Jeff Rona very much belongs to the modern breed of composer. His background includes a traditional musical education and he plays the flute, his composing and arranging work makes extensive use of synthesisers, he performs sound design work (e.g. on Hans Zimmer's "The Thin Red Line") through sample manipulation and effects, and he can adopt a style which is a fusion of many sources from classical to rock. While not a big name composer for blockbusters he has an extensive list of film credits for "additional music" (e.g. on "The Net", "Traffic" and most recently "Black Hawk Down" and "The Mothman Prophecies"); frequently working with other composers like Mark Isham, Hans Zimmer, Philip Glass and Basil Poledouris; and he has worked for some high profile directors including Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.
Rona has also done quite a lot of TV work including "Homicide: Life on the Street", "Chicago Hope" and "L.A. Doctors". Rona is also well-known for his book "The Reel World" which describes the ins and outs of some of the projects he has worked on. One particular project he mentions is "The Art of Survival" a documentary about his Grandfather. Among his film credits as principle composer is the movie "White Squall" for director Ridley Scott. While depicting sailing at sea, much of the music has Carribean and Celtic influences. The soundtrack to this is available from www.amazon.com in the US and www.amazon.co.uk in the UK. In his book Rona describes various themes tried for the "White Squall" score before settling on the one used in the film.
For an example of his computer arranging and sound design skills, look no further than "Traffic". Composed by Cliff Martinez, Rona has produced an effective ambient realisation on synthesisers, with parts for electric piano (Herbie Hancock) and percussion. The overall effect is one of peering inwards on the thoughts of the characters as the engrossing drama unfolds. Rona also produces library music for the film industry in a range of styles under the title "Liquid Cinema". Recently Rona has worked with Lisa Gerrard on the soundtrack to "A Thousand Roads" which uses American Indian music very effectively. The soundtrack album also contains some genuine Indian tracks labelled "inspirations" and is available from www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk.
For the 2008 Olympic Games in China, Rona was asked to composed a major orchestral work. This was performed at the Olympic Village in Qingdao and in other major cities across China. The music has now be extended and adapted into an album called Songs of the Sea: The Regatta Suite and showcases the composer at the height of his creative powers.
Jeff Rona was one of several composers providing tracks for the Playstation videogame "God of War 3" (the other composers were Gerard Marino, Ron Fish, Cris Velasco and Mike Reagan). The album can be purchased at www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk (preview with this YouTube Playlist) and Jeff has done some great remixes which were not included on the Soundtrack CD but can be found on the web. The TV Series "Persons Unknown" is following in the footsteps of the recent remake of "The Prisoner" and will hopefully have more of a plot than "Lost". Rona's music is wide-ranging and among other influences draws on the work of Mark Snow in "The X-Files". Rona's latest film score is for "Phantom", a submarine thriller starring Ed Harris and David Duchovny. The soundtrack is now available (see recommendations below) and you can hear the end title song "An Ocean Away" here on youtube co-written with Rachel Fannan.
In recent years Rona has scored a number of documentaries including "Generation Iron 2", "The New Fire", "Poisoning Paradise", "To the Orcas with Love" and "Sharkwater Extinction", with "Sea of Life" and the 2021 "Bright Green Lies" both for director Julia Barnes. However he continues to score drama films such as "Affairs of State" and the Chinese production "A Zebra-Riding Boy". And the romantic comedy "A Castle for Christmas" is notable (to me) since much of it was filmed in my home town.
Anyone interested in the work of a film composer should seek out Jeff Rona's book "The Reel World - Scoring for Pictures". This is not a book which explains how to compose, but it does give an insight into the work and craft of a film composer. You can frequently get a good deal on the first edition of this book from www.amazon.com in the US and www.amazon.co.uk in the UK, and both sites let you explore some of the interior pages before you decide to buy. The book includes many examples of Rona's work and ties into sound samples and many extras available from the accompanying web-site www.reelworld-online.com. Rona has recently made extensive revisions to the book to keep it up to date with a rapidly evolving industry, and an extract of the book and a special discount offer can be found at our preview page The Reel World (2nd edition).
The following recommended soundtrack albums are available as follows: