August 12, 2006

Film Scores: A Growing Addiction

For some reason, my interest in film scores has greatly increased. I don't know why. Recently, I have found myself sitting at my desk at work, and, having the ability to be my own DJ, I have been turning to film scores.

I always enjoyed some movie music, but there were only a few that I found myself listening to for any length of time, and they usually began with the words Star Wars. Thise original three John Williams compositions stand as my favorite film scores of all time. There was actually a time when I could listen to them and watch the film in my head, I could tell you where we were in the movie just by listening to the music. I can't quite do that anymore, but I still love listening to the music.

Back to the matter at hand, I have found them to be the perfect music to work to. They work beautifully as background music while you go about your business, and when those familiar themes and motifs arise, my mood gets better and I am transported into the films they represent.

I have always been, and will probably always be, a metal guy when it comes to my music tastes, but this respect and admiration that I have for film scores is fast growing. Perhaps it is the next extension of my maturation progress as a film lover. The music can stand on its own as a beatiful work that can inspire any variety of emotions and can be just as engaging as the film itself.

I admit to not having that many scores in my collection, and that fact has urged me to look for sites to gain recommendations. Outside of the films that have made a big impact on me, I needed a place to turn to for reviews. The reviews help remind me of the films that I had forgotten, and also lead me towards the works that stand as complete works in and of themselves, there are those out there that need the movie to listen to and I would like to avoid them.

In my searches for the right site, I came across Film Tracks. The site has thus far proven to be a wonderful resource for film score reviews and has helped me find some that I would like to add to my collection. Film Tracks allows me to see lists by year and cross reference composers so I can find other works that may interest me. So, if you are interested in film scores, it is definitely a site to look into.

As for what I have been listening to recently, here are a few that have grabbed me:
  • Star Wars. Like I mentioned earlier, these are the current Holy Grail for film music for this listener. John Williams work is magical and has truly stood the test of time, not to mention his work on the more recent films, most notably his great work on Revenge of the Sith.
  • Superman Returns. John Ottman's score is a beatiful piece of work, especially the way he has incorporated John Williams' original themes from the 1979 film.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Hans Zimmer's work here is a lot of fun, from the familiar themes from the first film to the new works for the Kraken and Davy Jones. It is at times playful and rousing, and I like the use of the organ.
  • Music for a Darkened Theatre: Volumes 1 and 2. This comprises a three disk collection of Danny Elfman's work, covering both film and television. There are some great themes and cues included here, including Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sommersby, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, as well as The Simpsons, and Amazing Stories.
  • House of Flying Daggers. I really like the Asian music sounds, they have a certain elegance to them, and they are vastly different from the music I am used to. Shigeru Umebayashi has crafted a sensual score that has many fine adrenaline pumping moments.
  • Halloween. John Carpenter, besides directing, was also behind the simple, yet highly effective music which goes a long way to creating the mood of menace that pulses through this movie.

That is just a few of the scores I have been listening to. A few others include Memoirs of a Geisha, Serenity, Star Trek: First Contact, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If I was pressed to pick a favorite composer, it would have to be between John Williams and Danny Elfman. They are two very different artists who always seem to keep me interested. Of course, I am still very early in my appreciation for this art, and I am sure other composers works will impress me as I delve further into what is out there. As it stands, I have recently added a few more to my collection just waiting to be listened to, including The Incredibles, King Kong, and V for Vendetta.

In addition to film scores, I am also listening to the songs from movie musicals, which can just as intriguing, engaging, and entertaining. A few that have recently been in rotation include:

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas. More from Danny Elfman, this collection is so much fun to listen to, and downright addictive.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: One More Time, With Feeling. This is from that wonderful musical episode of the series. High energy and a lot of fun.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Here is another film whose songs are as much fun as the movie. Utterly bizarre and completely engaging.

It is as if a whole new world has opened up before me. I cannot believe that it took this long to truly take a hold of my attention. Music is such an important part of a movie, the right music from the right composer can take it to the next level.

Excuse me, I have some music to go discover.


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