Genre CD Titles on Sale at La-La Land

The folks at La-La Land Records sent us the following notice for fans of Genre Movie Soundtracks.
THE LONE GUNMEN / HARSH REALM: LIMITED EDITION
LLLCD 1135
Music by Mark Snow
Limited Edition of 2000 Units
Presenting the premiere release of acclaimed composer Mark Snow’s (THE X-FILES, SMALLVILLE, GHOST WHISPERER) original scores to the Chris Carter television series THE LONE GUNMEN, (spin-off of THE X-FILES), and HARSH REALM. Aside from THE LONE GUNMEN’S infectious main theme, the spin-off series allowed Snow to creatively explore a variety of styles and genres in dynamic fashion, while HARSH REALM offered him an opportunity to take his trademark atmospherics into new areas of techno-sophistication and profound emotion. Produced by Mark Snow and MV Gerhard, and mastered by James Nelson, this collection of music from two Mark Snow – Chris Carter TV collaborations is limited to 2000 units and features exclusive liner notes by Julie Kirgo.
BATMAN (1989): LIMITED EDITION (2CD-SET) LLLCD 1140
Music by Danny Elfman
Limited Edition of 5000 Units
As part of our Expanded Archival Collection, La-La Land Records presents the world premiere release of the film version of Danny Elfman’s acclaimed original score to the 1989 Warner Bros. blockbuster BATMAN, starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger and directed by Tim Burton. With a running time of 144 minutes, this 2-CD SET, produced by Dan Goldwasser, Neil S. Bulk and MV Gerhard, and remastered by James Nelson, features the previously unreleased film version (mix/edit) of Mr. Elfman’s score, as well as a remastered presentation of the 1989 soundtrack album and never-before-released Bonus Tracks. 20 Page CD Booklet features in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond. Limited Edition of 5000 Units
KRULL: LIMITED EDITION (2CD-SET) LLLCD 1143
Music by James Horner
Limited Edition of 3000 Units
Presenting James Horner’s newly remastered motion picture score to the 1983 Columbia Pictures sci-fi/adventure/fantasy KRULL, starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony and Liam Nesson and directed by Peter Yates. Previously out of print, this 2-Disc re-issue of one of Mr. Horner’s most striking film scores is produced by Ford A. Thaxton and remastered by James Nelson, and features bonus tracks. 16 Page CD Booklet features exclusive, in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond. Limited Edition of 3000 Units.
PREDATORS LLLCD 1141
Music by John Debney
Presenting the original motion picture score to the blockbuster 20th Century Fox sci-fi/action feature film PREDATORS, starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo and Topher Grace, directed by Nimrod Antal and produced by Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY, DESPERADO, PLANET TERROR, MACHETE). Acclaimed composer John Debney (IRON MAN 2, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, SIN CITY, THE RELIC), ratchets up all the action and suspense of this latest hit installment of the legendary PREDATOR franchise with a propulsive orchestral score that skillfully incorporates Alan Silvestri’s iconic themes from the original film. CD Booklet features exclusive art and liner notes from film writer Daniel Schweiger, composer Debney, producer Rodriguez and director Antal.

DC 75th Anniversary Music CD

dc_75 MUSIC CDThe Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection is a new CD from Warner Brother’s Water Tower Music, set to come out September 28th, 2010

Track Listing:
1. Superman March – Sammy Timberg (1941) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Academy Award Nominated cartoon series “Superman” produced by Max Fleischer. This was the first Superman cartoon.
2. Theme From Superman (Album Version) – John Williams (1978) – From the live-action film “Superman.” Digitally remastered.
3. The New Adventures of Superman – John Gart (1966)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “The New Adventures of Superman.”
4. Lois and Clark / The New Adventures of Superman – Jay Gruska (1993) – From the live-action TV Series “Lois and Clark”. Digitally remastered.
5. The Adventures of Superboy – John Gart(1966)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “The Adventures of Superboy.”
6. Superboy – Kevin Kiner (1988)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action TV series “Superboy.”
7. Smallville Season 8 (End Title) – Louis Febre (2008)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action TV series “Smallville.”
8. Batman: The Electrical Brain – Lee Zahler (1943)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action serial “The Batman.” This was the first filmed appearance of Batman.
9. The Batman Theme (Album Version) – Danny Elfman (1989) – From the live-action film “Batman”. Digitally remastered.
10. The Adventures of Batman – John Gart (1967)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the filmation cartoon “The Adventures of Batman.”
11. Batman TV Series Theme – Neal Hefti (1966)
– From the live-action TV series “Batman”. Digitally remastered.
12. Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Andy Sturmer (2008) – From the cartoon “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”. Digitally remastered.
13. Batman Beyond – Kristopher Lee (1999)
– From the cartoon “Batman Beyond”. Digitally remastered.
14. Molossus from Batman Begins – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (2005) – From the live-action film “Batman Begins”. Digitally remastered.
15. Justice League of America – John Gart (1967)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “Justice League of America.”
16. Super Friends – Hoyt Curtin (1973)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “SuperFriends.”
17. The All New Super Friends Hour – Hoyt Curtin (1977)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “The All-New SuperFriends Hour.”
18. Justice League Unlimited – Michael McCuistion (2004)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the cartoon “Justice League Unlimited.”
19. Legends of the Superheroes – Fred Wener (1979)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action TV special “Legends of the Superheroes.”
20. The Teen Titans – John Gart (1967) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “The Teen Titans.”
21. Aquaman – John Gart (1967) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “Aquaman.”
22. Swamp Thing – Christopher Stone (1991)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action TV show “Swamp Thing: The Series.”
23. Shazam! – Norman Prescott & Yvette Blais (1974)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the live-action TV series “Shazam!”
24. The Flash – John Gart (1967)
– Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “The Flash.”
25. Green Lantern – John Gart (1967) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “Green Lantern.”
26. Green Lantern First Flight – Robert J Kral (2009)
-From the animated movie “Green Lantern: First Flight.” Digitally remastered.
27. The Atom – John Gart (1967) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “The Atom.”
28. Hawkman – John Gart (1967) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Filmation cartoon “Hawkman.”
29. Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show – Dean Elliott (1979) – Previously unavailable. Digitally remastered. From the Ruby-Spears cartoon “The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.”
30. Wonder Woman The Animated Movie End Title – Christopher Drake (2009) – From the animated movie “Wonder Woman.” Digitally remastered.
31. Wonder Woman – Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel (1976)
– From the live-action TV series “Wonder Woman.” Digitally remastered.

Notably missing is the theme to the 1950’s series THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, generally credited to music editor Leon Klatzkin. (Some writers such as Paul Mandell speculate that the Superman March and Flying Theme were the work of composer Jack  Shaindlin or his assistants, based on other cues by  Shaindlin & Co. from the MUTEL Library that seem to incorporate distinct motifs from the piece.)
It’s possible its  exclusion  is due to the fact that DC Comics does not control the rights to this piece of music, for convoluted legal reasons. Warner Home Video’s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN DVD collections don’t feature the music either, save as synched to the original episodes.

Music in the Horror Film: An Interview with Neil Lerner

Click the podcast button to hear Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, performed by Frederich Magle, courtesy of Magle International Music Forums.


I come from a generation of fantastic film fans who wanted a greater depth of knowledge about the films we loved. This moved beyond knowing who the actors and even the directors were. We knew about the special effects technicians, the make up artists, the matte painters, the model makers, stop-motion animators, and even who composed the scores. Some of my favorites included Bernard Herrmann, James Bernard, Jerry Goldsmith, and of course John Williams.
A few moments reflection on the movie going experience, especially in regards to the horror genre, reveals how important music is. Some of the more noteworthy examples are the shower scene in PSYCHO, the main theme for JAWS, and the memorable music for John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Unfortunately, while the images of horror have been the focus of much critical and academic discussion, little attention has been paid to the music. Addressing this deficit, Neil Lerner has edited the book Music in the Horror Film: Listening to Fear (Routledge, 2010). Lerner is Professor of Music at Davidson College, where he teaches courses in music as well as film and media studies. His work on film music has been published in numerous journals, essay collections, and encyclopedias. Lerner discusses horror film music in this special interview for Cinefantastique Online.
John Morehead: Neil, thank you for being willing to discuss your book here. Can you begin by sharing a little of your background in music, and why, on a personal level, you chose horror as the genre of film for analysis in terms of music’s significance and impact?
click to purchase
click to purchase

Neil Lerner: First of all, I want to you thank you and Cinefantastique for your interest in this work. As a longtime fan of Cinefantastique, it’s a great honor to get to discuss these things with you.
My professional background is as a musicologist, and my dissertation studied music in some U.S. government documentary films. At the time I started working on my dissertation, there were only a handful of music scholars who were taking film music seriously. So that’s partly why I went with these documentary film scores, by established concert hall composers like Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland: because they were in many ways safer to the academy. It was also a case where I was confident I could get to the relevant archival material, like score manuscripts and production papers, something that’s still not easy to do with Hollywood scores.
One question that I found myself drawn to throughout that research on documentary scores was whether or not a composer could do more experimental things in a score for a documentary than in a Hollywood fictional narrative. I actually found several instances where composers could push the compositional envelope in a documentary film score—like using extended dissonances, or writing fugues, things that didn’t happen too much in Hollywood’s mainstream scores—and that question of where and how modernist strategies enter into film music continues to interest me.
Finally, I’ve always been a fan of horror films, but I started studying film more seriously in college, which, believe it or not, was at Transylvania University. I had one particularly brilliant professor there who took great pleasure in talking about vampire films in his film courses, and his intellectual curiosity was contagious. In many ways, then, I’ve been on a crash course with this topic.
John Morehead: Can you sketch how music developed in terms of its inclusion in the horror film? Viewers take its presence for granted in contemporary cinema, but may forget that there was a process of development as it was included in film, and in horror as well, beyond the jump from silent films to sound.
Neil Lerner: I think studying music in horror films brings with it the same challenges as in other genres in that transitional period between “silent” and sound film: composers had multiple strategies for dealing with different kinds of dramatic situations; it’s often difficult or impossible to reconstruct with certainty what early musicians did (in cases of live accompaniment); and it’s too easy to over-generalize based on just a few examples. There’s still a good deal of basic research to be done in trying to map out just what was done in horror films in the 1920s, but we have some important clues in a book like Ernö Rapée’s Encyclopedia of Music for Pictures (1925), which lists all kinds of categories and topics that musicians accompanying film could have used. That book doesn’t have notated music, but rather it has lists of possible pieces that would fit each topic, giving us now an idea of what music was considered appropriate (at least according to Rapée) for different genres. If you look up “horror” in the Rapée, it directs you to the topics of “gruesome” and “outcry,” which themselves then direct out to other categories like “dwarfs, ghosts, spooks, and mysteriosos” (for “gruesome”) or to “dramatic” in the case of “outcry.” It ends up suggesting quite a wide spectrum of music that was available to someone accompanying a scary scene, but certain basic ideas tend to surface over and over again in these pieces, and these are things that aren’t unique to music for horror film, but rather things that fall in a much longer tradition of ways that composers could create a sense of fear or dread: extended unresolved dissonances, surprising bursts of sound, unfamiliar timbres, etc.
I do think Robert Spadoni’s recent book on horror film and the transition into the sound era makes a strong case for the significance of the sound track and how it could make films more horrific. The success of horror films coming out of Hollywood (starting in 1931) really does overlap in interesting ways with the coming of synchronized, recorded sound to the cinematic experience.
Candace Hilligoss stands before the church organ in CARNIVAL OF SOULS
Candace Hilligoss stands before the church organ in CARNIVAL OF SOULS

John Morehead: Your book begins appropriately with a consideration of the organ in CARNIVAL OF SOULS in a chapter by Julie Brown, with a comparison of the same instrument in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. Was this the first major instrument to be used in horror films, and how significant is it in associations with the genre today?
Neil Lerner: I don’t know if we can say that it was the first major instrument of horror films, just because I’m not certain we know enough yet about music in horror film in the 1920s, but Julie Brown’s work makes a compelling case for why the organ would recur so much in horror films. Namely, the instrument’s connections with certain kinds of religious spaces as well as its associations with funerals are all rich things to explore in a genre (horror) that probes at our sublimated anxieties. The tradition of the baroque organ is one where its huge sound was supposed to overpower its listener through sheer volume and acoustic weight, in ways that Robert Walser has compared with heavy metal music (and how heavy metal music works in horror films, when it starts to appear, etc., is another topic that needs work).
The film that I researched for the book, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931), makes the organ a central icon connected with Henry Jekyll, adding a musical dimension that doesn’t occur in Stevenson’s novella. I believe it’s there to provide a quick and efficient clue to Jekyll’s character: he has a certain level of wealth and high culture sophistication in that he plays Bach organ works for pleasure at his home, and it also suggests something of Jekyll’s piety and goodness (towards the end of the film he cries out to God).
Our first glimpse of Dr. Jekyll: his hands playing a pipe organ
Our first glimpse of Dr. Jekyll: his hands playing a pipe organ

Yet there’s another component to Jekyll’s organ playing that I explore in my essay, and that’s the possibility that Rouben Mamoulian’s conception of Jekyll & Hyde might set the entire narrative up as a dream occurring in the midst of Jekyll’s organ playing. The film opens with Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, a piece that recurs in the middle of the film—with some of the middle of the organ piece—and then the film closes with the final measures of the organ work. I know it’s a fairly radical way to read the film, but I found some other clues in the literary references that I believe at least complicate some of our assumptions about that film and how it works.
John Morehead: Of course, PSYCHO is perhaps the horror film most associated with striking music, as in the infamous shower scene. In the interesting chapter on this film, Ross Fenimore connects the film’s “aural fragments” of imagined and real voices with the musical “screams” of Marion’s (Janet Leigh) death as she is stabbed in the shower. Most viewers are familiar with the significance of Bernard Herrmann’s score to the film, but may not have connected this as part of a bigger aural whole that paints a picture of terror. How do these elements come together under the direction of Hitchcock?
Neil Lerner: I agree with you that the shower scene music from PSYCHO has become an iconic example of horror music, but I’d extend it even further, to say that it’s become one of the most iconic examples of all film music. Ross Fenimore’s essay raises some important questions about the music and to whom it might be connected (to Marion? to Norman? to Mother? to someone else?), which becomes really interesting when you start to factor in the film’s trickery in regards to connecting voices to characters.
I don’t know, however, how much credit should go to Hitchcock’s direction. I mean no disrespect to Hitchcock here, but I think it’s important to remember that Hitchcock originally wanted that shower scene to have only natural sound effects (like shower and knife sounds) without music. Herrmann lobbied to put music into it, and Hitchcock acquiesced, but Herrmann probably paid a heavy price later with Hitchcock for upstaging his director with a better idea. Herrmann’s score here is just brilliant; he was a composer at the peak of his powers, creating music that continues to yield new readings and interpretations. It’s just so marvelously simple and effective in its blend of extended, unresolved dissonances (major sevenths and minor seconds), descending registral gestures (moving from high to low), and repetition. Plus there’s the effect of having the string instruments play the quick portamento, the sliding up on the string, which creates a terrible ripping or tearing effect; it fills in the blanks of what’s happening because visually, we never actually see the knife ripping through flesh, but aurally, we get a clear idea of what’s happening.
John Morehead: As a long-time horror fan I should have been aware of this, but it was not until I read Music in the Horror Film, and Claire Sisco King’s chapter on music in THE EXORCIST, that I realized that the film includes an unconventional approach to musical scoring at the insistence of director William Friedkin. Why did he approach music in the film in this way, and how is this reflective of cultural anxieties of the time as well as the film’s narrative?
Neil Lerner: It’s hard to try and get inside a director’s head, but Claire Sisco King does a fabulous job of collecting all sorts of evidence from the production of the film, thereby giving us clues to what might have been motivating him. I was struck at Friedkin’s resistance to thinking of THE EXORCIST as a horror film, because it reminded me of Rouben Mamoulian’s similar remarks about DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. I have a hunch both of these directors might have felt that horror as a genre was perhaps too undignified for the kinds of larger ideas they were addressing, and appropriately enough, both of them ended up transforming and complicating the genre in pretty important ways. Friedkin was motivated by a kind of documentary impulse in THE EXORCIST, and Claire Sisco King argues how this probably led to the unconventional musical choices he made. She then goes on to read the music in relation to the larger cultural anxiety of a widely perceived crisis of masculinity. I think her essay can help viewers to see THE EXORCIST in a new and different way—note the visual metaphors here, it’s just tough to escape them—but the underlying goal behind all of the essays in the book is the idea that by paying closer attention to the music, the ear can lead us to see these films in new ways.
John Morehead: I was raised on the fantastic scores of folks like Bernard Hermann, James Horner, and a little later John Williams. But one of the others I enjoyed was director John Carpenter with his synthesizer music. Your book includes a chapter discussing Carpenter’s music in THE FOG, and I wonder how original and significant you see his electronic scoring in this and other films like HALLOWEEN and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK?
Neil Lerner: I think there’s still a good deal of basic work that needs to be done on this question, but K. J. Donnelly’s essay makes a strong case for the potential returns in giving close attention to film scores that might be thought of as too simple or basic. A good deal of scholarship on film music has tended to focus on fully notated orchestral film scores, but of course there’s a much wider spectrum of musical strategies out there, like rock or jazz, and Donnelly has been an important scholarly pioneer in this regard.
The synthesizer timbres weren’t original to John Carpenter—several of the important Vietnam-era horror films, like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, or LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, have some prominent use of electronic instruments—but Carpenter does seem to have done something that worked well and proved influential with the synthesizer scoring in HALLOWEEN (1978). Plus I just think those early modular synths were incredibly cool, so I’m happy we got a picture of a Moog in the book.
John Morehead: It is understandable that, since film is a visual medium, the image has been the primary focus of film analysis, but given the significance of sound and music to film, particularly to horror (not to mention science fiction and fantasy), why has musical analysis been largely ignored? And is this situation starting to change?
Neil Lerner: My college film courses emphasized that film is a visual medium, and of course much of the writing about film does that also, but maybe because I was studying music while taking film classes I was more attenuated to what was happening in the soundtrack. I’ve always found it interesting that so much of the attention in film goes to the visual elements, but the experience of film (and now television and video games) is almost always tied together with a soundtrack. One might speculate that there’s a larger cultural bias against the acoustic, that there’s a hegemony of the visual; what we consider basic educational skills dwell largely if not exclusively on things that are visual, like reading, but where in our culture do we teach about the sonic and the musical? I believe most of us are self taught in regards to knowing how to interpret the music we encounter with a film or video game—if we’re raised watching these things, we figure it out from the context—and most people can interpret these musical codes with a great deal of nuance, even if they aren’t trained in music and have no idea how the music is doing what it does. It’s useful, therefore, to have music scholars devoted to studying music in screen media as a way of providing students and devotees with another tool in their own lifelong encounters with these things.
As a music historian, I’ve long heard the truism that concert hall music in the twentieth century, particularly the experimental, avant-garde styles, hit a kind of impasse where audiences became disinterested in it and where many of these musical languages then found their way into film genres like fantasy and horror. One of my goals with the book was to help to provide some examples of that, whether it be through the radical sound collage that Mamoulian created for the first transformation scene in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE or the later appropriations of Penderecki in THE EXORCIST or THE SHINING. There’s still a great deal of work to be done in tracking all of these musical languages, and that’s exciting for musicologists, film scholars, and folks who love movies.

(Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, performed by Frederich Magle, courtesy of Magle International Music Forums)

Genre Film Score CDs From La-La Land

New releases from La-La Land RecordsLalaland Recors Logo:
BATMAN (1989): LIMITED EDITION (2CD-SET) LLLCD 1140
Music by Danny Elfman
Limited Edition of 5000 Units
SHIPPING JULY 27
RETAIL PRICE $29.98

As part of our Expanded Archival Collection, La-La Land Records presents the world premiere release of the film version of Danny Elfman’s acclaimed original score to the 1989 Warner Bros. blockbuster BATMAN, starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger and directed by Tim Burton. With a running time of 144 minutes, this 2-CD SET, produced by Dan Goldwasser, Neil S. Bulk and MV Gerhard, and remastered by James Nelson, features the previously unreleased film version (mix/edit) of Mr. Elfman’s score, as well as a remastered presentation of the 1989 soundtrack album and never-before-released Bonus Tracks. 20 Page CD Booklet features in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond. Limited Edition of 5000 Units
ABOUT THIS RELEASE: In order to present as much music as possible from Batman in the best possible quality, multiple sources were utilized with the best-quality elements selected for each cue on an individual basis. For disc one and the bonus cues on disc two, three sources were used: Eric Tomlinson’s 35mm 4-track mixes, 1/4 inch stereo mixes and a stereo 35mm music only track. The album cues on disc two were sourced from the original digital album master featuring Shawn Murphy’s stereo album mix.
TRACK LISTING:
Disc One: Original Score (film version)
1. Main Title* (2:42)
2. Family*/First Batman*/Roof Fight* (3:24)
3. Jack Vs. Eckhardt* (1:37)
4. Up Building*/Card Snap* (1:54)
5. Bat Zone*/Axis Set-Up* (1:55)
6. Shootout* (5:42)
7. Dinner Transition*/Kitchen Dinner* (**)/Surgery* (3:00)
8. Face–Off* (**)/Beddy Bye* (3:59)
9. Roasted Dude* (1:03)
10. Vicki Spies (Flowers)* (1:56)
11. Clown Attack* (1:59)
12. Photos*/Beautiful Dreamer* (***) (2:30)
13. Men At Work* (0:33)
14. Paper Spin*/Alicia’s Mask* (0:30)
15. Vicki Gets A Gift* (1:13)
16. Alicia’s Unmasking* (1:10)
17. Batman To The Rescue*/Batmobile Charge*/Street Fight* (4:25)
18. Descent Into Mystery* (1:33)
19. Bat Cave*/Paper Throw* (2:48)
20. The Joker’s Poem* (0:59)
21. Sad Pictures* (0:38)
22. Dream*/Challenge*/Tender Bat Cave* (**) (4:28)
23. Charge Of The Batmobile* (1:43)
24. Joker Flies To Gotham (Unused)*/Batwing I* (0:31)
25. Batwing II*/Batwing III* (6:02)
26. Cathedral Chase* (5:07)
27. Waltz To The Death* (3:58)
28. Showdown I*/Showdown II* (5:05)
29. Finale* (**) (1:47)
30. End Credits* (1:29)
Disc One Total Time: 75:40
Disc Two: Original Soundtrack Album (remastered)
1. The Batman Theme (2:37)
2. Roof Fight (1:22)
3. First Confrontation (4:43)
4. Kitchen/Surgery/Face–Off** (3:09)
5. Flowers (1:51)
6. Clown Attack (1:46)
7. Batman To The Rescue (3:57)
8. Roasted Dude (1:02)
9. Photos/Beautiful Dreamer*** (2:31)
10. Descent Into Mystery (1:33)
11. The Bat Cave (2:35)
12. The Joker’s Poem (0:59)
13. Childhood Remembered (2:43)
14. Love Theme** (1:30)
15. Charge Of The Batmobile (1:41)
16. Attack Of The Batwing (4:45)
17. Up The Cathedral (5:05)
18. Waltz To The Death (3:56)
19. The Final Confrontation (3:48)
20. Finale (**) (***) (1:46)
21. Batman Theme Reprise (1:31)
Bonus Cues:
22. News Theme* (0:11)
23. Joker’s Commercial* (1:23)
24. Joker’s Muzak (unused)* (1:15)
25. Main Title (alt 1)* (2:42)
26. Photos*/Beautiful Dreamer (alt)* (**) (2:33)
27. Batman To The Rescue (original ending)* (0:52)
28. Charge Of The Batmobile (film edit)* (1:47)
29. Main Title (alt 2)* (2:47)
Disc Two Total Time: 68:20
Total Running Time: 144:00
* Previously unreleased
** includes “Scandalous” composed by Prince with John L. Nelson
*** includes “Beautiful Dreamer” composed by Stephen Foster

KRULL: LIMITED EDITION (2CD-SET) LLLCD 1143
Music by James Horner
Limited Edition of 3000 Units
SHIPPING JULY 27
SPECIAL SALE PRICE: $19.98
ORDER “KRULL: LIMITED EDITION (2CD-SET)” on July 27 at www.lalalandrecords.com and get it a special price of $19.98. For a limited time.

Presenting James Horner’s newly remastered motion picture score to the 1983 Columbia Pictures sci-fi/adventure/fantasy KRULL, starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony and Liam Nesson and directed by Peter Yates. Previously out of print, this 2-Disc re-issue of one of Mr. Horner’s most striking film scores is produced by Ford A. Thaxton and remastered by James Nelson, and features bonus tracks. 16 Page CD Booklet features exclusive, in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond. Limited Edition of 3000 Units.
TRACK LISTING:
DISC ONE:
1. Main Title And Colwyn’s Arrival (7:34)
2. The Slayers Attack (9:18)
3. Quest For The Glaive (7:23)
4. Ride To The Waterfall (0:53)
5. Lyssa In The Fortress (1:28)
6. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave (4:10)
7. The Seer’s Vision (2:18)
8. The Battle In The Swamp (2:39)
9. Quicksand (3:38)
10. The Changeling (4:04)
11. Leaving The Swamp (1:58)
Total Time – Disc One: 45:23
DISC TWO:
1. Vella (3:46)
2. The Widow’s Web (6:18)
3. The Widow’s Lullaby (5:01)
4. Ynyr’s Death (1:41)
5. Ride Of The Firemares (5:22)
6. Battle On The Parapets (2:53)
7. Inside The Black Fortress (6:13)
8. The Death Of The Beast And The
Destruction Of The Black Fortress (8:31)
9. Epilogue And End Title (4:52)
BONUS CUES:
10. Colwyn And Lyssa Love Theme (2:35)
11. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave
(Album Edit) (2:16)
12. Theme From Krull (4:48)
Total Time – Disc Two: 54:16
Total Running Time: 99:39

Click to purchase

PREDATORS LLLCD 1141
Music by John Debney
SHIPPING JULY 27
RETAIL PRICE $15.98
ORDER “PREDATORS” on July 27 and get your CD autographed by composer John Debney at no additional charge. Autographs are while supplies last and are not guaranteed. For a limited time.

Presenting the original motion picture score to the blockbuster 20th Century Fox sci-fi/action feature film PREDATORS, starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo and Topher Grace, directed by Nimrod Antal and produced by Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY, DESPERADO, PLANET TERROR, MACHETE). Acclaimed composer John Debney (IRON MAN 2, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, SIN CITY, THE RELIC), ratchets up all the action and suspense of this latest hit installment of the legendary PREDATOR franchise with a propulsive orchestral score that skillfully incorporates Alan Silvestri’s iconic themes from the original film. CD Booklet features exclusive art and liner notes from film writer Daniel Schweiger, composer Debney, producer Rodriguez and director Antal.
TRACK LISTING
1. Free Fall* 3:06
2. Single Shooter* 2:08
3. This Is Hell* 4:10
4. Cages/Trip-wire 3:51
5. Not Of This Earth 2:50
6. Hound Attack 4:08
7. We Run We Die 4:39
8. Predator Attack* 1:46
9. Meet Mr. Black 1:15
10. They See Our Traps* 2:26
11. Over Here 2:24
12. Smoke* 2:38
13. Nikolai Blows* 2:10
14. Stans’ Last Stand 1:49
15. Hanzo’s Last Stand* 3:08
16. Leg Trap 2:22
17. Take Me To The Ship 2:04
18. Edwin and Isabelle Captured* 1:33
19. Predator Fight, Royce Runs 3:15
20. Twisted Edwin/Royce Returns 3:25
21. She’s Paralyzed* 6:05
22. Royce vs. Predator 2:39
23. Let’s Get Off This Planet 3:01
24. Theme From Predator* 1:45
Total Time 68:37
*Contains The Original Theme From PREDATOR
Composed by Alan Silvestri

To celebrate the release of BATMAN, They’re offering Shirley Walker’s spectacular THE FLASH (2CD-SET), featuring Danny Elfman’s main theme, at a special sale price of only $19.98. For a limited time. Only at www.lalalandrecords.com

Of Superheroes and Predators: John Debney Returns to Sci-Fi

predators iron man combo

Comedy has always been contrapuntal to chillers in John Debney’s career. The composer began in the early 1980s scoring Disney television and cartoon shows like SCOOBY-DOO and features such as JETSONS: THE MOVIE.  These lighthearted scores were offset against Debney’s darker side, which revealed itself in such venues as the relentless horror music of THE RELIC and KOMODO, the vividly swashbuckling CUTTHROAT ISLAND, and the cataclysmic speculation of END OF DAYS.

Now, after many years during which he focused on comedy films, along with the occasional profoundly heartfelt drama such as THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Debney has returned to heavy action and adventure with his scores to IRON MAN 2 and PREDATORS, both of which allow his more energetic expressiveness to come to the fore.

Debney was actually was considered for the first IRON MAN, since he had established a working relationship with its director, Jon Favreau, on the films ELF and ZATHURA. Circumstances didn’t work out on the first IRON MAN, but Debney was thrilled to be called in for IRON MAN 2.

“It was a joy to be working with Jon Favreau again,” Debney said. “I knew going in that IRON MAN 2 was going to be a different scoren and it was. IRON MAN 2 is a more complex, layered film than the first one, so the music had to play a different role. There were also many more characters and the music had to highlight these new characters.”

Click to purchase
Click to purchase

Following the lead, if not the themes, of Ramin Djawadi on the first IRON MAN, Debney’s score thunders with iron and steel – bolstered by heavy metal guitars and a thick, orchestral vocabulary, while also recognizing the beating heart within the metal. Debney’s music becomes the sheet-plated, iron-wrought, clamped-on metallic suit that gives the movie its life, just as the galvanized garb keeps Tony Stark’s heart beating and endows him with enhanced strength.

“I enjoyed the first score but the second score had to be different, per the film. The two scores share a common pedigree but are generally different,” Debney said. “They are different scores with different results.”

What they share is a similar pedigree of rock and roll which is powerfully integrated – like sizzling molten metal dipped into a smooth liquid fluid – through the role of the electric guitar, which continues to evoke the prowess of Iron Man and his metal suite, as it had in Djawadi’s score. Guitarist Tom Morello, best known from the bands Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, came in to perform the shredding for IRON MAN 2’s soundtrack. The score integrates Morello’s electric guitars with Debney’s large-scaled orchestra and choir material to both evoke the characters and support the film’s action – while all the time leaving room for the AC/DC songs that were to be prominently displayed throughout the movie.

“Being a huge fan of Morello, I knew we had to work together on this film,” Debney said. “Jon is a friend of Tom’s and asked if I’d be interested in working with Tom. I, of course, said yes, and Tom was an absolute joy and wonderful collaborator. I’d work with him again in a heartbeat.”

The main challenge for Debney on IRON MAN 2 was to compose a theme that captured the duality of the Tony Stark/Iron Man character while providing an original flavor in view of the many large-scaled superhero movies produced recently, each of which needed very dominant, muscular themes.

“IRON MAN 2 was odd in that there were not a lot of places where a true superhero theme could be played,” said Debney. “Tony Stark is uber cool even as Iron Man, so, musically, we couldn’t state a full-blown superhero theme. The strains of Iron Man’s theme are heard only in a few spots by design. I’m hoping with future films, Iron Man might get his full-blown theme played aggressively.”

Available for purchase August 1
Available for purchase on August 1

IRON MAN 2 was followed by an equally aggressive score for PREDATORS (2010). This sequel to the original 1987 PREDATOR used an array of instrumental flavors that includes Tibetan long horns, Shakuhachi flute, a battery of ethnic wooden and metal percussion, and a phalanx of specially-engineered synth sounds and voicings, providing textures of the truly alien and mechanical to this relentless battle music.

“The ethnic instruments create a tribal feel while the metallic sounding motifs represent the predators,” said Debney. “They are both alien yet tribal.”

Debney’s most important decision on this score was to include music from the first PREDATOR, integrating Alan Silvestri’s original conceptualizations and combining them with Debney’s own music to match director Nimród Antal’s  vision of the story. The result is a unique partnership of musical ideas spread 23 years apart, yet seamlessly integrated into the sound design as if they were the product of a single composer.

“I knew going in that I wanted to incorporate Alan’s themes for this film,” said Debney. “PREDATORS is a true sequel in my opinion, and thus, I thought it right that we included Alan’s material. I wanted to pay homage to Alan Silvestri’s original PREDATOR score, but I also wanted to add my signature. Alan is a friend, and I feel he is also a brilliant composer.”

Debney said that he enjoyed extrapolating musical elements from Silvestri’s score, and creating his own vision of what the music should sound like for this new incarnation of the story.

“I love scores from the ‘80s and I felt we had a score without the highly synthesized, overproduced scores we sometimes get these days,” he said. “So by design, I wanted to harken back to the days of big scores and much orchestral fireworks.”

In recent years, a man epic action/super-hero/spectacular science fiction films have tended to follow (or composers have been asked to follow) the hybrid rhythm-based example established earlier in the decade by the music of successful films of Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, and the like. A composer even of Debney’s stature cannot help being mindful of this contemporary vogue even while seeking to proffer his own voice.

“There are a lot of truly unique scores out there and some that aren’t,” Debney said. “Of course for action movies, a film may be temp-scored with the type of score you describe. I like to listen to the temp for the emotion the director is trying to convey and, hopefully, write something that is unique. In the case of PREDATORS, I used an approach where I paid homage to Alan Silvestri’s original score as well as incorporated an original score.”

With nearly 140 film scores in thirty years, Debney has explored every genre and every style of music making, yet the fantastic genre continues to raise its growling head on his filmography almost every year.

“It is a joy to work on a wide variety of films,” he said. “If one does only one thing, it can get very stale. I love working in these non-comedic areas, as it is great to explore the darker side of my personality.”

Debney has gone on to add another action notch on the side of his baton with an iconic score for MACHETE, the feature film based on the faux trailer of the same name in the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez collaboration, GRINDHOUSE, with Danny Trejo as an ex-Federale known for his coat of many scabbards, seeking revenge against his former boss. Another turn for Rodriguez will follow next year with SIN CITY 2.

Thanks to Ray Costa and Andy Perez at Costa Communications – and to John Debney for taking time out of an increasingly busy schedule to chat with me about these scores.

The Score: Robert Carli on Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead (2009)

Joining the ranks of Italian prog rockers Goblin and film composers Norman Orenstein, Reinhold Heil & Johnny Klimek, John Harrison, and a battalion of library music composers whose work has accompanied the walking dead in their nights, dawns, days, lands, and diaries of the dead as brought to shambling life by George A. Romero, is Canadian Robert Carli. His music has become part of a horror film legacy that runs from 1968’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to Romero’s sixth zombie epic, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, now in theaters, underscoring the definitive cinematic zombie myth that Romero has defined and perpetuated for over 40 years with his own definitive presence and a visceral aesthetic.

Romero’s seminal NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was compiled from library music in the vast holdings of Capitol Records – cues culled from compositions that had graced all manner of low-budget horror movies of the late ‘50s and early ’60s. DAWN OF THE DEAD would have gone the same way had not producer Dario Argento suggested Italian rock band Goblin, who had recently scored Argento’s SUSPIRIA; Romero mixed Goblin’s original music with his beloved library tracks. CREEPSHOW composer John Harrison proved the value of his original score on DAY OF THE DEAD, replacing many of the library tracks Romero had selected in favor of his electronic music. When Romero revisited his shuffling dead things in LAND OF THE DEAD and DIARY OF THE DEAD, he’d become accustomed by then to fully original scores, and had these new films composed by Heil & Klimek (known for their work with Tom Tykwer on RUN, LOLA, RUN, etc) and Norman Orenstein (whose long history in B-moving scoring included sequel scores like AMERICAN PSYCHO 2 and STIR OF ECHOES 2: THE HOMECOMING), respectively.

Robert Carli IMG_0678Thus it came that Robert Carli was brought in to compose Romero’s latest flesh-munchers epic, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, which was filmed up in his territory, in and around Toronto, Canada. The producers had approached several composers and invited them to score three scenes as a demo. “The direction we were given is that George wanted an orchestral horror score, somewhat vague, but I think fitting for the exercise,” Carli recalled. He got the gig.

Since he began scoring films in 1999, Carli has composed some fifty film and television productions, including the popular Canadian detective series THE MURDOCH MYSTERIES. Carli studied at the University of Toronto, graduating with a degree in composition, after which he began performing as saxophonist with The Toronto Symphony, The National Ballet of Canada, and The Esprit Orchestra. He has toured with rock bands and jazz groups across North America and throughout Europe, and he teaches saxophone at the University of Toronto, while continuing to perform with classical and contemporary music ensembles.

Fueding families underly the tension in SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.
Fueding families underly the tension in SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.

Carli worked closely with Romero and editor Michael Doherty on spotting SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD and determining the best placement of music. “My impressions were informed by some direction that George had given me in advance of the spotting,” Carli said. “He was interested in a traditional orchestral score, and Michael had suggested I employ various character themes and motives throughout the score. Also, there is a narrative arch in the film that touches on family (and its possible devolution), so I wanted to come up music that would somehow touch that.”

Early in the process Carli created a number of different themes and sonic textures which he pitched to George. These included a military theme, a “walking dead” theme, the island theme, a family theme etc. “I should note that I didn’t use ‘character themes’ so much,” Carli said. “Rather I used what you might call ‘situational’ themes. While George’s films often use rich characters, I believe that it is the environments and situations in which these characters are used that speak to his style of film making. For example, there are antagonists, but often they are a group of people, rather than an individual.”

Carli said that his biggest challenge in scoring SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD was simply a matter of time. “Like most films, it comes down to time,” he said. “I had very little time to complete the score, but I don’t really mind working in those parameters. It’s nice to have a looming deadline. Also, there was the challenge of trying to create a big orchestral score without a big orchestral budget.”

Survival of the Dead (2009)

The budget demanded few real instruments and most of the score was crafted out of synths and orchestral sampled worked out in the computer. Carli had offered suggestions to Romero about instrumentation to be used. “I wanted to feature the bassoon prominently in the family theme,” he said. “It has a wanton forlorn quality in the upper register that I thought could work. I also had sampled a number of ‘metal’ tools and pieces from a friend of mine who is a metal sculptor, and I thought they would add an interesting dimension to the score. Also, you can hear the saw from time to time in the score, which I’ve always loved and I tend to use a lot, since it can be simultaneously eerie and warm and melodic.”

Carli put together the music using orchestral samples, manipulated on the keyboard and mixed to sound convincingly realistic, sweetened with a handful of live musicians. “On SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, we used 3 or 4 fiddles, bassoon, clarinet, sax, bass clarinet, baritone sax, saw, soprano sax and piano as the live components,” Carli said. “I guess the secret is trying to get the fake instruments do what they do well, and get the real instruments to do what they do well. The next result can be a decent compromise in many cases.”

His experience among the living dead was favorable, and Carli enjoyed taking a journey into the further reaches of what horror music can accomplish. “I did score a psychological thriller called CORD (2000, aka HIDE AND SEEK) that starred Darryl Hanna and Vincent Gallo,” Carli recalled. “It was pretty dark. But generally, I haven’t scored too many thrillers. I loved doing SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, and I hope to do more.”

Carli enjoyed working with director George A. Romero.
Carli enjoyed working with director George A. Romero.

Carli also enjoyed his working rapport with legendary zombiemeister Romero. “It was a great opportunity to work with George,” he said. “It’s curious to meet such a warm and friendly person, and then look at the body of his work, which is anything but warm and friendly. A bit of a disconnect there, but I guess you can attribute that to the magic of film making; the reality on screen really is imagined, and not real at all.”

Carli is now currently scoring Cartoon Network’s first live-action series, UNNATURAL HISTORY (2010), produced by Warner Bros. This youth-oriented adventure series includes a number of fantasy and sci-fi permutations which will give Carli plenty of musical opportunities.

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Brian Tyler’s Final Destination

Fourth in the franchise launched in 2000 by former X-FILES writers James Wong and Glen Morgan, THE FINAL DESTINATION (known during production as FINAL DESTINATION 4 and FINAL DESTINATION: DEATH TRIP) is the latest variation on the entertaining but formulaic story about a group of teens who seem to cheat death only to find that death has a way of collecting its due all the same.

The first three films were scored by maverick music maestro Shirley Walker, who provided their palpable musical propulsion. But Walker died in 2006 not long after FINAL DESTINATION 3. After some consideration, director David R. Ellis, who had also helmed FINAL DESTINATION 2 (2003), asked Brian Tyler to take over for the fourth outing.

“I was brought on very early in the process by New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers, and the director David Ellis,” said Tyler. “They were still filming the movie and called me from the set and asked me if I was interested. We talked about the concept even in that original conversation. We all wanted to respect the tradition of what Shirley had established but also bring its own flavor and grit to this particular film.”

Over the last dozen years, Brian Tyler has established an impressive reputation as a film composer. Emerging after a year of independent film scoring in 1998 with the quirky music to SIX STRING SAMURAI, Tyler gained acclaim for his work on Bill Paxton’s creepy psychological thriller, FRAILTY (2001) and was soon scoring increasingly notable and bigger films, many of which were squarely science fiction and horror offerings. His music to Don Coscarelli’s brilliantly comic commentary on aging and mummy attacks, BUBBA HO-TEP, embraced the almost surreal sense of humor with musical elements that were reflective of Elvis’ country-tinged pop without completely losing thenecessary dramatic edge. A similar swaggering sound was provided for Tommy Lee Wallace’s VAMPIRES: LOS MUERTOS (2002), a follow-up to JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES, enhancing its Latin locale with persuasively rhythmic accompaniment.

Tyler went on to score large-scaled science fiction productions such as CHILDREN OF DUNE for the Sci-Fi Channel, laid down some eloquence for the exploits of TV’s PAINKILLER JANE series for the same network, Michael Crichton’s TIMELINE (replacing his own icon, Jerry Goldsmith, whose score was ironically deemed unsuitable, after which Tyler provided his own variation of a Goldsmith score for the final release), and CONSTANTINE, requiring a last minute collaboration with Klaus Badelt to overlay some new material on top of Tyler’s finished score (which was, indeed, better than having it Goldsmithed out of the picture entirely). Tyler provided a spooky score for DARKNESS FALLS (2003), chilled the ominous portents of GODSEND (2004), and catapulted the horrific battles in ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM (2007).

In THE FINAL DESTINATION Tyler was prepared to confront death’s scythe itself while musically supporting the action, fantasy, and brutal shocks with a potent mix of ambient atmospheres and progressive, driving propulsion, from the blistering rock and roll of the main theme to the omnipresent chills provided by somber, sustained string chords and relentless, percussive chase motifs.

“I thought there were some dueling aspects of the film that needed addressing,” said Tyler of his approach to the film’s various nuances. “There was the fate aspect of the film that feels supernatural. But of course the propulsive action of these premonition sequences needed musical muscle. It was a fine balance to be sure. And yes, horror was a large part of this score but in a way, not straight up horror since there is no visible killer. In fact, the main character of the film is never seen. Death himself! So it was up to me to provide the voice of death through the music.”

Tyler incorporating Shirley Walker’s main theme from the first three films, which was integrated as Tyler developed old with new to arrive at a musical dynamic that both reflected the legacy of the series while providing something different for this excursion, much as he did with the FAST AND THE FURIOUS series and 2008’s RAMBO.

“Shirley’s theme is still the most prominent aspect of the score,” Tyler said. “There were a few other themes that I composed for this film. One was an upward death motif that only needed a small statement to recognize something was very, very wrong in a scene and about to get worse. Also there is a new danger theme for the most evil moments in the film.”

In addition, Tyler wanted to provide a more emotional and natural theme for the struggles of one of the main characters with his past.

Scoring terror is something that has come naturally to Tyler after several excursions through horror cinema. A score like this needs to drive the roller coaster of scary shocks, nudging the viewer-listeners as they anticipate those drops and curves and, in some cases, flinging them headlong over the side of the rail. Multiple layers of spooky sonorities and progressive riffs of percussion-led synth and orchestral pads generate a fatalistic drive to the characters’ rush toward their inevitable Final Destination, building the anticipation and intensifying the payoffs, while also providing a gentle, breezy melody for the film’s gentler environment.

Recognizing that horror scores, in particular among all species of film music, are by nature manipulative – intensifying emotions, anticipating events about to occur on screen, generating heightened excitement in the viewer – Tyler purposefully geared his music to operate subtly with finesse, or ferociously with propulsion, as the storyline and visual style dictated.

“It’s so tricky!” Tyler confessed. “Sometimes the music would lead you down a path of ‘something is coming’ and sometimes it would lead you down the path of ‘everything is okay’ right before the movie hits you with a hard right to the jaw. It’s all about finding the right moment for the right tone. I just go by feel and try to remember how I felt when I see a scary film that really, really got me.”

BrianTylersidestair_5

The hybrid nature of contemporary film scores – the mix of synths with symphs – have become the norm for modern action films and horror thrillers and almost dictates how a composer will proceed, especially in a franchise like this, which largely depends on following successful formulas and meeting audience expectations. At the same time, composers like Tyler cannot help creatingsomething that strives to make a new or personal musical statement.

“The hybrid style is certainly present now,” agreed Tyler. “I think it depends on the feel of the film. There are films that I score that are purely orchestral of course, and I love their purity. But I always try to make hybrid scores natural. The non-orchestral elements mostly come from instruments that I record with a microphone. The more I can record live the happier I am!”

Tyler has recently been signed to score Sylvester Stallone’s Latin American mercenary action film, THE EXPENDABLES, set for release next August. He is also set to score George Gallo’s psychological thriller, COLUMBUS CIRCLE as well as the next big science fiction invasion thriller, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, currently filming and planned for release in February, 2011.

For more information on Brian Tyler, see: www.briantyler.com.

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Erich Kunzel – A Fond Good-bye

Erich Kunzel conductingIt is with sorrow that we note the passing of Erich Kunzel at the age seventy-four. On September 1, 2009 the celebrated conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for well over thirty years was struck down by “cancer of the pancreas, liver and colon,” according to Chris Pinelo, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which encompasses the Pops. Kunzel is survived by his wife of 33 years, Brunhilde.
He was diagnosed in late April, yet as advanced as the illness was by the end of May he still led the National Symphony in a Memorial Day concert on the Capitol Building lawn in Washington, and did so again on July 4. Both were televised by the Public Broadcasting Service. It was exactly one month prior to his death that he made his final public appearance, on August 1, conducting the second half of a Pops concert in Cincinnati.
Last year I wrote a light-hearted article of apology for not being able to attend a scheduled appearance he made in Denver, CO, where he conducted  “Trek: The Concert” –  a collection of music from the universe of Star Trek. The point was that I’d always wanted to see him live; he was a mere one hour away, and I still couldn’t arrange to get there. It seemed almost hypocritical because I’m always observing that we don’t get enough of the likes of him—or enough film music displayed—in the Colorado Springs/Denver area. Now I feel the regret of that missed concert more poignantly than ever, and I am sorry for it.
Mr. Kunzel was born to German-American immigrant parents in New York City. He began arranging music at an early age while at Greenwich High School in Connecticut and also played the piano, string bass, and timpani. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in music (thought he started out as a chemistry major), then studied at Harvard and Brown universities. He conducted for the Santa Fe Opera early in his career and studied at the Pierre Monteux School. From 1960 to 1965, he conducted the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Then from 1965 to 1977, he served as resident conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It was also in 1977 that he helped found the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and became its conductor. In addition to his duties associated with this he lead the 8 o’clock popular concert series and made jazz recordings with Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington.
Under Maestro Kunzel’s leadership the Pops became internationally known with half a dozen best-selling recordings a year and almost weekly subscription concerts. Once a major contender to succeed Arthur Fiedler at the Boston Pops, his popular recordings of classical music, Broadway musicals, and film scores topped worldwide crossover charts more than any other conductor or orchestra in the world.
Mr. Kunzel was on a continuous mission to make orchestral music more accessible to those who might not normally be drawn to what they considered long-hair music. For example, at Halloween he and the Pops musicians would don costumes and pumpkins would explode onstage. His recordings include numerous film music projects, many of them devoted to fantasy, science fiction, and horror: The Great Fantasy Adventure Album (with tracks from Jurassic Park, The Terminator, and Hook); Great Film Fantasies (music from Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter); Chiller (creepy clasiscal music and horror movies cues); and Symphonic Star Trek (self explanatory).  Science fiction and fantasy themes and suites were also laced through his other movie music albums, with cues from Independence Day, Batman Forever, JumanjiDragonheart, The X-Files A Clockwork Orange, King Kong, Star Trek, E.T., and Somewhere in Time, showing up on The Big Picture, Mega Movies, Simply the Best Movie Themes, Vintage Movies, and The Ultimate Movie Collection .
“He was able to take highbrow and in his inimitable way make it somehow lowbrow,” said his protégé, Steven Reineke, the associate conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, who was recently named music director of the New York Pops. “And I mean that in the best way possible.”
He conducted professionally for just over fifty years and in that time tucked approximately 85 high-quality albums under his belt and sold ten million recordings. Like John Williams with the Boston Pops, he enjoyed adoration from nearly all those who admire orchestral film music. Over fifty-five of the eighty-five or so albums he made with the Cincinnati Pops have landed on Billboard’s top ten charts. He won several Grammy Awards, the Grand Prix Du Disque, and the Sony Tiffany Walkman Award for “visionary recording activities.” He even made historic trips to China and was presented with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government.
Mr. Kunzel was a one of kind soul within his art form, but that soul managed to connect to people all around the world. He will be much missed.
For more information on Erich Kunzel and his work, visit http://www.erichkunzel.com/.

The Score: All This and Halloween II – Interview with composer Tyler Bates

In his last few scores, composer Tyler Bates has watched the WATCHMEN and observed THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, spent a DAY OF THE DEAD and survived DOOMSDAY, but as potent – and as diverse – as those scores were, it’s been his work for Rob Zombie that continue to be his edgiest, evincing the most severe sound design and the most potently frightening musical attitudes. Currently, this aggressive approach is audible in HALLOWEEN II, which opens nationwide today.

Bates first hooked up with the head-banging rocker-cum-director in 2005, when he scored Zombie’s second feature, The Devil’s Rejects, a follow-up to 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, which Zombie had scored himself along with producer Scott Humphrey. Bates’ had scored a little more than two dozen films since moving to Los Angeles from Chicago, where he had grown up writing, recording, and playing in local rock bands. Most of his soundtrack work was TV-movie fare, a couple of forgettable sci-fi- spoofs like Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) and Roger Corman’s Alien Avengers (1996), but when his powerful score for Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) came out of the blue like a furious, rampaging dead thing, Rod Zombie took notice. He brought Bates in to score Devil’s Rejects, asking for music that reflected “bleakness.” Bates provided just that, with an array of ambient sounds and layered sonic textures that gave the film a clear sense of malformed naturalness.

“I wanted it to feel like you were underneath a car muffler, because you feel so dirty when you watch the film, because of the visuals,” Bates said. “I wanted the music to reflect some of that.”

Bates continued to provide music macabre for movies malevolent, scoring Slither for James Gunn and See No Evil for Gregory Dark (both 2006), not to mention rejoining Zach Snyder for his epic incarnation of Frank Miller’s 300 (2006), and then found himself in Rod Zombie territory once again. First, he scored the Zombie-directed fake trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS, included in the Tarantino-Rodriguez double feature, Grindhouse, and then he scored Zombie’s pointed remake of John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher film, Halloween.

In revisiting Halloween and its unique piano-and-synth score, which Carpenter had composed and performed himself for the original film (and many of its sequels, later assisted by synthesist Alan Howarth), Bates paid tribute to the original by arranging a version of the Carpenther theme in the darker aesthetic in which Zombie had crafted his remake.

“We would definitely respect John Carpenter’s original score,” Bates said as he was embarking on his score for Halloween. “I’m not really too interested of making it orchestral, but I would imagine you could expect a similar graininess to that of Devil’s Rejects, but a different timbre, ultimately. I create sounds for each movie, besides the few synths that I have. I like to make as many of the sounds from abstract sources as possible for each specific movie. We’ll see where it goes, but it’s definitely going to be kind of grimy and organic. I think that going back and trying to maybe [rework] it in a unique way that’s still within the same parameters John Carpenter had at the time are what makes that music work. He didn’t have all the bells and whistles available to him, and probably not all the skills of today’s film composers, so I think getting as much into that mindset is going to be necessary to make the music pay off, and give people the intense experience that they had when they saw first film.”

Bates’ music for Zombie’s Halloween, released in 2007, was a potent mix of organic and synthetic musical disturbia, effectively washing the film in an undertone of continual unease.

“It was difficult trying to adapt the classic John Carpenter themes into the context of Rob’s filmmaking style,” said Bates. “The nature of those classic themes works really well with an inhuman and sometimes robotic ‘bogeyman’ type character, but in Rob’s films Michael Myers is humanized, which calls for a broader musical palate than the design of the original film. I reworked John Carpenter’s classic theme for Rob’s initial presentation to the studio when he decided to do the first of the two movies, which came together pretty naturally, but when I actually began scoring to picture, the two did not coexist very naturally.”

Tyler Bates’s latest score finds him joining forces with both Rob Zombie and Michael Myers again, on the director’s re-imagining of Halloween II. The film picks up where Zombie’s Halloween left off, and focuses on the struggles of Laurie Strode (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) and killer Michael Myers (played by Tyler Mane). Bates’ score gives due cognizance to the classic John Carpenter theme from the original film, but quickly dispenses with it and delves headlong into even darker and very distressing musical landscapes.

“In the new film we decided to do more of our own thing instead of being reliant on the classic themes as much as the first film. This enabled me to really expand the sonic and melodic scope of the film. I think the end result is a movie that really feels like a Rob Zombie film through and through.”

The new score is thick with dissonance and disharmony, occupying a territory of unusual percussive electronic effects, heavy chords of synth and horn, and multiple processed effects that wash the film in nightmarish tonality that is thoroughly disquieting.

“Like each of my projects, I try to expand the sonic palate on each of Rob’s films,” said Bates. “In this case, my primary goal was to create new ways of sonically unsettling an audience. I approached this score with the knowledge that we would be more reliant on original motifs as opposed to the classic Halloween themes, so it freed me up melodically, and also provided the opportunity to implement different rhythms that aren’t particularly characteristic of the classic themes we all associate with Michael Myers.”

The Halloween II score is viciously bleak, with barely a respite existing within its omnipresent relentlessness. Bates characterized Michael Myers and his unstoppable presence through that aggressive, driving ruthlessness.

“Rob really wanted to imbue this movie with an underlying emotional current,” he said. “There is quite of bit of ‘head space’ music in this film, which is where the emphasis on emotion is most apparent.”

In working with Rob Zombie on this film, Bates was brought in earlier than usual and actually began scoring immediately when footage was available during filming.

“Rob and I had a lengthy discussion about the movie before production began,” said Bates. “The music process started with working up the new version of ‘Love Hurts,’ which is in the end credits crawl. It served as an inspiration piece for Rob. The editor Glenn Garland, sent cut footage to me during principal photography, and I wrote music for every scene that came my way.”

By the time Rob was done filming, the new music served as the temp score for the entire film, said Bates.

“From there, Rob experimented with placing various cues in different spots of the film, then sending me a new cut of the movie to show me exactly how the music worked in the context of scenes I had not scene to that point. This was an unusual process for us, but Rob wanted to edit the film on the east coast for a change of scenery. I continued to work on music as the film took shape, then Rob and I finally got together to finalize the cues in the film.”

In crafting his sound design, Bates has put together an interesting array of textures, sound fragments, percussive tonalities (indeed), and grating sonic intensity. The score is completely captivating in its method of crafting scary music and upping the ante of fear in the film.

“The most challenging aspect for me is to do better than the last one,” said Bates. “I don’t think that is a challenge necessary to overcome. Some degree of dissatisfaction with your previous projects is a healthy motivational tool for doing your best work.”

Halloween II soundtrack by Tyler Bates
Unlike the Hip-O records soundtrack CD currently for sale, the digitally distributed Abattoir album (above) consists entirely of music by Tyler Bates

Bates’ first Halloween score was never released as a soundtrack album (two cues, including his reworking of the Carpenter theme, were included on the Hip-O records soundtrack album). The currently available soundtrack CDs for Halloween II feature only one cut by Bates (the rest of the tracks being pre-existing songs); fortunately, an entire album of his music marks the debut of his new label imprint, Abattoir Recordings, which is digitally distributed by E1 Music. A physical CD release with previously unreleased music will follow later with the DVD release of the film.

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The Score: Scott Glasgow Enters The Gene Generation

Composer Scott Glasgow with GENE GENERATION director Tao Perry
Composer Scott Glasgow with GENE GENERATION director Tao Perry

Pearry Teo’s 2008 cyberpunk science fiction thriller, THE GENE GENERATION,  builds an effective futuristic environment, borrowing liberally from BLADE RUNNER, MAD MAX, and other cinematic cyberpunk landmarks, while creating its own unique post-modern landscape. The film is greatly aided by an excellent musical score from award winning composer Scott Glasgow, which provides a great sense of size and scope and expansiveness through massive chords of orchestra and choir, offset with ethnic instruments and vocalizations associated with Bai Ling’s character. The music also emphasizes the underlying intimacy and emotional attachment sought by the characters, especially the pathos embodied in Bai Ling’s Michelle.

Scott Glasgow came to Hollywood in 2001 after having earned his Masters degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He’d been awarded an ASCAP fellowship to study film scoring at the Aspen Music Festival with John Corigliano and recorded with David Zinman’s Conducting Orchestra.

“When I was young I was watching BACK TO THE FUTURE and STAR WARS and all of these great movies, and the scores to those films really inspired me,” Glasgow said, describing his journey into professional film scoring. “I was into classical music very early on, and I think there just was a connection that was made through those two things.”

Since his arrival in Hollywood, Scott began working as an assistant for such composers as Christopher Young, Ed Shearmur, Bruce Broughton, Elia Cmiral, and others, lending a hand on the scores for THE GRUDGE, SPIDER-MAN 2, SKELETON KEY, WRONG TURN, and the like. These experiences were a perfect training ground to refine his skills in the business of making movie music.

“There are so many subtle things that you learn in those environments,” he said. “It’s learning the process in a way that you can’t really get from a book or from a classroom. There are so many little things that you pick up by just being in the room and feeling the interaction between composer and director and just seeing how it works.”

bratislava_orch_backSince 2005 Glasgow steadily increased his exposure and reputation as a film composer in his own right. His first feature score was CHASING GHOSTS, a crime thriller for director Kyle Jackson, for whom he had scored a short film while at USC. The opportunity to use a live orchestra, rather than synth samples, was also a great experience for a young film composer.

“CHASING GHOSTS was a great first time experience,” Glasgow remarked. “We ended up going to Bratislava to record about 35 or 40 strings. I think it is some of my best music so far.”

The next film to come his way was ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, a big-screen animated feature based on the Japanese television series that had become popular on American TV during the 1980s.

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“ROBOTECH is a very dense universe with a lot of characters and themes, so I thought a leitmotif type score would really fit this film,” said Glasgow. “It was something that was brought up because of how well it worked in STAR WARS.”

The music for Harmony Gold’s original anime TV series, composed by Italian composer Ulpio Minucci, was not a heavily motivic score; however, Glasgow was asked to include Minucci’s main theme in his music for the feature film.

“There was a time when I rewrote the title with different chords and counterpoint, but the night before the recording session I thought, ‘Forget it! I’m going back to Minucci’s exact notes!’” Glasgow recalled. “I took out his score, copied it out exactly and reorchestrated it for large orchestra, and pulled my changes out. I knew it was one of those things that needed to be as close as possible with some small updates.”

By having specific musical themes associated with specific characters, the score helped keep track of them and their interactions as the story played out.

“Occasionally I’ll bring a character’s theme in who’s not even on the screen yet, but he might be coming up, or there’s some sort of allusion to that person,” Glasgow explained. “There are themes that are not related to a specific character, such as the ‘Hero’s Theme’ that pops up throughout the film. Generally, however, the use of a particular theme is dictated by what is on the screen and that’s what makes the score so integrated with the film.”

Like CHASING GHOSTS, ROBOTECH was an orchestral score, recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. “We went for a lot of the big, classical orchestra sound,” said Glasgow. “There’s a lot of STAR WARS influence; there’s some Holst’s Planets type stuff; there’s a Honegger Symphony No. 3 flavor in there; there’s a Wagner kind of section in there. There’s all kinds of things that influenced this score – but all in my own voice.”

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Glasgow reunited with Kyle Jackson in 2007, when Jackson, who was editing HACK!, a horror comedy directed by Matt Flynn in 2007, suggested Glasgow as composer. Glasgow wrote and conducted a large orchestral score, playing straight man to the film’s multiple parodies.

“The film has THE SHINING and JAWS and THE RING, and so each time I came to those scenes, it was pretty much dictated that this is the music that was gonna be written for that scene” said Glasgow. “The story just weaves in and out between all these film parodies. I still tried to make it my own flavor, though – for example, on the JAWS theme, I just inverted the JAWS theme we are all familiar with.”

The opportunity to conduct a fairly large sized orchestra – still a luxury for an independent film like this – made the experience particularly satisfying for the composer.

“I think HACK! is the only score of mine that was fully realized the way I intended it, and it was mostly recorded live,” he said. “On many of these films, I’m writing orchestral music but we don’t actually get an orchestra to record it, or we get a partial orchestra. On HACK! we went to Europe and recorded the orchestra like it’s supposed to be done, and that’s what came out. In some ways I think it’s one of my best sounding scores I’ve written – it breathes really well.”

Glasgow provided an exceptionally unique score for BONE DRY, first-time director Brett A. Hart’s road thriller about a traveler (Luke Goss) confronted and pursued across the desert by an aberrant gunman (Lance Henriksen). The score broods with wicked intentions and cruel apprehension, its percussive undercurrents echoing throughout the dry, windless landscape of desert desolation. To give the score an authentic, if subliminal, aspect of the desert, Glasgow used the sounds of a plucked cactus as an instrumental color in the score. He recorded various spinal plucks from a barrel cactus he’d bought and brought into his recording studio, then mapped out the sounds to his keyboard.

“I had some that were just plunks, and some that were tuned like a piano, ultimately I had a cactus piano, if you will,” Glasgow said. “I added a delay to it and processed it a little bit. Another sound I created for that score was the use of these rebound knives, as I call them. I literally went into my kitchen, took out every knife I had (even an old 4 foot broad sword), then held them on the edge of my kitchen counter and flicked them so they rebound off the edge of the counter. If you pull the knife in as it’s rebounding, it speeds up, or if you pull the knife out, it slows down. So I created all these kind of crazy sound effects and combined them in the score, and it just worked really well with the desert scenes.”

The sounds, scrapes, brushes, and other manipulata cactile and boinging knife-ends in the BONE DRY score are enhanced by heartbeats, bass drums, and a recurring stinger crafted out of piano harmonics with the piano strings held by a finger to change the sound when the key is struck. The score finds its center in this sonic texture and derives much of its power from the depth of that grain. At one point, the atmospheric music takes on an unassuming tonal cadence until it metamorphoses into brittle and bony atonal textures, slamming percussion, and distorted sonic abrasions, the music continuing to juxtapose the protagonist’s confidence in being able to escape the stranger, and his seeming inability to do so.

The score concludes with an amazing 20-minute orchestral musical sequence performed by the 50-piece Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague. These stirring climactic movements eschew the score’s previous hybrid texture and in a profound way evoke the bare essence of the film’s emotional human drama via the pure power of the symphony orchestra, performing not melodies but, like the earlier portion of the score, chord progressions and continuous layers of tonality and rhythm. As all forms of temperament and tactics and time and generation are worn away and the final confrontation between the two characters erodes down to a basic human struggle, climaxing with a significant plot revelation, Glasgow brings the score full circle back to the essential tonalities of its opening movement.

The ubiquitous sonic textures of the caryophyllales cactaceae throughout the score provide an organic sensation that worked subliminally to great effect, especially in contrast with the massive harmonic epiphany that blossoms during the film’s climax.

“There was no money for an orchestra,” said Glasgow. “I talked to Brett and said, ‘If I do this with samples it’s just not going to connect. We need to find the money to get these fifteen minutes recorded, because it’s going to have so much more power and contrast.’ That ending, with Lance and that whole reveal, is such a good turn around, and I’m glad that they trusted me and found the money to do it. It made a huge difference.”

From orchestral cacti to strands of DNA helix, Glasgow’s score for THE GENE GENERATION is equally vividly textured and sonically interesting. Glasgow said he had heard about the film and contacted director Pearry Teo via his MySpace page to ask if he had a composer on the film yet. It turned out that he did, an electronic artist from a German band called VNV Nation.

“But that composer had never done a score in the traditional sense before,” said Glasgow. “The producers suddenly started talking about me, and that maybe they should get a film composer to score the film.” It didn’t hurt that the director was a huge anime fan and the concept of having the ROBOTECH movie composer score his film was very enticing.

Bai Ling
Bai Ling

Bai Ling holds THE GENE GENERATION together as the leather-clad assassin in a future age when DNA is sold – and hacked – to forge and steal identities, leaving the former person lifeless and mutated. Because of the Asian ethnicity that runs throughout the film, not to mention with Bai Ling’s character, Glasgow was initially drawn to the erhu, a Chinese violin that has a uniquely vocalistic tonality, and has flavored numerous recent Hollywood film scores from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END and KUNG-FU PANDA to THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM and STAR TREK. But Glasgow wound up using a related instrument called a zhonghu instead, which has more of a reedier, cello like sound.

Glasgow initially conceived of combining a number of ethnic instruments into an integrated, broad orchestral depth, but as he developed his ideas, he also started to whittle the sound down. Ideas for incorporating pipa, a Chinese guitar, or guzheng, a Chinese koto, were considered and discarded.

“All that plucky, guitary stuff just never felt right with the film,” he said. “There are a few samples I did incorporate, but they just provide a flavor without being a featured player. I knew the zhonghu was going to be the main thing, along with the viola da gamba. The Bai Ling character was associated with the zhonghu and the Alex Newman character was going to be the viola da gamba. Granted they’re both low cello type sounds, but they’re different enough that I thought it would work. Ultimately I downplayed Alex’s theme; it wasn’t built up the way I had intended.”

An orchestral crescendo accompanies the film’s conclusion, over an enormous tracking pull-back that reveals for the first time the future world’s particular environment and gives the story a strikingly different twist. Glasgow provided a suitable largess and dynamic scope to these moments.

“For these enormous cityscape scenes, I knew I had to create this giant, gothic choir and orchestra sound,” Glasgow said. “There had been talk early on about doing a BLADE RUNNER type thing and going completely synths, along with the erhu. But I don’t think that works now as much. It works for Vangelis; he’s got a specific thing he does, but when I forayed into it, it just wasn’t working, so I did my hybrid version instead.”

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Another striking aspect of the GENE GENERATION score is the use of voicings as a textural element within the musical sound. Glasgow turned again to his friend Melissa Kaplan, a vocalist formerly with the American pop band Splashdown. Glasgow has featured her voice in numerous scores since ROBOTECH, often inserting just a moment of two of her as a sonic coloration, as he did in BONE DRY and in Alan Pao’s 2008 psychological thriller, TOXIC, to embellish the sound with her intriguing and affecting tonal harmony.

“I treat her voice like an instrument,” he said. “It’s a color, and with Melissa and the way that she does what she does, I don’t really dictate too much to her. I’ll give her kind of a guideline and let her change it. On THE GENE GENERATION, I created a melody and gave her the chords that she would be singing over, but then she created the other harmonies underneath it. She brings so much to the music.”

Most recently Glasgow has had some opportunities to compose music for comedies – things like PATRIOTVILLE and HOLLYWOOD AND WINE – and gritty dramas like BRIDGE TO NOWHERE, but his proclivity toward scoring horror and fantasy seem to keep him from venturing too far away from these genres. His recent score for Travis Betz’ LO, for example, was, like HACK!, a horror comedy. But it wasn’t a specific parody the way HACK! was; rather a dark and quirky drama with comedic elements.

“With LO, you’re in a quirky Danny Elfman zone; it’s not exactly scary but it’s not exactly funny, either. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek,” said Glasgow. “I did some unique things musically with this score. If you bend a nylon guitar string over the other string it creates this buzz tone, it almost sounds like a percussion instrument. It only works on classical guitar and it was just that kind of strange, unique color I needed for this score. I also had this metal bar that was struck then immediately dipped into water to raise and lower the pitch.”

loIn many ways, LO may be Glasgow’s oddest film score.

“It was a difficult movie to score, because there were no sets, just black backgrounds with one guy in the middle of a pentagram with an overhead light on him. It is a very interesting and strange little film. Musically, I took it more seriously, and there are these wonderful violin solos by Mark Robertson. We did a variation on Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre that was used under these ‘cafe’’ scenes. It’s fun stuff.”

Scott Glasgow hopes to continue to write orchestral film scores, although he recognizes that independent film budgets don’t often achieve numbers high enough to warrant an actual orchestra.

“The challenge is always the budget,” he said. “When I write an orchestral piece I want it to be played by an orchestra, not by samples. More and more each day it gets closer and closer to the point where a live orchestra is becoming less and less of a reality, except for the top ten percent. I’d like to be able to move into doing bigger features where the budgets get a little better. But I know, because I was working for those guys that were working on those big films, even at the top it can be a challenge.”