Interview with Brian Tyler

Conducting 2015 Brian Tyler

Brian Tyler Avengers: Age of Ultron, Now You See Me, Furious 7

FSC: What inspired you to go into film scoring?


BT: The thing that inspired me to go into film scoring, I think, was really the combination of the two things that I really loved growing up, which were movies and music. I really go turned on by the big, fun movies of the era – all the Spielberg films and the Lucas films with Star Wars and E.T. There are really fantastic scores in that era, and John Williams, the Back to the Future movies and the Zemeckis stuff with Alan Silvestri was fantastic. I was also a big Hitchcock fan, so all the Bernard Herrmann scores, I got really into Maurice Jarre and electronic scores, like Vangelis, and then there’s James Horner, and on and on, you name it. I think it developed out of my love for watching film and, as I went deeper into the movie catalog and the movie music I was interested in, I would buy soundtracks. At the same time, at a very young age, I got interested in musical instruments and I tried to figure out how to play different instruments, like piano, drums, and guitar. That led to many other instruments, and the one thing I found that was really interesting was the way drama connected to music in an emotional way. I often would do this — I didn’t have films, necessarily, on tap like we do now with Netflix or iTunes, where you can easily watch something later, so I would listen to soundtracks to re-experience films. I remember memorizing how dialogue and scenes lined up, be it Rocky or Star Wars or Vertigo. I could imagine and play the movie in my head, and I often would reorder the soundtracks if they weren’t in chronological order (laughs). In the early days, I started to learn to play instruments and then I started composing my own music unwittingly. For fun, I would read a book and write these scores to them. Strangely enough, one of them I actually ended up scoring the movie version of later in life, which was kind of interesting. I was a big fan of the Dune books, and of course there was the Dune score by Toto that was floating around with the David Lynch version of the movie, which was kind of weird (laughs) and fascinating in it’s own way. I thought that was great, but I’d already been reading the books and Children of Dune and Dune Messiah were in those books, so it’s just odd that I ended up scoring that once they made it and Greg Yaitanes directed it. Anyway, so all of this led to a fascination with music and how it related to film, and I could see, writing music, how much film music and film composition could really tell a story on its own, being as that I was used to listening to scores away from the films. Then, as time passed, the more I wrote, the more it started sounding filmic, and that influence made it so that my music sounded the way that I enjoyed listening to music. It led to it naturally.


FSC: You’ve had a huge impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe through your scores, in addition to working on projects like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Have you ever been afraid of getting the composer version of typecast as the superhero composer?


BT: You know, I’ve heard that. In a sense, I’ve never really thought about it from any perspective, only because I love doing them so much. Again, this comes from feeling lucky that I’m writing music for things that fascinated me growing up and through adulthood. I loved comics and graphic novels growing up, and a big part of that were, of course, the Marvel comics that go way back and continue to expand the universe. I think there is a really deep well there. Sometimes you hear people say that there are a lot of movies about superheroes, but the amount of stories and the back catalog is so much deeper than, I think, people realize. So, I don’t really think about that because it is a type of music that I really do love to compose. “That” music isn’t really one kind of music. There is, I suppose, a general feel or vibe to a main theme, perhaps. It needs to be rousing, adventure, and fantasy, combined into a sound that you need for a superhero. But, at the same time, there is so much that goes into these stories that you can really do all sorts of things with. You can explore world music, you can do corral music, you can do interesting smaller pieces like, for instance, “Loki’s Theme” is like a harp solo with avant-garde strings playing in the background and a choir kind of detuned. These things wouldn’t naturally be the first things you think of when people think of the main theme, right away, when they think of those scores that you mentioned that I’ve done. But then there’s all these other things that are not as in your face in terms of the first thing you think of when you think of these scores, but are certainly part of the tapestry. I love those nooks and crannies of writing music for these epic canvases. In a way, it’s like with me being that I started thinking about film music with Star Wars, the trilogy, and also with Close Encounters, which was one of my favorite scores. I relate it to that early influence for me, so I don’t think I could ever really get tired of it. If people think that I’m the superhero guy, then they don’t listen to my other scores (laughs). That’s on them. I’ll continue to write in different genres if the directors will have me because I do love writing in all different genres, and certainly, superhero movies are one of them.


FSC: Absolutely. For what it’s worth, I do agree, I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Look at the whole picture with things like Now You See Me, which of course I loved, and Truth, which we’ll get to in a minute, and Into the Storm, and all these other movies, it’s such a broad range. So, I don’t think that’s the case, but I do hear people saying that.


BT: Oh yeah, for sure. So do I.


FSC: Speaking of Truth, it isn’t quite like Furious 7 or Avengers: Age of Ultron, so is your approach to each film generally the same or do you change it to suit your expectations of what that film will be like?


BT: I didn’t really have an idea of what the music should sound like for Truth when I started discussing the film with James Vanderbilt, the director. I had a general sense that it was going to be a tighter, more intimate sound, but knowing that there’s a thriller aspect to it, being that it’s a true story where things kind of go haywire. I was thinking about the investigative aspect to the story when I read Mary Mape’s book and then James’ screenplay. I got into that mode where I was very interested in some of the movies that I really enjoyed that had conspiratorial flavors to the scores, like JFK, John Williams’ score to that, for instance. The story read very much like a page-turner, like All the President’s Men and stories like that. The thing that was unexpected was when I watched the film. James and his editor showed me the film — actually, played the film and left the room. They wanted me to see it on my own, so I was in a room by myself screening the film. They put zero temp music in it.


FSC: Oh wow.


BT: It was completely dry in terms of the music and just the performances of the actors. This was really interesting to me, because the thing that I noticed was that the way he directed the film and Cate Blanchett’s performance, Redford’s performance, Topher’s, and Elizabeth Moss’, and all of them, there’s this really emotional side to the story that I, for some reason, didn’t see when I was reading it. And so I knew that the music really needed to reflect this. It needed to have a strong emotional component to it. I found that the music ended up having three different goals, really, when I was starting. Three different musical responsibilities. One being the investigative, journalistic, news-like music, and then there was the political/militaristic vibe that represented the branches of government that they were investigating. Then there’s this father/daughter kind of family, not literal father and daughter, but the relationship between Mary Mapes and Dan Rather and this team, and how their lives start getting ripped apart, it becomes very much along the lines of needing some very poignant music. So it was a bit of a surprise. The movie took me to a different place than I thought I would go for sure.


FSC: Truth is (no pun intended) truly a fantastic score, it really is. One of the things that I loved was how parts of it really sounded like, well, the news.


BT: Right.


FSC: How did you go about capturing that feel?


BT: You’re right, you’re hitting upon what I was referring to just now, which was the three categories, or goals, or styles in the movie, being the journalistic side of things. There’s probably about, maybe a third of the music, maybe a little less in the movie, that has that tone. It’s often when they’re investigating things, when they’re trying to track things down, information. You’ll notice there’s these ostinatos in the harp and the piano — consciously, or maybe subconsciously, I’m not sure which came first, it’s a bit of a chicken egg, but basically the idea behind that being journalistic was a literal one. There’s something to that “dun din din din” sound that sounds very metric, like typing. The thing I noticed is what seemed to work the best at representing the journalistic trade of typing when you don’t literally see them doing it is doing things that simulate typing, like piano, pressing of the keys and fingers in a rapid motion, doing piano ostinatos seemed to fit the bill. Not just in an intellectual way, but somehow evoke something to that effect. I think that’s why it sounds kind of “newsy,” when you have the harp — and then, I had the strings support the ostinatos and the piano, and it became the orchestra simulating a typewriter typing. I think that goes a long way to sound like the news. And then, certainly, the one piece at the end, which is the main title, was all the other themes — actually the theme of Dan Rather and Mary Mapes and all these other themes that were actually not in that style in the movie. I did a rendition of those themes, which were very different, in the news style that almost sounded like a news theme to go along with Truth, if it were a news program. The other two-thirds of the score being the emotional component and the political component, those got enveloped into the news style of music. But yeah, I’m glad you noticed!


FSC: What was your experience working with James Vanderbilt like?


BT: James is an old compadre of mine. We know each other well within film and outside film, which is great. I’ve been working with him for twelve years, on and off, on movies where he was writing the film and I was composing the score. We had not worked in this capacity before as director and composer because he hasn’t directed a film until now. The thing that I found interesting was that there was a common language there more than I would’ve guessed. I think, basically, because the screenwriter and the composer are connected as bookends in a movie. One writes the first word before anything’s filmed, and the other writes the last note. It’s kind of the last thing that’s put into the movie. We have a connection of opposites, or a balancing of the pendulum on two sides of the swing. James is such a cool guy, just a good guy to hang out with. And, he’s really brilliant. His knowledge of things is just amazing, and he’s a fellow film and film music nerd. We often just go on tangents. It’s funny, we’ve worked together for a long, long time, and it was great to do it in a different capacity with someone who really knows his stuff. He’s a great collaborator.


FSC: What was your favorite achievement in the Truth score?


BT: Oh, you know, that’s a good question. I think the music tells the story and in two ways. That was the goal, at least. I guess the greatest achievement of it was, two things need to be done with the music that James left room for me to do. This was not a matter of fixing the movie, this was a matter of design. James left the responsibility in my hands, which was kind of scary (laughs). He had a lot of confidence, which was great. More confidence than I did in me. He laid it out so you needed to have a great deal of clarification, subconsciously, with the music and the storylines, being that there are a lot of names and a lot of characters because this is a true story. You had to be able to tell the difference between what General, and what Commander, what Lieutenant, and this and that. A lot of clarity needed to be given. The music had to do this. Now, it’s a subconscious thing that happens, but it certainly is effective with thematic scoring and having certain sounds used with certain characters and what not, in the same way, through repetition of things, our brains associate, which lots of studies have shown, with visuals. Like, where you would play a sound and you would see a color, they’d flash a color in front of the eyes of a child and you would do it many, many, many times. Over time, they would naturally associate, not even realizing it. You’d play the tone notes and they would say green or blue or what not. Like an idiomatic response that you see when you don’t even realize that you have memory that you don’t know you have. A good example would be typing, ironically, with the journalistic thing. Your fingers just rip away with finding the letters on a keyboard when typing something out. If you then were asked to just write the broad grid of where all the letters are on a keyboard, pretty sure 99% of the people would not be able to do it. Yet, your fingers know where they all are! So, I think what happens with a score like Truth, where you have that much information, I was trying very hard to clarify things (laughs) so the viewer uses a little less effort to glide through the story, which made it more emotionally impactful later when you really feel like you’ve gone through this journey. One of the things that this does, thematic writing, it instills a sense of history that you don’t get when you’re in the theater, unlike a TV series where you might have twenty episodes to get to know the characters. You’re watching something and you really get into it, you become, in a way, friendly with the characters on the screen and you feel like you really know them. A movie like this, which was about two hours, is an incredibly short amount of time to get emotionally attached to someone. Very rarely in real life would this happen. If you’re lucky, you may have two or three times in your life where you sit down at a dinner and afterwards you think, “Wow, I feel like I’ve known them all my life.” But most of the time, it’s not that way. It takes time. Music is this steroidal accelerant that you inject (laughs) into a movie with themes that make you really feel like you know these characters longer than you actually have in terms of you sitting in the theater for only a few hours. So that was a big goal, hopefully we achieved that because by the end of the movie, if you count the credits, I think the last twelve minutes, or so, of the movie, there’s no dialogue, no sound effects. It’s just music. The whole coda of the film is done with visuals and music, then it goes into the end credits. But there’s quite a lot told with just visuals and music. James, by design, had left room for me to do this, he left room for the score to do this, and at the end of the day, I needed to pull that off. Otherwise, the movie wouldn’t really make any sense, in terms of that, by design. Or, it might not have an emotionally satisfying ending. Hopefully it did, and if people watch it and feel that way, then great. That would make me really happy (laughs).


FSC: It’s great to hear that the opportunity really was there for the music to take the foreground.


BT: Yeah.


FSC: And at such an important moment, it’s great.


BT: Yeah, it really was.

Brian Tyler Composer of the Year City of Hope


FSC: I know before you talked about how Star Wars was one of the things, along with Close Encounters and others, that really helped inspire you for this. I don’t know if you are even aware of this, but there has been a little bit of talk about the possibility of you scoring one of these Star Wars spinoff films.


BT: Right.


FSC: So, hypothetically, let’s say that you get that job. How do you think you would approach scoring a film like that which already has such an iconic musical atmosphere in the franchise?


BT: Well, this would be fantastic. Certainly, we’ll see what happens. But, the thing about Star Wars that is indelibly connected are the themes. For me, it would be job number one to make sure that those lived on and were part of the expanding rebirth of the franchise. To me, John Williams’ work would be central, and then, as new characters are introduced, they would of course require new themes. I think it would always need to be done from the perspective of fitting in harmonically with the orchestration style that John uses and employs on those films. I would want to keep that alive and it would be a dream, of course. I kind of live and breathe those scores. Star Wars was the first score to really launch my, as many people, launch my interest in film music.


FSC: What’s one of the worst things to go wrong when you were working on a project?


BT: (Laughs) Let’s see here. I distinctly remember, going all the way back to my first film. The first film I did was called Bartender. It was actually before Six-String Samurai, which most people think was my first film. This was a small film. Scoring it was a big break for me. I get to score a film, so excited! I worked on the score for something like nine months. It was kind of a massive score. It had a lot going on. I had recorded many, many songs for it. I don’t remember how many songs, something like twelve or fourteen songs with vocals and all sorts of things. It was more of a traditional classical style, orchestral score, along with a bunch of songs which ranged from Hip-hop to rock to club songs. It had everything in it. It was all approved and everything was cruising along. We hadn’t dubbed in the movie, so the music wasn’t mixed in with the sound effects yet or anything. Before we went to go dub the film and mix the music in with the sound effects, my drives died. And my backups of the hard drives died. I had some kind of triple redundancy — this was back in the day, I don’t know, but something happened. Everything was lost. I tried to get a drive company out of Palo Alto to recover it, and they recovered like three audio files (laughs). Total disaster. I didn’t tell anyone except my closest people. I didn’t tell anyone on the film that this had happened. I just went back, recalled all the singers, all the musicians, and recorded under the radar (laughs). I did everything in three weeks that I had done in nine months over again. It was pretty close to the same. No one noticed. We dubbed the film, everything was fine. Then, I would say fifteen years later, I was having lunch with the director, who’s a good friend of mine, and I told him the story just to have a laugh. He actually felt so bad, his eyes welled up, he just felt so bad for little Brian, back in the day, going through such a trauma. The good thing was the worst disaster I ever encountered was the first disaster I ever encountered.


FSC: That sounds like quite a recovery too.


BT: Yeah, it was a pretty good recovery. Yeah. I felt if I didn’t recover, that would’ve been it. My first movie would’ve been my last.


FSC: What direction do you see the future of film scores going in?


BT: I think it’s going to be like the late 70s, in a way, or the second half of the 70s, where you really have music getting infused into scores. There are certain areas where scores are much more similar. I think we’re swinging toward more variety. You had in the 70s everything from the Lalo Schifrin style, the Ennio Morricone style, experimental things with Jerry Goldsmith, you had traditional, really Wagnerian and Holstein kind of music with John Williams doing his thing and the advent of electronic scores happening with things like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis — there was this boom of just “whoa,” where things were all in different directions and I think people aren’t as afraid of doing things that are not right up the middle now. I think people, even on big films, are looking for something that just fits the film. Maybe that’s a score that done will all-monophonic vintage synthesizers. Maybe that means instead of somebody doing a ninety piece orchestra, doing a chamber orchestra because that sounds interesting for the film. I feel like there’s going to be a lot of variety in the scores.


FSC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?


BT: I think my perception of this has changed over time. I think that there’s something to the idea of — both my agents, who I’m very close with, and John Williams, who they represent, have always told me this mantra, which seems very simple. They always say, “It’s all about the music.” Not sort of about the music, it’s all about the music. Regardless of what else is going on in your life, in your career, in what kind of deal you get, who’s scoring what thing, or what film does what at the box office, you just — I took this to heart in a way I don’t even think they realize. The way I interpret that is, no matter what the film is or the project is, you treat it like it’s Citizen Kane. You respect the fact that you’ve been brought on, and you really, no matter what, give it your all. You try to continue to challenge yourself in that way. There was a time in my career when I was doing a lot of films that weren’t doing very well at the box office, which was fine. I didn’t let that throw me. I really just wanted the score to come out very well and help the movie as much as possible. I think that’s probably helped me more than anything.


FSC: This last one is from a reader, Mark. He says, “Tokyo Drift is one of my favorite scores from you.”


BT: Ah! Thank you.


FSC: “I believe you performed yourself, especially on the drums for the score. Do you feel like performing yourself will give you the sound and energy you have envisioned?”


BT: It can. I do play a lot of instruments on my scores. You can imagine when you work with a bunch of musicians, which I do often, sometimes they bring something different to the table that I never would have thought of, which is fantastic. But if I have something very specific in mind, especially when it comes to instruments that I play a lot, things like drums, piano, guitar, and things like that, the good thing is that I have a direct line to the composer — myself. I can be as hard on myself and get as specific as possible and try to get it just perfect. That being said, sometime I fire myself and find someone who might be better suited for that style, which you need to be able to do. It’s all based around trying to get the best score possible, so however that might work. But, he is right, on Tokyo Drift, I did play a lot of instruments and had a good time with it for sure.

TMNT session 3

For more, visit Brian’s website at BrianTyler.com

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Interview with Jesi Nelson

Jesi Nelson

Jesi Nelson

Jesi Nelson – composer for film and media

FSC:  What inspired you to pursue a career in film scoring?


JN:  Thomas Newman’s score for “Meet Joe Black”. In particular, the track titled “That Next Place.” I remember seeing that film when I was around 10 years old, of which I was probably too young to fully understand the depth of the film, but I remember crying so much when I was watching it, and being totally. That track came on in one of the final scenes, and I just kept rewinding the tape and playing it over and over and crying, finally realizing that it was the music that kept overwhelming me. (Along with the fantastic film itself) I remember turning to my parents, who looked understandably concerned, as this was not normal behavior for a 10 year old, and deciding, “I’m going to do this.” Not knowing exactly what “this” was, but figured it out later in high school when my music theory teacher, Mr. Larson, introduced me to the world of film scoring, and gave me the soundtrack for “The Mission”, by Maestro Ennio Morricone. I listened, cried and began the pursuit of this career without looking back!


FSC:  If, then, you have to credit a composer as being your main inspiration, would it be Thomas Newman, Ennio Morricone, or someone else?


JN:  Today, I’ll say Thomas Newman. Tomorrow, I may say Maestro Morricone, as it’s always a toss up. Newman has this indentifiability that any composer would envy and every time a score of his comes on I stop everything and just listen. Same goes for Morricone. His long form melodies are the things that can make anyone cry at the drop of hat. I think it’s pretty safe to ask, what composer wouldn’t want that ability?


FSC:  It’s time for you to start scoring a film.  What are the first things you do?


JN:  Listen. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll watch the film a few times through without thinking about music, which forces me to really watch and listen to the film. Then, spotting. That is, sitting down with the director or producer and deciding where they want music, and making sure that I’m seeing the same film that they are. More times than not, little ideas or themes immediately pop into my head and I’ll scribble them down, and bring them back later. If spotting has already been done, then I’ll find the sounds we want for the film, make a template, and off I go!


FSC:  Is there ever anything by your side when you do this, such as coffee or headphones for inspiration?


JN:  Coffee. So much coffee. Lots of post it notes for random thoughts and ideas, and always manuscript paper, so I can jot down melodies or quick orchestration ideas and such. I do this because I’m mostly faster at translating my ideas onto staff paper and keeping them there, versus playing them into my sequencer, getting stuck on or obsessing over one thing and then forgetting part of the initial idea, ruining the idea all together.


FSC:  How would you say your composing style is different from others?


JN:  I think it’s safe to say that all composers are expected and strive to be completely versatile in all styles. But I definitely write for the orchestra first. That is, I love using electronics just as much, but my brain thinks like an orchestra first. If given the opportunity, I’ll write primarily for the orchestra, and my music tends to be very melodic and emotional. (Influenced by Newman and Morricone, methinks) But it’s hardly ever for just the orchestra. That is, it’s usually a hybrid of orchestra and electronics, whether it’s synth heavy in melody or just in the ghost tracks behind the orchestra.


FSC:  Although you go to orchestra first, would you enjoy composing an all-synth/electronic score?


JN:  Absolutely!! 110% yes. There’s nothing sexier than the sound of a purely analog synth. Yes, I think like an orchestra first, but that can easily and quickly be translated and related to synth/electronic scores as well. The two can go hand in hand very easily. I’m always open for something new, and while I obviously love an orchestral sound, my favorite score this year has been Mac Quayle’s Mr. Robot, which is an entirely electronic score. Brilliant stuff.


FSC:  What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received thus far in your career, pertaining to composing?


JN:  I had the great fortune of having composer Kubilay Uner as my mentor for the last year of graduate school at Columbia College, and the best advice he gave me was to always stay positive. It’s okay to be upset when things don’t necessarily turn in your favor, but be upset, and then let it go and move forward. Don’t think of it as win or loss, just accept and appreciate that you were not the right fit for the project, and learn from the experience. There’s a lot that can be perceived as negative, but it doesn’t have to be felt or heard that way. Change your attitude entirely, if need be. I suppose that wasn’t entirely an compositional answer, but it’s necessary advice for any composer, especially for those starting out in this industry. Compositionally speaking, the best advice I received was probably to make sure you give your theme the time it needs to be heard and remembered (if you’re writing a thematic score), but never forget to vary it or develop it, if the film allows your time to do so.

Conducting

The Murder Pact (Matthew Llewellyn)

murderpact

The Murder Pact Soundtrack by Matthew Llewellyn (2015)

Get it: If you like electronic styled soundtracks with an orchestral approach

Don’t get it: If you want a light, classic feel for this score

From MovieScore Media comes the soundtrack to The Murder Pact.  Matthew Llewellyn has continued to show his multiple musical facets with this score.  Winner of two awards at the 2014 Film Soundtrack Center Awards, including “Up-and-Coming Composer”, he demonstrates different styles with his two recent projects.  This variation continues to this score. 

Previously, we’ve seen Llewellyn’s work on Deep in the Darkness and Wishin’ and Hopin’.  While completely different styles, both of these scores shared an orchestral sound.  With The Murder Pact, he and director Colin Theys agreed to come up with something that they haven’t done before.  In fact, it hasn’t really been done by anyone before.  There’s a contemporary edge present that still has elements of traditional scores in it.  Llewellyn was to do an all-electronic OST.  However, he still had an orchestral approach.  This adds a unique and rather nice element to it that sets it apart from others in the genre.  Sometimes, you can find an electronic, or synth, score that can settle into a somewhat monotonous theme or tone.  That isn’t the case here.  Instead, we have the progressions, variations, and influences of an orchestra, but with a new sound.  There are numerous changes in tone and feel throughout that keep the listener actively involved in the music. 

If you are a soundtrack fan who doesn’t usually like an electronic sound, you may still be interested in giving this a listen anyway.  If you are an electronic score fan, you will also want to listen to this score.  Why?  It incorporates aspects of both sides, so there’s something for everyone to like.  Some tracks have the beats and rhythm that is commonly associated with a synth score, while others have more of the focus on the individual sections combining for the overall sound (as associated with an orchestra). 

With an average of about 2:30 time, the tracks run a perfect length – not too long, and definitely not too short.  Due to Matthew Llewellyn’s previous work, expectations were high for this score – and it did not disappoint. 

Here is a preview track from the score, titled, “Belle Gets Rung”:

Click here (iTunes) or here (Amazon) to shop for the soundtrack, or here for more info

Pixels (Henry Jackman)

Pixels

Pixels Soundtrack Cover

Pixels Soundtrack by Henry Jackman (2015)

Get it:  If you like a very orchestral adventure/action score that uses heavy strings and brass

Don’t get it:  If you are hoping for something with a little more electronic punch

The soundtrack to Pixels, composed by Henry Jackman and released by Varèse Sarabande, is something Jackman fans should be very pleased with.  This fits in line with some of his previous films, such as Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph.  Although this isn’t strictly an animated film, as those two, it does still make sense that the sound would be fairly similar.  It can be sharp (in a good way) and full of action — but orchestral action, not just electronic bass and beats.  The orchestral timbre is quite noticeable.  That’s not to say Jackman doesn’t use a lot of percussive sounds, but rather that the body of the score isn’t based on those types of sounds. 

Jackman uses the strings very well to convey both a mysterious feel as well as a little sense of fun adventure (in the beginning).  The way he holds back from using the brass early on makes it more impactful for the action sequences later in the score when he does.  On that note, it should be said that when he does start to use the brass, he does so with great power in a supportive manner.  However, it does not overtake the strings, which are the main consistent element through this score.  Woodwinds are used sparingly throughout. 

The cues (there are 21) are not very long at all.  In fact, 2 minutes is on the longer side for this.  The exception is the track “Roll Out,” which is over 5 minutes long.  Otherwise, expect 1-2 minute tracks.  Overall, this is a good score that will do its job in the film very well.  Whether you want to buy it or not depends on two things – 1) if you are a fan of this style, which is pulled off extremely well, or 2) if you liked its use in the film and consequently wish to own it. 

Below is a visual preview of the soundtrack:

Click here or here to pre-order the soundtrack on CD

James Horner

JAMES HORNER

(1953-2015)


Where to begin.

Last night, we got the news that we were all dreading.  James Horner’s airplane had crashed and he was missing for a while — but then the news.  Last night, we lost a legend.  Not only music lovers, not only movie fans, and not only Hollywood were greatly saddened, but artists everywhere.  He told us stories.  He made us feel empowered, fearful, joyous, saddened, alive, heroic, and so much more, all the while doing it in a way that nobody else possibly could.  In honor, here is a slight glimpse at the man who changed our worlds.

James Roy Horner was born August 14th, 1953, in Los Angeles, California.  His father, a Czechoslovakian immigrant, worked in Hollywood as a set designer.  After graduating college, James worked on several projects with the American Film Institute in the 1970s before finally turning to film scoring. 

Horner started out, as most in the business do, working on lower budget “B Films”.  He had his big break, however, when he entered the mainstream and composed the music to the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  That was only the beginning.  He moved on to scoring many films that we now know and love.  His first of 10 Academy Award nominations came for his score to the 1986 film Aliens. He would go on to win two Oscars for his work on the classic film Titanic.

That is just a slight look into his numerous well deserved accolades that he received.  The list of his scores that have influenced and touched us is long enough that rather than list it one by one, the complete list of the movies he scored is written below in chronological order. 

Even if you do not personally appreciate his work in ways that others do, there is one fact that cannot be ignored – his contributions to the cinema are astounding.  However, it is near impossible to imagine that one of his scores did not touch you in some way.  Fan of his methods or not, the purity of the music is stirringly extraordinary.  His music is not just something that he did to pass the time.  It was his life. 

Some see dots on a page, but he saw magic. 

We heard that magic.  He gave it to us as his gift to the world.  He had more to give, though, and we know that what he had in store for us was amazing.  That’s part of what made him a legend.  He didn’t write music.  He was a well of emotion that would never run dry.  Although he is now gone, his gift remains for us to cherish. 

Rest in peace, James Horner.

James Horner’s movies from beginning to end (the ones in bold have particularly touched audiences worldwide):

1970s:

The Watcher

Up from the Depths

The Lady in Red

1980s:

Humanoids from the Deep

Battle Beyond the Stars

Angel Dusted

The Hand

Wolfen

Deadly Blessing

A Few Days in Weasel Creek

The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper

A Piano for Mrs. Cimino

Rascals and Robbers:  The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan

48 Hrs.

Journey to Krull

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Space Raiders

Krull

Between Friends

Brainstorm

Testament

The Dresser

Gorky Park

Uncommon Valor

The Stone Boy

Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock

Heaven Help Us

Surviving

Barbarian Queen

Cocoon

Volunteers

The Journey of Natty Gann

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom

Commando

In Her Own Time

Off Beat

Aliens

Where the River Runs Black

The Name of the Rose

An American Tail

P. K. and the Kid

Project X

*batteries not included

Willow

Red Heat

Vibes

The Land Before Time

Cocoon: The Return

Andy Colby’s Incredible Adventure

Field of Dreams

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

In Country

Dad

Glory

1990s:

I Love You to Death

Another 48 Hrs.

Once Around

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Class Action

The Rocketeer

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

Thunderheart

Patriot Games

Unlawful Entry

Sneakers

Swing Kids

A Far Off Place

Jack the Bear

Once Upon a Forest

House of Cards

Searching for Bobby Fischer

The Man Without a Face

Bopha!

We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

The Pelican Brief

Clear and Present Danger

The Pagemaster

Legends of the Fall

Braveheart

Casper

Apollo 13

Jade

Jumanji

Balto

The Spitfire Grill

Courage Under Fire

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

Ransom

The Devil’s Own

Titanic

Deep Impact

The Mask of Zorro

Mighty Joe Young

Bicentennial Man

2000s:

Freedom Song

The Perfect Storm

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Enemy at the Gates

A Beautiful Mind

Iris

Windtalkers

The Four Feathers

Radio

Beyond Borders

The Missing

House of Sand and Fog

Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genuis

Troy

The Forgotten

The Chumscrubber

Flightplan

The Legend of Zorro

The New World

All the King’s Men

Apocalypto

The Life Before Her Eyes

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Avatar

2010s:

The Karate Kid

Day of the Falcon

For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada

The Amazing Spider-Man

One Day in Auschwitz

(Forthcoming):

Wolf Totem

Living in the Age of Airplanes

Southpaw

The 33