Episode 28: The Empire Strikes Back - Part 2

In Episode 28, we conclude our time with The Empire Strikes Back, and our exploration of perhaps the best Star Wars film and score ever made. In this episode, we make our way through some remaining themes and motifs, as well as the major action setpieces of the film, and ask the biggest question of all: is this the best film score ever written?

 

Episode notes:

2:41 – The Days of Han and Leia
6:37 – Tchaikovsky’s Star Wars
11:51 – Han’s Soli
14:21 – Williams’ melodic patterns
15:27 – A polite argument (for strings)
20:14 – Melodus interruptus
24:22 – Bespin Cellos
25:51 – I love cue (I know)
30:48 – Resolving Solo and the Princess
36:32 – Bassoon Fett
43:36 – The droids dance
52:43 – The droids return in Solo
54:18 – Hyperspace strings
58:28 – Empire’s action ostinati
1:05:24 – Lando’s palace, where all your dreams come true
1:07:42 – A choir in the clouds
1:11:34 – The magic tree
1:15:10 – The synth side of the force
1:17:52 – John Williams’ best action cue, ever?
1:25:08 – The space tritone
1:28:31 – Looping the woodwinds
1:29:43 – The battle in the snow
1:34:29 – The Carbonite Procession, and John Williams’ greatest finale ever?
1:40:32 – The end credits
1:45:43 – The greatest score ever written?

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Episode 27: The Empire Strikes Back - Part 1

In Episode 27, we finally return to the world of Star Wars with the film and the score that many consider to be the series’ best: The Empire Strikes Back, or Episode V to its friends. Director Irvin Kershner created with Empire unquestionably the best-looking Star Wars film, but does John Williams’ music live up to the challenge? We think so. In the first of a two-part examination of the Empire score, we look at the new and returning themes for the galaxy far, far away.

 

Episode notes:

5:15 – First among sequels
9:45 – Empire of the Son
22:10 – The Return of the Themes
24:23 – Luke’s theme
28:17 – The force theme and Leia’s theme
31:11 – Twenty-First Century Fox Fanfares
33:07 – The Minor Skywalker
37:36 – The Imperial March
45:00 – The first of (Imperial) March
53:11 – The Vader proximity alarm
1:00:10 – Dan’s favourite cue, Nick’s favourite scene
1:04:02 – The Buzz Side of the Force
1:05:47 – I am your father
1:11:06 – ESB ESP
1:17:56 – Darth Vader: the early years
1:20:18 – Discuss Yoda’s theme, we do
1:24:45 – The Yoda bridge
1:27:18 – Appears, Yoda does
1:35:13 – Luke doesn’t lift
1:41:24 – The Thinking of Yoda theme
1:44:48 – Yoda phones home

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Episode 26: Blade Runner 2049

In Episode 26, we return to the world of Blade Runner for the 1982 film’s long-belated sequel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, and with a soundtrack by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049 has a different sound and a different set of thematic ideas. But how does the music work, and what is all this interlinked stuff about, anyway? To help us answer those questions – and more – we’re once again joined by the brilliant synth expert Seja Vogel (whose fantastic podcast, where she interviews musicians, you should check out here: www.sejamusic.com).

 

Episode notes:

5:01 – How the sequel came to be
8:06 – Jóhann Jóhannsson, and what could’ve been
12:43 – Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer
16:52 – The opening title card (the Memory theme)
19:25 – Or is it the Puzzle theme?
21:24 – The 2049 Melody (the Soul theme)
27:36 – Sapper Morton’s musical secret
35:08 – Voices in the furnace
38:30 – Sound design
40:48 – The rebel’s fan fair
45:44 – The return of the opening chords
49:18 – Synth talk with Seja
52:32 – Seja talks us through her reconstruction of 2049’s opening cue
1:03:11 – The final product
1:08:26 – Joi’s theme
1:12:56 – Wallace’s throat singing
1:25:05 – Flight to the LAPD
1:29:03 – Sea Wall
1:36:18 – Tears In (The) Rain
1:41:15 – The Mesa Melody
1:46:09 – The scoreless moments
1:49:10 – D for Diegetic
1:52:44 – Punching with Presley
1:55:48 – One For My Baby, and One For The Replicant
2:02:40 – Peter and the Wallace
2:11:13 – Final thoughts

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Episode 25: Blade Runner

In Episode 25, we’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe. A guest synth expert to tell us all about the great Yamaha CS-80’s attack and delay, and the shoulders of its Orion filter envelopes. We’ve watched Vangelis glitter in the dark, near Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture. All these moments will be recorded in time, on podcast recording equipment, and released online, like tears in rain.

 

Episode notes:

3:20 – A special Art of the Score guest
4:57 – A history of Blade Running
12:21 – The Vangelis sound
16:34 – Sound design versus music
20:37 – The Blade Runner main theme
26:48 – Synth talk with Seja: the Yamaha CS-80
31:52 – Aftertouch
35:32 – Oscillators and ring modulators
40:22 – The pitch ribbon
43:20 – Seja recreates the Blade Runner theme
52:44 – Pronunciation fun with Dan
55:02 – Tears In Rain
56:51 – Blade Runner and the film noir sound, from Double Indemnity to L.A. Noire
1:10:33 – The Blade Runner Blues
1:14:34 – Rachel’s theme
1:19:15 – The Love theme
1:23:49 – The ‘ethnic’ influences on the score – Blush Response
1:26:22 – Tales of the Future
1:31:10 – Damask Rose
1:36:15 – One More Kiss Dear and Blade Runner’s world of jazz
1:40:11 – The End Titles

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Episode 24: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 2

In Episode 24 we end our journey through Harry’s third year at Hogwarts with a deep listen to the unparalleled variety in John Williams’ score for Prisoner of Azkaban. We breakdown bebop, compare Italian waltzes, play with fugues, minimalism, swing, and some of the most dangerous flute music you’ve ever heard. Mischief most definitely managed.

 

Episode notes:

2:51 – Aunt Marge’s waltz
12:20 – The jazz bus
14:31 – A short ride in a magical machine
17:28 – Bebop patronum
24:48 – A stretchy middle eight
29:51 – A fugue for quidditch
35:07 – Willow whomps
40:10 – A danger to birds and flute players
45:23 – Snowfights and woodwind bites
48:02 – Swing, swing, boggart
54:05 – Carried on the voices
57:50 – Book cranks and classic horror
1:01:28 – Sirius Black to the future
1:10:12 – Watch me if you can
1:14:51 – The John Williams greatest hits album

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Episode 23: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 1

In Episode 23 we return to the wizarding world with the first of a two part look at Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Far from resting on prior achievements, the final John Williams Potter score knocks it out of the park, giving us everything from medieval music to waltzes, bebop jazz, and some of the most majestic flight music ever written. Join us, as we solemnly swear we are up to no good and journey with Harry and co for their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

 

Episode notes:

2:32 – Dan makes a big claim
6:35 – Some Azkaban homework
14:45 – Hedwig’s theme goes on holiday
16:23 – Something wicked this way hums
27:50 – Crumhorn, Sackbut, and Azkaban’s medieval sound
30:51 – Meeting Buckbeak
33:04 – Searching for the Fat Lady
35:33 – Some sleeping celeste
39:09 – The renaissance fair
46:49 – A Window to the Past
1:00:00 – Some serious Sirius
1:04:13 – Pettigrew’s motif
1:07:12 – Buckbeak’s brilliant flight
1:13:15 – Buckbeak’s equally brilliant second flight
1:17:26 – The Dementor’s dialectic. Thesis: aleatoric horror
1:21:39 – Antithesis: the angelic Patronus
1:23:06 – Synthesis: the Dementors converge

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Episode 22: Conan the Barbarian

In Episode 22 we travel to the distant Hyborian era with Basil Poledouris’ muscular score for 1982’s Conan the Barbarian. As the gold standard for high fantasy prior to Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings epics, Poledouris’ lush and orchestral score creates entire musical worlds and carries much of the emotion in this sparsely-dialogued film. Join us as we take a journey with the Riders of Doom and listen to this fantastic work of musical fantasy.

 

Episode notes:

5:35 – The secrets to Conan’s success
9:22 – John Milius’s machismo
13:38 – Basil Poledouris’ score
19:54 – Conan’s canon – what era does the music come from?
22:45 – Anvil of Crom: the Hyborian rhythm and Nick’s rave remake
30:20 – Twenty-four French Horns and Total Recall’s Barbaric Recall
38:28 – Conan’s theme
48:10 – Double reeds and the passing of time
58:21 – The love theme, and saying more than Arnold through music
1:10:00 – The Riders of Doom theme
1:14:55 – O Fortuna’s influence on Conan (and film music generally)
1:19:34 – Conan’s Battle on the Ice
1:21:44 – The Wheel of Fifths
1:24:51 – Doom’s Dies Irae
1:38:16 – The Wheel of Pain’s ostinato
1:43:06 – Waltzing through theology
1:47:42 – The villain’s music for the hero’s journey – in the kitchen
1:49:28 – Waltzing through an orgy
1:57:07 – The Pit Fights and the Mountain of Power, via 1950s sword and sandal epics
2:03:49 – Conan’s Firebird finale

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Episode 21: Journey

In Episode 21 we finally make good on our long-held promise to explore the world of videogame music, with Austin Wintory’s beautiful score for thatgamecompany’s Journey. Crucial to the experience of Journey, Wintory’s music was recognized with a Grammy nomination and is widely held to be one of the greatest videogame scores of all time. Join us as we take a videogame diversion and analyse this gorgeous soundtrack.

 

Episode notes:

5:20 – How does videogame music differ from film or television?
8:50 – Dan’s complicated menu music
10:05 – thatgamecompany’s journey to Journey, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’
16:12 – The rise of independent videogame development and aesthetics
18:20 – Nascence and Wintory’s main Journey theme
21:50 – Tina Guo’s cello, Amy Tatum’s flute, and Charissa Barger’s harp
26:30 – Solo cello in Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Hans Zimmer’s The Last Samurai
31:20 – Journey’s central weenie
33:45 – The Call, the sonic palate cleanser
38:10 – The Mountain
41:33 – Sound design and music in Journey
44:02 – The First Confluence and the absence of a downbeat
48:48 – The Bridge and the Second Confluence
51:50 – The first encounter and Journey’s dance
55:30 – ‘I was born for this’
58:05 – The Desert’s Threshold and the musical interactivity of Journey
1:04:10 – The melancholy beauty of the machines
1:10:25 – The Descent, and Nick’s musical snowboarding adventures
1:20:16 – The Belly of the Whale’s Serpent
1:26:08 – The gaze of the sentinals
1:28:18 – Journey’s achingly beautiful string writing and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
1:34:40 – Atonement and the giant structure
1:38:56 – Journey’s Buddhist links
1:47:03 – The ascent to the peak (‘The Crossing’)
1:55:12 – The nadir
2:01:10 – Apotheosis and the hero realised
2:12:24 – The return to Tina Guo’s solo cello
2:18:28 – What does Journey mean? Is it a metaphor?
2:21:22 – The Return?

Finally, if listeners are unfamiliar with Journey, we highly recommend checking out this video recording of a playthrough of the game from start to finish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkL94nKSd2M

We love to hear from our listeners – get in touch via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and if you like The Art of the Score, please take a moment to subscribe, rate and comment.

Episode 20: James Bond - Part 3

In Episode 20 we conclude our three-part retrospective of the music of Bond, James Bond. Having already covered the pioneering Bond sound of John Barry and the funk of the Moore era, in our final episode we make it through the emergence of David Arnold as the Bond musical heir apparent, and Thomas Newman’s recent work. Join us as we finally answer the question to end all questions: which is the greatest Bond score of all time, and which is the greatest song?

 

Episode notes:

3:45 – Arnold, David Arnold
7:04 – Tomorrow Never Plays the Fanfare
11:25 – The fanboy composer?
13:05 – Surrender’s presence in the score
19:23 – Arnold’s neo-Barry romance writing
23:48 – The World Is Sort Of Enough
28:00 – Arnold’s muscular action writing – the submarine escape
33:48 – Score Another Way (electronically) in Die Another Day
40:04 – Bond joins the choir
44:25 – Blond, James Blond
50:18 – Parkour percussion
54:10 – You Know My Chord Progression
59:20 – Vesper’s Theme
1:01:28 – Quantum of Solace
1:05:08 – Watery woodwinds at the opera
1:07:40 – DC3s, tempo, chromaticism, and the peak of Arnold’s action music
1:10:48 – Thomas Newman, Bond’s new man
1:12:35 – M’s retiring brass statements
1:16:50 – Bond on a boat
1:19:47 – Severine and Newman’s romantic strings
1:26:45 – A Spectre haunts 007
1:30:10 – The Writing’s On The Train
1:32:08 – At the end: our favourite score, and our favourite song

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Episode 19: James Bond - Part 2

In Episode 19 we continue our ambitious attempt to analyse every James Bond score ever. Having covered the Connery classics in Episode 18, we’re now onto the 1970s, 1980s, and even the early 1990s, covering Moore, Dalton, and a little bit of Brosnan as James Bond goes from funk to disco to acid jazz and even a little early hip-hop. Join us as we look at some of the kitschiest Bond music out there – and, some of the all-time greats.

 

Episode notes:

3:38 – Roger Moore’s more George (Aston) Martin Bond music
9:11 – The 1970s funk boat chase
12:45 – Nick has a problem with The Man With the Golden Gun’s parallel motion
16:43 – The Spy Who Wrote A Fantastic Opening Song
18:10 – James ‘Disco Stu’ Bond
24:30 – The singing pyramids
28:33 – The Space Who Loved Me
32:45 – Bossa, James Bossa
35:38 – Bill Conti’s For Your Funk Only
43:40 – John Barry’s finale: Octopussy, A View To A Kill, and The Living Daylights
49:12 – Dalton’s daylight drum machine
54:50 – Michael Kamen’s License to Trill
1:01:04 – Bond’s power ballad romance
1:04:50 – Serra’s synth sound for Goldeneye and the sonic reinvention of James Bond
1:13:34 – Acid James
1:17:40 – Escaping the Archives
1:19:04 – Goldeneye’s Tank Chase and John Altman’s replacement music

We love to hear from our listeners – get in touch via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and if you like The Art of the Score, please take a moment to subscribe, rate and comment

Episode 18: James Bond - Part 1

In Episode 18 we begin one of our most ambitious musical projects yet – the music of the James Bond franchise. Over the next three episodes, we’ll be looking at the sounds of Bond, James Bond, across 50 years, 24 films, and a great many composers, theme songs, and one-liners. In this first episode, we’re covering everything from the birth of the cinematic Bond to the end of the Sean Connery era, with a particular focus on how John Barry created that classic – and timeless – Bond sound.

 

Episode notes:

4:45 – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass make an unscheduled appearance
6:35 – The evolution of the Bond franchise and its importance in film history
10:23 – “The best Bond film is the next Bond film”
12:40 – The birth of the Bond theme, with Monty Norman’s sitar
15:30 – John Barry’s swinging ‘60s style
22:23 – Monty Norman’s Dr. No score
24:10 – ‘Three Blind Mice’ and Norman’s Jamaican grooves
26:30 – Bond and orchestra swat a bug
31:12 – Lionel Bart’s ‘From Russia With Love’, the first title song
38:15 – John Barry’s 007 theme
42:11 – John Barry’s idiosyncratic action cues and quotations of the main theme
45:47 – James Bond’s travelogue music
51:13 – Goldfinger’s swinging ‘Into Miami’
55:55 – ‘Alpine Drive’ and ‘The Raid on Fort Knox’
1:00:34 – Thunderball’s alternate themes
1:07:14 – Barry’s underwater fight scenes
1:10:05 – The brass-fanfared evil lair
1:13:08 – You Only Live Twice’s slow-moving villainous space capsule
1:20:48 – Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’
1:23:05 – The ‘Japanese’ music in You Only Live Twice
1:27:43 – On Her Majesty’s Australian Service
1:31:09 – ‘We Have All The Time In The World’
1:35:04 – “This never happened to the other synth”
1:41:00 – The horny saxophone
1:43:11 – Diamonds Are Forever
1:46:33 – The creepy saxophone

We love to hear from our listeners – get in touch via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and if you like The Art of the Score, please take a moment to subscribe, rate and comment.

Episode 17: Gladiator

In the year 2000, the sword-and-sandal epic was revived, with Russell Crowe trebucheted to international stardom as the star of Ridley Scott’s hugely successful film, Gladiator. But fame was also found for Hans Zimmer, today the biggest music man in Hollywood, but who along with Australian composer and singer Lisa Gerrard wrote some of the most influential film music in decades for Gladiator. In Episode 17, we take a look at what makes Zimmer’s sound so pervasive, how Lisa Gerrard’s voice intensifies the film’s emotions, and just where all that strength and honour comes from.

 

Episode notes:

3:02 – Gladiator as the breakthrough Hans Zimmer score
5:09 – Some background on the significance of Gladiator, sword and sandal films, epics, and peplum
14:24 – Hans Zimmer style and the 1990s action film
21:00 – Hans Zimmer and the synth
23:52 – The unusual instrumentation of Gladiator
25:25 – A duduk demonstration
27:10 – The themes of Gladiator – Commodus’ theme
33:15 – The power of Lisa Gerrard’s voice
39:48 – Maximus’ hymn
43:00 – Maximus’ polyrhythms
45:32 – Zimmer’s Vangelis’ moment
48:01 – Once Upon a Time in Ancient Rome
53:11 – The Earth theme – Gladiator’s musical soul
1:00:56 – Lucilla’s theme
1:05:17 – The Gladiator waltz
1:08:15 – A Holst heist?
1:12:34 – Gladiatorial piracy
1:16:41 – The death of an emperor (or, Mozart’s Da Vinci Code)
1:21:02 – To Zuccabar
1:24:00 – Gladiator’s establishing music (and a surprise)
1:29:21 – Zimmer’s answering horns
1:31:43 – The Might of Wagner
1:39:18 – The Hans Zimmer Olympics
1:41:27 – Gladiator’s finale: Now We Are Free

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Episode 16: The Force Awakens - Part 2

In Episode 16, we finish our look at Williams’ seventh entry into the Star Wars universe by looking at what’s returned and what hasn’t. We take apart the reoccurring Star Wars themes and how they’re used in The Force Awakens, and make a number of bold and possibly a little reckless predictions for The Last Jedi (then unreleased).

 

Episode notes:

3:01 – Yes, this was recorded before The Last Jedi was released, and we’re sorry
4:04 – What were our reactions to The Force Awakens’ music when it was released?
9:50 – Ice Landing and the Rebel Fanfare
12:48 – Han Solo and the Princess in The Force Awakens
20:06 – Scherzo for X-Wings and the undanceable dance
26:02 – The Force Theme Awakens
30:00 – The Homestead Burns Again
36:20 – The sonic signature of The Force Awakens
37:30 – Williams’ emotional mood shifts and the journey to Luke Skywalker
39:54 – The brief return of Darth Vader
41:35 – Nick promises to walk out of The Last Jedi in disgust (Narrator: he did not)
48:54 – Andrew embarrasses himself with some music-inspired Last Jedi predictions
52:15 – The Skywalker map and the tritone
56:12 – Snoke’s supreme choir – and Andrew embarrasses himself again
1:04:29 – The death scenes of The Force Awakens and John Williams’ string lament’s across episodes
1:19:50 – Finn’s Phantom Confession
1:21:09 – Maz Kanata’s Jabba Flow
1:24:03 – Dan hopes for some more zany Williams jazz (Narrator: he got it)

We love to hear from our listeners – get in touch via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and if you like Art of the Score, please take a moment to subscribe, rate and comment.

Episode 15: The Force Awakens - Part 1

In Episode 15, we return to the galaxy far, far away and take a look at how the musical landscape of Star Wars changed in the almost 40 years between A New Hope and The Force Awakens. In the first of a two-part episode we look at Rey’s Theme, Kylo Ren’s motifs, and The March (or is that the fugue?) of the Resistance. Recorded last year in eager anticipation of The Last Jedi, we’re finally getting this episode to you just in time for its release on Blu-Rey (see what we did there?), so sit back and enjoy our return to perhaps John Williams’ greatest musical franchise.

 

Episode notes:

0:00 – A disclaimer (and possibly an apology!)
5:15 – Dan is writing a book about Star Wars
7:51 – The weight of expectation for The Force Awakens
10:00 – The legacy film
16:30 – The return of little-known composer John Williams
17:35 – Rey’s theme
22:40 – Rey’s riff
26:32 – Rey eats her lunch, on solo flute
30:41 – Rey’s abduction
33:11 – Rey’s impassioned bridge
36:15 – Comparison to other John Williams work: Potter and The Terminal
44:35 – Williams bringing Rey and The Force together in the end credits
46:40 – Rey’s theme – the dance remix
49:10 – Musically, Rey is a Jawa
50:33 – Kylo Ren’s theme
55:50 – The Kylo Ren B motif – the call of the dark side
1:00:00 – Ren and the Imperial March
1:01:45 – The March of the Resistance
1:04:51 – The March or the Fugue?
1:10:00 – Poe’s theme
1:16:39 – Finn’s rhythmic motif
1:19:00 – The mixed-meter Falcon theme
1:28:10 – John Williams as the bloodline of Star Wars
1:29:34 - …and more to come in Part Two!

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Episode 14: Stranger Things

After a short break, Art of the Score enters the new year with a trip to the Upside Down to take a close listen to Stranger Things. With the help of synth expert, musician, and podcaster Seja Vogel, we pull apart this wonderfully analogue score, its influences, and how it all works over the course of Season One of the Netflix hit.

 

After a short break, Art of the Score enters the new year with a trip to the Upside Down to take a close listen to Stranger Things. With the help of synth expert, musician, and podcaster Seja Vogel, we pull apart this wonderfully analogue score, its influences, and how it all works over the course of Season One of the Netflix hit.

Episode notes:

2:35 – Welcome to special guest Seja Vogel. Find Seja’s podcast, ‘Hear Sej’ here (https://itunes.apple.com/bw/podcast/hearsej/id1168366353?mt=2), and her amazing Etsy store for felt synth models here (https://www.etsy.com/shop/pulsewidth).
5:20 – Into the nostalgic world of Stranger Things
8:41 – The ‘nostalgia film’ and Fredric Jameson
10:30 – Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon and their analogue synth band S U R V I V E
13:24 – ‘Dirge’, the track that formed the Stranger Things sound
15:05 – The influences and musical tools of S U R V I V E
19:00 – How the music works in Stranger Things – a scene comparison with Williams’ E.T.
25:14 – The main title – is it E minor or C major?
28:51 – Seja breaks down the synths involved
31:47 – Seja’s meticulous reconstruction of the Main Title
34:00 – Square waves and pulse waves, filter sweeps and resonance
44:33 – ‘Kids’ and keying between worlds
51:55 – Nancy and Barb
55:06 – Eleven’s theme and its development throughout season one
1:05:45 – Lay-Z-Boy couch theme
1:10:20 – The Upside Down
1:13:55 – The Demogorgon
1:18:11 – Searching the woods
1:20:42 – The government evildoers in portamento bass
1:26:37 – ‘This isn’t you’
1:32:01 – Linking sound with image – was Stranger Things written to footage?
1:35:45 – How each kiss is scored
1:40:04 – Pop music in Stranger Things: The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go?
1:44:02 – Stranger Things’ secret pop: We Can Be Heroes

We love to hear from our listeners – get in touch via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and if you like The Art of the Score, please take a moment to subscribe, rate and comment

Episode 13: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

From Hedwig’s theme to Quidditch matches, the musical world of Hogwarts may be one of the most iconic musical contributions to the film world this millennia. John Williams worked orchestral magic and brought us a unique contribution of fantasy, off-beat fanfares, and even a bit of jazz harmony. But what makes this great score tick? Join us as we dissect the power, the charm, and the enchantment of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

 

Episode notes:

07:00 – a brief history of the franchise
10:45 – Harry Potter, one of the largest franchises of the 21st century
11:22 – John Williams on how he came to be involved with Harry Potter
15:00 – Hedwig’s Theme
16:42 – the celeste and its use in other films and, famously, Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
18:15 – Andrew drops a bombshell
20:10 – Breaking down Hedwig’s Theme
26:20 – a recounting of the day the musicians first encountered the score
28:00 – Hedwig’s Theme and its variations
31:25 – is Hedwig’s Theme the last John Williams melody to enter pop culture?
33:00 – the Flying Theme or the Nimbus 2000 Theme
44:15 – Harry’s Theme or the Family Theme
50:27 – the appearance of the tri-tone
52:30 – Harry’s Wondrous World Theme
1:00:08 – the Hogwarts School Song
1:02:00 – we apologise for what is about to happen…
1:04:50 – Philosopher’s vs Sorcerer’s (Stone) and some of the localisations
1:08:10 – the Stone motif
1:16:00 – the Voldemort motifs
1:23:00 – the music of Diagon Alley
1:31:10 – some banquet music from Harry Potter and other films
1:36:50 – the Quidditch Fanfare and its similarity to other “arena” cues
1:40:30 – John Williams’ use of synthesizer for the Invisibility Cloak
1:43:10 – the diegetic (harp) music of Harry Potter
1:47:00 – the action music compositional style of early 2000s John Williams

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Episode 12: Back To The Future

After a short hiatus, we’re Back – from the future – with a good look at Alan Silvestri’s score to the Robert Zemeckis time-travel classic. Back To The Future is, at its core, about a small group of characters, and yet it possesses a huge scale of feeling and mood, much of which can be attributed to Silvestri’s impressive orchestral score. Join us as we take in the jazz roots of this classic, the fanfares and motifs, and of course, the classic hit songs that power the film.

 

Episode notes:

0:45 – We’re back, from the future
4:40 – Following in the Spielbergian mould
13:10 – Romancing the Silvestri-Zemeckis relationship
16:10 – The main theme
20:00 – Asking questions through tritones
26:00 – Mysterious origins of the time machine
29:14 – Main theme variations
32:32 – Going through the gears
39:41 – The main theme, romantically
41:47 – Marty’s theme
44:39 – The time motif and the Back to the Future sound
49:05 – Doc’s turning wheels
53:00 – The octatonic scale
55:02 – The Biff motif
57:08 – Back to the Predator
59:33 – Art of the Score dissects the climactic suite
1:07:00 – Is it the best climax suite in film music?
1:09:54 – The songs! The Power of Loving Back to the Future
1:15:50 – Mister Sandman
1:26:10 – Night Train
1:32:13 – Earth Angel
1:37:19 – Andrew’s Johnny B Goode telephone authorship theory of doom

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Episode 11: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s relentlessly dark exploration of Daniel Plainview, an American oil baron, now comfortably sits among the greatest films of the century so far. Yet Jonny Greenwood’s score - who is best known from his days on guitar for Radiohead - may well be even greater and more original still. In this episode of Art of the Score, we take a look at Greenwood’s incredibly unusual music, and with the help of There Will Be Blood expert and conductor Hugh Brunt, take apart what makes it tick, its fresh musical influences and style, and jointly, drink its milkshake.

 

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Episode 10: Batman

Today, Batman is undergoing yet another renaissance – fresh off the Dark Knight trilogy, he’s heading up a whole new Justice League. But in 1989, Batman was only starting to become the Dark Knight of popular culture – and Danny Elfman’s landmark score to the Tim Burton film helped him along the way. In this episode of Art of the Score, we take a look at the 1989 score, and pull apart its main themes, its musical influences and style, and ask the ultimate question: just where does he get those wonderful (musical) toys?

 

Episode notes:

2:50 – An intro to Danny Elfman
4:20 – Batman (1989), Tim Burton, and franchising in Hollywood
10:42 – Is this the most iconic Batman theme ever?
12:45 – Breaking down Elfman’s Batman theme
16:10 – The influence of Herrmann on Elfman
21:00 – The Dark Knight rides again
23:56 – The versatility of the Batman theme
26:00 – The Batutsi
26:55 – 6/8 versus 3/4 timing for Batman
30:20 – How does the Elfman theme fit into the history of Bat-music? The 1949 serial, the TV series, Goldenthal, and Zimmer
35:05 – Is Zimmer’s theme just the bare elements of Elfman’s? Dan says yes: https://vimeo.com/193995233
36:40 – Or is it all just building on Wagner?
38:00 – How does Prince’s music work with the score? Listen to the Love Theme and find out
42:00 – Beautiful Dreamer, the Joker’s Parlour Song
46:00 – Dancing with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight
53:44 – Waltzing to the Death (and Dan’s frustration)
58:11 – The Henchmen’s piano
1:01:35 – Alfred Hitchcock directs Batman
1:05:52 – The henchmen’s boom box
1:08:45 – It’s a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
1:11:50 – Advertising for the Joker
1:18:30 – Nick’s favourite cue in the score
1:22:30 – Dan has a bone to pick with Batman
1:26:50 – The finale to Batman – the Light Knight?

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Episode 9: Star Wars - Part 3

In our third and final Star Wars episode, we take a look at some of the lesser known cues that round out this incredible score. We discuss the giant bantha in the room: the musical influences that inspired Williams and the temp music that helped to shape some of his artistic choices. Finally, we take a whirlwind tour of the action music, explore the groovy Cantina Band tunes and debate whether Star Wars is in fact the greatest film score of all time. Is it?

 

Episode notes:

3:20 – the music for the Jawas
5:40 – finding the downbeat in “The Little People”
7:28 – is this the highest Tuba line ever?
11:03 – the music for the Sand People
14:39 – Williams’ family relations and a link to Toto
15:28 – use of the Timpani
18:08 – a comparison with Jerry Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes
20:26 – discussing the Bantha in the room: the musical influences on Star Wars
26:05 – The Dune Sea of Tatooine vs Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
30:17 – The Rebel Blockade Runner vs Holst’s The Planets
32:02 – Some Bernard Herrmann references in Star Wars
36:56 – The Throne Room vs Dvorak and Elgar
42:21 – The Throne Room’s reappearance in Return of the Jedi
44:55 – rude trumpets and the performance/recording of the score
47:03 – the musicians who made contributions to Star Wars
48:53 – the action music of Star Wars and Williams’ hip grooves
53:11 – Dan’s dissapointment in Star Wars’ lack of musical numbers
56:15 – The Battle of Yavin vs The Battle of Britain
1:02:35 – The Cantina Band, is it jazz or jizz?
1:06:20 –Sing Sing Sing as temp music
1:08:48 – the 2nd Cantina Band song
1:11:18 – the original Star Wars trailer music and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
1:15:46 – the studio’s woeful attempt at marketing Star Wars
1:17:42 – is Star Wars the greatest film score of all time?

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