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9 Favorite Film Scores of Michel Legrand

umbrellas-of-cherbourg

Over the past year I had the privilege of exploring the music of Michel Legrand in more depth. Between writing the liner notes for Intrada’s releases of THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT and SUMMER OF ’42/THE PICASSO SUMMER, and delving into Criterion’s Blu-ray box set of The Essential Jacques Demy, 2014 turned into a wonderful year of further discovery of Legrand’s music. And with the release of LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE in January, at nearly 83, Legrand’s talent is as strong as ever. As Legrand’s film career enters its seventh decade, now seemed the perfect time to celebrate the music of…

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9 Favorite Main Titles

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Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, movies used to have main titles that were scored. For two minutes, the composer laid the musical groundwork and set the tone for the film to follow. Then along came main title songs, sometimes written by the score composers, sometimes not. If not, the composer usually weaved that song melody (a la “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Three Coins in the Fountain,” etc.) into the fabric of the score. Come the ’80s and ’90s, it was all about marketing the soundtrack…

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9 Purple Cows of Film Music

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In his excellent 2002 book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable, Seth Godin tells the story of a trip he took to France with his family. He describes driving around the French countryside, “enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures…For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the windows, marveling about how beautiful everything was.” But after the first 20 minutes, he started ignoring the cows. “The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was now common. Worse than…

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9 Favorite FSM CDs

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With the release of Jerry Fielding’s THE WILD BUNCH last month, it’s the end of the line for the Film Score Monthly label. With a roster of 250 releases since 1996, FSM filled a very important void in the soundtrack business. With its primary concentration on the MGM library (which later incorporated other studios), producer Lukas Kendall had access to one of the richest veins of Silver and Golden Age film music. FSM had its share of heavy-hitters—the Newman’s, Goldsmith’s, Williams’s, Barry’s, Morricone’s, North’s, Waxman’s, Herrmann’s, Bernstein’s, and basically the…

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9 Most Influential Film Composers

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Every film composer brings his or her talent to a project. They carve out a career path for themselves in which they (hopefully) can make a living through the art and craft of creating music. But some film composers change the face of the art form. In the course of doing their jobs, they leave a lasting impression on the industry that reaches far beyond a fan’s favorite score or film. The list below contains an alphabetized list of what I consider to be the most influential film composers. These…

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9 Tired Topics in Film Music

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We film music fans sure do love to argue. No matter the topic or time of day—on Facebook and Twitter, over brunch and over cocktails, in person or hiding behind some lame screen name—we love to air our opinions. I’m all for passion. It’s sure a helluva lot better than apathy. But some of the arguments surrounding film music have been going on for so long they’ve completely lost their effectiveness, if they ever had any to begin with. I wish message boards and comments came with an expiration date because…

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Tall Tales

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THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN is exactly what the title suggests: an episodic, highly entertaining (and highly fictionalized) “biography” of the celebrated author through his childhood, riverboating on the Mississippi River, his books and legendary lecture tour. Fredric March is a delight as—and the spitting image of—Twain, and even though much of the film contains barely a kernel of truth, it plants enough seeds to potentially inspire further investigation into the “real” story. MARK TWAIN was originally filmed in 1942 but wasn’t released until 1944, as a morale booster for…

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2012 Oscar Nominations for Music

on October 19, 2009 in Santa Clarita, California.

The Oscars are arguably the most derided award in film music. Why? Because it has the farthest reach and the biggest impact on the general public at large. Film music fans get all bent out of shape when a particular score is not nominated (me included) and will bitch and moan on message boards about how little the Oscars matter. In the great scheme of life, perhaps that is true. But their ability to shine the spotlight on film music for even a few minutes should be applauded, no matter…

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The Ten Commandments of Film Music

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Holy Moses! Ten items in a “9 on the 9th” post? I decided to shake things up a bit in the new year. I have the utmost respect for the Bible—at least as source material for entertaining, pompous 1950s costume dramas—but something within me urged me to adapt these into something hopefully we all can understand. (Some may argue it was the work of Satan, which might be appropriate given my love for THE OMEN.) If I were to write MY personal ten commandments, it would be a very different…

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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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