Category Archives: Film Composer

The magic of James Horner: Casper (1995)

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the blogathon so far. Today is the last day and here is my contribution. Enjoy!

It’s been two years since James Horner was ripped away from us, his passing left a void that may never be filled. He had a gift for creating magical themes that stuck in the head for hours after the movie was over. And one of my favorite examples from the mid-90s was the main theme from Casper (1995).

Loosely based on the comics character Casper the Friendly Ghost, Casper follows a paranormal therapist, Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter “Kat” as they travel from state to state in an attempt to make contact with the spirit of Harvey’s deceased wife Amelia. The pair come to Casper’s former home when the spoiled heiress who inherited the home wants the ghosts (Casper and his uncles) removed so she can claim the “treasure” hidden inside.

Casper’s Lullaby

Casper’s theme, listed on the soundtrack as “Casper’s Lullaby”, is a haunting piano melody that comes to the forefront particularly when Casper remembers the events of his death, and also during the Halloween dance when Kat realizes she’s dancing with Casper (who’s alive for one night).

How Casper Died

It’s such a haunting melody, one that highlights the tragedy of Casper’s short life, and the fact that he “didn’t go where he was supposed to” but stayed behind instead. Actually, ever since Horner passed away, I’ve had a hard time listening to this theme, as it reminds me that one of the greatest film composers is gone before his time. I hope you enjoy listening to Casper’s Lullaby, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the blogathon today.

Brian Tyler conducts The Mummy (2017)

One thing that never fails to get to me is when a wonderful film score is attached to a terrible film: a recent case in point being the most recent box office bomb, The Mummy (which I ripped to shreds earlier this month).

Despite the film being an abysmal failure (and hopefully the death knell of the Dark Universe before it really gets going), the score, composed and conducted by Brian Tyler, is really beautiful. An amazing thing about Tyler is that on his Facebook page he will release footage of himself conducting pieces from his film scores (I have a confession, that’s where I find most of Tyler’s material to share with you). And when I saw that he had posted video of himself conducting the score at a special premiere, I had to watch.

Brian Tyler conducts The Mummy (2017)

It was beautiful!! Brian Tyler is a very talented composer and it shows in this excerpt. The music begins relatively subdued, with an iteration of a particular theme (I suspect it is Ahmanet’s). But as the music goes on, this theme gains intensity and power, until the full orchestra and chorus is backing it.

Unfortunately, I fear the abysmal reviews of the film will prevent many people from experiencing the beauty of this film score (a similar thing happened with Gods of Egypt; Marco Beltrami composed a great score, but the bad reviews meant that many people never heard it). Thus, I am sharing this performance with all of you and I hope you enjoy it. On a side note, when I commented on Facebook that I loved how the theme built in power, Brian Tyler liked the comment!!

If you feel that I should give this film a chance when it’s available to rent on Redbox, let me know in the comments below (I’ll consider it if enough people think so). Don’t forget that the Remembering James Horner Blogathon begins Friday, this is the absolute last day to sign up, after midnight tonight I will consider the submissions area closed.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Brian Tyler, see here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Coming up: two composer interviews

Hey everyone, so as of yesterday I have completed two composer interivews, the first was with Scott Doherty, the composer for Orange is the New Black (an enlightening experience) and the second was with composer/orchestrator/performer Paul Henning, who, among other things, orchestrated The Force Awakens, performed in the orchestra that recorded Moana, Frozen and Rogue One and is currently scoring a documentary about George Foreman.

I learned SO much from these two composers and my appreciation of the film scoring process has risen to an entirely new level. I also learned a lot more about the actual recording process, and for the first time I think I thoroughly understand the scoring process from beginning to end.

Hopefully the first interview will be up early next week, as I will be spending this week transcribing the audio. But for now, here’s a little tid-bit that I learned from Paul Henning that blew my mind: when orchestras record for film scores? They’re completely sight-reading, which means no rehearsals, they’ve never seen this music before.

I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned with you, until then, have a great Monday!!

There’s just about a week left to sign up for the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon here , it should be a great time!!

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon begins two weeks from tomorrow!

Hey everyone! It’s almost time for the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon, which will run from June 23rd-25th, in memory of the late film composer who passed away two years ago this month. I’m so excited to see all the entries, there have been so many sign ups for this year! If you’d still like to sign up, it’s not too late, just follow the link to the sign up page and add your information by the end of the day on June 20th and you can join in!

Announcing the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon

A few notes on the blogathon: there is no set order for who posts on which day. When you DO post, please make sure to tag my blog at the top (i.e. this post is part of the Remembering James Horner Blogathon, etc.) and include a link back to my blog so I can tell who has posted so I can include you in each day’s recap.

Also, if you haven’t claimed a title yet, I made it so that each film can only be talked about twice, so as of right now Casper, Willow and The Land Before Time are all completely spoken for.

I should also note that you do not HAVE to talk about the entire soundtdrack, you may simply pick a specific piece of music, or just talk about why you liked this film and score in general, whatever feels right to you.

If you have any questions, please let me know before the blogathon gets started, and I can’t wait to see what everybody has in two weeks!

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

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Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

Normally when I share composer interviews, it’s for a relatively current film. But when I found an interview for the 1968 film The Bride Wore Black that was given by composer Bernard Herrmann, I just knew I had to share it with you.

The Bride wore Black (released in France as  La Mariée était en noir) is a revenge film directed by Francois Truffaut. It tells the story of a woman named Julie Kohler, whose husband is killed on her wedding day as they’re leaving the church. The crime occurred because five men were horsing around with a loaded rifle in a building across the street and it went off, fatally striking the newly married groom. After learning the identities of the men responsible, Kohler sets out to kill every last man responsible.

The new widow is completely ruthless in her pursuit of vengeance:

  • victim #1 is pushed off a balcony
  • victim #2 is poisoned
  • victim #3 is locked in a small closet where he suffocates to death (she sealed the door shut with duct tape
  • victim #4 would’ve been killed with a handgun but the police arrested him before she could get him
  • victim #5 is shot in the back (fatally) with an arrow as she posed for a painting of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. After noticing that he’s painted her on the wall in a mural, Julie decides to leave the painting as is, knowing the evidence will lead to her arrest. After arriving at jail (where still-alive victim #4 is also serving time), she ends up working in the kitchen where she is last seen taking a food cart towards the men’s side of the prison (a scream implying she’s completed her task of vengeance).

The music for this film was written by the legendary composer Bernard Herrmann (perhaps best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock on four of his films, including Psycho). I haven’t found many interviews with Herrmann thus far, so it is fascinating to hear him talking about his work with any film. I admit I haven’t actually seen The Bride Wore Black (not yet anyway), but after watching this interview and reading more about the plot, I definitely need to check this film out.

What do you think of Bernard Herrmann talking about The Bride Wore Black? Have you seen the film? And if you have, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, have a great Monday!!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Bernard Herrmann, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

 

Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

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Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

Partition is a very sad story, set in 1947 during the partition of India (when Pakistan was created as a Muslim nation). It is based on the Romeo and Juliet story type, where two people fall in love even though it is forbidden. In this case, a Hindu man, Gian Singh, slowly falls for Naseem, a Muslim girl, even though all the rules of their respective religions forbid this.

What makes this film notable for me is that it features a score by Brian Tyler, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite film composers. This behind the scenes video shows Tyler at work in the studio, annotating his score and recording with a rough cut of the film playing on a screen in front of him. He also worked with the Hollywood Studio Symphony for recording the score as well.

One big thing with the music that Tyler wanted to create is, that while there is a sense of Western music in the score, there is also a frequent callback to the sound of India as well. He wanted to create the feeling that you (the audience) have been transported through time to this very traumatic period in the history of India and Pakistan.

There is something magical about watching Brian Tyler on the podium conducting his music, I definitely need to hear more of this score now. If you’ve seen Partition, I would love to know your thoughts on the film and the score in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Brian Tyler, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

An Interview with Adam Blau Part 3

I solemnly swear that I planned to have this part posted months ago, but reality kept intervening time and time again. However, I am now happy to finally be able to share with you the conclusion to this awesome interview with film and television composer Adam Blau.

How would you describe your compositional style? More orchestral or electronic/synthetic?

It’s totally a case by case basis, I’ve written for full orchestra, like with License to Wed, which had a jazz, swingy feel for the most part. So we wrote it for a huge orchestra. And the other end of the spectrum then is the electronic stuff that I do for You’re the Worst, it is totally case by case. And with percussion stuff, my first stint with that was for a film called We Are Marshall, and there was also Yours, Mine and Ours as well.

The genre is really dictated by the material and also the budget. I would prefer to work with a live orchestra, but with most tv it is simply not in the cards (except for maybe Game of Thrones which has the budget to do it.)
What’s your favorite genre to work with? Why?

I am happy working in any genre, but I like working in comedies because it allows for working in a lot of ways, I admit I am a huge comedy junkie and I love sitcoms. But these days, if you’re doing comedy, you get to write in a number of genres and run the gamut, because writing comedy can also mean writing in a serious moment or a song, so you can try a lot of different things. One of my strengths has been being able to wear a number of different hats, learning a new genre or figuring out the core elements of a particular style and working in that new style, it’s a fun challenge trying to do that. I also enjoy the collaborative process with comedy as well.
Does one score/project stand out as your favorite?

It’s truly hard to pick a single project that I would call my favorite. I would have a hard time sitting here working day after day on shows that I don’t like so much, so I try to find something enjoyable about the project itself or the music for that project, or the people I work with, or otherwise it’s a long hard slog. But there are some standouts for me, You’re The Worst is definitely a highlight. And the people are just so spectacular to work with as well.

Me: Well thank you so much for meeting with me to talk about You’re The Worst and your work as acomposer

Adam: Thank you!

And my thanks again to Adam Blau for talking with me about his work. Again, my deepest apologies for the long delay in uploading this last part of the interview. You can follow Adam Blau on Twitter @adamblau .

For the earlier segments of the interview, see also:

An Interview with Adam Blau, part 1

An Interview With Adam Blau Part 2

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