Bruce Broughton‘s rousing music for SILVERADO ranks as one of the finest Western scores ever written. Though Lawrence Kasdan’s film encompasses almost every element in the traditional Hollywood genre, this tale of four unlikely friends (Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover) who right the injustices in the small prairie town of Silverado is not your typical Western. Kasdan said he was making a “Western for people had never seen a Western before.” If only all Westerns were filled with this much humor, beautiful cinematography, and fine performances.
The film’s enjoyability is thanks in no small part to Broughton’s score. “The orchestration was geared towards power, strength, and energy,” said Broughton. “There is nothing emotionally understated in this score.”
The first of two main themes, the “Silverado Theme,” heard most often in the trumpet and French horn, is a classic of the genre. The theme is muscular, lyrical and heroic, much like our mythical memories (or at least in Hollywood’s eyes) of the Old West. The melody is built around perfect fourth and fifth intervals, creating an open sound that is set against numerous harmonic combinations.
The second principal theme, for the settlers, is gentler and more nostalgic. The theme is based on a pentatonic scale, common in early American folk music.
SILVERADO didn’t reinvigorate the Western at the box office, but Broughton’s larger-than-life music has everything you could want in a classic Western score and more. “Broughton has written what I consider a great score,” said Kasdan, “stirring, lyrical, exhilarating. But it is, most importantly, a very emotional score—clear, brave and unrestrained.”