Sunday, May 16, 2004

Random Film Music News

Item the First: Eagle-eyed people may have noticed that early trailers and promotional materials for the movie Troy credited the film's music to Gabriel Yared, while the film now in release sports a score by James Horner. What happened is this: Yared spent a year composing a score for the film, and said score was recorded; but then, when the film was shown to test audiences, some negative comments about the score were apparently recorded, and thus Yared's entire year of work was dumped and Horner was brought in at the last minute.

This kind of thing happens fairly often these days, unfortunately. By the time a film reaches the "test audience" stage, there really aren't many things that can be done to address concerns. You can't rewrite and reshoot; all you can do is re-edit and re-score. This is why film music fans are well-acquainted with the "rejected score" scenario: a composer is announced as attached to a certain project, only to have his or her work dumped prior to release. Sometimes these "rejected scores" get CD releases of their own (Jerry Goldsmith's Legend score is a good example), but most of the time these rejected scores either get reworked into later projects or become available as highly-sought-after bootleg recordings.

Gabriel Yared has recently made his rejected score available on his official site. The sound quality is very poor, but it's enough to hear that the score is actually quite good. It's undoubtedly better than whatever James Horner -- a guy who peaked as a composer in 1995 and has been on autopilot ever since -- pasted together in the two weeks he had to work with. What's a real shame here is that Yared has previously been typecast as a composer (The English Patient and Possession are two prominent, and representative, scores of his), and Troy might have been his "breakout" epic work, much as Star Wars was for John Williams and Lord of the Rings was for Howard Shore.

Item the Second: As much as I have always loved John Williams's music, I haven't liked his work for the Harry Potter movies. (Williams did not directly compose the score for HP and the Chamber of Secrets, the second film; composer William Ross did the score based heavily on Williams's themes from the first film.) A lot of Williams's Potter music is, well, "happy", and I've simply never cared for Williams when he's writing "happy" music. (His Home Alone scores are the musical equivalent of eating the world's biggest, gooiest brownie with no glass of milk to wash it down with. By the end, you're screaming, "Stop the sweetness!") I have higher hopes for his score for the upcoming HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, since this is the installment of the series where the books start turning quite a bit darker. AOL has made the score available for listening here. I haven't been able to get it to work yet -- something about security settings -- but I'll check later on and report back.

Item the Third: Unless something happens at the eleventh hour to thwart the release, on Tuesday the expanded CD of John Barry's magnificent score to Dances With Wolves is due to hit stores. I've been waiting for this release for a long time: the original CD was pretty abbreviated, and omitted the film version of the music for the Buffalo Hunt sequence.

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