Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soundtrack Geekdom

I think I've admitted before to being quite the soundtrack geek. In addition to having dozens of soundtracks for notable films which I've enjoyed, I also have several soundtracks for films I haven't even seen! (The number of these albums has increased thanks to a recent deal between Ruckus music and my university.)

Here's a brief list of soundtracks for movies I don't own:

  • Lady in the Water
  • The Waterhorse
  • 300
  • Eragon
  • King Kong
  • The New World
  • Van Helsing
  • Children of Dune
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Silverado
  • Peter Pan
  • X-Men III: The Last Stand
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Star Wars
  • Passion of the Christ
  • A Walk To Remember
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • The Island

I also have tracks from films like Beowulf and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

In a soundtrack, I particularly enjoy the epic strings, horns and brass, best coupled with epic choral anthems. (Howard Shore did this brilliantly, with a medieval feel perfect for Lord of the Rings.) In other words, battle songs.

Because movie trailers (even for something as simple as The Simpsons) strive to achieve epic coolness within a short trailer span of about two minutes, music companies such as Immediate Music, X-Ray Dog and Future World Music are hired specifically to create soundtracks that last less than a minute. Some of these are available for download online, some of them are playable on other music websites, and some can be recorded from their demo reels online.

Commercials for movies often lift music from other movie soundtracks too. I recognized the scope of my soundtrack geekness when I saw a TV spot for a movie called Nim's Island, and recognized James Newton Howard's score for Treasure Planet playing. Then just the other day, I saw a TV spot for the dismal failure The Golden Compass with the track "The Great Eatlon" from James Newton Howard's score for Lady in the Water playing in the background.

I can also recognize styles of certain artists now. John Williams relies heavily on horns for his scores (such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Superman). Hans Zimmer is very all-purpose, and is the quintessential composer for a lot of films. Harry Gregson-Williams uses choir in the background, and doesn't often create very memorable themes, or if he does, he reuses them a lot. Howard Shore has to be one of my favorites. The number of themes he created for the Lord of the Rings trilogy is astounding. The depth, tone and mood of his music matches any of the beautiful moments in the Lord of the Rings movies, but could also bring to life any classic medieval story.

John Debney is famous primarily for his score Passion of the Christ, which was very ethnic, elemental and raw. Bruce Broughton relies on horns and fast-paced stringed symphonies for works such as Silverado, Homeward Bound and The Rescuers Down Under, all of which are extremely memorable and replayable scores.

Brian Tyler is most memorable to me for his "Children of Dune" CD, which had several memorable themes, and one fantastic section of music used for the first Narnia trailer (the 9-minute special trailer).

Other favorite composers include James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, Dennis McCarthy (who created the fantastic "Star Trek: Generations" score), Alan Silvestri, John Ottman, James Horner, John Powell and Trevor Rabin.

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At May 24, 2008 at 11:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

You don't like John Barry?

At May 26, 2008 at 2:44:00 PM PDT, Blogger Dave said...

I hadn't heard of him until you mentioned him. I looked him up, and found he composed a lot of James Bond music. I've not had occasion to hear his compositions, but maybe some time.


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