Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sharing a Film Score

Every so often a composer equally shares a film score.  Sometimes they actually collaborate on the score and sometimes another composer is called in to supplement or replace.  Since the beginning of the film industry, there have been additional composers, uncredited composers, and music directors that have done plenty of scoring jobs as well.  But in this case, I've selected 5 different films and how the composers worked together to achieve the final product.

1. The Egyptian (Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman)
For this 1954 religious epic, two of the heaviest hitters of scoring actually worked together.  Newman was originally assigned to the score, but other scoring commitments and deadlines had Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck recommend Franz Waxman or Bernard Herrmann to finish the project.  Newman composed several cues and melodic ideas which Herrmann came in to arrange and develop.  A rarity in his career, Herrmann did eventually collaborate with Newman to form a cohesive score.  The score in the end sounds more like a Herrmann score, but each cue has a separate composer credit and each composer even conducted their respective cues at the recording sessions.  

2. Batman Begins (Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard)
Story goes that Christopher Nolan had Zimmer in mind for the score for this new Batman franchise.  Zimmer turned to veteran composer Howard as a possible collaborator.  Rather than splitting the work, they composed together taking turns at each other's material. Indeed it is often hard to tell who wrote which cues with many shared by both composers - but sometimes you can as stylistic choices give some parts away.  Additional composers and orchestrators helped unify the score's sound.  With the sequel, The Dark Knight, Zimmer and Howard divided more of their work up separately.      

3. The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
Initially asked by director David Fincher, Reznor first turned the project down before finally accepting.  Reznor then turned to Atticus Ross (who previously co-wrote and produced Nine Inch Nails albums) to co-write the score with him.  Exploring new ways to produce sound and expand on earlier Nine Inch Nails electronic sounds, the results are oddly mesmerizing and unsettling.  They both share credit on the film (which went on to win the Academy Award) and later work together on Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and Patriots Day.

4. Chicken Run (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams)
After working with Hans Zimmer's Media Ventures and several DreamWorks films, they worked together on Antz.  Naturally they teamed up again for Chicken Run.  This wacky score seems to be primarily Powell, but both composers shared each others themes.  Their successful scores together led to their collaboration on their most popular project - Shrek.    

5. The Last of the Mohicans (Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman)
For Michael Mann's 1992 film, he turned to Jones for an electronic score.  When the production changed to a more traditional orchestral sound, Jones reworked and rewrote a large majority of the score including the main thematic and battle material.  To finish scenes not scored, Mann turned to Edelman who composed a handful of cues for some of the quieter moments.  Overall the score is mostly Jones' work.  The original soundtrack album oddly separated the composers work into distinct parts, while a 2000 re-recording put the cues back in film order.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Song and Score Oscar Winners

With the recent Oscar win of Original Score and Original Song going to Justin Hurwitz's on La La Land, I thought back to the other times both Song and Score Oscar went to the same film (and in many cases the same composer).

It is interesting to note how the patterns of film scores go from musicals, to the title tunes of the 1960's, to the overwhelming wins of the Disney renaissance years and the infrequent occurrences since.  I've also include a handful of ceremony pictures just for fun.

1939 (12th Academy Awards)
The Wizard of Oz (score by Herbert Stothart)
"Over the Rainbow" (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Yip Harburg)

1940 (13th Academy Awards)
Pinocchio (score by Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith)
"When You Wish Upon A Star" (music by Leigh Harline, lyrics by Ned Washington)

1952 (25th Academy Awards)
High Noon (score by Dimitri Tiomkin)
"The Ballad of High Noon" (music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington)

1955 (28th Academy Awards)
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (score by Alfred Newman)
"Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" (music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster)

1958 (31st Academy Awards)
Gigi (score by Andre Previn)
"Gigi" (music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner)

1961 (34th Academy Awards)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (score by Henry Mancini)
"Moon River" (music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer)

1964 (37th Academy Awards)
Mary Poppins (score by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)
"Chim Chim Cher-ee" (music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)

1966 (39th Academy Awards)
Born Free  (score by John Barry)
"Born Free" (music by John Barry, lyrics by Don Black)

1969 (42nd Academy Awards)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (score by Burt Bacharach)
"Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head" (music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David)

1973 (46th Academy Awards)
The Way We Were (score by Marvin Hamlisch)
"The Way We Were" (music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman)

1980 (53rd Academy Awards)
Fame (score by Michael Gore)
"Fame" (music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford)

1989 (62nd Academy Awards)

The Little Mermaid (score by Alan Menken)
"Under the Sea" (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman)

1991 (64th Academy Awards)
Beauty and the Beast (score by Alan Menken)
"Beauty and the Beast" (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman)

1992 (65th Academy Awards)

Aladdin (score by Alan Menken)
"A Whole New World" (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Tim Rice)

1994 (67th Academy Awards)
The Lion King (score by Hans Zimmer)
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice)

1995 (68th Academy Awards)
Pocahontas (score by Alan Menken)
"Colors of the Wind" (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz)

1997 (70th Academy Awards)
Titanic (score by James Horner)
"My Heart Will Go On" (music by James Horner, lyrics by Will Jennings)

2003 (76th Academy Awards)
The Lord of The Rings: The Return Of The King (score by Howard Shore)
"Into the West" (music and lyrics by Annie Lennox, Howard Shore, Fran Walsh)

2008 (81st Academy Awards)
Slumdog Millionaire (score by A.R. Rahman)
"Jai Ho" (music by A.R. Rahman, lyrics by Gulzar)

2016 (89th Academy Awards)
La La Land (score by Justin Hurwitz)
"City of Stars" (music by Justin Hurwitz, lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)