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LES VISITEURS LA REVOLUTION.

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Composer Eric Jaques Levisalles was born in Paris in 1955, Eric Levi as he is better known is a French rock musician who has made his home in London, his career in rock music began back in 1975 when he and Fabienne Shine founded the hard rock band SHAKIN STREET, under this name they released two albums which were well received these were VAMPIRE ROCK and SOLID AS A ROCK and at the height of their popularity the band toured as a support act for AC DC and BLUE OYSTER CULT but in 1981 decided to disband. After this Levi decided to re-locate to New York and then in 1992 moved back to Paris. In his career as a composer he scored a number of movies, L’OPERATION CORNED BEEF and also the first in a trio of successful comedies LES VISITEURS being the first of these and becoming one of France’s top grossing movies at the box office. He is also known for being the man behind the musical project ERA and for creating the Latin sounding verses and words of these songs and compositions which is a fusion of Gregorian chant and rock/pop music.

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One of his latest projects is the score for LES VISITEURS LA REVOLUTION which was released this year(2016) and directed by Jean Marie Poire. The score which Levi has penned has to be one of his most entertaining if not his best yet. The composer returns to the original material which he wrote in 1993 for the first in the trio of movies and gives it a more upbeat sound making it sound even more original and fresh. We are even treated to a Michael Kamen ROBIN HOOD style at times within the score which is good to hear and certainly rousing even if a little tongue in cheek, the secret is I suppose not to take it too seriously, just go with it and enjoy it. The music is a fusion of synthetic and symphonic with the composer including choral work and chanting to give the work a powerful and authentic feel. The score is filled with tension and apprehension but also has a softer and gloriously melodic side to it, Levi employing harp and strings to great affect to create a luxurious and highly romantic sound. The score I thought contained more than a gentle nod to Rota’s ROMEO AND JULIET in places and also of course is at times a homage to that rousing ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES theme which appears at regular intervals throughout the score. Maybe collectors might look at this release and pass it by, my advice is do not, buy it and you will not be disappointed I promise, this is a score that will entertain for many a listen and also will continue to stay fresh and original upon each and every outing. Highly Recommended.

THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY.

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I say here and now I refuse to apologise for loving the music of Scott Glasgow, I think the first score of his I heard was LO and have tried to get every soundtrack he has released since. I particularly enjoyed RIDDLE ( which is also reviewed on this site), Glasgow is not just a composer in his own right he works extensively with other composers preparing scores and also writing additional music cues for numerous films, which include some big box office success such as SPIDER MAN 2 and CAPTAIN AMERICA-CIVIL WAR. One of his latest assignments as a composer is THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY which is in my opinion a highly accomplished and darkly entertaining score. This is not a film that will be loved by the kiddy-winks nor is it one that is filled with lovely little songs and dances all’a Disney instead of BIBIDDY BOBIDDY BOO we have here a darker and more adult take on the classic Grimm Brothers tale. Thomas Kaiser played by actor Ethan Peck unexpectedly inherits a mansion which has been in his family for generations but soon finds out he has not just inherited bricks and mortar but also an ancient curse that is attached to his inheritance which goes back to the times of the Crusades. He has inherited the role of the protector and it is his duty to keep the evil demons that dwell within the mansion at bay. He joins forces with a local paranormal expert in a bid to unravel the many mysteries the house has and also attempts to awaken the beautiful Briar Rose who is held a prisoner in a fearsome and terrifying netherworld which Thomas has previously visited in his disturbing dreams and nightmares.

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The music is a vital component within the movie and aids the films somewhat complicated plot and storyline, in fact the films story becomes a little confusing about mid-way through and gets a little lost, ending before one has really had a chance to digest fully the plot and sub plots and draw any conclusions as to what has happened. The composer treats us to a score that is filled with richly dark and atonal pieces that although maybe are not melodic still have the ability to be attractive and alluring, the work includes a beautiful and sorrowful cello piece which is in a word stunning. I am loathed to do a more in depth review of the score because as I say I am a fan, so really all I can say is take a chance buy it, download it and just let this beautifully gothic, inventive and highly dramatic sounding work wash over you take it in, soak it up and just be amazed by its beguiling and haunting musical passages that tantalise and at times have the ability to make one feel uneasy. RECOMMENDED. Released by Movie Score Media.

HIGH RISE.

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Composer Clint Mansell has come a long way in the film scoring arena in a relatively short period of time. With each new score and work for the silver screen he has grown and matured musically. One of his latest assignments HIGH RISE is in my opinion certainly one of his most accomplished works, the opening track CRITICAL MASS for example has to it a sound and style that oozes Bernard Herrmann, it put me in mind straight away of NORTH BY NORTH WEST, with its dramatic strings and fervent and forceful sound and pace. The score for HIGH RISE is in a word a delight, it is a score that one will return to many times after the initial listen because it contains so many original and innovative musical notions that the composer has purveyed eloquently and powerfully. Mansell is for me one of this countries (the UK) most talented and versatile composers of film music at this time and I am pleased to see that he is now starting to receive the recognition he so richly deserves as both a composer and a musician. He has the ability to create romantic sounding pieces that take ones breath away because they are just so simple but attractive as in the lilting and fragile sounding THE WORLD BEYOND THE HIGH RISE but then he is so capable of evoking a dark or more threatening persona musically as in CINE CAMERA CINEMA, Mansell is a composer who never ceases to astound me because he does not have his own personal style or sound, because with each assignment he creates a new style a new sound and a new musical fingerprint. In HIGH RISE for example he creates a sound that is more associated with the 1970,s because of his inclusion of a whistler at times which for me emphasizes a loneliness or solitary atmosphere. This is heard more fully in track number 11 THE EVENINGS ENTERTAINMENT. There is also a hint of Barry-esque strings and vibes at certain points within the score which create a tense and threatening mood, but it is the whistling that gives the soundtrack an eerie and edgy feel, in fact I would say that it reminds me of ROSEMARYS BABY in places and also has certain affiliations with both Morricone and Grainer when he scored THE OMEGA MAN. I am also drawn to a type of Americana sound that is present in track number 7 DANGER IN THE STREETS OF THE SKY, which has to it an almost dark version of Copeland going on. HIGH RISE is a score that I recommend you add to your collection, it is a triumph of film scoring. Available from Silva Screen.

JORIS HERMY.

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How old were you when you had your first encounter with music ?

I have the fortune to grow up in a house where there was always music playing. My father is – and always has been – very passionate about movies & music. It was only a matter of time to encounter the music that would change my life totally: Filmscores.

What musical education did you receive?

I started out to play the keys around sixteen I think which is quite late – since I was too busy with painting & sculpting – so I started practicing music later on in my teenage life. Unlike most I had my education backwards. The first eight years or so I followed private classes with a teacher that gave me total freedom and helped me a great deal on arranging & adapting well known tunes. But in my early twenties I kind of got stuck with music. Playing music wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to write! I soon realized I needed to study music more thoroughly if I wanted to call myself a composer, so I started my education at a local academy of music which helped me a great deal. Of course a lot of what you see and hear isn’t useful in today’s filmscoring at all, but as my teacher so often says: „as a composer you should know which rules you are violating…”

Did you concentrate on one instrument inparticular when you were studying music?

The piano has always been my main instrument. I really love it. It’s such a diverse and powerful tool for writing.
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Was music for film something that you set out to do or did this just become more evident as a career as you progressed?

John Williams’ Star Wars just struck me like lightning on a sunny day. The first LP I bought was ‚The Empire Strikes Back’. Gosh, I must’ve have played it far more than both my parents and neighbors could bare. He is such a intelligent, graceful and tremendously talented human being. I still believe he is the very best working today. Although his methods might not be in pace with today’s demands anymore, nobody writes that kind of sophisticated yet instant recognizable music as he does. The more I got into scoring myself, the more my attention spread to other composers as well. Scores from around the world, not just Hollywood.

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When you begin work on a project have you a set routine when you are writing, by this I mean do you like to concentrate on larger cues first or do you start with the main theme and work through to the end titles?

With television work, I tend to write quite linear which means I start out with a couple of themes and then just work my way through it to the very end. The working routine to get it all done on time is of the upmost importance. Generally I wrote between 8 and14 hours a day with a couple of breaks in between. Basically it was working 10 weeks non-stop. So it’s important that you really like what you do. After almost every hard working day I tried to get out of the house and go out for a walk, have a drink or meet up with friends. They are the best antidote for your own mind that keeps on spinning 24/7 while working on such a demanding project.

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What composers or artists do you think have influenced you in the way that you compose etc?

Without any doubt John Williams. It’s actually his „fault” that I do what I do today. And although he is my biggest hero, I don’t think you will hear a lot of his style actually influencing mine. He is just a league of his own. Other composers such as Danny Elfman, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer to name a few must’ve influence me as a composer in one way or the other.

How many times do you like to see the footage before you begin to work out where the music should be placed or indeed what style of music is required?

Usually I look at it just once very, very carefully. I rarely write something down actually. I like the surprise of it. The more you watch it, the better you memorize it for sure but for me that works against my creativity. I like that first sparkle, that creative fire sort of speak. The more you score, the faster you understand which moments require score and which don’t. Sometimes while writing you feel you’ve entered a moment too late, or stopped too early so that’ll need adjustment. On other occasions it’s the director that will point out certain scenes don’t require music because of a certain reason or vision. Never take it as an insult though. It’s a collaborate effort so any form of input should always be very welcome.

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You utilised a soprano voice in KATTENOOG who was the vocalist ?

That wonderful voice is Judith Rijnveld. Judith was suggested to me by a colleague of mine. Initially the soprano sample wasn’t that bad, but I knew that we could get it much better with a real voice singing. It resulted in a more haunting rendition of that idea for the ‚Opening Titles’

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How do you work out your musical ideas, keyboard?

For these kind of assignments I work on my studio keyboard. I have a grand downstairs which is wonderful of course, but because of the very tight deadlines I instantly play my ideas into the sequencer.

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At what stage of the proceedings on a project do you like to become involved, does it help to have a script or do you prefer to start at the rough cut stage?

With KATTENOOG it all started with a meeting with the director who really wanted to collaborate with me on this project. As soon as I was on board the production assistant delivered the pile of scripts. I read as much as time allowed me and got a general idea of what the story was all about. But as so often with scripts it’s quite surprising the moment you receive a first cut, since it’s totally different than the way you as a reader imagined it. The scripts are interesting to understand the story, but it’s the footage for me that get the creative juices going. At first there were a couple of rough cuts yes on which a lot of the first demo’s were based. After the first couple of episodes I got the locked versions on a tight time roster. Everything beyond this stage is writing, more writing and loads of writing!

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KATTENOOG contained 350 minutes of music how did you decide on which cues to include on the compact disc release ?

That was a tough selection to make for sure. But as the saying goes; it’s killing your darlings. Since it’s a quite melodic score I focused as much as I could on the themes and try to remember on which scenes the themes worked the best music wise. Besides the themes there were a couple of crucial scenes – such as the burning of the witches, Robin discovering her secret powers, the installment of the new order etc… – that I really liked because they were pretty much in the foreground instead of merely supporting underscore. Once I trimmed the amount of music down to a rough hour, the fin tuning began. Shortening certain longer notes to add more musicality to it, compiling a couple of interesting but rather short cues so all of it would add to the overall listening experience. I even went to the extend to have an additional recording for the track ‚Eli the Modern Zombiekiller’. I had a lot of fun writing this tune, and I always had real guitars in my head the moment I wrote it. But due to restrictions of time while working on that episode, the sounds remained sampled. I always sort of regretted I didn’t have the time to actual ask a friend of mine to perform this theme. Luckily I could do this idea justice when the album was announced, so now I have the track on the album the way I intended it to be.
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Was there any temp track used on KATTENOOG to give you an idea of what the producers were looking for musically if so do you find this helpful or distracting ?

Generally with television a lot of attention is given to the first couple of episodes. Once you got the hang of it, and knew what they were after everything just followed the previous thing. But yes, on the first couple of episodes there was temp-music used which most of the times is quite intimidating in a way. You get a temp-score performed with the best players in the world, written by geniuses such as a certain John Williams with a budget a zillion times bigger and…they want you to do just that! But more than the music itself I try to analyse what it is that makes that music match the footage, and try to depict why they chosen this music out of the tons of music out there. I don’t think I need music to understand what they are after; but I know it’s part of the editing process so if it helps the editor it’s fine I guess. I did ask to get the temp music separate from the dialogues so I could mute the temp as I saw fit to let my own creations boil in my head.

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Staying with KATTENOOG you scored all 50 episodes, thats a mammoth undertaking, did you score the episodes in order or were they given to you out of running order?

The majority was in the right order. Just a couple of episodes were altered for reasons of special effects etc… It’s a little bit harder to get your head around it, but on those moments it helps that you’ve read the scripts so you can position yourself within the story.

What do you think is the purpose of music in film ?

For me it enhances the unspoken. It compliments the story, gives the right colors to the setting of the story, it adds an edge to certain acting performances and at his very best it is absolutely silent in moments that speak for itself.

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RICHARD G MITCHELL.

THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED IN 2004 AFTER THE RELEASE OF THE TO KILL A KING SOUNDTRACK. THE TEXT WAS UP UNTIL RECENTLY LOST, I AM PLEASED TO BE ABLE TO INCLUDE THIS HERE FOR YOU TO READ AND HOPEFULLY ENJOY. MANY THANKS TO THE COMPOSER RICHARD G MITCHELL.

MICH6

1] Your latest score is for TO KILL A KING, the production was I understand a troubled one, did this effect your working schedule at all?

In direct answer to your question – “No!” I had already worked with Mike Barker on ‘The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall’ an Ann Bronte BBC period drama starring Rupert Graves and Tara Fitzgerald and a week or two before he started shooting ‘To Kill A King’ , Mike called to ask if I’d be interested in putting some ideas together on spec whilst they were away on location and sent me a script.

There were then indeed the famous money problems as the production attempted to enter the Guiness Book of Records for going bankrupt not once but twice! In the knowledge that I had already spent a great deal of time on a feature film that would possibly not make it to post production, there were actually some positive aspects to the breaks during the shooting schedule , namely that it meant I could spend some time with Mike discussing the creative aspects of the films development at a time when the composer would usually not have much access to the director.

I also used some of the ‘extra time’ experimenting with choral and percussion ideas using the computer in my studio.

2] How much research did you carry out into the music from the period in which the film is set?

I did a lot of research looking for information about the specific styles of unison Psalm singing which I knew Cromwell and his supporters were well documented to have. For example the film opens with the aftermath of the Battle of Naseby & I used the actual text of the Psalms that were actually sung on the way back from that battle as a libretto for the opening to my score. Although I later decided on a perhaps more radical approach, the research definitively gave me the opportunity to get a feel for the period. I also researched other English Puritan music of the 1640s. Initially Mike (the director) and I thought about using a choral score perhaps reinterpreting Puritan music or Scottish Presbyterian Church Music and the like.

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I also found that Cromwell’s troops had burnt many church organs in the name of their cause & he believed any music with harmony or counterpoint was florid, – a kind of ‘back to basics’ ethos. However all sorts of interesting contradictions came to light. Cromwell’s favourite composer was in fact Richard Dering who actually wrote Latin Motets – absolutely full of “florid harmony”. The idea of possibly turning the concept on its head and reinventing a movie about Cromwell for a new generation suddenly excited me. I live in Somerset & Wells Cathedral Choir have a great reputation for being wonderful exponents of early music. The idea of using the innocence of a young treble choral component working against some of the darker aspects of conspiracy in the movie appealed to me greatly.

I then discovered that although Cromwell’s supporters had destroyed Church organs whilst removing much of the ornamentation from churches, when he eventually lived at Hampton Court, he restored the Church organ because he liked the sound of it in his house! ‘Eureka’ – not only did the idealistic Puritanical psalm singing general of the battlefield secretly enjoy the outlawed Catholic “florid mass”, he also had a love of church organ music.

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I decided to make use of these incongruities in moments when the film suggested that Cromwell had become corrupted by power, using a high church Catholic style to mock him. This became the vehicle from which I also built some of the the emotional aspects of the score. Along side the orchestral work, I initially invented my own simple puritan themes of choral music based on the text of the psalms which were later re-arranged with quite heavy percussion elements. One of Mikes main requirements from the score was that he wanted it to do more than simply give a feel of the period, he wanted as with all the various production elements of the movie to put a contemporary spin on the subject.

Having paved the way at Wells Cathedral with Malcolm Archer, the Choir Master, about the availability of working with them, I also expressed a desire to take a slightly unusual approach to recording, given that with Digital recording you no longer need to record in a linear fashion and can indeed cut and paste whole parts of arrangements into one another if you design your Lego kit with enough foresight. The Choir and orchestra were recorded separately at different venues and I recorded the brass parts in the same room as the strings but at the end of the session on their own, which I feel leaves you a lot more options in the final mix when these days the picture is often still being cut after the session players have all gone home. Also I like to experiment with stuff in isolation later that you may not get the option of trying because of the lack of separation in mic placement if you go for one big session.

3] The last movie I recall that dealt with this subject was CROMWELL, composer Frank Cordell had real problems creating the style or sound that he thought was correct,did you have any real headaches on TO KILL A KING?

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After initially trawling through the various musical styles of our country in the 1640’s I must admit to taking a peak at Ken Hughes 1970 Cromwell movie with Alec Guiness & Richard Harris and indeed the Frank Cordell score was built around a very appropriate singing style that was very true to the subject but was in my opinion working so hard at creating a kind of musical document that related specifically to the period, it left you feeling very hung out to dry emotionally. It was obviously an approach that was motivated by very different sensibilities & related to the film makers demands when the movie was made.

That’s what for me is the great challenge of working on classic stories, we continue to reinvent and see new aspects of a story for each successive new generation.

4] You utilised the Japanese bamboo flute within your score, which was very effective, what gave you the idea to use this?

Having been a great admirer of the Shakuhachi, I knew that rather than just being a beautiful romantic sounding instrument it can also be very percussive and angry. It can turn from a sonorus full blown vibrato clarinet type quality into a flute and then a spitting, hissing viper in a matter of seconds. The Shakuhachi in its work a day clothing looks like some sort of plumbing implement, only possessing several holes and yet a skilled player manipulates it through various tones in a way that seems impossible given its limited number of holes.

It’s capable of the most beautiful melodic things but then also all the weird stuff in that I wanted for our movie. I knew that the character of Lady Fairfax in the movie was to have a strength of character as well as beauty & the shak moves effortlessly across those emotions.

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5] How much music did you compose for the film?

I was very lucky in that we incorporated all of the main themes that were composed and I produced around one hour five minutes to picture. Having run through the movie in its final dubbed state, we came to the unanimous decision that given the nature of the mix, ie. the music was a very dominant part of the dub level wise, the score would work with a higher emotional impact if we lost around five minutes.

It’s so wonderful to be given the opportunity to score a movie where the music is given such prominence and yet doesn’t start to wash over you like musical polyfilla because there’s too much of it! I think the amount of music was just right on this movie. I remember a film where about eighty five minutes of score ended up in a ninety minute movie – needless to say that production had problems. I know the temptation is to use more and more music but eventually that becomes very counter productive.

6] What size orchestra did you use on the score?

I had around fifty four strings (of which I think we had eighteen celli for the richer cello based theme pieces) a French horn section, a couple of harps, timps, a clarinet and of course the Shakuhachi.

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7] Do you have any input into what cues from any of your scores go onto a CD release?

I was given total free rain on this album as I re-mixed and produced whatever I felt made a nice album. The movie publishers simply paid for the pressing, then left it entirely up to me how mixed everything right down to the track order. It was great being given the opportunity to revisit the mix with a different perspective, i.e. dialogue or f/x levels sometimes change the way you mix a score for the 5.1 that might sound unnatural when you later re-work it for a straight forward stereo CD & I think it’s interesting how the mix of the music is affected by the colours on the screen:

Wierd theory of Mitchell Acoustics No 1. – I believe that if you give someone the job of mixing what they perceive to be the same mix and in turn get them to re-mix this whilst watching a huge coloured screen full of firstly yellow, then re-mix whilst watching blue, then red ….. I have an idea that if you play back each of those tracks in a neutral white room later, the mixes will all sound different!

8] Where and when were you born?

Manchester 1956

9] What musical education did you receive?

I had a Grammar School education in Lancashire during the early 1970s where I did all the usual ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels with the intention of becoming an Architect. Apart from an ‘O’ level in music and lessons in piano, violin and classical guitar, I had no formal music training. I was driven by an obsession for music of all sorts but it wasn’t until later that I realised an application. The only respectable career advice at school was that if you had academic potential with some creative leaning, you still had to find some sort of professional purpose in life. I was accepted by London University to do a degree in Architecture but then failed an ‘A’ level – probably because I was spending too much time at home experimenting with synthesizers and tape machines instead of swatting for exams. Also at that time I was playing guitar and keyboards in various local bands.

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So as a professional failure at the age of 18, I made a decision to turn away from a traditional academic vocation and try a foundation course at the local Art School in Preston, which changed my whole outlook. I discovered that the arts had been busy moving forwards into all sorts of interesting areas during the 20th century, when at school we’d been told nothing of any serious cultural value had taken place after the start of the century!

I was accepted by St Martins School of Art in London for their Fine Art degree course as a painter and I began to develop relationships with all sorts of wonderful folk there; installation artists, sculptors in multimedia and fine art filmmakers to name but a few. I soon stopped painting and found myself experimenting with soundscapes for other students work. My personal tutors were Malcolm Le Grice and William Raeburn who were two of the main figures of the avant-garde fine art film movement in London at that time. Malcolm had worked with people like Brian Eno. I was introduced to a whole new world, one being the London Filmmakers Co-Op where a diverse range of experimental work and diary films were being produced.

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I soon realised that what really excited me was working as a musical collaborator with other filmmakers. I spent much of my time whilst technically a student at St Martins actually moonlighting with students at the National Film School and Royal College Film & Television School, experimenting with music and picture. That was my “eureka” moment.

Bill Foulk another tutor and great mentor at St Martins was making a ‘no’ budget movie with some cheap Kodak film stock he’d been given that was about to go out of date. So a bunch of us spent a summer shooting Beastly Treatment. It starred, amongst others, a great actor called Ronald Lacey (who sadly died recently but was perhaps best known for his fantastic role as the horrible Nazi bad guy in Spielberg’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark). We then spent on and off about two years in post-production where as well as doing most of the sound editing, I scored my first movie.

10] Do you orchestrate all your own music, or at times do you use orchestrators?

I write and arrange all the parts into separate lines: 1st Violins, 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos etc on Logic Software and Pete Whitfield, my musical associate takes my midi files and checks the score is all legible. For example a lot of the string work in this score, has weird harmonics and notes with sliding pitches etc & Pete has a genius for interpreting the hieroglyphics and making sure the musicians can actually make sense of what I’m trying to do. My score writing is appalling and Pete and I have worked together for many years, so I trust him implicitly & we’ve never employed orchestrators – although I guess if one day we’re really up against a series of stupid deadlines, there may well no choice; “never say – never”! Pete also enables the transposition of all the parts for violas, brass etc. Although the software available for composers to print out score from MIDI parts is now readily available, I would never allow a note to be output from a score program that Pete hadn’t checked through.

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I live in Somerset and Pete lives in Manchester so I send him Midi files with all the tempo changes and notes laid out in Key Edit by e-mail which is fantastic. When we turned up to the session for both the orchestra & choral stuff Pete had everything prepared, printed out and ready to go.

11] What or who would you say are your biggest influences musically?

I love all sorts of styles of music Jazz, Classical, Drum and Bass, etc including Messiaen, Bach, Arvo Pärt, Keith Jarret, Vaughan Williams, King Crimson, Ravi Shankar, Brian Eno, Elgar, Shoenberg, Radiohead, Josquin de Pres, John Tavener, Stravinsky , Elgar, Bjork, The Beatles, Miles Davis, Stockhausen, Cream, Hendrix, Ronnie Size, Ennio Morricone, John Barry (to name but a few.)

12] What would you say were the differences between scoring a TV project and a motion picture?

There are many obvious technical differences relating to this question but perhaps I could take issue with an aspect of this question that saddens me. Television music in the UK is in my opinion absolutely abysmal at the moment. Because of the nature of television post-production schedules today, there is never enough time to spend on dubbing compared to movies. So, I think today the composers are too often put in a position of “blanket bombing”. When the post-production sound effects are very often put together during the final day of mixing and dialogue doesn’t get any thing like the attention from post sync that it used to, music has become a kind of polyfilla to seamlessly join together sequences of dialogue.

There are rarely musical scenes left without dialogue in English TV and by the time all the execs have watched an interesting ‘speechless’ scene that perhaps the director intended eventually to work as a musical piece, the scene is cut because it’s “not saying anything”!

Another example of music really suffering these days, is when a piece which has been composed under the premise that it will be a dominant part of the mix is often later mixed too low because there is a problem with a loud atmos sync sound effect track that everyone thought was going to be fixed at the dub and yet an ambient piece that the composer intended to sit quietly as a bit of musical atmos under a scene can suddenly be the only last minute way to save some problematic sound f/x effect track and will get mixed in at ridiculously high volume that sounds like the composer has written something wrong.

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So television composer solution number one:- “Blanket Bombing.” Just make sure that you have enough musical polyfilla laid up to seamlessly cover all possible cracks! The television composer’s work has become a kind of fall back secondary atmosphere effects track. The care and attention that television producers now pay to the music is absolutely zilch.

There isn’t even the space at the end of a UK television show for a good theme anymore because broadcasters simply use the credit sequences to advertise other shows . I think we’ve finally reached crisis point here where new television theme compilation albums will become a thing of the past. I’m sorry if this sounds very negative but we have to stand up and shout “enough is enough”!

13] Do you conduct at all?

I don’t conduct because I’m usually worried about how the score’s working with the picture in the control room; ongoing discussions with the director and a million other things to worry about. On this occasion we had Nick Ingman in to conduct who was wonderful. It’s a very personal thing and I know a lot of composers feel they are missing something if they don’t get up on the podium.

Let me give you an example of how I feel about the ‘conducting thing’ – Whilst we were recording the orchestra for one of the pivotal scenes in the movie where Rupert Everett as King Charles I is being executed, Mike suddenly had an issue with some aspect of the piece & we quickly found that there was something about the solo violin part that he didn’t like. By the time we got to the end of the first take, we had it nailed and the wonderful Gavin Wright (orchestra leader) was given a note to slightly change the vibrato style of his playing away from the way I’d suggested it & we were quickly through to the next cue without wasting valuable time. I think that if I’d been conducting that would have been 15 valuable minutes wasted which we didn’t have the time to lose.

Working with English movie music budgets is a real race against the clock & my take on it is that it’s also very useful input – to have an extra pair of hands and ears for some objective perspective. Nick continually made suggestions about things that I’m too close to have considered and is an extra member batting for the home team. By the time you get to the point where you are going to the session, you know every single note so intimately and the way it works up and down with the dialogue and everything. Nick can look at it with fresh eyes & often give you invaluable objective input about dynamics.

Concert wise, I’ve never conducted at Film Music Evenings because I must admit to a slight aversion to the idea of such events! I think that a lot of composers scores may work very well in the context of a movie but many simply come across as cheesy pieces of late 19th century classical music when performed out of context. I’ve always thought we should push the envelope slightly with our approach to use of musical styles in movie scores and am disappointed by most of the film music concert programs.

14] When working on a score, do you have a set routine i.e.: main theme to end titles, larger cues first etc, or does it vary in each case.

I must admit that each case is always different but I will usually start to assemble my jigsaw puzzle with composition of all the main themes. Once you have those approved and in place, you can move forward with great confidence. Also the end credits is almost without exception the last thing to happen!

15] How early do you like to be involved on a project, do you like to see a script, or do you prefer to wait until the film is in its rough cut stage.

I really without exception prefer to be involved at the script stage.

16] What is next for you.

I’m just finishing a movie called Grand Theft Parsons starring Johnny Knoxville (yes he can act & rather well in fact!) directed by David Caffrey and produced by Frank Mannion. It’s a wonderful story about the funeral of Gram Parsons who was a member of The Byrds, and whose body when he died of a drug overdose in 1973, was stolen from LA airport by his road manager, then after the most extraordinary list of events was taken in an old broken down hearse into the desert and burned by in Joshua Tree.

JOHN MANSELL (C) 2009/2016.

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