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Still ‘Goldsmithing’: The Art of Remaining Quiet

April 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there guys, how are you doing?

Back to the Goldsmith studies, the movie of the week was the already-classic (arguably :P) Sci-Fi Total Recall (90) by Paul Verhoeven.

Total Recall

As far as the movie goes it was interesting to re-watch the groundbreaking (at the time) visual effects and some of them hold up surprisingly well even for today standards. Also, Sharon Stone was indeed THE undisputed sex symbol of the 90s. lol But talking about the music score…

I don’t really think it lives up to the novelty of the movie to be honest. It still sounds like a ten-years-old soundtrack, it’s still based on action movies clichés… Yet there’s something to learn here just like in any other Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack: silence is gold. :)

This feature caught my attention in Chinatown, but it makes a good deal of sense here too: Mr. Goldsmith leaves room for the dialogues to stand out. New composers frequently think they should provide a barrage of music to fill every single gap with sound… when, like in most cases in art and pretty much everything else, less is more.

Despite not being that remarkable the soundtrack of Total Recall can teach us this lesson–as valuable as any other. :)

See ya, take care!

Gremlins!

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there, how have you been?

Back to the already-famed :P Goldsmith studies I watched Gremlins (1984) to give its soundtrack a thoughtful listen… and this is a tricky one for sure.

From the start if you check the IMDb page for the movie you’ll see where it’s filed: under “Comedy/Horror”. Those are two absolutely diverse genres regarding the mood a soundtrack should aim for, so scoring for such an aberration can’t be simple in the slightest. :)

Gremlins

Mr. Goldsmith starts nailing it for the easier (in theory) side: the main theme. It sure is remarkable and fitting and could give any arranger enough material for a good development. But that’s not the only issue: there’s still the setting (Xmas), the pace (“Adventurous”), the content (“Fantasy/Mystery”)… Too much for an average joe to handle. Masterfully the man pretty much wraps it all up in a single under-2:00 piece, presented in one of the first important scenes of the movie, before the main theme really shows up.

It hints at everything yet to happen in the movie–even the main theme–while merging absurdely well with the current scene and scenario. Truly a sign of who is the craftsman behind it. :)

Check this and the main theme out and enjoy the ride. :)

See ya, take care!

Frances… Ha!

February 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Hi there, how have you all been?

This week I took a break from those Goldsmith studies and watched Frances Ha, which lays a lot on the light-hearted side of… hearts? :)

Frances Ha

I’ve heard plenty of good talk about the movie’s soundtrack, but I would credit the fluidity of the whole thing much more to the edition (both video and sound ones) than the music itself. Actually I could go further and say the presentation overall (form and content as well) is what holds the movie together and it ultimately succeeds in hiding an “amateur” flavour of some sort from the average watcher.

None of this is to be taken against it, in fact the movie is nice… But I thought I should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and here the guys deserving the coin are the editors. ;)

Take a peep at the trailer (it sells the movie poorly, mind you) and go watch it if it matches your mood… Then, come by to drop your own two cents. ;)

Se ya, take care!

Goldsmith: Laying Eggs. :)

January 28, 2014 2 comments

Hi there, how have you been?

Last week I talked about the wide, wild world of Jerry Goldsmith and how I’m digging his work deeper to scavenge myself some invaluable lessons. :) Well, as previously announced this week’s movie was the very first Alien in the series–the one directed by Ridley Scott.

Alien belongs to a fairly big teenager list of favorite sci-fi movies, but watching to it now–and paying its soundtrack the proper attention–as an adult made me realize it’s much more an horror movie than a plain, regular sci-fi shot. Of course, any sci-fi plot must have a tendency towards a thrilling atmosphere due to the inherent “unknown” factor, but several details–the soundtrack being the most important–hint the real intent behind the lens.

Alien (1979)

I could talk about the picture’s slow pace, about the long-lasting silences, the dark palette, the cinematography… but this being a music blog I think it’s better to stay safe at home. :P And Goldsmith’s formula here could easily be represented in a simple pie chart: 70% horror, 30% sci-fi. :)

The horror side of the pie is achieved by strings tricks well-known since Mr. Bernard Herrmann; the sci-fi one comes through more modern techniques involving electronic devices and resulting in effects like delay and reverberation in general. But the final word is the OST is really a case of “greater than the sum of its parts”. The cues for “monster approaching”–which are delivered through dynamics put to good use–influenced generations to come of horror/sci-fi composers.

I’ll leave you with a sample piece on the matter, and another of my favorite soundtracks in any medium: Super Metroid (SNES), by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano. My bet is some of those seeds sprouted in Japan… ;)

See ya, take care!

Digging: Jerry Goldsmith

January 21, 2014 2 comments

Hi there, how have you been?

Continuing with my soundtrack studies–one composer after another, chronologically–I just arrived at this huge station: Jerry Goldsmith. The man had worked in so many movies, with so many styles that I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap it all up concisely inside my mind… but the trip–which barely started–is been already worth the “trouble”. :)

Jerry Goldsmith

I started a week ago by re-watching one of my all-time favourite movies ever: Planet of the Apes. Released in 1968 it’s an amazing sample of modern scoring in the 60s–I guess pratically every vanguard movies soundtrack back then came from the Sci-Fi genre. From this one I could grab some interesting ideas for “tribal”, percussive music.

Last week I picked a 70s specimen, one I remember my father talking about: Chinatown. From the awesome Roman Polanski this is a tough, sometimes fun, kinda over the top noir detective movie–great, really great stuff. And music helps it a lot by providing the perfect mood aside a very memorable main theme… which is an absolutely diverse work from the aforementioned “Apes”. :)

How many tricks Mr. Goldsmith had in his hat? And how could I afford to pay for such generous legacy? Both questions are hard to answer. :P For the time being just enjoy Chinatown’s solid soundtrack… as for me I’ll watch Alien for the twentienth time. :P But now with eyes and ears on Jerry. :)

See ya, take care!

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