Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paramount Logo

Previously, I've looked at the fun changing logos of 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney.  It's now time for Paramount.  The other companies seem to have changed their logo drastically for individual films, but Paramount has done a few fun ones and some other small changes in their 100 year history as a major studio. 

Paramount, which was founded in 1912, still uses the logo it originated in 1914.  Nicknamed the Majestic Mountain, it has featured a mountain with originally 24 stars circling it.  The stars represented each of the 24 original contract players.  One of the most interesting features of the logo is that it really doesn't have a fanfare.  Often times, the logo would appear as the film's score would begin.  Yes, there were years of the Paramount on Parade fanfare, but certainly nothing on the level of Fox or even Universal. 

So here is my showcase of interesting Paramount logos over the years.  Enjoy.

This first logo, from Follow Thru (1930)

Sunset Boulevard (1950) opens with the Paramount Logo over the sidewalk.

The Ten Commandments (1956) features a different colored sky and mountain, with
Cecil B. De Mille in an extra large font underneath.

One of the major changes to the official logo was the "Blue Mountain" edition, which ran from 1975-1986.  It also includes the Gulf+Western byline.  During the 70s', Jerry Goldsmith composed a fanfare for Paramount Television. 

Possibly the most famous variation to the logo came from the Indiana Jones films.  Using the 1950's version of A Paramount Picture logo, each logo faded into a similar shot in the films.  Each is different, but here's the first - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 

In 1986, a newer CGI mountain and stars was introduced.  This one continued until 2002.  In 1987, as the company celebrated their 75th anniversary, their logo was changed. 

For South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999), the Paramount logo fades into the animated mountains of South Park. 

For Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), the logos are shown underwater.

As also included the Warner Bros list, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) has buttons form the logo.

For The Last Airbender (2010), the stars resemble the "bending water" as they curve around the logo. Click here to watch.

2012 marked the 100th anniversary of Paramount, and the new 100 Anniversary logo was first premiered with Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  The new fanfare was composed by Michael Giacchino. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Walt Disney Pictures Logo

Home on the Range (2004)
Following in the footsteps of some of the major film studios: Universal, Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros., here is possibly the company that has the most logo variations: Walt Disney Pictures.

Their movies and logo changes have been extremely creative over the years and deserve a bit of recognition.

The most nostalgic and personal favorite for many is this Walt Disney Pictures logo (which ran from 1986-2006). 

As Disney continued to make live action films, the above logo was used or a plain font with the same name was used. 

In 1995, with the first collaboration with Pixar, the first logo was redone in CGI and fitted with the opening bars to Toy Story (1995).  This Pixar edition continued until 2007.

Through the 2000s, they started to get very creative with logos.  This is only a small sample of the tons of movies they did.

Inspector Gadget (1999) adds in a big mechanical wheel with lots of parts. 

Lilo and Stitch (2002) has the logo get abducted by aliens, fitting nicely with the film. 

Chicken Little (2005) features a slightly different CGI logo, to showcase the film's 3D release.

For Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), the logo was officially updated, which remains for new features or video releases.  This version, featuring music arranged by Dave Metzger and Mark Mancina.

The Santa Clause 3 (2006) added a bit of variety to the new logo by having it inside a snowglobe.

One of my personal favorite variations with the new logo would be Enchanted (2007). From the logo, we quickly zoom into the castle and start the film.

There are tons of other ones that have been really enjoyable, including the logo for Bedtime Stories (2008) being part of a pop-up book.
For the Jonas Brothers Concert Experience (2009), the logo is the same, but the music is played by an electric guitar.  Watch it here.
Another personal favorite is for Tron: Legacy (2010).  The logo is formed out of lights of the Grid. 

For Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), the flag atop the castle is the Jolly Roger, and mermaids flip in the water.

For The Muppets (2011) a new variation was introduced - instead of Walt Disney Pictures, the logo just says Disney.  We'll have to see if this is the new version to come...

For Frankenweenie (2012) the music changes to a bit of the Danny Elfman score, full of choir and organ. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zimmer & Friends

The majority of film music of the past few decades has certainly been impacted by the creation of Remote Control Productions.  Originally named Media Ventures and started by Hans Zimmer and Jay Rifkin, the composers and arrangers now came from varied backgrounds of composition or performance.  They also come from all nationalities.  The assemblage of talented musicians hasn’t had the effect the RCP has since the days of the studio system.  They have recorded and mixed their scores at their Remote Control Productions studio in Santa Monica.  Recently they’ve added video games into their mix, and with just films they continue to churn out a massive amount of scores.

One of the most interesting things about these lists is that you see a person rise from assistant to additional composer to orchestrator to conductor to arranger to composer.  And that is what is best about this group.  Many of these composers get their own scores and eventually receive more credit (see Steve Jablonsky, Lorne Balfe, Heitor Pereira, Ramin Djawadi, Henry Jackman).  For many of those ‘solo scores’, Zimmer is a producer.

I have selected a highlight scores from Remote Control Productions, including those rising stars and repeating names.

SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)*Oscar nominated score
Score: Hans Zimmer
Additional Music: Lorne Balfe
Conductor: Gavin Greenaway
Orchestrator: Alejandro de la Llosa, Bruce Fowler, Rick Giovinazzo, Kevin Kaska
Featured Soloist: Atli Örvarsson
Score Coordinator: Andrew Zack
Music Produced: Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe
Score Wrangler: Bob Badami

Score: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Additional Music: Lorne Balfe
Conductor: Matt Dunkley, Bruce Fowler, Gavin Greenaway
Orchestrator: Jeff Atmajian, Brad Dechter, Elizabeth Finch, Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler, Kevin Kaska, Randy Kerber, Chris Lord, Yvonne S. Moriarty
Ambient Music Designer: Mel Wesson
Technical Score Engineer: Chris Bacon
Synthesizer Programmer: Henry Jackman, Hans Zimmer
Musicians include: Hans Zimmer, Heitor Pereira, James Newton Howard
Score Production Coordinator: Andrew Zack

Score: Hans Zimmer
Additional Music: Tom Gire, Lorne Balfe, Nick Glennie-Smith, Henry Jackman, John Sponsler, Geoff Zanelli, Atli Örvarsson
Conductor: Matt Dunkley, Nick Glennie-Smith, Blake Neely
Orchestrator: Steve Bartek, Elizabeth Finch, Bruce Fowler (supervising), Walt Fowler, Penka Kouneva, Ken Kugler, Yvonne S. Moriarty
Musicians include: Heitor Pereira, James S. Levine
Ambient Music Designer: Mel Wesson
Music Supervisor: Bob Badami

Score: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Additional Music: Ramin Djawadi, Mel Wesson
Conductor: Gavin Greenaway
Orchestrator: Pete Anthony, Brad Dechter, Bruce Fowler
Music Programmer: Lorne Balfe

Score: Steve Jablonsky
Additional Music: Ramin Djawadi, Clay Duncan, Trevor Morris, Blake Neely
Arranger: Ryeland Allison, Ramin Djawadi, Clay Duncan
Conductor: Alastair King, Blake Neely
Orchestrator: Elizabeth Finch, Bruce Fowler, Rick Giovinazzo, Ladd McIntosh, Yvonne S. Moriarty
Music Programmer: Ryeland Allison, Ramin Djawadi, Clay Duncan
Music Designer: Mel Wesson
Score Producer: Steve Jablonsky, Hans Zimmer

Score: Klaus Badelt
Additional Music: Ramin Djawadi, Jim Dooley, Craig Eastman, Nick Glennie-Smith, Steve Jablonsky, James McKee Smith, Blake Neely, Trevor Morris, Geoff Zanelli
Conductor: Nick Ingman, Blake Neely, Rick Wentworth
Orchestrator: Robert Elhai, Elizabeth Finch, Bruce Fowler (supervisor), Bill Liston, Ladd McIntosh, Yvonne S. Moriarty, Conrad Pope, Brad Warnaar
Arranger/Designer: Mel Wesson
Technical Music Producer: Trevor Morris
Technical Score Assistant: Ian Honeyman
Music Supervisor: Bob Badami
Overproduced by Hans Zimmer

GLADIATOR (2000) *Oscar nominated score
Score: Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard
Additional Music: Klaus Badelt
Conductor: Gavin Greenaway
Orchestrator: Bruce Fowler, Ladd McIntosh, Yvonne S. Moriarty
Technical Score Advisor: Marc Streitenfeld
Musician: Heitor Pereira (guitar)

THE ROCK (1996)
Score: Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith, Harry Gregson-Williams
Additional Music: Harry Gregson-Williams, Don Harper, Steven M. Stern
Supervising Music Editor: Bob Badami
Conductor: Bruce Fowler, Don Harper
Score Arranger: Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith
Orchestrator: Dennis Dreith, Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler, Ladd McIntosh, Suzette Moriarty
Assistant to Composers: Marc Streitenfeld

THE LION KING (1994) *Oscar Winning Score
Score: Hans Zimmer
Additional Music: Alex Wurman
Conductor: Nick Glennie-Smith
Conductor (choral): Andrae Crouch, Nick Glennie-Smith, Lebo M., Mbongeni Mgema
Choral/Vocal Arranger: Andrae Crouch, Bruce Fowler, Nick Glennie-Smith, Bobbi Page, Mbongeni Mgema, Lebo M., Mark Mancina
Orchestrator: Bruce Fowler, Ladd McIntosh, Yvonne S. Moriarty
Original Score Arranger: Hans Zimmer
Music Mixer/Recordist: Jay Rifkin
Music Supervisor: Hans Zimmer

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weepy Donuts

One of the stranger titles to repeat on soundtracks would have to be Weepy Donuts.  It has occurred on a bunch of Danny Elfman soundtracks and is a strange in-joke with director Gus Van Sant.  And the fun part is that we don’t know what the in-joke is.  Here is the list of Weepy Donuts appearing: 
Weepy Donuts seems to have first appeared as a track name in To Die For (1996)

The next example comes from the next Van Sant/Elfman collaboration Good Will Hunting (1998).  One of two Elfman score tracks on the original soundtrack album, this Weepy Donuts is certainly the most popular on the list. 

For the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho (which featured Bernard Herrmann’s original score adapted by Danny Elfman and Steve Bartek), the end credits featured a song called Weepy Donuts written and performed by Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz.

After a long break, Weepy Donuts made an appearance in the film Milk (2008).

Weepy Donuts also made an appearance in the cue list of Terminator Salvation (2008).

As before, Weepy Donuts appears in the Gus Van Sant film, Restless (2011).  

Surprise surprise!  Weepy Donuts appears in the new Gus Van Sant film, Promised Land (2012).  

Good news everyone!  Weepy Donuts appears in the next Van Sant film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jerry Goldsmith: The Landmark

Of the few highly regarded composers for the hardcore film score fans, Jerry Goldsmith typically is on the top of the list.  His output is incredibly extensive, and Goldsmith’s scores are all unique.  Possibly more than other composers, his scores have been restored, expanded and released over the years.  With that, Jerry Goldsmith remains a modern film master.

Goldsmith was born in California in 1929.  Jerry, like many composers, studied music (piano) at a young age and eventually transitioned into studying composition in his teens.  He studied counterpoint and theory with the great guitar composer
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.  Goldsmith eventually attended classes at University of Southern California with classes taught by renowned film composer Miklós Rózsa. 

Like so many other composers in his generation, he started composing for radio.  Working at CBS, he began as a typist in the music department, composing for some radio series.  He worked his way up at CBS, for television shows like Climax!, Playhouse 90 and Perry Mason
.  1957’s Black Patch marked Goldsmith’s feature film debut.  From 1960-1961, while still at CBS, Goldsmith composed for a handful of Twilight Zone episodes. Upon moving to Revue Studios (later MCA/Universal Television), he composed the themes for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Dr. Kildare.  Goldsmith received his first Academy Award nomination in 1962 for Freud.  His connections with composer Alfred Newman led him to the scoring of the western, Lonely Are The Brave in 1962.  1963 brought Goldsmith several films including Lilies of the Field, with Sidney Poitier.  Around this time, Goldsmith became a part of the 20th Century Fox music department, scoring some of his most well known films there.  Films in the late 60’s began to show Goldsmith’s intricate composition style with a more modern sound.  These films include A Patch of Blue (1965) The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Blue Max (1966), and the extremely inventive score to The Planet of the Apes (1968).  Both A Patch of Blue and The Sand Pebbles were nominated for Academy Awards.  It is also important to note that around this time, Goldsmith began collaborating with longtime orchestrators Alexander Courage and Arthur Morton.

By 1970, Goldsmith was working on epics at Fox.  This includes the WWII epic Tora, Tora, Tora (1970) and the Oscar-winning best picture, Patton.  Goldsmith continued to do television
movies throughout the 70’s including the first ‘Apes’ sequel: Escape From The Planet Of Apes (1971).  He continued his collaboration with Patton director Franklin J Schaffner in 1973 with Papillion.  For one of Goldsmith’s most beloved scores, Chinatown (1974), he replaced composer Philip Lambro and the haunting score was done in 10 days.  It was nominated for the Oscar and currently is on the AFI top film scores at number 9.  In the years following, Goldsmith scored some of his best known scores including The Wind & The Lion (1975), The Omen (1976), Logan’s Run (1976), 1977’s MacArthur and Islands in the Stream, The Boys From Brazil (1978), Capricorn One (1978).  1979 saw two of Goldsmith’s biggest hits and possibly his most popular works: Alien and Star Trek the Motion Picture.  It was Richard Donner’s The Omen in 1976 that Goldsmith won his Academy Award for score. 

The 1980s allowed Goldsmith to continue with harmonically and melodically interesting music.  He began working with varied directors like Joe Dante, which gave Goldsmith lighter scores.  As franchises became more popular, Goldsmith composed music for several sequels.  His scores added more and more electronic components such as synthesizers.  Here are a few highlights of the decade:
1981 – Outland, The Final Conflict Omen III
1982 – First Blood, Secret of NIMH, Poltergeist
1983 – Twilight Zone: The Movie, Under Fire
1984 - Gremlins
1985 – Explorers, Rambo First Blood Part II
1986 – Hoosiers, Legend
1987 - Innerspace, Lionheart
1988 - Rambo III
1989 - Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Goldsmith’s return to Star Trek)

Into the 1990s, Goldsmith continued his complex writing with directors like John McTiernan, Paul Verhoeven, David Anspaugh and Curtis Hansen.  This decade musically is in his style with many new styles added.  Like the 1980s, he found himself scoring many blockbusters as well as many cult classics/flops like Supergirl (1984).  He received back to back Oscar nominations for L.A. Confidential and the Disney film Mulan.  Highlights of this decade include:
1990 – Total Recall
1992 – Basic Instinct, Forever Young
1993 – Rudy
1995 – First Knight
1996 - The Ghost & The Darkness, Star Trek: First Contact
1997 – Air Force One, L.A. Confidential
1998 – Mulan, Star Trek: Insurrection
1999 – The Mummy, The 13th Warrior

His friendship with directors continued, and his variety of material continued as well.  He continued doing many thriller scores in the 2000s, and as his health declined, he scored fewer films.  In 2002 he scored his last Star Trek score, for Star Trek Nemesis.  He begun work on 2003’s Timeline, but due to constant re-editing his score was replaced by Brian Tyler, with Goldsmith’s score eventually released on CD.  With his health failing and constant changes to the film, Goldsmith’s score to Looney Tunes: Back in Action was supplemented by John Debney. 

After a long battle with cancer, Jerry Goldsmith died in July 2004 at age 75. 

Jerry Goldsmith had a truly illustrious career.  He was able to bring his own style to films and his meticulous attention to detail.  He was a hard worker and brought his dedication to every project he worked on.  Each work also stands on its own, yet is married to the films so well.  Even with his schedule, he composed concert music such as Fireworks A Celebration (1999) and the cantata Christus Apollo (1974).  He composed the music to the Disneyland ride Soarin’ Over California in 2001.  And of course the fanfare for Universal Studios seen since 1997. 

Even after conducting several of his scores for the film, he would adapt them into suites, which are often performed.  Goldsmith also has the honor of having almost every work recorded and released.  He remains an inspiration to film composers and fans alike.  He is truly a landmark. 

Below is a great video with clips of Goldsmith talking, conducting and playing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glimpses of MI:4

On Twitter, composer Michael Giacchino has given glimpses into the recording sessions of the newest installment: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  Here are those images courtesy of Giacchino himself.  Follow on Twitter at @m_giacchino 

Giacchino, Andrew Stanton,
MI4 Director Brad Bird and Music Editor Dan Wallin

Giacchino, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird

Tom Cruise, Conductor/Orchestrator Tim Simonec, Brad Bird, Giacchino

Letting Tom Cruise conduct

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quick Review: War Horse

War Horse
Music composed by John Williams
Conducted by: John Williams
Orchestrated by: Eddie Karem
Music Recorded/Mixed by: Shawn Murphy
Score Recorded at Sony Pictures Studios
Album time: 63 minutes
Available on Sony Masterworks

2011 has been a great year of scores.  There has been some outstanding work from all genres.  This year also marks the debut of two John Williams scores.  Not having done a feature film since 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Williams and director Steven Spielberg reunite for War Horse and also The Adventures of Tintin.  Luckily the scores to Tintin and War Horse couldn’t be more different. 

The film is based on the young adult novel by Michael Morpurgo and the critically acclaimed London play of the same name.  Set in the English countryside during the onset of World War I, the music really gives us a sense of time and place in the beginning of the score. 

The album begins with Dartmoor, 1912.  We begin with a flute solo, which occurs a few other times in the score.  This beginning reminds many listeners of Ralph Vaughn Williams, certainly an influence for this type of score.  It has a slight Celtic flair in melody and rhythm.  The melodic lilts may remind one of his score to Far and Away.  The low strings move on to a driving melody until the whole orchestra enters with an exquisite folk-like melody.  This is a fantastic moment, and from then on I realized I was listening to John Williams (still) in his highest form.  This track serves as a great introduction to the score. 

Orchestration-wise, this score contains many woodwind solos.  The Auction is a track with plenty of these solo moments and a swaying string line.  Bringing Joey Home and Bonding features that slightly comic sounding march of low strings and bassoons that Williams has used in previous films (see Chamber of Secrets/Home Alone).  In this track, Williams is able to have a melody that is noble and reflective, fitting the young main character nicely. 
In this first half of the album, we hear snippets of past melodies, which grow on you each time.  The use of strings/harp with clarinet or horn over them is a staple of many film composers, and this score is no exception.  We hear the theme first heard in the Dartmoor, 1912 return in Seeding, and Horse vs. Car.  It is expanded from the first time and the orchestration changes to add trumpets and cymbals in a very majestic fashion which ends the track.  The writing in Plowing is just as spectacular, with a buildup to a reprise of a few themes heard so far.  We end with the lyrical flute solo with the feeling of nostalgia. 
A melancholic oboe solo begins Ruined Crop and Going to War.  This really is a beautiful track which includes a foreboding section with mournful sounding trumpet solo.  The trumpet continues in the next track as well.  Williams uses this trumpet sound often, and it really works on an emotional level in films. 

For those worried about spoilers in track titles, tread carefully.

In the track Desertion, the fast moving strings drive the music to a crescendo, adding in the brass, reminding me of music written for the Star Wars films.  This track contains one of the loudest moments of the album, if for those fans of John Williams action.  The lighthearted music of Joey’s New Friends is a welcome break in the score, utilizing quick time signature changes and cheery orchestration.  From there, the drama continues in the score.  The lower strings and trumpet become more prominent in Pulling the Cannon as the music grows more intense.  The elegiac strings continue into the next track, one of the most emotion-filled tracks of Williams’ since Anakin’s Betrayal in Revenge of the Sith.  This track blends into the next; underscore gets tenser as the horns and snare drum return.  No Man’s Land contains more boisterous orchestral music and the peak of the action on the album. 

The Reunion (a never-disappointing track name for Williams) gives us reprises of past themes in slightly varied forms.  It is music like this that works very well in Spielberg films – the tug of emotion.  The next track, Remembering Emilie, and Finale, is no different.  The solo piano features a rendition of the theme heard in The Reunion, which gets passed around the orchestra, building each time.  The longest track of the album is the suite The Homecoming.  The main themes return, along with a pseudo-cadenza on flute.  Each reprise is satisfying and by the time they return, we feel like we’ve always known them.  An extremely beautiful listening experience.  [edit: Flute solos are by Louise Di Tullio and trumpet solos are by Tim Morrison]             

It is nice to see John Williams in top form with two contrasting film scores this year.  His work this year is certainly some of the best this year, and for War Horse – this type of film is what Williams can do very well.  It is no surprise that his collaboration with Steven Spielberg has worked extremely well over the years.  John Williams always finds the emotional core of the scenes, making the score extremely moving. 


1. Dartmoor, 1912
6. Plowing
11. Pulling the Cannon
14. The Reunion
16. The Homecoming

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Screen Credit Quiz! (Round 4)

It's been a while since the last Screen Credit Quiz.  Here's new round!
Here are the rules:  I post a shot of the composer's title credit (either opening or closing) and you guess what movie it is from.  Seems easy enough, right?  Post your guesses in the comments!






Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Billboard Top Film Songs


It is no surprise that songs from films have been on the radio.  The radio has always been an important tool and a variety of types have appeared on the radio for film scores.  I’ve scoured the US Billboard Top 100 lists (1960 and on) and here’s what came up.  We have the title themes/songs written for the movie and pop songs that were written for the film.  It’s no surprise many of these films are from the 1970s and 1980s, with film songs slowly disappearing from the airwaves.  You'll notice most of the top songs in the 1990s ended up being the Oscar winners.  Or did they get played because they were the Oscar winners?  With many song titles being the film titles, I won’t repeat them twice.  Years are from the Billboard charts, not the year of the films.    

This list has some James Bond songs, Disney songs, popular artists doing covers, and yes – My Heart Will Go On.

Here are a bunch of songs, Oscar winning Best Songs are highlighted in green.

1960 - Theme from a Summer Place (Percy Faith/music: Max Steiner)
1960 -
Theme From The Apartment (Ferrante & Teicher/music: Adolph Deutsch)
1961 - Exodus (Ferrante & Teicher/music: Ernest Gold)
1962 -
Moon River – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Henry Mancini)
1963 - Days of Wine and Roses (Henry Mancini)
1965 - Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey/music: John Barry)
1996 - Born Free (Roger Williams/music: John Barry)
1967 - Alfie (Dionne Warwick/music: Burt Bacharach)
1967 - To Sir with Love (Lulu/music: Mark London)
1968 -
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (Hugo Montenegro/music: Ennio Morricone)
1968 - Mrs. Robinson (Simon and Garfunkel)
1968 -
(Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls (Dionne Warwick/music: André Previn)
1969 - Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet (Henry Mancini and his Orchestra/music: Nino Rota)
1970 – Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (B.J. Thomas/music: Burt Bacharach)
1971 - Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes)
1971 -
Love Story (Where Do I Begin) (Andy Williams/music: Francis Lai)
1972 - The Candy Man – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Sammy Davis, Jr./music: Bricusse and Newley)
1973 -
Live And Let Die (Wings/music: Paul and Linda McCartney)
1974 - The Way We Were (Barbra Streisand/music: Marvin Hamlisch)
1974 -
The Entertainer – The Sting (Scott Joplin, arr Marvin Hamlisch)
1974 - Tubular Bells – The Exorcist (Mike Oldfield)
1976 - Theme from Mahogany (Diana Ross/music: Michael Masser)
1977 -
Evergreen (Love Theme From "A Star Is Born") (Barbra Streisand)
1977 -
Theme From "Rocky" (Gonna Fly Now) (Bill Conti)
1977 - Star Wars Theme-Cantina Band (Meco/John Williams)
1977 - Star Wars (Main Title) (London Symphony Orchestra/music: John Williams)
1977 - Nobody Does It Better - The Spy Who Loved Me (Carly Simon/music: Marvin Hamlisch)
1978 - You Light Up My Life (Debby Boone/music: Joseph Brooks)
1978 - You’re the One That I Want – Grease (John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John/music: John Farrar)
1978 - Summer Nights­­ - Grease (John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John/music: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey)
1978 - Grease (Frankie Valli/music: Barry Gibb)
1978 - Stayin’ Alive – Saturday Night Fever (The Bee Gees)
1980 - Fame (Irene Cara/music: Michael Gore)
1981 - 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
1981 - Arthur's Theme(Best That You Can Do) – Arthur (Christopher Cross/music: Burt Bacharach, et al)
1981 - For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton/music: Bill Conti)
1982 - Eye Of The Tiger – Rocky III (Survivor)
1982 - Chariots of Fire (Vangelis)
1983 - Flashdance...What A Feeling (Irene Cara/music: Giorgio Moroder)
1983 - Far From Over - Staying Alive (Frank Stallone/music: Stallone, Vince DiCola)
1984 - Footloose (Kenny Loggins)
1984 - Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.)
1985 - The Power Of Love – Back to the Future (Huey Lewis and The News)
1985 - A View To A Kill (Duran Duran)
1985 - St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion) (John Parr/music: Parr, David Foster)
1986 - Take My Breath Away – Top Gun (Berlin/music: Giorgio Moroder, Tom Whitlock)
1986 - Spies Like Us (Paul McCartney)
1986 -
Glory Of Love (Theme From "The Karate Kid Part II") (Peter Cetera/music: Cetera, David Foster, et al)
1987 - (I've Had) The Time Of My Life – Dirty Dancing (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes/Franke Previte, et al)
1987 - Somewhere Out There – An American Tail (Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram/music: James Horner et al)
1987 -
Shakedown (From "Beverly Hills Cop II") (Bob Seger/music: Harold Faltermeyer)
1988 - Kokomo – Cocktail (The Beach Boys)
1989 - Wind Beneath My Wings – Beaches (Bette Midler/music: Larry Henley, Jeff Silbar
1989 - Batdance – Batman (Prince)
1990 -
It Must Have Been Love – Pretty Woman (Roxette/music: Per Gessle)
1990 - Blaze Of Glory (From "Young Guns II") (Jon Bon Jovi)
1991 - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (Bryan Adams/music: Adams, Michael Kamen, Mutt Lange)
1992 - Beauty And The Beast (Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson/music: Alan Menken)
1992 -
This Used To Be My Playground – A League of Their Own (Madonna)
1993 - I Will Always Love You – The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston/music: Dolly Parton)
1993 - A Whole New World – Aladdin (Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle/music: Alan Menken)
1994 - Can You Feel The Love Tonight – The Lion King (Elton John)
1994 - Streets Of Philadelphia – Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)
1995 - Gangsta's Paradise – Dangerous Minds (Coolio)
1995 - Kiss From A Rose – Batman Forever (Seal)
1995 - Exhale (Shoop Shoop) (From "Waiting To Exhale") (Whitney Houston/music: Babyface)
1995 - Colors Of The Wind – Pocahontas (Vanessa Williams/music: Alan Menken)
1996 - Theme From Mission: Impossible (Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen/music: Lalo Schifrin)
1996 - Because You Loved Me – Up Close & Personal (Celine Dion/music: Diane Warren)
1997 - Go The Distance – Hercules (Michael Bolton/music: Alan Menken)
1997 - Don't Cry For Me Argentina – Evita (Madonna/music: Andrew Lloyd Webber)
1997 - You Must Love Me – Evita (Madonna/music: Andrew Lloyd Webber)
1998 - My Heart Will Go On – Titanic (Celine Dion/music: James Horner)
1998 - I Don't Want To Miss A Thing – Armageddon (Aerosmith/music: Diane Warren)
1998 - Wild Wild West (Will Smith feat. Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee)
1999 - Iris - City of Angels (Goo Goo Dolls)
1999 - Music Of My Heart (N Sync and Gloria Estefan/music: Diane Warren)
1999 - When You Believe – Prince of Egypt (Stephen Schwartz)
2001 - Lady Marmalade – Moulin Rouge (Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink/music: Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan)
2001 - There You’ll Be – Pearl Harbor (Faith Hill/music: Diane Warren)
2002 - Hero – Spider-Man (Chad Kroeger feat. Josey Scott)
2003 - Lose Yourself – 8 Mile (Eminem)
2006 - Life is a Highway – Cars (Rascal Flatts/music: Tom Cochrane)


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Overtures in Films

Nothing marks the change in films from the past to the present more than the film overtures.  There are many films that contain them, and there are now tons of people that don't even know what I'm referring to.
The starting of this is hard to pinpoint, but films as far back as the 1920s included these overtures.  It certainly is related to the theatre or opera experience which most people would be used to.  In the heyday of films in the 1950-1970s (mainly epic films) had the instrumental overture before the film started.  It is no surprise that many Broadway film adaptations included or expanded their overtures.  Most times this was when the audience would still be walking in.  Many times the screen had the word OVERTURE over a black screen, or perhaps the background would change.  Generally, the overture was similar to a thematic medley (like in the theatre), but in several cases an original composition.  Other times the overtures would blend into the credits, the practice which eventually phased directly into the main titles sequences we see today.  

Many other films that have overtures were included in the roadshow engagements. Of course there were films that had the full treatment.  That typically included the overture, act one of the film, the curtain closing for intermission (with often entr’acte music) and then exit music for the audience.  The movie studios and theaters really tried to make it a really a special event for these films.  For many video and television releases, the roadshow aspects have been removed, but the music is typically released on the soundtracks.    

Here are some overtures, many of which are:
Gone with the Wind (Max Steiner, 1939)
The Ten Commandments (Elmer Bernstein, 1956)
Ben-Hur (Miklós Rózsa, 1959)
North by Northwest (Bernard Herrmann, 1959)
West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein, 1961) (Not in stage show)
Lawrence of Arabia (Maurice Jarre, 1962)

How the West Was Won (Alfred Newman, 1962)
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
(Ernest Gold, 1963)

The Sand Pebbles (Jerry Goldsmith, 1966)
The Cowboys (John Williams, 1972)
The Black Hole (John Barry, 1979)

Star Trek the Motion Picture (Jerry Goldsmith, 1979)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Danny Elfman, 1993)(Soundtrack only)
Mulan (Jerry Goldsmith, 1998)(Soundtrack only)
Dancer in the Dark (Björk, 2000)
Kingdom Of Heaven (Harry Gregson-Williams, 2005) (Director’s Cut)

Are there any favorite film overtures that I didn’t mention?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quick Review: The Lord of the Rings Symphony

The Lord of the Rings Symphony
Music composed by Howard Shore
Conducted by: Ludwig Wicki
Performed by:
The 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Album time: 115 minutes (2 discs)
Available on Howe Records

Taken from all three Lord of the Rings films and more than twelve hours of music, the Lord of the Rings Symphony encompasses the journey of the characters in the film as well as the thematic material from the scores.  If you know the films well, the music follows them nicely.  This newly conceived symphony has been touring the world to popular acclaim.

I’m by no means an expert on every motif and theme, but I’ll put a few notable ones as they appear.  I wanted to showcase the music in the Symphony and see how the Symphony itself is constructed.  The album follows this plan:
Movement 1-2: Fellowship of the Ring
Movement 3-4: The Two Towers
Movement 5-6: Return of the King

Movement 1 opens with the Prologue, which takes about half of this movement.  We then enter the Shire and hear the Hobbit theme.  The orchestration seems richer in certain sections, with different instrument additions.  The choir is heard heavily in the next section, featuring the music as the Hobbits escape the Nazgul. 

Movement 2 begins with the beautiful Rivendell theme.  The female section of the choir sounds beautiful with the cello soloist.  The Hobbit theme appears in its many iterations in the movement as well as the first stirring rendition of the Fellowship theme.  The low men’s choir signifies the depths of Moria and we hear the first version of Gollum’s theme.  This rendition of the Dwarrowdelf theme is spectacular.  The female choir and soloist take over for much of this 34 minute movement.  The momentum really builds up in the following section, featuring the Isengard theme.  At the end of the movement, we hear the music for the end of movie, and my personal favorite of the trilogy.  This is the The Breaking of the Fellowship which features the excellent boy soloist in the song In Dreams.
The Fellowship movements are the most cohesive parts of the symphony, with the sections of the score blending seamlessly. 

Movement 3 is The Two Towers, starting with the Ring theme.  The creepy Gollum theme appears, played on one of the more exotic instrument of the orchestra – the cimbalom.  We hear Eowyn’s theme and the stirring Rohan theme, and eventually played as the violin solo.  This movement contains more slow and quiet moments, like Evenstar.  This movement has unique instrumentation and contains a bunch of quiet choir moments.

Movement 4 begins with a big introduction of the Rohan theme on horn.  We get some of the best score moments of the film in this movement, notably Gandalf returning, Theoden riding out, and the beautiful nature theme.  The movement ends with Gollum’s Song. 

Movement 5 begins with a few quotes of the Fellowship theme, and eventually the Gondor theme in the spectacular Lighting of the Beacons (certainly the highlight of this movement).  Many other past themes come back briefly and each of course has varied since the beginning.  The movement segues into the next movement.

Movement 6 starts with a military nature, due to the parts of the film it represents.  It features the choir prominently and female soloist.  A bass soloist sings Aragorn’s coronation song, which sounds completely different than the actor’s version.  One of the best moments in the movement is the reprise of the Shire theme.  From then on, we hear a majority of the music from the ending of the film.  The song Into the West is introduced by the orchestra, before the singer takes over.        

Overall, this re-recording is not a huge step down from the original recordings.  The soloists, choir and orchestra are all really excellent.  Unlike other re-recordings, this maintains the original tempos.  The arrangements and orchestrations have changed, so it is not identical to the original soundtracks.  The choir is certainly louder in this recording than the original in several spots.  It is great as a condensed version of the great moments of the scores, especially if the Complete Recordings are too much of a good thing.  It works both as a great introduction to the film scores or great streamlined highlights for those already familiar with the scores. 

I hope the symphony continues touring, and this album is a great representation of scores.  From the films to the symphony, it really is there and back again. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Composers Gone Gaming

Composers of video games typically tend to stay in the genre, similar to television composers.  But there have been a handful of composers that made the transition from gaming to the big screen, or well known film composers writing for the interactive media. 

Certainly one of the first names that come to mind is Harry Gregson-Williams.  Around the same time as his film score career took off, he signed on to compose the music for 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.  He wrote mainly for the cutscenes (with gameplay music by Norihiko Hibino), and arranged the original Metal Gear Solid theme.  Harry followed with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in 2004.  He contributed again to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in 2008. 

Michael Giacchino is one of the few composers to start in video games and eventually end up scoring for film.  He gained attention with the video game score to The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997.  One of the early full orchestral games, Giacchino’s scores have set the precedent for future orchestral scores.  His work for DreamWorks led to Giacchino composing the game Medal of Honor in 1999.  He followed that score up with several other games in the Medal of Honor series and other WWII games like Medal Of Honor: Underground (2000), Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault (2002), Medal Of Honor: Frontline (2002), Secret Weapons Over Normandy (2003), the original Call Of Duty (2003), Call Of Duty: Finest Hour (2004), Medal Of Honor: Airborne (2007), Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty (2008).  In addition to these original scores, his game and film themes were used in other scores or adaptations. 

One of the biggest video game scores was for Lair in 2007, composed by John Debney.  Asked to bring his full scale techniques to the video game world, Debney’s music was recorded in Abbey Road Studios.

Christopher Lennertz
is another name, known for film, television and games composed for the Medal of Honor series following Giacchino in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (2003), Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (2004), Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005).  He also composed scores for the James Bond adaptations of From Russia With Love (2005), Quantum of Solace (2008) and The Godfather II (2009).  He was also one of the composers for Mass Effect 3 (2012)

Hans Zimmer and his collaborators have made their way to the video game aisle.  He started with
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009), which he composed with Lorne Balfe.  Zimmer also teamed with Lorne Balfe, Borislav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu for Crysis 2 (2011).  Zimmer recently composed the theme while Lorne Balfe composed the music for Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (2011).  James Dooley, who worked with Zimmer many times in films, has also expanded into gaming.  He worked on several SOCOM games as well as Infamous (2009) and its sequel and Epic Mickey (2010).  Ramin Djawadi, best known for the first Iron Man film, composed the score for the most recent Medal of Honor (2010).  Steve Jablonsky, known for his work on the Transformers series, worked on Gears of War 2 (2008) with Clay Duncan and Gears of War 3 (2011).

Brian Tyler is another composer who recently turned to video games.  In 2010 he composed the fun score to Lego Universe, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011), 
Far Cry 3 (2012) and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013).

Other composers of note:

Bruce Broughton - Heart of Darkness (1998)
Stewart CopelandSpyro the Dragon series

Patrick Doyle - Puppeteer (2013)
Greg Edmonson - Uncharted series
Paul Haslinger - Far Cry Instinct (2005), Rainbow Six: Vegas (2007)
Clint MansellMass Effect 3 (2012)
Bear McCrearyDark Void (2010), SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALS (2011)
Mark MothersbaughCrash Bandicoot series
Graeme Revell - Call Of Duty 2 (2005)

Like film scores, video game scores have slowly made their way on to the concert stage.  Some of the first concert arrangements were of the extremely popular Final Fantasy series, music by Nobuo Uematsu.  Not only do the albums sell in large numbers, but concerts of music sell out quickly.  Video Games Live in concert has toured the world, performing everything from Tetris, Halo, Medal of Honor and The Legend of Zelda.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ennio Morricone: The Maestro

Like many motion picture fans, I became aware of the great scores Ennio Morricone worked on.  It turns out that most people, me included, don’t really know the bulk of his work.  His style has been emulated but not topped.  His style and music has also been ingrained into filmmakers and composers in the years since.  His popular and impressive work with Giuseppe Tornatore and Sergio Leone just scratches the surface of his film work. 

N.B. For sake of continuity, I’ll put the English title first, with the original title in parenthesis when necessary. 

Born in Rome in 1928, he started his musical career playing trumpet, like his father –a jazz trumpeter.  But it was composition that interested him.  He began to compose around age 6 and in school met Sergio Leone, who would become one of his biggest collaborators.  He took harmony lessons at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, continuing trumpet and eventually composition with renowned composer Goffredo Petrassi.  Through the 1950s, Morricone performed, arranged and orchestrated music for radio shows and television. 

His first score was the 1961 film The Fascist (Il Federale).  He started writing numerous films each year.  With the scores 1963’s Gunfight at Red Sands (Duello nel Texas) and 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari), Morricone began his work on the spaghetti western genre.  Both films he is credited under the pseudonym Dan Savio.  Fistful of Dollars also marked the beginning of the collaboration with director and old classmate Sergio Leone.   His western-style melodies and interesting orchestrations made Morricone incredibly sought after.  He continued composing for other spaghetti westerns such as Bullets Don’t Argue (Le Pistole non discutono) [1964], A Pistol for Ringo (Una Pistola per Ringo) [1965] and the next Leone film For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più) [1965].  One of the best tricks Morricone uses in the film is having the source music pocket watch eventually blend into the score.  This is a trick that Morricone used a few more times in the Leone films.  In the westerns, he introduced new instrument techniques, whistling, electric guitars, jew’s harp and non-traditional vocal techniques.  One of the most recognized, and imitated score is certainly The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) [1966].  One of the best Morricone moments is the final shootout of the film – with Leone and Morricone’s work fitting perfectly. 

Working on at least 10 films a year; Morricone certainly hit a stride in westerns and other genres such as crime dramas and films like the war drama The Battles of the Algiers (
La battaglia di Algeri) [1966].  He worked with Leone again in 1968 for Once Upon A Time in the West (C'era una volta il West).  In the case of this film, on Leone’s preference, he actually composed the score before filming even began.  As done before, the harmonica becomes more than just part of the score, but tying the film and score together.     

The list of films done in the 1970s is truly staggering.  In addition to feature films, he worked on several TV mini-series and documentaries.  Highlights of the numerous films in the 1970s include: Sacco & Vanzetti (1971), Day of Judgment (1971), Maddalena (1971), the Dario Argento trilogy of Italian thrillers like The Cat o’ Nine Tails, and another Sergio Leone film in 1971 Duck, You Sucker/Fistful of Dynamite (
Giù la testa).  In 1978 Morricone received his first Academy Award nomination for the Terrence Malick film Days of Heaven.        

The 1980s contained some of Morricone’s biggest box office hits and his most highly regarded scores.  The list selected certainly shows his diversity as a composer.
We have the scary thriller score to The Thing (1982), the BAFTA winning Leone epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984), the religious epic The Mission (1986), the Oscar nominated score to Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables (1987), Roman Polanski’s Frantic (1988) and the best of Morricone’s collaboration with director Giuseppe Tornatore – Cinema Paradiso (1988).  The Mission made it 25th on the AFI 100 Film Scores.  Cinema Paradiso’s love theme was composed by Morricone’s son Andrea – and they shared the BAFTA win for Best Score. 

With so many films in his career, it is surprising that he had time to compose anything else.  Since before his film career started, Morricone has composed several concert works, many that feature soloists and interesting instrumentation.

The 1990s and 2000s have been just as busy for Morricone.  He began working on many religious TV movies including many other popular films, working with many prominent directors.  These include Hamlet (1990), Oscar nominated score for Bugsy (1990), Wolf (1994),
U Turn (1997), Bulworth (1998), another Tornatore film - The Legend of 1900 (1998), Mission to Mars (2000), and the Oscar nominated Malèna (2000).  He continues to score tons of projects each year.    

Like Alex North before him, Morricone was given his first Academy Award (albeit honorary) in 2007 “in recognition of his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.”

With his extensive film career and impressive output, Morricone truly is the Maestro.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet the Newmans

The Newman family is possibly the most accomplished family in film scoring.  Their influences on film music are obvious.  It’s great to think that you could watch a movie from the 1930s to now, the Newman in the credits is most likely related.  Hopefully this will keep them all straight.    
From left - David, Randy and Thomas Newman
Alfred Newman (1901-1970)
Alfred Newman was musical director of 20th Century Fox, and continued scoring for Fox until 1960.  He wrote scores for over forty years, winning 9 Academy Awards.  His major scores include How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), All About Eve (1950), The Robe (1953), How the West Was Won (1962) The scoring stage at 20th Century Fox is named the Newman Scoring Stage. 

Lionel Newman (1916-1989)

Alfred Newman’s brother also fell into film scoring.  He conducted under his brother and became Musical Director for Television in 1959.  He also composed several television themes for Fox.  He eventually became senior vice president of music for Fox films.  He conducted such films as Alien, Cleopatra and was music supervisor for Star Wars A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.  He won an Oscar for Hello Dolly in 1970 (Score of a Musical Picture).  Building #222 on the Fox lot (where his office was located) was named in his honor in 2013.  

Emil Newman (1911-1984)
Another brother of Alfred, Emil Newman spent most of his film career as a musical director and conductor.  Films he worked on include Laura (1944) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).  He composed more than 30 films in the 1940s-1950s.  He was nominated for an Oscar for Sun Valley Serenade in 1942 (Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture).

David Newman (1954-)
Son of Alfred and actress Martha Montgomery.  David has composed over 90 films including The Mighty Ducks (1992), Anastasia (1997), Galaxy Quest (1999), Ice Age (2002) and Serenity (2005).  In 1997 he re-recorded Alfred Newman’s 20th Century Fox Fanfare which is still used.  His wife is a scoring consultant for him.  David was nominated for an Oscar for Anastasia.    

Thomas Newman (1955-)
Son of Alfred and brother of David, Thomas has composed more than 80 films.  He brings his unique style to films like The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), American Beauty (1999), Finding Nemo (2003) and Wall-E (2008).  Thomas has been nominated for an Academy Award 10 times. 

Maria Newman (1962-)
Son of Alfred, brother to David and Thomas.  An accomplished violinist and violist, Maria performs in various ensembles and has composed several concert works.  She has performed on a few film scores as well. 

Randy Newman (1943-)
Nephew of Alfred/Emil/Lionel and uncle to David/Thomas/Maria.  In addition to his career as singer/songwriter, he is particularly known for his scores to Ragtime (1981), The Natural (1984), Avalon (1990), Toy Story (1995), Pleasantville (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Seabiscuit (2003), The Princess and the Frog (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).  He has been nominated twenty times for an Academy Award, winning twice for Original Song. 

Joey Newman (1976-)
Grandson to Lionel Newman, Joey has worked as an orchestrator and conductor for many projects, including works by cousin Randy.  As a composer, he worked on television shows like Once and Again, Providence, Little People Big World and The Middle.

Jaclyn Newman-Dorn
Jaclyn is the granddaughter of Alfred and niece of Thomas.  She has worked as assistant music editor on films like Obsessed (2009),
Burlesque (2010), Priest (2011), and Horrible Bosses (2011).  She currently is a music supervisor for the Newman/Dorn Music Service.

Lionel Newman, left, with John Williams