All posts under Speak Up!

Top 10 Scores of 2013

top10s

Even for a confirmed pessimist like myself, I was surprised at how much the state of film music depressed me throughout most of 2013. Perhaps more than any year previous, I was struck at how bombast and rhythm were the key words in today’s film scores. Film music today wants to be loud, part of the sound design and in a state of perpetual motion. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these qualities—either alone or in combination. What is wrong is the lack of individual musical voices. One score bleeds into…

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It’s a Great Day for the Oscars!

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It’s been a little over a month since this year’s Academy Awards, and how many people have already forgotten that Mychael Danna won for LIFE OF PI? Our collective memories seem to be “like sands through the hour glass” as we go through the days of our lives, especially when it comes to awards shows. Perhaps that is how it should be. For all my year-round Oscar prognosticating, even I have trouble sometimes remembering recent winners. And yet occasionally a single awards day can reveal a veritable cornucopia of film music…

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Top 10 Film Scores of 2012

Top 10

One of the joys of compiling a year-end list is revisiting film scores that I may have forgotten. With so many scores released over the last 12 months, it’s easy for one or more to slip through the cracks. As usual, some scores that I was sure would make my list didn’t. By all rights, Nick Urata’s sweet and charming RUBY SPARKS would be included, as would Dan Romer and Behn Zeitlin’s Cajun-flavored BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Danny Elfman had a busy year and his scores for FRANKENWEENIE and HITCHCOCK…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 5: The Top 10

The Omen

If you’ve been following my posts all week, then you know that I’ve been celebrating my impending 50th birthday on the 19th (last pathetic notice, I promise) with 50 of my favorite film scores. The list, months in the making, turned out far different than I thought. It’s been educational, emotional, illuminating and, on occasion, stressful. You can hear and read more about the previous 40 scores here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. If you don’t want to bother or if you just want a refresher, here…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 4: #20–11

ben-hur-image

If you want to refresh your memory of earlier entries in the list, check out the past few posts—Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. We’re coming into the home stretch but not just yet. Herewith are the next batch of some of my favorite scores… 20. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) Bernard Herrmann goes romantic. The fantastical story of a young widow in love with a dead sea captain features arguably Herrmann’s most ravishing work (and Herrmann’s personal favorite). The score beautifully captures the crashing waves and swirling…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 3: #30–21

North by Northwest

If you’d like to catch up on the earlier installments, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of 50 Favorite Film Scores. Without further ado, on with the list… 30. TARAS BULBA (1962) You gotta love any movie that features Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis as father and son. It’s so unbelievable—and so Hollywood—that it almost works. There’s real chemistry between the two actors but the real star of the show is Franz Waxman’s thrilling music. Brimming with energy and Ukrainian gypsy exoticism, Waxman captures the vibrant atmosphere of the…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 2: #40–31

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Yesterday, I began a week-long look at 50 of my favorite film scores. If you want to read about the background behind the project, check out the earlier post. The remaining scores will be covered throughout the rest of the week. Now, on with the next installment of 50 of my favorite film scores… 40. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) Max Steiner’s classic score is made for the Technicolor sweep of the big screen. Anchored by arguably the most famous piece of film music ever written (if for no other…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 1: #50–41

Citizen Kane

In the countdown to my 50th birthday on the 19th, in addition to foolishly choosing nine of my favorite film composers, I decided to tackle an even more daunting task—choose 50 of my favorite scores. Little did I know when I began this listening project back in June that it would prove to be so difficult, so enjoyable and so emotional. First, some ground rules for myself. I made a master list of every possible score that could conceivably be considered for the final list. That totaled over 175 scores….

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This Is Your Brain on Film Music…

Young Frankenstein

I don’t know if it’s the approach of my 50th birthday (this won’t be the last you’ll hear about that, trust me), but I’ve been obsessed with the concept of aging lately—where I am in life, where I’m going, where I’ve been, and how I’ve changed. Part of that change is a preoccupation with how many brain cells I have left. I keep my brain fairly active reading and in a quest for learning new things, but you won’t find me doing crossword puzzles or conquering a new language (at…

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Confessions of a Liner Notes Writer, Part 2

I Confess

Forgive me, Father. It’s been two years since my last confession. I have no regrets or sins of the flesh to report (at least not in public). Instead, I’d like to discuss one of the benefits of digging deep into a piece of film music. As I mentioned in my last confession, writing liner notes is hard work. To do them properly, it usually requires lots of research offline, listening to the music and watching the film over and over with an eye and ear toward analysis and discussion until you’re…

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