All posts under Speak Up!

Confessions of a Liner Notes Writer, Part 2

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…

Read More

Top 10 Film Scores of 2011

Film Score Click Track readers have had their say, now it’s my turn. I wonder if I’ll look back ten years from now and see 2011 as a turning point in my film music development. This past year, I found myself listening in different ways, with my attention captured by details and intricacies beyond the surface effect of the music. And perhaps I was far more open and receptive to more composers and musical styles than in years past, or maybe it there were other reasons. Of course, the year…

Read More

Life Is…

Life is what you do While you’re waiting to die… Or so says the opening song of the 1968 Kander & Ebb musical Zorba. The pessimist in me identifies with this typically caustic Fred Ebb lyric completely. But I identify even more with something that Oscar-winner Tan Dun said in our recent interview for FSM Online—“To me, life is music, music is life.” Truer words were never spoken. In addition to my dogs, music is my constant companion. Since I work from home, music plays day and night (probably much to the…

Read More

Give Credit Where It’s Due

Since film composers first began practicing their craft, they often have not received proper credit. Back in the early days of film, composers were usually listed (if at all) in the opening credit cards sandwiched in between other “technical” craftsmen. Separate titles cards for composers were rare, much less giving credit to the numerous composers who worked uncredited on a project. Though separate title cards are now the norm, the practice of not giving proper credit still continues. It was recently brought to my attention that the credits for a…

Read More

Avast, Ye Matey!

“‘Avast, ye matey’?!…What the hell does that mean?” —Jerry Seinfeld Maybe it’s the time period, the powdered wigs, or all the repetitive (though usually impressive) sword fighting that turns me off, but I’ve never been a big fan of pirate films. So it should come as no surprise that I had very little, if any, interest in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films over the years. Even with all its popularity, I only saw the first film when it came out on DVD. When all was said and done, I couldn’t…

Read More

The ABC’s of Film Composers

A is for Addison, André and Arnold B is for Barry, Bennett and Burwell C is for Corigliano, Conti and Copland D is for Delerue, Doyle and Desplat E is for Ennio, Elmer and Elfman F is for Friedhofer, Fielding and Fenton G is for Goldenthal, Grusin and Gold H is for Herrmann, Hamlisch and Henry I is for Iglesias, Isham and Ikifube J is for John, Jerry and James K is for Korngold, Kaper and Karlin L is for Legrand, Lewis and Lai M is for Menken, Michael and Maurice N is for Newman, Newman, Newman, Newman, Newman and Newman O is for Nino, Pierro and Lalo…

Read More

The ABC’s of Film Scores

A is for ALL ABOUT EVE, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and ALEXANDER NEVSKY B is for THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL and BEN-HUR C is for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, CAPRICORN ONE and CLEOPATRA D is for A DOUBLE LIFE, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL E is for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL and ELMER GANTRY F is for THE FURY, FIRST KNIGHT and FINDING NEMO G is for GONE WITH THE WIND, THE…

Read More

Masterpiece Theater

Masterpiece, like genius, is an often overused word, especially in the arts. Merriam-Webster defines a masterpiece as “a work done with extraordinary skill; especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement.” So how does that apply to film music? If you look at the first part of that definition, pretty much every film score qualifies as a masterpiece in my book. I certainly don’t have the skills to compose a score. I have certain compositional skills (lame though they are), but the craft, technical and otherwise, that is required to compose for film is…

Read More

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Film Music Journalism

Once upon a time, nobody wrote about film music. Back when I was first discovering it in the late ’70s and early ’80s, only two people were discussing film music with any regularity. Page Cook wrote “The Soundtrack” column in Films In Review and Royal S. Brown took a far more high-handed tone in Fanfare magazine. Such was my myopic world that I didn’t even read either of them until at least a decade or so later. The thought of anyone actually writing about film music just never occurred to…

Read More

All By Myself

Somebody please explain to me the point of a DVD isolated score. Don’t get me wrong, I like isolated scores. It’s nice to hear Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Oscar-winning score for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD or Bernard Herrmann’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST performed in all their original glory, especially when the original soundtrack recording doesn’t exist (as in the Korngold) or is out of print (as in the Herrmann). I also think it’s great to study a score alongside its images to see what the composer was highlighting in a particular…

Read More