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One of the advantages of running a music website is that you'll occasionally receive CDs that wouldn't normally be top of your listen list. But "The Boy and the Beast" is a great score by Masakatsu Takagi. This young composer is making a name for himself in anime film scores and is no doubt destined for great things. Like many Japanese anime scores, the music seems to western ears like a blend of orchestral and more unusual instruments, with certain oriental mannerisms colouring some conventional and often cute melodic writing - available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. And if you play the piano there is a great sheet music book of piano solos and songs at Wasabi Sheet Music (shipping worldwide). The composer's own website is at www.takagimasakatsu.com.
As part of their series of Composers in Conversation, BAFTA now present this interview with Cliff Martinez, who discusses his career spanning 25 years across film, TV and games. Martinez started out as a drummer in various bands before turning to film scoring. The composer discusses his uniquely textural approach to film scoring, and his experiences working with directors such as Steven Soderbergh (in "Sex, Lies and Videotape", "Traffic" and in "Solaris"), and more recently with the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (with collaborative credits including "Drive", "Only God Forgives" and most recently "The Neon Demon").
Fresh from his recent Oscar win (not to mention BAFTA and Golden Globe) for his score to Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the great Ennio Morricone will be touring with his "60 Years of Music World Tour" including a number of outdoor locations throughout Europe. One of these will be his first ever UK gig outside of London at Blenheim Palace's Great Court on Thursday 23rd June. This will be the first in the Palace's Nocturne Series of Concerts with shows on later evenings featuring The Corrs and Elton John. The concert on the Saturday 25th June is "The Music From Bond" introduced by former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton conducted by Richard Balcombe with singers Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman. Tickets for all the shows will be available soon at the Nocturne Live website. And who doesn't enjoy the The Music of James Bond?
Another film composer is featuring in concert in London. Brian Tyler is probably best known at the moment for his action and superhero scores, and the concert is entitled "Brian Tyler Live: Film Music for Stars, Cars & Superheroes" and will take place in London's Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 7th May. Tyler himself will be conducting music from his own film, TV & Game scores: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man III, The Fast and the Furious Franchise, Thor: The Dark World, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Now You See Me, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Expendables, Hawaii Five-0 and Children of Dune. Brian Tyler will also conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in a special tribute to John Williams. More details and booking information are available at Philharmonia website. Finally here is a video taster of The Film Music of Brian Tyler.
A number of well-known film composer have live concert performances this year, and first up is the great Hans Zimmer himself who certainly knows how to put on a show - and on this occasion his music for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (co-composed by Junkie XL) simultaneously hits cinemas. Zimmer has invited a number of his favourite musicians with whom he has worked on several of his film scores, including Lebo M the famous South African musician whose vocals memorably introduce "The Circle of Life" at the opening of Disney's "The Lion King". Also joining Zimmer on stage will be guitarists Johnny Marr and Mike Einziger, cellist Tina Guo-Morabito, and up to 70 musicians! The concert series starts off in London on 6th and 7th April before touring many big cities throughout Europe through April, May and early June. More details are available on hans-zimmer.com and hanszimmerlive.com.
Sir George Martin has died at the age of 90. He is best known as a music producer and particularly for producing many of the Beatles' albums. His close involvement with the group has earned him the title of the "Fifth Beatle" though his contribution was very much behind the scenes. He acted as producer and arranger for much of the Beatles' work bringing a lot of innovative ideas to their tracks helping to make them the distinctive, ground-breaking songs we all know. But in career terms George Martin was an all-round musician who could turn his hand to many things. As a film composer he had previously worked with Peter Sellars before scoring a couple of the Beatles movies "A Hard Day's Night" and "Yellow Submarine". Arguably his finest score as a film composer is the Bond movie Live and Let Die, the first in the series to feature Roger Moore and a temporary departure from the established John Barry sound. Of course Martin brought in Paul McCartney to sing the distinctive title song. His contribution to music is immense and he will be sorely missed.
In March this year BAFTA will invite Clint Mansell to the Royal Albert Hall to discuss his career as a film composer. Mansell became known as a film composer after scoring director Darren Aronofsky's early films such "Pi", "Requiem for a Dream" and "The Fountain". The pair have gone on to collaborate on several films since then, but their profiles have grown significantly since then. Mansell is planning a tour later this year in several UK cities (and elsewhere) to showcase his music, and in 2014 a tour by the Kronos Quartet featured Mansell's music at its heart after having performed on the original soundtrack for "Requiem for a Dream". More recently Mansell has scored "Black Swan", "Noah" and "High Rise". This is part of the BAFTA series "Conversations with Screen Composers" and will take place in the "Elgar Room" - more details and tickets can be found at the Royal Albert Hall website. (If you're unsure if you know Mansell's music, just play the 2nd video on the Albert Hall page - you will recognise it immediately.)
It's a New Year and the world seems to have gone Star Wars mad! There's a lot of nostalgia too for the original films brought on by numerous references in the latest move The Force Awakens (expect a full score review soon on mfiles). One constant throughout the 7 Star Wars films to date is the music of John Williams, and this fantastic legacy of the most famous film music in history is celebrated in a range of Ultimate Soundtrack Editions on various media including vinyl, CD and digital download versions. The CD version (pictured here) comes on 10 CDs with audio interviews with Harrison Ford and John Williams plus a bonus DVD with "Star Wars: A Musical Journey", a one hour special hosted by actor Ian McDiarmid. Described by Amazon as "The most acclaimed and enduring film music in Hollywood history" the CD box set can be found at the Amazon.com along with links to the alternative Vinyl and Digital versions.
This time last year I mentioned an album called "The North" by "The Borealis Saxophone Quartet" - see their website www.borealissaxophonequartet.com. One member of the sax quartet is Alastair Penman who last month released his debut album "Electric Dawn" - website www.electricdawn.co.uk. Electric Dawn features Penman's own compositions and arrangements including new commissions from other artists. As the title suggests the album is a mixture of sax and electronics, and it really is a wonderfully eclectic mix of genres, moods, instrumentation and effects, all centred around the unmistakeable sound of the saxophone. Alistair Penman's Electric Dawn has been produced by legendary saxophonist and producer John Harle and released on Sospiro Records. It can be found at the following links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
Though a long been follower of their videos on Youtube, it was only this summer that I first went to see The Piano Guys live in Edinburgh - and what a great show they put on! If you can't see them live then the next best thing is their latest album "The Piano Guys: Live!" recorded at some of their live shows, in particular two sold out events at Carnegie Hall and at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The album contains some fan favourite tracks, some new material and a few surprises. All are in The Piano Guys own inimitable style mixing classical music, film soundtracks and popular songs. This is a combined CD/DVD release so really fantastic value, and it is available from tomorrow. It can be found at the following online links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. The Piano Guys tour continues next spring visiting locations in the US and Canada.
"Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage" is a concert tour featuring the Music of Star Trek celebrating 50 years since the original TV series started and including music from the various TV Series and Star Trek Movies. Unfortunately for those based in the UK, the tour in 2016 will be restricted to venues across the US and Canada. However the concert series gets a special launch in the form of a one-off concert being held in London's Royal Albert Hall on 1st November. This will feature the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Justin Freer, guest conductors being Trek composers Jay Chattaway and Ron Jones. See the Royal Albert Hall website for tickets to the UK event and the Star Trek website for more info on the US tour.
This week sees the release of an album called "James Dean & The Music". James Dean was an actor whose short career saw him typically in roles as a troubled youth. He was already a cultural icon, but his tragic death in a car accident made him a legend. The album features music from Dean's 3 main starring film roles. The first two of those films were scored by the composer Leonard Rosenman who was in fact a friend of Dean and Dean had recommended him for the role. Rosenman's sometimes dischordant avant garde sound mixed with jazz elements expertly depicts a misfit at odds with the world. In "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" Rosenman and Dean were indeed a perfect match musically, though Dimitri Tiomkin took a different approach in his music for "Giant". This album opens a window on a fascinating period of American film history, and you can find it at the following link at Amazon.co.uk.
When it was first released, the soundtrack to "Furyo" or "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" made a big impact on the music scene. It takes influences from ambient music genres, Japanese folk music, synthpop and electronic albums by the likes of Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis. The composer Ryuichi Sakamoto had left the pioneering electronic group Yellow Magic Orchestra, and was carving his own distinctive career. Sakamoto appeared in the movie as a Japanese soldier, and he picked up a BAFTA award in 1983 for the soundtrack. Of course many people remember the film as starring David Bowie who also sang the vocals in the track "Forbidden Colours" which was released as a single and reached the top 20 in the UK charts. The album has now been re-released to tie in with the exhibition "David Bowie Is". It can be found at the following online links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
"The Music of Doctor Who" is the latest Special Edition of the Doctor Who Magazine subtitled "Six decades of sound design and musical innovation". This is a detailed and comprehensive behind the scenes look at all aspects of Doctor Who music and sound, with some rare photos of the people involved in its creation. There is decade by decade coverage of the composers involved in the show, David Arnold and Neil Brand look at the enduring appeal of Ron Grainer's theme, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, an interview with Tristram Cary, Brian Hodgson and Dick Mills discuss the show's special effects, the use of library music and pop music, the prolific Dudley Simpson, music for the 1996 Movie by John Debney, Orbital's Paul Hartnoll discusses the group's arrangement of the theme, various tributes and original music by fans, and a Day with Delia Derbyshire. The cover features Peter Capaldi's doctor with headphones while the Series 9 trailers show him playing guitar. Look out for the magazine appearing in shops from this week or check out the magazine's facebook page. In many ways the magazine special rivals the coverage in our very own article Doctor Who Music ;)
Talking about Doctor Who composers, there isn't a Doctor Who prom this year but Murray Gold's music for the recent David Attenborough series "Life Story" will feature in a special prom on 30th August, with extracts of the series introduced by Sir David himself accompanied by the series soundtrack played live by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
It is with great sadness that I must report the passing of film composer James Horner. For me he will forever be associated with many sci-fi and fantasy scores of the 1980s and early 1990s: "Battle Beyond the Stars", "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock", "Krull", "Cocoon", "Cocoon: The Return", "Aliens", "*batteries not included", "Willow" and "The Rocketeer". However Horner was genuinely prolific and moved easily between genres from family movies like "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" to war dramas like "Glory" and emotional sporting dramas such as "Field of Dreams", and he had a string of huge box-office hits in the 1990s with "Legends of the Fall", "Braveheart", "Apollo 13", "Ransom", "Deep Impact", "The Mask of Zorro" and "Titanic" for which he won 2 oscars, one shared with Will Jennings for the song "My Heart Will Go On". The composer did not slow down in the 21st century with "A Beautiful Mind", "Iris", "The Missing", "Troy", "Apocalypto", "Avatar", "The Karate Kid" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" being just a sample of the highlights. A sad day for film music.
Do you remember the Super Mario Theme? Of course you do but here's a reminder from youtube of the original game theme and here is a piano version played by Cory Hall. The theme morphed through many different sequels and appeared on lots of other media, but the core theme by Japanese composer Koji Kondo remained the same, and of course there were many different themes for different parts of the gameplay. Now there is a book by musicologist Andrew Schartmann which tells the story of the Super Mario soundtrack! Through this lens Schartmann studies an important period of transition in game music history, as game technology and ambitions grew in scale, so too game soundtracks developed from apparently simple 8-bit beginnings leading inexorably towards major orchestral works. The book can be found at the following links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
Murray Gold has now been the composer for Doctor Who since the new series started 10 years ago in 2005, and his music is an integral part of the show. This latest album accompanies Peter Capaldi's introductory Series 8. The new incarnation of the Doctor was a little mysterious to begin with - was he good or bad? was he aloof, insensitive or simply alien? - and Gold's theme for the Capaldi doctor is initially more subtle than Matt Smith's but the heroic horns leave no doubt that this is the same Time Lord. CD3 is dedicated to the festive "Last Christmas" and the other 2 CDs cover the remaining episodes. Each episode of Series 8 has its own unique sound, Mystery in "Into the Dalek", comedy in "Robot of Sherwood" or "The Caretaker", suspense in "Time Heist" and moments of Horror and all-out Action in several stories: the sound world can go from electronica to orchestral in an instant. This is a welcome addition to the growing list of Doctor Who music releases and the album can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
"Bach to Moog" follows Moog Music's announcement earlier this year to resume manufacture of their large format modular synthesizers, and also marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Moog Music's founder Bob Moog in 2005. Craig Leon is no stranger to genre bending, having transitioned from popular music (he worked with The Ramones and Blondie) to produce classical music in recent years. No project of this nature could be undertaken without reference to "Switched On Bach" by Wendy Carlos which first melded Moog sounds with Bach back in 1968. Leon has wisely chosen a different path by utilising both acoustic (from violinist Jennifer Pike and the Sinfonietta Cracovia) as well as electronic sounds. Interestingly Leon choses to conclude the album with Bach's "14 Canons on the first 8 Notes of the Goldberg Ground" which wasn't discovered until several years after Switched on Bach. "Bach to Moog" will be released on May 4th and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
The decision to have two composers on one film score is always a curious one, and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" has composer credits for both Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman. Danny Elfman is no stranger to superhero movies with Batman, Spiderman and Hulk titles in his CV, and Brian Tyler is the closest we have to a regular Marvel composer having scored "Thor: The Dark World" and "Iron Man 3" both released in 2013. Both men of course have a wealth of experience in scoring genre movies in general from sci-fi and fantasy titles to lots of action thrillers. However the key questions are: Will two composers on this one film work? And will there be any thematic continuity with previous Marvel films? e.g. Alan Silvestri's Avengers Assemble? We will have to wait until May 19th to find out, as this is when the soundtrack album will be available from both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
On Wednesday 29th April James Horner will be the next film composer to appear in the BAFTA series "Conversations with Screen Composers". A prolific composer, Horner has scored more than 130 productions on both the big screen and the small screen. Initially he seemed to follow in the footsteps of Jerry Goldsmith with his scores for Star Trek II (The Wrath of Khan) and III (The Search for Spock), before making a name for himself in movies such as "Cocoon", "* Batteries Not Included", "Aliens" and "Legends of the Fall". He then went on to play a key role in "Apollo 13", "Braveheart", "Titanic", "Avatar", "Glory", "Field of Dreans" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" to name just a few. As with previous events in the series, the interview will take place in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall, and tickets and further details can be found at the Royal Albert Hall website.
The BAFTA Game Awards ceremony was held last night to great fanfare among the gaming community. There are two closely related (and sometimes overlapping) categories for Audio and Music, and frequently the recipient is listed as the "Development Team" rather than named composers. "Alien: Isolation" won for Audio Achievement for its development team, though honourable mention should go to Jerry Goldsmith whose music for the original film was adapted for the game. The Games "Music" category was won for "Far Cry 4" by named composers Cliff Martinez, Tony Gronick and Jerome Angelot. The full list of nominations can be found in our Awards Page for the year. Speaking of Games Music, the Video Games Live show continues to tour in various locations across the globe and their 4th album "Video Games Live - Level 4" can be found at these links on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. If you're quick you can preview 4 of these tracks at Zelda Universe.
"Bend It Like Beckham" the film was a feel-good, comedy drama which explored real social issues in a fun way by challenging assumptions about race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. The film's soundtrack was a mix of contemporary pop and Bollywood, but the feel-good factor and ensemble cast made it a natural target for conversion into a musical. The film's director Gurinder Chadha has now realised that ambition and rehearsals are underway for the stage musical to launch in May this year. The music for the show has been written by composer and TV presenter Howard Goodall. The first promotional video release is alongside and the show also has an official website. Here is another video where Gurinder Chadha & Howard Goodall talk about the musical.
Two of my favourite artists come together on the new double album "Valentina Lisitsa Plays Philip Glass". The pianist started as an internet sensation with many millions of views on YouTube. Quickly signed as a recording and touring artist, she has played some of the most demanding works by the likes of Liszt, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Scriabin. Her soon-to-be-released new album consists of the piano music of Philip Glass and includes Metamorphosis, Mad Rush, Wichita Sutra Vortex, and several tracks from the composer's film scores including "The Truman Show" and "The Hours". For two weeks before the albums release you can listen to it free on Composed but CDs and Downloads will be available fro 9th/10th March at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Perhaps this indicates a new direction for the pianist, since some of her latest youtube videos are works by Michael Nyman!
Amid strong competition, including his very own The Imitation Game, the oscar for best original score goes to Alexandre Desplat for both The Grand Budapest Hotel. This is a quirky film with lots of style and lots of stars, with a wonderful score by Desplat which seems to capture the zany, surreal qualities of the movie. Congratulations to the composer on his first Oscar win though he has been nominated many times before. Congratulations also to the other nominees including Hans Zimmer for his powerful and emotional score to "Interstellar" (the first of Zimmer's many nominations was for "Rain Man" back in 1988 and he won the award in 1994 for "The Lion King"), and to first time nominees Johann Johannsson for The Theory of Everything and Gary Yershon for "Mr. Turner".
Interstellar and its music will be celebrated at a special live screening at the Royal Albert Hall on 30th March 2015. Composer Hans Zimmer will lead a 60-piece orchestra and the hall's massive grand organ through the film score, while the movie is simultaneously shown on the big screen. The event will be introduced by director Christopher Nolan and by Sir Michael Caine, who played Professor John Brand in the film. There will also be a pre-performance talk on the science behind Interstellar from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Tickets and further information can be found at the website of the Royal Albert Hall.
While our usual focus at mfiles is on Classical Music or Film Music, we like to occasionally branch out and cover other musical genres. Our latest article is called Exlore London's Music Scene - Past and Present and does exactly what it says on the tin, with a focus on popular music of the past 60 years. London has always attracted great acts and artists. Many of the capital city's venues have hosted some celebrated singers, musicians and groups. The article explores some of those venues to have hosted historic music events by The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones. The article also highlights a number of famous locations and landmarks (from Abbey Road to Battersea Power Station) to have featured on album covers. More...
It's awards season again, and winner of the Golden Globe for best original score is Johann Johannsson for The Theory of Everything. Among the nominations for the music BAFTA and Oscar awards are Hans Zimmer for "Interstellar", and Alexandre Desplat for both "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Imitation Game". See the full set of music nominations.
We've previously reported several events in the BAFTA series "Conversations with Screen Composers" (supported by Avid, owners of Sibelius Software). This series of interviews with film composers takes place in one of the reception rooms of the Royal Albert Hall. The featured composer in the December event was David Arnold, composer of Independence Day, Stargate, Sherlock (the TV series), Amazing Grace, 5 James Bond films and the Musical Director for the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The interview on Soundcloud can be played back below:
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