline.
Q: The BioShock score continues to reference the grand science fiction scores of the 50s and 60s that you incorporated so well in Destroy All Humans!; here you've updated the traditional use of gothic violin and orchestra with sparkling new electronic textures and tonalities. How would you describe your integration of these classic film music traditions with the score's modernistic edge (the organic with the technological)?
Garry Schyman: My approach was more classical than referencing film scores of the 50’s and 60’s. BioShock has a lot going on in it, which is what made scoring the game so interesting. There’s the intellectual aspect of the story, then there is the tragedy that befalls this world and of course it decays into a very frightening place. My score had to capture all of that; the humanity of it as well as the scary freaky world that it devolves into. I satisfy the intellectual aspects of the game by writing in the style of early 20th century composers, which also fits the visuals nicely. The scary aspects are helped by the really eerie and frightening aleatoric music I wrote. Finally, every now and again something really sad and beautiful comes in to remind us that these were once human beings and amazing people at that and they have experienced really tragic events.
Q: How does the BioShock score make use of its music during ongoing gameplay versus the game's cinematics, and how have you integrated the music for these different segments?
Garry Schyman: There are no cinematics in BioShock. Instead the developers used scripted events. Scripted events are similar to cinematics in that they are computer generated and can’t be altered by the player. Something important is happening that the player will generally want to see. However, unlike a cinematic, the player can choose to walk away from the event and ignore it and just keep on playing. The music for the scripted events play them similarly to an in-game movie, however many of them were not completed in time for me to score so I created a little library for them based on the descriptions of what these events would need.
Q: The score takes many different directions, from the beautiful Rachmaninoff-like piano piece in "Cohen's Masterpiece," to the very horrific sounding ambiances of "All Spliced Up" and "This Is Where They Sleep" to the straight-ahead action of "The Docks" and "The Dash," while also crafting a musical paradox of shifting time periods, almost a merging of futuristic antiquity. How would you describe your approach at the score's "integrated diversity"?
Garry Schyman: My approach was fairly practical, which was to write the music the game required. The soundtrack released by 2K is very eclectic but I think you will find that the entire score feels like it belongs to one game and one particular game: namely BioShock. There were some unique requirements that the project needed like “Cohen’s Masterpiece” however this was intended to be a source cue in that it was written as if it were composed by a critical character in the game – namely Cohen. I did try to keep the music within each deck as similar in approach as possible as the score needed to help the deck have its own unique character and feel.
Q: What was most challenging for you in scoring this game? What made it unique from earlier game score experiences?
Garry Schyman: The game is just so different and wonderful and amazing. Yes it is still a First Person Shooter but the look and feel of the environment and the extraordinary complex and interesting story along with the amazing amount of care and attention that went into every element of the project meant that the score had to be very special. The audio director, Emily Ridgway, was asking for something unique and different from what is heard in a typical game or film for that matter. So the real challenge was coming up with an approach that met all of these criteria and that was not an easy task. I wrote three or four themes (each representing different approaches) that were all canned. Fortunately Emily had a lot of trust in me and when I finally found the sound that was right we both were very excited about it. So finding my way was the hard part. Once found it was fairly straightforward work to write.
Q: How closely you work with the game developers to establish the kind of music and its placement in the game? What kind of input or direction did they provide to you while the score took shape?
Garry Schyman: I worked almost exclusively with the audio director. Everyone else on this game was so busy crunching away that they left us alone for a very long time before they popped up and took a real serious listen. By the time they heard everything they just loved what I was doing and approved my approach. I did work closely with Emily getting direction from her before writing each piece and playing her each cue once is was written and mocked up. But once she and I were on the same page with the approach she gave me a green light to just be as creative as I could be.
Q: How large of an orchestra did budget or preference permit on this score? How did to integrate electronics with the orchestra on this score to achieve such a dynamic and effective sound?
Garry Schyman: I had a thirty-five-piece string section, plus a number of soloists including a virtuoso violinists (Martin Chalifour – principal concertmaster of the LA Phil) and an amazing cellist, pianists, French horn and tuba. Pretty eclectic!
Early on I decided that strings were the perfect complement to a game that takes place under the water. They just have such a flowing moving quality to them, like water, at least in my mind.
In addition to the live stuff I wrote and recorded, in my own studio, a number of eerie effects and sounds that ended up being mixed in with the live players including all of the real world sounds that became incorporated into the soundtrack.
Q: You've previously noted how, unlike film and TV scores which unfold in linear fashion and are controlled by the developing story, gamescores need to be more flexible, musically populating the soundtrack based on the player's actions in the game. How did this affect your scoring of BioShock, especially in regard to providing enough variety to avoid too much repetition during recurring gameplay, while maintaining the score's thematic unity and integration?
Garry Schyman: One of the nice things about music implementation in BioShock is that there is not wall-to-wall music in it. That helps keep the music from getting irritating or just becoming wallpaper that you cease to hear after a while. I was careful to keep the music interesting while meeting the needs of the game at any one moment. In addition to the score that was written for unique moments in the game I generated a whole library of cues (often adaptations of different music cues without lead instruments) that could be used at all sorts of moments as the game required and at places that were not originally anticipated. They are often very ambient and subtle and just create a very cool scary/eerie feel. So there was a lot of music and that helps keep it from getting boring or repetitive as well.
Q: The art and craft of game scoring continues to develop far beyond what games music started with, 20 or so years ago. What do you think about the current state of affairs of games music, and where do you think it will be going in the next 5 or 10 years?
Garry Schyman: It is a very cool place to be as a composer right now. Games keep getting more beautiful and complex and interesting and, shall we say, “cinematic” in approach and music is playing a more and more important part in generating the mood and special experience of the game play. In addition as budgets go up more resources are being made available to composers. So we are getting orchestras and whatever else we need (within reason of course!) to give the game the score it needs.
Where will we be in five to ten years? Technology affects games much more than any other entertainment. Improvements in computing power and plain old fashion competition means that games will continue to grow and get more interesting. My guess is that in the end it won’t change the music as much as one might think. The reason is that good music is not dependant on technology. Really good music is written by really good composers who know how to craft the notes into something special. So we will continue to find better and more interesting ways to be interactive perhaps but in the end if you can’t write a good melody or an interesting harmony to match it you will be at a big disadvantage.
Q: You're now working on Destroy All Humans 3. Where have you taken this third incarnation of the game - and how would you describe the score? Where does it follow the style of the first two games and where does it diverge into new territory?
Garry Schyman: This franchise has just been an awesome opportunity for me to have fun with music and to write my butt off in the styles of the past. DAH3 will not break any new ground in the sense that I am not changing the winning formula. But it has been a blast writing a ton of music emulating the style of composers from the 1970’s. I love wah wah guitar now more than ever! Enough said?
Thanks to Greg O’Connor-Read for facilitating this interview and to Garry Schyman for taking the time to discuss his thoughts and experiences with Soundtrax.
For more information on Garry Schyman, see his web site at: www.garryschyman.com
This Week’s Recommendations
With Enchanted, Disney has come up with one of their freshest ideas in years. Take the typical Snow White-styled Disney fairy princess character and her archetypal nemesis, the wicked queen, extract them from their animated, pastel fairytale environment and plop them into the middle of gritty, noir-ish, live-action New York City and you have the potential for a very entertaining story. Enchanted marks the return to Disney of composer Alan Menken, who essentially brought Disney animated features into the 20th Century with his contemporary scoring and song music on contemporary Disney classics from Little Mermaid in 1989 through Hercules in 1997 (he also scored 2004’s Home On The Range and the recent live-action Disney comedies, Noel and The Shaggy Dog remake); Menken is the perfect composer to bring Enchanted to life in both its clashing environments – colorful, magical Adalasia and the urban, realistic Big Apple – not to mention the innocent, naïve, and malicious characters that inhabit both worlds. “We’re really trying to take you back to the Snow White, pre-Belle, pre-Pinocchio, back to the earliest days of animation,” Menken said of his approach on this score. The soundtrack, to be released on Walt Disney Records on Nov 20th, featured a handful of the film’s songs, nicely performed by stars Amy Adams, James Marsden, and Jon McLaughlin, with the obligatory pop-single version sung by Carrie Underwood, but also a healthy nine score tracks by maestro Menken, which provide both the pleasing thematic lyricism that he excels at as well as his rich dramatic leanings. He gives the score both an effervescent melodic sensibility (note the soaring main theme as it plays across “Nathanial and Pip” and the delightfully Alice and Wonderlandish cartoonlike energy of “Into the Well”) and a vividly dramatic vitality (the severe intonations of choir that herald the evil queen in “Narissa Arrives”). There are moments of soft eloquence, as in “Robert Says Goodbye,” and of classic Disneyanna, as in Menken’s theme for the land of Adalasia. The score proper culminates in a nearly 11-minute “Storybook Ending” track that is to Enchanted what John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” was to The Phantom Menace – a thoroughly masterful concluding overture that rises from the purity of its gently lyrical opening through repeated crescendos of surgingly massively dramatic statements from full orchestra and chorus, giving Enchanted’s “little” story a mighty convocation that elevates the clashing intercourse of both of its worlds into something incredibly powerful and imperative; Menken deftly illuminates both the film’s fantastic premise and its fragile emotions in a measured enchantment of orchestra and choir that is at once both characteristically Disneyesque and yet something slightly different, grounded perhaps a little more solidly in the real world. A final “Enchanted Suite,” presumably written for the second half of the End Titles, after the closing song, nicely recapitulates the score’s major components in a concise and heartily theatrical manner.
Sony has released Aaron Zigman’s elegant score for the gentle family drama, Martian Child, with almost an hour of Zigman’s characteristically melodic music. The film, directed by Menno Meyjes and starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Joan Cusack, has to do with a recently widowed science fiction writer who fills his loss by adopting a young orphan who thinks himself a child from Mars. “This is a film that speaks to my heart, and deals with a topic that I have yet to face – the sacrifice of one’s self to a higher form of giving,” said Zigman. “I identify so strongly with John Cusack’s character, in that we are both around the same age and long to enter into this area of unknown territory. In retrospect, I think the music I have created for Martian Child is one of longing to fill that void, as well as a plea for trust.” Like The Notebook, his first major score to achieve widespread notice, Zigman’s score for Martian Child is characterized by heartfelt melodies and honest musical strokes. It’s a very down to earth score that embodies the innocence and imagination of the boy, the sincerity of Cusack’s emotional quest, and beautifully captures in music the myriad threads of interaction that form into human relationships. Gentle acoustic melodies (“At The Supermarket,” “I Eat Lucky Charms”) and captivating, Thomas Newmanesque rhythm-based textures (“Hanging Upside Down,” “Hot Coffee”), introspective sustained tonalities (“Flomar Dies”) and taut, tension-enhancing violin passages (“Inspection,” “David Waits,” “At The Adoption Agency”), and orchestral ambiances (“Remembering Mary”) resonate poignantly throughout the score, held together by the strength of Zigman’s main theme, an eloquent melodic refrain for massed violins beneath a fragility of high end piano notes. Zigman’s score is enchanted in its own heartfelt and very human way.
Sea of Dreams, a richly-felt tropical island romance scored by Luis Enriquez Bacalov, released recently by Varese Sarabande, is a beautifully melodic score in the finest Italian style. Drawing his inspiration from the sea and the film’s notions of finding love, destiny, and freedom all in one special place, Bacalov has crafted a infusion of magical melodies and measure – from the earthy honesty of the pan flute to the quirky tonality of bandoneon (an Argentinian concertino or keyboardless accordion), textures contrasted and enhanced by the richness of the full orchestra. There are several contemporary guitar-based tropical-styled instrumentals, associated with the film’s Mediterranean setting, which play well amidst the lush purity of the orchestral melodies; the combination is an organic quality to the sound that is quite appealing and accessible. Bacalov’s more dramatic cues (“A Beach full of Fallen Stars,” “Black Day/An Angry Sea”) are quite compelling as well with their harsher intonations, but in the end it’s the rapturous romance of the score and the exotic musical environments that is captures that make Sea of Dreams as captivating as it is. Bacalov has been under the radar for many of us since his Italian Western heyday of the 1960s (A Bullet for the General, The Grand Duel, A Man Called Noon, Django, etc.); this score definitely deserves to put him back on the map.
Last month Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack to We Own The Night, featuring score music by Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Pianist) and an eclectic mix of songs by the likes of David Bowie, Blondie, Tito Puente, Coati Mundi, and Louis Prima & Keely Smith. The CD is nicely sequenced, with the songs occupying the first eleven tracks and Kilar’s score the last dozen, allowing score listeners to simply start with track 12 and enjoy Kilar’s music uninterrupted by incongruous songs. Kilar’s music is ambient and noir-ish, built around a rhythmic sustainment of violins that maintains a tenseness that grounds the film, which has to do with the tenuous loyalty between two brothers (Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Walhberg) on opposite sides of the law. Wrapping the film in a musical environment of unremitting tonality, Kilar creates a claustrophobic sensibility over which plaintive melodies (like the sampled winds in “Planning the Bust”) construct emotive flavorings; the score concludes on a track of severe sorrow and solitude. It’s a darkly hewn but passionate composition, building a powerful emotionality not through its melody but in the potency of its cadences and flavorings.
Sweden’s Fin de Siecle has released Bruno Maderna’s soundtrack to La Morte Ha Fatto L’Uovo (Death Laid an Egg), a bizarre 1968 Italian thriller that starred Gino Lollobrigida, Ewa Aulin, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, about a love triangle that develops between three people who run a high tech chicken farm. One of only five films scored by the composer, otherwise known as an innovator of contemporary atonal music, the score is an eclectic mixture of grotesquerie and textural innovation, merging unusual vocalisms with equally unusual instrumental concoctions, with nary an accessible melody to be found. What makes Maderna’s score so interesting and, in its own way, rather attractive, is its audacious inventiveness. Take the score’s love scene: rather than rapturous melodies, Maderna has chosen to score the coupling of two lovers with mournful layers of violin and guitar, over which an irresolute and rather distracted male voice intones in spoken Italian. This is a fragmented, unstructured, and totally unique approach to film scoring, an eerie sonic experimentation as preposterous as its storyline and quite admirable in its confident impudence. John Bender’s informative notes provide a solid background for the film and its score and effectively deconstructs this most unusual of quasi-giallo film scores.
Complete Return of the King to be released this week
Delayed a couple of weeks due after wildfires in Southern California evacuated the plant making the discs, Howard Shore's complete Oscar®-winning score for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will be available for the first time in a deluxe five-disc edition from Reprise/WMG Soundtracks on November 20, 2007.
This historic release contains 3 hours and 50 minutes of music on four CDs, comprising the full score of the 2003 film. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - The Complete Recordings marks the third and final edition of the three complete recording releases of the film trilogy whose score has been honored with three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. This deluxe set includes exclusive new artwork, packaging, liner notes written by Doug Adams, author of the forthcoming book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films, and features Annie Lennox performing the Oscar®-winning song "Into the West."
The fifth disc is a DVD-Audio presenting the entire The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King score in Advanced Resolution Surround Sound, Advanced Resolution Stereo Sound, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and Dolby Digital Stereo Sound.
8-Cd Collectors Edition Celebrates Star Wars 30th Anniversary
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars movie, Sony Classical has releasing a one-time deluxe edition of Williams’ lush, timeless themes. The Music of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is housed in an elegant numbered box set featuring new cover art depicting the main Star Wars characters. The box contains eight CDs. Six of these are mastered from the Expanded Edition versions of the soundtracks from three Star Wars episodes: each housed in a gatefold mini-jacket that is a scale reproduction of the original LP cover art.
The seventh CD is Star Wars: The Corellian Edition. This is a collection of the most popular Star Wars themes from all six episodes – on one CD, for the first time. The new recording takes its name from the Corellian System, a fictional group of “core worlds” at the heart of the Star Wars galaxy. The 13-track Corellian Edition CD has also been released separately.
The eighth CD in the premium box set is a CD-ROM, containing digital artwork files that faithfully reproduce all of the inserts – including gatefolds and posters – that were packaged with the original LP vinyl recordings of the themes from Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI.
The Music of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition also includes:
- an exclusive new 15” x 15” fold-out poster celebrating Episodes IV, V and VI;
- three collectable 4” x 4” stickers, each featuring a four-color reproduction of the CD cover from
the Expanded Edition soundtrack of one of these episodes;
- new notes on the history of the first Star Wars soundtrack; and
- track lists and credits for the CDs.
Film Music News
This year’s ‘Festival International Musique et Cinéma,’ the eighth annual such event, which occurred last week (Nov 14-17) in France, honored John Barry with ‘an official tribute from France’. Barry was presented with the ‘Commander of the Arts and Letters Order’ by the French Ministry of Culture, and took part in a discussion on film music at the Auxerre Theatre, followed by a concert of his work, conducted by Nicholas Dodd. In past festivals, France has honored composers such as Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jarre and Michel Legrand, with concerts of their music in Auxelle. - Michael Beek/musicfromthemovies.com
Intrada has released the long-awaited complete release of Jerry Goldsmith's score to Alien, proffering in dynamic stereo sound for the first time every note of composer's intense, terrifying masterwork. Taken from newly-discovered actual 1" multi-track session masters, Intrada’s 2-CD set has the complete score as originally intended, all re-scored sequences & alternates, demo mixes showcasing unusual sounds of serpent, didjeridu, giant conch plus the original 1979 LP assembly, also fully remixed and remastered. The Deluxe booklet offers a definitive behind-the-scenes look at score controversy plus track-by-track analysis with slates, scoring changes, recording dates, more.
Upcoming Film Scores is the ultimate news-feed for anyone looking for accurate updates on the latest film scoring assignments. We only publish projects that have been verified by an official source. Upcoming Film Scores is edited by veteran film music journalist Mikael Carlsson and a product of
MovieScore Media in association with Film Music Weekly. http://upcomingfilmscores.blogspot.com
Varese Sarabande will announce their limited edition November CD Club releases on Nov 19th.
Perseverance Records has released their latest CD - combining two scores by the multi-talented Donald Rubinstein: the re-release of the long out-of-print score from George Romero's cult classic vampire movie Martin from 1979. The content of this score is the same as the previous two releases, but in much better sound quality. The CD is completed by Donald's rejected music to Ed Harris' directorial debut Pollock (2000). This is the score that was recorded by Donald for the film, but not used in the final cut for reasons explained in detail in the extensive liner notes by film music authority Daniel Schweiger. The album is limited to 1,000 pressings. www.perseverancerecords.com
Richard Band’s powerful science fiction score for 1983’s Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, one of many low-budget sci-fi films to emerge in the backwash of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and one relic of the early 1980s momentary 3-D craze. Produced by Hollywood veteran Albert Band and directed by son Charles Band, Universal picked up the film to leverage their investment in the 3-D theater equipment for Jaws 3-D, making Metalstorm the biggest release for the Band family and giving composer Richard Band his biggest scoring opportunity. The film, a Road Warrior-esque tale about a rough and tough "seeker" who saves a damsel in distress and seeks out their mutual enemy, received a propulsive, heroic score from low-budget genre favorite Richard Band, who jumped into Metalstorm with vigor and a large scale orchestra of 75-80 players plus live electronics (one of the first time electronics were performed live along with the orchestra, rather than being overdubbed in the mixing stage).. "It was an ostinato-type thing,” band said of his main theme for this film. “The sky cycle chases had a different ostinato going on, with a lot of moving violins. So there was a thematic variation there, but a lot of the score was plain-old action." Because of the detailed attention required for mixing the electronics with the orchestra, Band oversaw the recording in the booth, while the late Shirley Walker assumed the podium. Intrada’s release is limited to 1200 copies. For track listing and sound samples, please visit www.intrada.com
Christopher Lennertz (Emmy-nominated for Supernatural) is helping Alvin & The Chipmunks make a serious comeback. The new film version of the late 50s rodent recording group, comes to theaters on Dec. 14th. A global phenomenon to generations of fans since they first appeared on record in 1958, Alvin & The Chipmunks become a live action/CGI motion picture event with a contemporary comic sensibility. Songwriter Dave Seville transforms mischievous singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore into pop sensations while Lennertz adds a lush orchestral score including French horns, piano, strings, and flute solos to back them up. Elements of the score will bring you back to your youth with the sounds reminiscent of cartoon scores from the Golden Age by Carl Stalling. Lennertz is able to creatively incorporate subtle, technical elements, such as backwards percussion and mallets that sound like acorns falling, without compromising the organic sound of his original score performed by a 94 piece orchestra.
Lennertz is currently working on "Perfect Christmas," a family romance starring Terrence Howard, Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union.
Aaron Zigman has scored Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a lavish fantasy film about a young pianist who inherits a magical toyshop, written and directed by Zach Helm and starring Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Bateman. Varese Sarabande released the score on CD last week.
John Debney adds another Walt Disney comedy to his filmography: Old Dogs, directed by Walt Becker, whose previous credits include Wild Hogs and Van Wilder. Old Dogs stars John Travolta and Robin Williams as two friends who are forced to take care of two seven year-old twins, additional cast members include Seth Green, Matt Dillon and Kelly Preston. Debney’s other upcoming films include Starship Dave and Sin City 2. – via upcomingfilmscores
Murray Gold’s powerful score for Doctor Who: Series 3, widely regarded as a major element in the revival of the classic cult series, has been released by Silva Screen Records. The album features 2 songs - My Angel put the Devil in Me and The Stowaway, both performed by up and coming singer songwriter Yamit Mamo. Murray Gold's captivating score for the latest series improves on last year's release of the music from Series 1 + 2 which just missed the Top 75 in its first week – the Series 3 soundtrack rocketed to the top of the UK iTunes soundtrack chart after just four days on release. Murray Gold's evocative score and songs from the most recent series have been eagerly awaited by fans.
MovieScore Media has released the soundtrack to George and the Dragon, featuring music composed and conducted by Gast Waltzing. The film is a family adventure starring James Purefoy, Piper Perabo and Patrick Swayze that came out in 2004. Waltzing, one of Luxemburg's best known musicians, is acclaimed in the country’s jazz scene, but the music he has written for George and the Dragon is a big symphonic score that may remind listeners of Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Thematically rich, and performed with great stamina by the Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra with choir, the score was the perfect choice for MovieScore Media's second entry in the 'Discovery Collection'. While Gast Waltzing has written music for over 150 theatrical films and TV films, he is most likely a new name to the international film music community. Upcoming MovieScore Media releases include Christopher Wong’s Journey From The Fall, Carlo Giacco’s Like Minds (aka Murderous Intent), Scott Glasgow’s Hack!, Guy Farley’s The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and David James Nielsen’s spooky anthology film score, Tales From the Beyond. www.moviescoremedia.com
Games Music News
Ubisoft has announced that video game composers Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco have created an original orchestral music score for Beowulf™, the new action combat video game based on Paramount Pictures' and Shangri-La Entertainment's upcoming feature film of the same name. The Beowulf game score is an epic musical journey featuring anthemic choral/orchestral compositions and bombastic action cues driven by heavy brass and thunderous percussion. The grand orchestral score was recorded with many of San Francisco’s best symphony musicians at Skywalker Sound studios. "The biggest challenge we had for Beowulf’s soundtrack was that the music not only had to support and enhance the game’s actions, but it also had to follow the evolution of Beowulf universe; starting as a very heavy middle age Barbarian music and ending as a modern and powerful Hollywood score,” said Manu Bachet, Music Supervisor at Ubisoft. “Within a very aggressive schedule, Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan managed to compose the most refined barbarian soundtrack ever heard on this side of the Danes kingdom." For more information on the Beowulf™ video game, please visit http://www.beowulfgame.com
Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc., through its licensing relationship with Microsoft Game Studios, has released the Halo® 3 Original Soundtrack. The highly anticipated original soundtrack comes in a 2-CD set featuring the game’s original music score and will be released on November 20th to US retail outlets through Nile Rodgers’ Sumthing Else Music Works label www.sumthing.com and via digital download at Sumthing Digital www.sumthingdigital.com. Halo 3 is the conclusion to the epic trilogy and picks up where Halo 2 left off, answering questions about the fates of the beloved protagonist Master Chief™ and his artificial intelligence sidekick Cortana as they struggle to save humankind from destruction at the hands of the alien coalition known as the Covenant. The official Halo 3 Original Soundtrack features the new symphonic compositions by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, the award-winning composers behind the best-selling Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 Volume One and Halo 2 Volume Two soundtracks. In addition to new original tracks written for the video game, the Halo 3 soundtrack also includes new arrangements of the game’s musical themes that Bungie’s audio director and composer Martin O’Donnell recorded with a full live orchestra and chorus. The 2-CD set amounts to two hours of original music from the game.
Sumthing Else has also released the soundtrack to Unreal Tournament 3, a fast-paced first-person shooter game that unleashes the full power of Unreal Engine 3, taking graphics, gameplay, and challenge to a whole new level. Featuring over 150 minutes of intense new tracks written and produced by Need For Speed veteran Rom Di Prisco and award winning Hitman composer Jesper Kyd, the Unreal Tournament 3: soundtrack includes a diverse range of modern electronic genres representing UT3's various environments in addition to a number of re-mixed Unreal franchise classics. Di Prisco mixes hard hitting electronica with elements of breakbeat, bigbeat, and drum n bass, while Kyd blends melodic themes, hardcore dance beats and surreal sci-fi soundscapes for a truly Unreal experience. "Unreal Tournament 3’s soundtrack largely consists of high intensity fast paced action tracks which provides the drive to match the title’s relentless gameplay style," said Mike Larson, Audio Director at Epic Games. "Both composers Rom Di Prisco and Jesper Kyd are new to the Unreal franchise contributing a fresh electronic sound in addition to breathing new life into a number of UT classics which were completely re-recorded with modern sensibilities."
And in their third major gamescore release this month, Sumthing Else has issued the original soundtrack to Mass Effect, featuring over an hour of original music from the epic Xbox 360 combat space saga Inspired by classic sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner and Dune, the Mass Effect soundtrack was composed by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick with additional music by Richard Jacques and David Kates. The score blends 80’s electronic music with modern orchestral scoring to enhance the dramatic storyline and beautiful visuals set in an epic futuristic universe. "From the earliest stages of its conception, Mass Effect was meant to be an original artwork about the future, inspired by the great science fiction experiences of the past," said Casey Hudson, Project Director for Mass Effect. "This synthesis of originality and familiarity called for a truly unique soundtrack, with ambitious goals and unprecedented challenges."
Randall 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 from the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer. He now reviews soundtracks Music from the Movies, Cemetery Dance magazine, and writes for Film Music Magazine and others.