Jurassic World (Michael Giacchino)

Jurassic World Soundtrack Cover

Jurassic World Soundtrack Cover

Jurassic World Soundtrack by Michael Giacchino (2015)

Get it:  If you like the previous Jurassic Park soundtracks, especially the one to the first film, as well as Giacchino’s style

Don’t get it:  If you’re hoping for a typical action score that uses constant beats to keep you on the edge of your seat

22 years ago, the world’s imagination was completely captured by Steven Spielberg’s latest marvel, Jurassic World.  Per expectations, John Williams brought the story to life in ways thought impossible as he had with previous films Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, and so much more.  Part of the magnificence of that score was the combination of intensity on one track with awe inspiring beauty on the other.  Over two decades later, another man is tasked with a challenge.  Michael Giacchino had to not only create a new sound and feel for the new ‘Jurassic World’ park, but he also had to pay respect to the already established themes that we love.  How did he do?  Splendidly.

The soundtrack to Jurassic World by Michael Giacchino, released by Backlot Music, excels at not only creating something freshly awe inspiring, but paying homage to the original as well.  Those instantly recognizable themes do not overtake the new, however, since they are used very sparingly.  This is a great tool since not only does it make the audience/listener crave the themes even more, but it also creates space for the new music.  Hopes were high for the use of Williams themes given the relationship between Williams and Giacchino.  He does something that Don Davis fell a little short of; grasping the full majesty of the music.  Giacchino understands that you cannot simply throw brass at the notes and it will work.  Instead, he carefully dictates the background instruments to provide a strong base for the brass to enter full power.  Early on, one track is reserved solely for the original Jurassic Park theme, reverently titled, “Welcome to Jurassic World.”  It captures the grandeur of the original track while remaining ever-so-slightly different.  Unsurprisingly, Giacchino also uses the piano for the theme in a moment which is a perfect fit for the film and the context of the franchise.

The new music is nothing to skim over.  A major difference between the films is in Jurassic Park, the awe of the dinosaurs themselves is enough.  In Jurassic World, however, that isn’t quite the case anymore.  Instead, the park has been up-and-running for about ten years.  This time, it’s more about a fun vacation.  The music, namely in “As the Jurassic World Turns,” expresses the comfort and excitement that accompany a vacation.  The intensity is there as well, but in more of a classic manner.  The score doesn’t rely on beats to stop your heart via vibration.  Instead, it’s the lack of that which makes it intense.  The lower-profile music pulls you in as you try to hear it.  Not that it is too quiet, though.  Having said that, there are some moments that reflect the style of the opening of the first film.  Finally, there is sweepingly beautiful music also.  It’s not just about brass or just about strings at any moment.  There’s a choir, a tambourine, a piano, and more.  This soundtrack is not only a triumph for Michael Giacchino and the Jurassic Park franchise, but moviegoers and music lovers everywhere.  Being the number one opening weekend ever, this score has a wide audience – and it did not back down.

Here is a piece of the soundtrack called “As the Jurassic World Turns”:

Click here (CD) or here (Digital) to shop for the soundtrack

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer Music (John Williams)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer Music by John Williams (2015)

Back in November, JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy gave the world a first look into the new and upcoming world of Star Wars – a look that included John Williams.  Listening to the trailer (just listening), it is very promising for fans of the original trilogy’s music.  The thing about it is that, although the music is new, it has a quality about it that points back to ‘classic’ Williams – but with a modern recording.  It is definitly action oriented.  But then, the main theme.  Let’s just say that, even though it was not recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra (nor will the film be), it still sounds like the great theme we all know and love.  Give a listen to the music only below:

(NOTE:  In an attempt to remove the vocals and focus on the music, the makers of the two following videos have slightly lessened the quality of the music.)

More recently, the new Star Wars Dynamic Duo (Abrams and Kennedy) released a second teaser trailer at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in California.  Signs are pointing toward the music being a new recording for this trailer specifically by Williams himself.  This trailer’s music is quite intriguing.  First, it utilizes a familiar sound in the Force theme.  But after, it changes.  Although still in the same style of sound, it takes on a more powerful and less active place.  As it continues, a theme emerges.  Even though it is familiar music that we usually associate with triumph, there’s just something more powerful this time.  Not quite ominous, but powerful, dramatic, and impactful.  Now give it a listen as well to just the music (oh but fair warning – it is hard to listen to it and NOT hear Han Solo telling Chewie, and us, that they’re home).

Stay tuned for updates on new trailers and check out our Star Wars music series leading up to the release of the next film.  Do you think a teaser trailer for the Star Wars Spinoff film (now referenced as Anthology films) Rogue One will feature music by Alexandre Desplat?  Or do you think that will be held off until much later in the process, as with most films?

Interview with Cris Velasco

Cris Velasco

Cris Velasco

Cris Velasco Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed: Unity – Dead Kings, and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood

FSC:  What inspired you to compose music?

 CV:  There was sort of an instantaneous epiphany that got me into composing. I was studying a variety of subjects in a community college, just trying to find something that would inspire me enough to pursue it full-time. At this point, I’d had no formal education in music and I was taking a very basic Music Appreciation class because it sounded like fun. We learned about a different style or era of music each week. Jazz, rock, blues, classical, etc. This one particular day we studied Mozart and his 40th Symphony. I had never heard it before, but it moved me and completely changed my life. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a composer. So I stayed at this school for one more year and took every music class they offered…theory, ear training, music history, piano, and even some private composition lessons. I had never composed a note before in my life. I couldn’t even read music at that point. Somehow, I had a knack for it though. I spent all my free time writing music, clicking it in with a mouse one note at a time into a notation program called Finale. I put together a portfolio and used it to get into UCLA’s composition major. It’s been a hard road to break in to this industry, but one that’s offered me an extremely rewarding life!

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FSC:  What’s it like to work on a franchise like ‘Assassin’s Creed’?

 CV:  There’s an added bit of pressure when you’re working on a big franchise like Assassin’s Creed. The fan base is usually huge so there’s LOTS of people hearing your soundtrack. I’ve been very fortunate to work on some other big franchises like God of War, Mass Effect, and Borderlands though so I’ve somewhat learned how to personally deal with that sort of pressure. The great thing about a game like this though is that the production value is amazing. It is so thrilling to be a part of something so massive. If I still want to play the game after I’ve worked on it for so long, I know that we have something really special on our hands.

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FSC:  What was your main focus in expressing this soundtrack?

 CV:  The focus was on finding an interesting way to present a soundtrack mostly of “dark” music. I didn’t want it to ever start sounding muddy or uninteresting. A lot of thought went into the arrangements and orchestration to try to avoid this. If you’re dealing with a somewhat limited palette it can be tricky to not make the music sound monotone or one dimensional. It was also important to focus on giving the music a modern approach while giving a continuous nod to the early Classical and Baroque era of composition.

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 FSC:  What was the most memorable part of your work on this?

 CV:  Just working on such a fun franchise and taking the music in a new direction is what I remember best from this experience. Every day when I sat down in my studio, I’d be completely energized just knowing that I was working on Assassin’s Creed.

 

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FSC:  If you had to work on a project along with one other composer, who would you choose?

 CV:  I assume you meaning living composers. John Williams seems like the easy answer, although I’d be much too flustered to get any work done. I wouldn’t mind being a fly on his wall though as he works on Episode VII right now. But I think it’d be a lot of fun to collaborate with John Powell. He has such a great grasp on writing for orchestras, choir, and electronics. Plus, he just seems like a fun guy to hang out with and have a beer after a long day in the studio.

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FSC:  Favorite soundtrack is… ?

 CV:  It’s probably still The Empire Strikes Back. I have lots of “favorites”, but this one just edges the others out. It was pretty much the soundtrack to my childhood. The writing is so intricate and layered. I think it’s a score that will stand the test of time.

Chappie (Hans Zimmer)

Chappie Soundtrack Cover

Chappie Soundtrack Cover

Chappie Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (2015)

Get it:  If you enjoy all-electronic music, especially if you are a Hans Zimmer fan

Don’t get it:  If you want a score that sounds remotely orchestral

Chappie was bound to be something a little special since it is composer Hans Zimmer’s first all-electronic score in 25 years.  He also had a little help with this, with additional music by Steve Mazzaro and Andrew Kawczynski.  But how did it turn out?  Chappie, being a film about a robot that can feel and think like a child can, is quite an interesting movie for anyone to score.  It has to have somewhat of a child element, while still remaining robotic and ready for action and intensity.

The first track, “It’s a Dangerous City”, seems like it would fit perfectly, given the OST’s nature, into an action sequence of a new Tron film.  There’s a constant, underlying low that doesn’t change very much, while the beeping highs fluctuate, also not changing much.  In the middle is where you find some variation.

Other tracks are club-ready (in part).  Although it’s clear that it isn’t made specifically for a night club, it could still overlap given the tone of the score.  There’s a lot of repetition with the specific layers of music.  It is interesting when you get to hear Zimmer use a softer side of the electronic music.  However, don’t get to attached to it because it doesn’t last long before we’re back to the pulsating beats.  These moments are mixed into the overall score fairly frequently throughout.

In general, it’s simply an intense electronic action score.

It’s easy to pick-up that Zimmer really did try to add variety between the tracks and to keep each one from sounding just like the other.  This is particularly important when you’re dealing with this electronic score that he is.  Whether it was effective or not is a matter of opinion and ultimately up to you, but the effort is definitely appreciated for certain.  “Mayhem Downtown” definitely stands out since it varies from the rest of the score in that it incorporates fresh elements, such as an electronic choir of sorts.  “Illest Gangsta on the Block” is pretty different.  It sounds somewhat like if an Atari formed a modern rock band.  This is undoubtedly a successful attempt at variety from the rest of the soundtrack and is a quite unique cue. 

Not to sound redundant, but it is, in the end, basically what a Hans Zimmer Tron score might sound like.  Zimmertron.  Sounds cool.

Now your turn to listen to a score preview:

Click here or here to buy the soundtrack digitally

Click here to purchase the score on CD