Search Results for : Film Music Evangelism

Cubamerican: Local Spice, Universal Emotion

cubamericanLike a slowly dissipating fog, melancholy strings and piano particles hover at the outset of Carlos José Alvarez’s score for the 2012 documentary Cubamerican. From the fog there emerges a lone trumpet voice, sad and noble. Sad with the film’s self-exiled Cuban “diaspora,” whose families fled Fidel Castro’s dictatorship to come to the United States and who still feel a deep pang for the relatives and remnants of themselves they left behind. Noble because they are people who never shed their inherent Cuban-ness, and who have provided American culture with uniquely talented athletes, intellectuals, and artists.

The right honorable Doug Adams.

I was rooting through the corpse-strewn marshes of the Film Score Monthly message board (you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy) a few weeks back, and I came across a post from esteemed film music journalist Doug Adams (of the Music of the Lord of the Rings book fame). It was in the midst of a 2005 thread in which board members hotly debated whether Film Score Monthly could survive as an online venture (it has, and was my portal into writing about film music).

Film Music Evangelism: “Main Title” from The Unsaid

don davisBefore last month I’d never heard of The Unsaid, and after watching the trailer and looking into it I have no real interest in seeing this 2001 film. But a recent visit to Don Davis’ studio found this score in my hands, and I was immediately bewitched by the main theme. It’s a wonderful score overall, and the theme is nicely developed and laced throughout. I’ve been on a voyage of Don Davis discovery lately, and this particular effort has been a major highlight. (I would love to see Davis scoring more films, but I’m not sure he’s interested.)

Film Music Evangelism: Exhibit 3 – “Main Theme” from The Usual Suspects

Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2

Exhibit number three: “Main Theme” from John Ottman’s The Usual Suspects.

Ah, the main title. It seems most movies these days opt to jump right into the action. I don’t necessarily take issue with that approach, but I do miss the possibility of great main title sequences—as do, I’m sure, today’s aspiring Saul Basses—and primarily because of the musical opportunity they afford. A good main title sequence gives the film’s composer a chance to establish a central theme (or several of them) up front like an overture, establish the mood of the movie, or plant the beginnings of an idea that will be developed or evolved throughout the course of the film. Along with a good old montage, it’s one of the few sequences in a film when the composer is (generally) not held captive by the picture and not restricted to hitting specific beats. They can thus write a complete piece of music, sometimes upwards of three minutes in length, with its own internal logic and form. For the composer (and film music fan), this is glorious. (We’ll talk about the demise of the original end credits music some other time.)

Film Music Evangelism: Exhibit 2 – “Birth” from Philadelphia

Examine the intro and first exhibit for this series.

Exhibit number two: “Birth,” from Howard Shore’s Philadelphia.

I’m not wild about Howard Shore’s entire oeuvre, and compared to some people even my appreciation of The Lord of the Rings scores (undeniably his most impressive achievement to date) is tame. There’s no question he is incredibly gifted, and I do love how he invests a craftsman’s care and perfection into every aspect of his scores, but his voice only resonates with my tastes some of the time.