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Film score


Film score

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A film score is the background music in a film, generally specially written for the film and often used to heighten emotions provoked by the imagery on the screen or by the dialogue.

In many instances, film scores are performed by orchestras, which vary in size from a small chamber ensemble to a large ensemble, often including a choir. The orchestra is either a studio orchestra, employed by the studio, or a performing orchestra such as the London Symphony Orchestra. However, TV, video games, and films with even smaller budgets, often utilize sampling technology to re-create the sound of an orchestra. This is generally much cheaper, although most film-makers try to avoid this.

Some films use popular music as the primary musical component, but an orchestral score is more often preferred. An orchestral score can be much more closely adapted to a film while popular music is based upon a strong and repetitive rhythm that is inflexible and cannot be easily adapted to a scene. Popular genres of music also tend to date quickly as styles rapidly evolve while orchestral music tends to age much more gracefully. Instead, popular music may be included for special occasions where more attention must be diverted to the music. In these cases, songs are usually not written specifically for the film.


How a film score is created

After the film has been shot (or has completed some shooting), the composer is shown an unpolished "rough cut" of the film (or of the scenes partially finished), and talks to the director about what sort of music (styles, themes, etc.) should be used — this process is called "spotting." Sometimes the director will have added "temp music": already published pieces that are similar to what the director wants. Most film composers strongly dislike temp music, as directors often become accustomed to it and push the composers to be imitators rather than creators. On certain occasions, directors have become so attached to the temp score that they decided to use it and reject the score custom-made by a composer. The most famous case of this is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Kubrick opted for existing recordings of classical works rather than the score by Alex North which eventually got Kubrick sued by composer György Ligeti.

Once a composer has the film, he/she will then work on creating the score. Some films are then re-edited to better fit the music. Instances of this include the collaborations between filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass, where over several years the score and film are edited multiple times to better suit each other. Arguably the most successful instances of these are the associations between Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. In the finale of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Morricone had prepared the score used before and Leone edited the scenes to match it. His other two famous films, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America, were completely edited to Morricone's score as the composer had prepared it months before the film's production. Another example is the famous "flying" scene in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The score, composed by long-time collaborator John Williams, proved so difficult to synchronize in this specific scene during the recording sessions that Spielberg gave Williams a blank check and asked him to record the cue without picture, freely. Spielberg then re-edited the scene later on to perfectly match the music.

When the music has been composed and orchestrated, it is then performed by the orchestra or ensemble, often with the composer conducting. The orchestra performs in front of a large screen depicting the movie, and sometimes to a series of clicks called a "click-track" that changes with meter and tempo, assisting the conductor to synchronize the music with the film.

Films often have different themes for important characters, events, ideas or objects, taking the idea from Wagner's use of leitmotif. These may be played in different variations depending on the situation they represent, scattered amongst incidental music. A famous example of this technique is John Williams' score for Star Wars Episodes IV-VI, and the several themes associated with characters like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia.

Most films have between forty and seventy-five minutes of music. However, some films have very little or no music. Dogme 95 is one genre that has music only from within a film, such as from a radio or television (thus called "source music" because it comes from a source within the film's depiction).

Artistic merit

The artistic merits of film music are frequently debated. Some critics value it highly, pointing to music such as that written by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Aaron Copland, Bernard Hermann, and others. Some even consider film music to be a defining genre of classical music in the late 20th century, if only because it is the brand of classical music heard more often than any other. In some cases, film themes have become accepted into the canon of classical music. These are mostly works from already noted composers who have done scores, for instance Sergei Prokofiev's score to Alexander Nevsky (film) or Vaughan Williams' score to Scott of the Antarctic. Others see the great bulk of film music as meritless. They consider that much film music is derivative, borrowing heavily from previous works. Composers of film scores typically can produce about three or four per year. The most popular works by composers such as John Williams and Danny Elfman are still far from entering the accepted canon. Even so, major orchestras sometimes perform concerts of such music.

Historical notes

Before the age of sound motion pictures, great effort was taken to provide suitable music for films, usually through the services of an in-house pianist or organist, and, in some case, entire orchestras. Examples of this include Victor Herbert's score in 1915 to Fall of a Nation (a sequel to Birth of a Nation) and Camille Saint-Saëns' music for L'Assassinat du duc de Guise in 1908 — arguably the very first in movie history. Most accompaniment at this time comprised pieces by famous composers, also including studies. These were often used to form catalogues of film music, which had different subsections broken down by 'mood' and/or genre: dark, sad, suspense, action, chase, etc. This made things much easier for the in-house pianists and orchestras to pick pieces that fitted the particular feel of a movie and its scenes.

A full film score widely regarded as the first made by a popular artist came in 1980 with the film Flash Gordon, by the rock group Queen. Although many of their fans consider the soundtrack (subsequently released as an album) to be a mediocre effort, the album received great critical acclaim. This had not been done before in popular film history: any featured band had films written around the music (notably The Beatles with Yellow Submarine, and The Who's Tommy).

Notable film score composers

Please note: Films are only highlights of the composer's works, and thus this is not a complete listing.

Richard Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto in Dangerous Midnight (re-issued as Suicide Squadron)
David Arnold: Independence Day, Stargate, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day
Klaus Badelt: Poseidon, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
John Barry: several James Bond films, Dances With Wolves, Zulu, Out of Africa, Born Free
Hubert Bath: Cornish Rhapsody in the 1945 production of Love Story, Hitchcock's Blackmail
Jack Beaver: Portrait of Isla in The Case of the Frightened Lady
Elmer Bernstein: The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape
Jon Brion: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Magnolia, I ♥ Huckabees, Punch-Drunk Love
Roy Budd: Get Carter, The Wild Geese
Don Davis: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions
John Debney: Chicken Little (2005 film), Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
Patrick Doyle: Carlito's Way, Gosford Park, Bridget Jones' Diary, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Kenneth Branagh films such as Henry V
Randy Edelman: DragonHeart, The Last of the Mohicans, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Danny Elfman: Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman (1989 film), The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mission: Impossible (film), Spider-Man (film)
Michael Giacchino: Mission: Impossible III, The Incredibles, Looking For Comedy In the Muslim World
Philip Glass: The Fog of War, the Qatsi trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi), Truman Show, Candyman, The Hours and Thin Blue Line
Elliot Goldenthal: Heat, A Time to Kill, Frida
Jerry Goldsmith: many Star Trek scores, both film and TV; The Omen, Patton, Planet of the Apes
Ron Goodwin: Where Eagles Dare, 633 Squadron, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Battle of Britain
Harry Gregson-Williams (occasionally with John Powell): The Rock, Armageddon, Shrek, Man on Fire, *'Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, "Team America: World Police", Kingdom of Heaven, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Bernard Herrmann: Citizen Kane, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mysterious Island, and many Alfred Hitchcock films, most famously Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest
Joe Hisaishi: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Sonatine, Hanabi, Spirited Away
James Horner: Titanic, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Apollo 13, Aliens, A Beautiful Mind
James Newton Howard: Batman Begins, The Fugitive, Unbreakable, Signs, King Kong, Hidalgo (film)
Akira Ifukube: Godzilla, Rodan, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Mothra vs. Godzilla, The War of the Gargantuas, Battle in Outer Space, Destroy All Monsters, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
Ilayaraaja: Mouna Raagam, Idayathai Thirudathey, Dalapathi, Hey Ram, Lajja, Anjali, Sadma, Johnny, Muthalmariyadai
Maurice Jarre: Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago
Trevor Jones: Cliffhanger, Labyrinth, The Last of the Mohicans, Mississippi Burning, Dark City, Excalibur, Around the World in 80 Days (2004 film)
Michael Kamen: Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Band of Brothers (TV), X-Men, Lethal Weapon, Licence to Kill
Bernhard Kaun: Frankenstein (1931), Return of Dr. X (1939)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood
Michel Legrand: Les parapluies de Cherbourg, The Thomas Crown Affair.
Albert Hay Malotte: Disney animations, The Big Fisherman
Mark Mancina: Speed, Twister, Tarzan
Henry Mancini: Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Pink Panther movies
Dario Marianelli: The Brothers Grimm, Pride & Prejudice, V for Vendetta
Giorgio Moroder: Flashdance, Scarface, The Neverending Story
Ennio Morricone: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Peur sur la ville, The Untouchables, The Mission, The Thing, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cinema Paradiso, Days of Heaven
John Murphy: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and 28 Days Later
Alfred Newman: Wuthering Heights, How the West Was Won, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The King and I (1956 film)
Thomas Newman: The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Finding Nemo
Randy Newman: The Natural, Toy Story, A Bug's Life
Jack Nitzsche: The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Starman, Stand By Me
Michael Nyman: The Piano, Gattaca
John Ottman: X2: X-Men United, Fantastic Four, The Usual Suspects
Basil Poledouris: Conan the Barbarian, RoboCop, Starship Troopers, The Hunt for Red October
Popol Vuh: Several films of Werner Herzog
Rachel Portman: The Cider House Rules, Emma
John Powell: Face/Off, Paycheck
Sergei Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky, Lieutenant Kije, Ivan the Terrible
Trevor Rabin: Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, National Treasure
A. R. Rahman: Kannathil Muthamittal, Bombay, Roja, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
David Raksin: Forever Amber, The Bad and the Beautiful, Laura
Miranda Ravin: Exempla Healthcare Film, Sonnenalp, Jefferson Symphony Orchestra
Heinz Roemheld: The Black Cat, Yankee Doodle Dandy (songs by George M. Cohan), Ruby Gentry
Nino Rota: The Godfather, Romeo and Juliet, Otto e Mezzo, The Glass Mountain
Miklós Rózsa: Spellbound, Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur
Arthur B. Rubinstein: Blue Thunder (1983), WarGames (1983)
Camille Saint-Saëns, the first renowned classical composer to write for films
Ryuichi Sakamoto: The Last Emperor, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Gustavo Santaolalla: The Motorcycle Diaries, Brokeback Mountain
Lalo Schifrin: Bullitt, Dirty Harry, Rush Hour, Mission: Impossible (TV), Tango
Eric Serra: GoldenEye, The Big Blue, The Fifth Element
Howard Shore: The Lord of the Rings, Philadelphia, Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, A History of Violence
Ryan Shore: Prime, Harvard Man, Vulgar
Alan Silvestri: Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, The Mummy Returns, Mouse Hunt
Max Steiner: Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Casablanca
Leith Stevens: Destination Moon, The War of the Worlds (1953), The Wild One
Buddy Baker (composer): The Apple Dumpling Gang (film)
Dimitri Tiomkin: Giant, Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the OK Corral.
Shigeru Umebayashi: Yumeji, In the Mood for Love, House of Flying Daggers, 2046
Vangelis: Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, 1492: Conquest of Paradise
Franz Waxman: The Bride of Frankenstein, Objective Burma, Spirit of St. Louis
John Williams: Star Wars series, Superman: The Movie, Schindler's List, Indiana Jones series, Jaws series, Hook, Harry Potter series, Jurassic Park series
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Scott of the Antarctic
Hans Zimmer: "Batman Begins",The Rock, The Lion King, Driving Miss Daisy, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Mission: Impossible 2, Crimson Tide, Hannibal, The Last Samurai, Matchstick Men

External links

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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