ATLI Örvarsson talking about MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.


You recently completed THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS-CITY OF BONES, and I understand there are six novels in the series; the second movie is already in pre production, how did you become involved on the movie?

– I actually ran into the director, Harald Zwart, at the premiere for my last film, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and he expressed an interest in me taking this one on with him.

What size orchestra and choir did you utilize for the score, and did you use any specialist instruments or soloists?

– The orchestra and choir were about 90 pieces and I used all kinds of special instruments ranging from bass duduk to the viol, which actually plays a pretty big role in the score.

The soundtrack album will be issued on MILAN records shortly, have you been involved with the sequencing of the soundtrack and also what cues will be included etc?

Yes, I did the sequencing of it myself and decided to completely disregard the order of the cues in the film and simply make the most listenable album I could.

I have been lucky enough to hear just two cues from the score, CLARYS THEME which is very lush and romantic sounding and also THE CLAVES CURSE, which is certainly epic and full of drama in it’s sound and style, when you begin work on a score do you like to start with a central theme and build the remainder of the score around it, or do you begin with smaller cues firstly?

– My mantra is that there’s a big difference between writing music and writing cues.  I believe that for the cues to be built on a strong foundation you must have your themes and musical ideas worked out before scoring the picture.  Of course, that’s plan A and there are exceptions but I usually want to start that way.


At what stage of proceedings did you become involved on THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, and did the director Harald Zwart have a hands on attitude to the style of music and where it would be placed etc?

I came in quite late and had about 2 months to do the score which meant that there wasn’t much time to let ideas gestate.  Harald is the kind of director who loves music and he was very hands on which was great.

You recorded the score at Abbey Road, do you have any personal preferences as to where a score is recorded and why, and how many sessions did it take to record the score?

There are great players and great places to record in both London and Los Angeles.  Abbey Road has a wonderfully rich history and very beautiful ambient acoustics which I thought would fit nicely for this score.  We recorded the score in two sets of sessions, the first one was four days and the second was three days.

Did you conduct the score and do you conduct all of your film scores, or are there some where you have used a conductor and supervised from the recording booth, likewise do you orchestrate your scores?

– I did conduct this score.  I have only recently started conducting and find that it’s something I enjoy very much.  I feel that there’s a different relationship with the musicians when you’re out there with them than in the recording booth.  That does have its advantages too though so I might go back and forth but at the moment I’m really enjoying conducting.  Orchestration is a bit different than it used to be because nowadays, at least the way I work, the music is mocked up so extensively that it’s almost fully orchestrated as it is being programmed.  Having said that, I worked with a brilliant orchestrator, Julian Kershaw, on this film and when he extracts my sketches into a written score it adds another level of quality to the music.


How many times do you like to watch a movie before you get a more or less fixed idea about what music you will write and where you think it would be best placed to serve the picture, obviously use MORTAL INSTRUMENTS as an example?

– I didn’t have a whole lot of time to watch the film before I got started!  I did watch it a few times to get familiar with it and get a feel for the tone but I more or less had to just jump in and start writing!  One thing I have learned though is that it’s very important to keep watching the film as a whole, or at least big chunks of it, as you’re scoring to get a good feel for the overall arch of the score.  In a way, be mindful of the both the forest and the trees.

As this is the first in a possible series of movies, do you think you will be involved with the other films if and when they are made?

– I certainly would love to be invited back!


The soundtrack compact disc will be released on Milan records on August 20th.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s