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FILM SCORE FRIDAY 4/23/04

By Scott Bettencourt

Howard Shore will appear at New York's Tribeca Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 8th, to talk about his Lord of the Rings scores in a discussion moderated by our own Doug Adams. For more information go to this link.


On May 25th at New York's Carnegie Hall, there will be an orchestral and choral performance of cues from John Barry's THE LION IN WINTER and Sergei Prokofiev's IVAN THE TERRIBLE accompanying clips from the films.


In last Friday's column, I reported that the cover of the upcoming soundtrack to HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZBAKAN features the disturbing words "Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture." Several of our readers (Ray Barnsbury, Jean-Michel Cavrois, Gunnar Grah, Jonathan Porath) wrote in to let me know that the covers of the European CDs of the earlier Potter scores said the same thing, presumably because the discs included John Williams' concert versions of some of the main themes (such as Hedwig's Theme), so with luck this new Potter CD will be all Williams.


Fans of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films may be interested in a recent interview with the director in Premiere magazine. He revealed that his inspiration for the split screen sequence in Vol. 1, where Daryl Hannah dresses as a nurse and tries to kill Uma Thurman with a lethal injection as Bernard Herrmann's Twisted Nerve theme plays, was actually a trailer for John Frankenheimer's Black Sunday. This particular trailer turned the equivalent scene from Sunday -- where "nurse" Marthe Keller tries to kill Robert Shaw with a similar injection -- into a split screen sequence accompanied by John Williams' Black Sunday theme, and Tarantino felt it was one of the greatest pieces of split screen filmmaking he'd ever seen and wanted to emulate it.


A note from Taylor White:
Shock Theatre and the Cypress Family Twin Theatre, in association with Percepto Records, are proud to bring you a family classic THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN.

This screening will feature an original film print from Universal Studios, plus a rare live Q&A with legendary film composer Vic Mizzy, who will answer your questions about the film and its production. Also, Percepto will be on hand with RARE memorabilia from the film, plus the complete line of Mizzy scores on CD for sale, including VIC MIZZY - SUITES & THEMES, THE NIGHT WALKER, THE CAPER OF THE GOLDEN BULLS with THE PERILS OF PAULINE, THE SPIRIT IS WILLING with THE BUSY BODY and the complete score to THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN.

For your enjoyment, Shock Theatre will also be running RARE cartoons, commercials and retro clips.

This is a special opportunity to share with your friends and family the great days of matinee screenings, and an absolute perfect film for your kids! No obscenity and no blood (except those fingerprints on "The Haunted Organ!"), just plain spooky fun from the comedic talents of Don Knotts and a host of familiar faces!

The screening begins this Sunday, April 25th at 6:00pm, a perfect time for a few hours of fun to kick off your week with a smile!

Cypress Family Twin is located in Central Orange County, in between LA & Orange County, located at 9823 Walker Street, Cypress, California. Phone is 714-828-4161

For your convenience Monsters In Motion will have tickets on sale at their retail Gallery Wed-Saturday for $10.00 for all seats, or you can purchase them at the box office before the show.


CORRECTIONS:

In the In Theaters Today section of the April 9th edition of Film Score Friday, I listed the composer of ELLA ENCHANTED as Shaun Davey. Mr. Davey now merely receives credit for "Additional Music" and for producing many of the film's songs, and the main scoring credit is given to Nick Glennie-Smith. This presumably was an eleventh hour rescoring, since not only does the film's release poster list Davey as the composer, but even the Variety review (dated 3/25/04) lists him instead of Glennie-Smith. This is merely the latest in a long history of Miramax/Dimension composer replacements/rescorings, including Marvin's Room, Halloween H20, Playing by Heart, Chocolat, Highlander: Endgame and Gangs of New York.

Composer Alexandre Desplat is represented by Kraft-Engel, not UTA as reported in yesterday's column.


CDS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Love From a Stranger - Benjamin Britten, Richard Rodney Bennett, Elisabeth Luytens, Roberto Gerhard - NMC
Step Into Liquid - Richard Gibbs (+ songs) - Surf Dog


IN THEATERS TODAY

Clifford's Really Big Movie - Jody Gray
Close Your Eyes - Simon Boswell
Man on Fire - Harry Gregson-Williams
13 Going on 30 - Theodore Shapiro - Song CD on Hollywood


COMING SOON

April 27
Godsend - Brian Tyler - Varese Sarabande
May 4
Van Helsing - Alan Silvestri - Decca
The Thorn Birds - Henry Mancini - Varese Sarabande
May 11
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius - James Horner - Varese Sarabande
Last Tango in Paris - Gato Barbieri - Varese Sarabande
The Lion in Winter - Richard Hartley - Varese Sarabande
May 18
The Day After Tomorrow - Harald Kloser - Varese Sarabande
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Ennio Morricone - Capitol/EMI
May 25
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - John Williams - Atlantic
June 8
Dirty Harry - Lalo Schifrin - Aleph
Date Unknown
Basic Instinct (complete) - Jerry Goldsmith - Prometheus
Battle Cry - Max Steiner - Screen Archives/BYU
The Brave Little Toaster - David Newman - Percepto
Foxes of Harrow - David Buttolph - Screen Archives
The Keys of the Kingdom - Alfred Newman - Screen Archives
Laws of Attraction - Edward Shearmur - La-La Land
Narrow Margin - Bruce Broughton - Intrada Special Collection
The Punisher - Carlo Siliotto - La-La Land
The Reluctant Astronaut - Vic Mizzy - Percepto
Son of Fury - Alfred Newman - Screen Archives
Timeline - Jerry Goldsmith - Varese Sarabande


THIS WEEK IN FILM MUSIC HISTORY

April 23 - Sergei Prokofiev born (1891)
April 23 - Patrick Williams born (1939)
April 23 - Jay Gruska born (1952)
April 23 - Bernard Herrmann begins recording North by Northwest score (1959)
April 23 - Christopher Komeda died (1969)
April 23 - Satyajit Ray died (1992)
April 24 - Barbra Streisand born (1942)
April 24 - Hubert Bath died (1945)
April 24 - Dana Kaproff born (1954)
April 25 - Brian May died (1997)
April 26 - Francis Lai born (1932)
April 26 - Giorgio Moroder born (1940)
April 26 - Miklos Rozsa begins recording score for Green Fire (1954)
April 26 - Bronislau Kaper died (1983)
April 26 - Barry Gray died (1984)
April 26 - Carmine Coppola died (1991)
April 27 - Christopher Komeda born (1937)
April 27 - Christopher Young born (1954)
April 29 - Duke Ellington born (1889)
April 29 - Rod McKuen born (1933)
April 29 - Lawrence Shragge born (1954)


DID THEY MENTION THE MUSIC?

KILL BILL VOL. 2 - The RZA, Robert Rodriguez, various

"Martial-arts movies and Hong Kong action movies were the hallmarks of 'Vol. 1.' In 'Vol. 2' westerns have taken over, particularly the work of Sergio Leone. Selections by Leone's composer Ennio Morricone are all over the soundtrack. And 'Vol. 2,' set largely in Texas, California and Mexico, basks in wide landscapes and spare exchanges."

Charles Taylor, Salon.com

"'Kill Bill' is less labor of love than religious shrine. The extravagant recycling of Ennio Morricone, the references to obscure '70s sockadelia, and the elaborate cameos are the equivalent of shooting the movie in Aramaic."

J. Hoberman, Village Voice

"All of the director's musical, film and comic-book loves are on display; he gives much play to the grungy martial-arts melodrama 'Five Fingers of Death,' evoking its use of Quincy Jones's 'Ironside' theme and plucking several of its plot devices."

Elvis Mitchell, New York Times

"This is not to say that 'Vol. 2' doesn't have its good points. Once again, the RZA (aka Robert Diggs) has composed, or perhaps more accurately collected, a fantastic musical score and soundtrack, here mostly taken from Ennio Morricone and '70s organ vamps."

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"The Mexican and American Southwest settings and use of material from Ennio Morricone's scores rep the obvious ways in which 'Vol. 2' derives from Sergio Leone, but equally important is the influence of the Italian master in pushing Tarantino to expand what could have been perfunctory scenes into hugely elaborated set-pieces; latter detailing is what gives 'Vol. 2' its special charge for film buffs or anyone who keys into what Tarantino is up to. Richardson's cinematography, Sally Menke's editing, David Wasco's and Cao Jui Ping's production design and the original score by the RZA and (for Mexican interludes) Robert Rodriguez are smart, resourceful and alive, with innumerable other craft contributions following in kind."

Todd McCarthy, Variety

WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF - Joachin Holbek

"Schering's new film, 'Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself,' is pretty far removed from 'Italian For Beginners' in style, though not necessarily in quality. Handheld digital video, natural lighting, and found sound has been replaced by smooth tracking shots, subdued color tones, and a lush score by Joachim Holbek, but the story still sticks to audience-friendly melodrama. "

Noel Murray, The Onion

YOUNG ADAM - David Byrne

"The narrative scheme, the brooding period atmosphere, the understated score (by David Byrne) and the precision of the acting also make the story seem more interesting than it is."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

"David Byrne's melancholy, gently churning chamber score adds texture to the visuals."

Derek Elley, Variety


UPGRADING JERRY

FROM: "Des Speirs"

Dear Lukas, big fan of your site etc. I was compelled (infuriated is a better term) having just read Scott Bettercourt's TOP 40 Countdown. Have you read it? GOLDSMITH AT NUMBER 13!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Call me dumb, but where has the man been for the last 45 years? (Scott I mean, not Goldsmith) Maybe I have missed the small print but how does he calculate this figure? Is it purely based on box office earnings? I would argue that every composer working/scoring major Hollywood films today would have Goldsmith at the top or in their top 4 or 5. I myself am a big John Williams fan and John Barry too and fully understand the high regard that Williams is held in, but I still think Goldsmith is way more eclectic and much more inventive than any composer currently working, although Thomas Newman is showing much promise!! How many 75 year old composers have such a high profile? Did Miklos Rozsa or Herrmann or even Alfred Newman still have the staying power than Jerry Goldsmith maintains? I don't think so. Please print this letter on your site if you can. It's the first time I have been compelled to write in to any online magazine, so I hope other readers would agree with my assertion that the Top 40 list is very seriously flawed by this major mistake. Slip him in at no 2, perhaps.
Since Jerry Goldsmith is my favorite creator in any medium, I would love to live in your alternate universe Hollywood where Goldsmith's extraordinary talent and decades of superb scores would make him second only to John Williams as the most in-demand composer in Hollywood. Today's producers don't want the composers who wrote the greatest scores of the last forty years -- they want the composers who scored the latest hits, and even John Williams wouldn't still be at the top if his latest films weren't blockbusters (having a patron like Steven Spielberg certainly doesn't hurt). The industry has a remarkably short memory and generally poor musical taste, as evidenced by all the rejected scores by top composers in the last decade or so, including Goldsmith (The Public Eye, 2 Days in the Valley, Timeline), Barry (The Bodyguard, Year of the Comet, The Horse Whisperer), Bernstein (A River Runs Through It, I Love Trouble, The Scarlet Letter, Last Man Standing, Gangs of New York), Jarre (Jennifer Eight, The River Wild, White Squall) and Morricone (What Dreams May Come).


THE RUNNERS AND THE RINGS

FROM: "Eric Kunze"

First, many many thanks for releasing the music from the TV series Logan's Run. Something I never imagined anyone doing and you did it. Remarkably high-quality music for a TV series that was conceptually so silly. And the writing! Another case of the robot being more interesting than the people.

Also wanted to pass on some Lord of the Rings news. Howard Shore will be conducting his Symphony in 6 Movements with the Seattle Symphony 15-17 JUL. Due to sold out concerts, they added a day. A recent letter from the Seattle symphony said that a PBS documentary based on the Montreal performance is in the works for a later airing. Artwork by John Howe and Alan Lee will be projected during the performance.



PRAISING A PUNISHING SCORE

FROM: "Mark Wallace"

SUBJECT: Finally - some art in the ART of Film Music

I've been around film music for a long time and it is extremely rare for me to ever go to a film because of the music. The last one that comes to mind is Alex North's DRAGONSLAYER (yes, that long ago!).

I still check out what composer is scoring what movie, but it was still a surprise to see that Carlos Siliotto had composed the music for THE PUNISHER. I have only two of his scores, PALLA di NEVE and LA CORSA DELL' INNOCENTE (The Flight of the Innocent), but both are very good (and highly recommendable).

The score for THE PUNISHER wasn't the usual paint by numbers that I've come to expect from such films. From the main titles through the violin solo that makes an unexpected appearance half way through the film, to name just a few moments that have stuck with me, it seems to me that a lot of thought went into the score.

As the only one who stayed to read the credits (what is the point of replacing end titles with more 'commercial' music when no one stays to listen to it?), I found another surprise; Mr. Siliotto had also orchestrated the music himself. Hardly very Zimmer of him.

So, what can I say? Let's hope for an album release of Mr. Siliotto's score and a renaissance in the ART of writing music for film.

In the meantime - I'm off to buy Carlos Siliotto's other film scores, before anyone else does.

La-La Land Records has announced that they will be releasing Siliotto's score to The Punisher.


PASSACAGLIAS AND CHACONNES REDUX

FROM: "Les Jepson"

I was interested by Mr McDonald's letter in last Friday's mailbag regarding chaconnes and passacaglias. The usual definition of these ancient dance-forms is a set of variations over a ground bass in triple time. The passacaglia is traditionally slower than the chaconne. In modern useage, however, they tend to have become merged, with "passacaglia" being the preferred term. One of the most mentioned examples is the magnificent final movement of Brahms' Fourth Symphony.

I was also intrigued by the same correspondent's reference to Douglas Gamley's music for TALES FROM THE CRYPT. It is many years since I saw this picture, but if I remember correctly the music was a fairly straight - although ominous - rendition of the Dies Irae. I believe Georges Van Pary's title music for Henri Georges Clouzot's LES DIABOLIQUES also owes a large debt to the Dies Irae. The piece is in the form of an arched crescendo starting in the celli and basses, up through to full orchestra, children's choir, pipe organ, and finally back down to the lower strings. Again, my memory is not razor-sharp on this, but I recall that the melody line of the Dies Irae is reversed or inverted or some such, giving it a strangely unsettling quality. This was a very cunning piece of music, given the film's premise of resurrection with a twist.

Speaking of Henri Clouzot, I think it was his normal practice to have just title music for his films. One can observe the same technique in that other great picture of his, THE WAGES OF FEAR. There is just the title music (Georges Auric composing this time), a very odd piece of arhythmic percussion and guitar, and source music only within the actual body of the film.


DIGITAL VS. ANALOG BATTLE ROYALE

FROM: "Edward L. Crosby III"

I have just skimmed Josh Gizelt's "Digital Vs. Analog Part 2" and some of his comments do not match what I understand about digital and analog recording technology.

1. He states that when an analog tape is made, tape hiss results from the mechanical noise caused by movement of the tape across the recording head ("In the process of recording a tape, the sound of the tape moving across the head ... is added to the sound of the recording itself.").

As far as I know, that is absolutely not true. Tape hiss comes from the fact that some of the magnetic oxide particles on the tape do not get magnetized as the tape passes across the gap in the recording head. On playback, these unmagnetized particles of random polarity produce "white noise" which is heard as tape hiss. The signal on the tape is recorded and played back magnetically, so no mechanical tape noise (or any other mechanical noise made by the recorder's components such as motors, belts, fans, etc.) is transferred to the tape during the recording process unless a microphone is plugged into the recorder and held close to the moving parts. Even then it would take an ultra-sensitive microphone to pick up the mechanical noise of the tape rubbing against the record head, and it would probably be drowned out completely by louder motor/fan noises.

2. He also states that some of the distortion in digital recordings results from the fact that the waveform is "diced" and therefore "stepped" ("Because the original sound wave is being approximated, the sound has essentially been diced, and when it is put back together, it is stepped. This means that the curve of the wave is no longer smooth, but instead somewhat jagged. The overall sound suffers from this.").

No, it doesn't -- at least not to any audible extent. The analog signal is indeed sliced into segments (44,100 of them per second) during the recording process, and the undulations of the digital waveform therefore do have a "stairstep" shape. HOWEVER when that same digital signal is played back, it is passed through what is called a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) which interpolates the steps in the waveform on the fly, returning it to a smooth non-stepped, analog form. While that process does introduce a very, very, VERY small amount of distortion, it is completely inaudible to the human ear.

3. He also complains that a digital recording doesn't have "presence" because there is no tape hiss or stylus noise, both of which he terms "white noise."

That's an absurd contention. Tape hiss doesn't produce "presence" -- ambient acoustics do, and they can be captured just as well by digital recording equipment as by analog equipment -- minus the tape hiss and vinyl noise which detract from the essence of the recording. In addition, stylus noise (and the "rumble" of poorly pressed vinyl) when a record is played back is particularly annoying precisely because it is NOT white noise. Clicks, pops and rumble are not continuous unchanging noises (like tape hiss), so they attract the attention of the listener away from the useful signal (the music, for example).

MailBag@filmscoremonthly.com


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