Posts Tagged 'creativity'

Music for the Silver Screen

You can’t talk about twentieth-century music without acknowledging the cinema. As the music of Rebel without a Cause and Jules et Jim comes out on CD, Peter Davey tells the story of sound and vision, taking in composes lured to Hollywood, and how the best film-score writers stand up to the greatest classics.

Can you imagine Jaws without John Williams’s menacing, accelerating theme as the shark’s fin makes its first appearance on screen? Or how much less shocking Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho would be if it wasn’t accompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s piercing, jagged-edge orchestral score? ‘Film music’, said Herrmann, ‘can intensify the inner thoughts of the characters, can invest a scene with terror or gaiety, can propel narrative forward or slow it down, and is the communicating link between screen and audience.’ In the endless variety of music scores you will find everything from the heavily symphonic, swooning love music of Steiner’s Gone with the Wind to the circus polkas and Sicilian rhythms of Nino Rota’s La Strada and Godfather series.

This month’s new film Paradise Road is set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp where inmates sing arrangements of classical music. Its soundtrack of appropriated classics will no doubt thrive as Mozart did after Amadeus, Mahler after Death in Venice and Rachmaninov after Brief Encounter, and, most recently, Shine. But what about those composers who write especially for the cinema? What is their greatest work and which films should we watch to appreciate their best music?

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Music of the Movies

With the bestselling success of the Titanic soundtrack, film music has never been more popular. Michael Scott Rohan hails an end to snobbery about film scores.

Two bands played on while Titanic sank – one on the ship, the other on the soundtrack. It’s this second band which really drives home the drama. Alfred Hitchcock once described an innocuous scene of people chatting in a sunny room – and its total transformation when the audience discovered there was a corpse behind the door. Music can subtly subvert that innocent atmosphere even before the audience knows anything – ‘reaching out’, as Bernard Herrmann once said, ‘and enveloping all into one single experience’.

This is no mean art to command; and yet over the last half-century the musical establishment has constantly undervalued film scoring. As recently as the late 1960s an otherwise go-ahead young music lecturer informed me that the Sinfonia Antarctica couldn’t be a real symphony because it was just ‘cobbled-together film music’. Where did this kind of blindness come from? In considering the answer we can restore credit to some, at least, of cinema’s underrated musical giants.

Continue reading ‘Music of the Movies’

Outside the Comfort Zone

comfortzoneMost of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we’ve been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.

Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we’re not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn’t want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don’t want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.

We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it.


Music Monday: January roundup

A month taken over by no-nonsense creative ladies with a lot of initials in their names (ye olde androgynous trick). Coincidental? Probably not.

1. PJ Harvey (129)
2. KT Tunstall (58)
3. Sophie B. Hawkins (50)

Music Monday: December roundup

Little surprise here. The Anonymous 4 library has a lot of tracks, and this year most of them bled into December, instead of NaNo-ing November. Adrian von Ziegler is a new arrival to my charts, who has got all it takes to become a long-term favourite. But TSO, as usual, swept the board, because you just can’t beat those tunes, even 20 years later.

The holidays are times with little music, as I get little quiet time, so I’m looking forward to school resuming and leaving me free to explore my cache of new music. Next Monday, we will take a look at the year’s charts, and then head off into 2017 ready for old and new favourites to take their place on the list.

1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (571)
2. Anonymous 4 (434)
3. Adrian von Ziegler (391)

Month at a Glance

March 2017
« Feb    


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