Star Wars Orchestration Review Episode VII: The Sforz Awakens

Reading over the Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviews that I wrote back in December, I’m struck by how much I had to rely on the soundtrack to illustrate my points, and often avoided specific references to the timing of cues in the movie. Part of this was to avoid the horror of revealing spoilers …

2016 Oscars Orchestration Roundup

Over the past week, I’ve reviewed the orchestration of each contender for the Academy Award for Music (Original Score). Now it’s time to compare the nominees, and judge which score might be awarded. Of course, film scores are rarely awarded solely on the quality of their orchestration. But the texture of a score is as …

2016 Oscars Orchestration Review – Thomas Newman’s “Bridge of Spies”

I have a confession to make. Often when I’m finalising a score or editing a video, I’ll listen to something in the background. Sometimes it will be a comedy, political talk show, or discussion about the arts and literature. But what I really like is a good mystery with little to no music – something …

2016 Oscars Orchestration Review – Ennio Morricone’s “The Hateful Eight”

Morricone’s task in scoring The Hateful Eight was both enviable and unenviable. Director Quentin Tarantino gave him a completely free hand with the script, allowing him to score whatever he liked according to what his muse spoke to him. This gesture of trust and respect is not unlike that afforded to John Williams by more …

2016 Oscars Orchestration Review – Carter Burwell’s “Carol”

Carol may or may not be the best film of 2015 (its snub for Best Picture category is one of many unforgivable oversights this year). – but it is certainly the most stylish. It’s a period piece that expertly recreates the exact year and place of its setting (and writing of the source book, Patricia …

2016 Oscars Orchestration Review – Jóhann Jóhannsson’s “Sicario”

Sicario is a complex film. It’s frankly a horse pill to be swallowing as the first of five films nominated for the 2016 Academy Awards, at least for an orchestration review. Firstly, I just want to say right here that I don’t accept the narrow view of Mexico that the film portrays – a horrific …

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Orchestration Review, Episode VI – Return Of The Jeté

A lot of people, including fairly-well trained musicians, don’t understand John Williams’ approach – or perhaps it would be better to say that they think they do, and typify their misconceptions with a clichéd interpretation of what his music sounds like. And that’s because so few people know how to really listen to what’s going …

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Orchestration Review, Episode V – The Trumpets Strike Back!

There’s no denying that Williams has a settled approach to scoring trumpets, particularly for his Star Wars cues. While it’s been criticised, I feel that some of this is simply because trumpets stand out. It’s impossible not to notice them, so any tried-and-true approach may feel grating at times. The new soundtrack for The Force …

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Orchestration Review, Episode III – Revenge Of The Stop-Mutes

In early 2015, a momentous decision was made that would deeply affect the character of the upcoming blockbuster-to-end-all-blockbusters, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By mid-March, John Williams went public with an extremely diplomatic announcement: “I’ve had the privilege of working with the very best musicians in both the U.K. and the U.S. The London Symphony …

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Orchestration Review, Episode II – Attack of the ‘Bones!

We orchestrators and composers are a specialised lot, as far a movie fandom is concerned. We love certain films with a passion, for their composers as much as (or more than) how well they’re scripted, directed, and acted. We can get passionately twisted over such issues as who orchestrated what, or whether a great film …