Kronos records have in a relatively short period of time established themselves as purveyors of quality soundtrack releases, plus they have in recent months entered into a partnership with another well respected record label Movie Score Media who like Kronos are committed to the release of quality products and strive to bring to the attention of the film music collecting community new and exciting music from near unknown composers and also established ones as well. Kronos began a special series called the GOLD COLLECTION which is a series of releases dedicated to Italian film music and they have already released a number of desirable and out of print scores within this series. LA VITA MICHELANGELO is amongst the next batch of releases, a TV series from 1964, the score by Bruno Nicolai, was previously released on long playing record on Bruno Nicolai’s own label EDI-PAN which contained 21 tracks, which are featured here in the same order as the original vinyl. Plus for this CD edition, Kronos have unearthed another 33 minutes of music from the mini series that starred Gian Maria Volonte and was aired by RAI with directorial duties being undertaken by Silverio Blasi. The series which was aired in three episodes had actor Volonte taking the title role of the Tuscan artist, and it was a kind of dramatised documentary in many ways. The music that Nicolai penned for the series is stunning, it is almost serene sounding in places with emotive strings and triumphant brass flourishes ushering in an even more emotion laden work which in my opinion is one of Nicolai’s finest works for TV and cinema. The compact disc opens with MICHELANGELO, this is a somewhat sombre and low key opening, with subdued percussion underlined by serious but melodic sounding strings, the percussion soon melts away and the strings begin to introduce the central theme for the score, at first gently and in a somewhat fragile fashion, but after a short while it gradually begins to build to become a slow and emotive piece that is midway through joined by a gentle percussion beat, which serves as punctuation. Track number two, RUSTICA, is a pleasant and easy sounding period piece performed on woodwind and laced with feint sounding strings that add a little more depth and substance to the proceedings. Track number three, PASTORALE 1, is a charming and gently absorbing composition introduced by half heard horn and then performed by woodwind that is supported and embellished by light touches of harp and underlined by pale but affecting strings all of which create a melancholy and calming atmosphere. Track number 7, L’AURORA, is an attractive and haunting piece, the composer utilising heart rending solo viola and slow supporting strings to introduce the composition, the viola is then replaced by a light and delicate oboe which carries the theme through to the tracks conclusion enhanced by harp and passive strings.


bruno 2
Bruno Nicolai.

Track number eight, Savonarola, is an imposing church organ led cue, with muted brass adding their weight and creating an almost majestic and majestic feel to the composition. At times it is very easy to forget that one is listening to Bruno Nicolai, because the composer achieves a style and a sound that is very reminiscent of Miklos Rozsa and in particular his epic score for BEN HUR, the composer bringing into the equation, grand sounding brass, sweeping strings and rumbling percussion, this is particularly evident in track number twelve I DANNATI which is a triumphant and jubilant celebratory composition, filled with power, emotion and has to it an lavish and lush persona. This style of scoring reasserts itself on a number of occasions within the score and at times the LOVE THEME from BEN HUR or the fragile and emotive THE MOTHERS LOVE theme is brought to mind. The score also has certain affiliations with the style of Nino Rota, but there are the unmistakable musical trademarks of Nicolai throughout making this a must have for any serious collector of Italian film music I cannot recommend this grand and impressive work highly enough.




Winifred Phillips.

You have just had your book A COMPOSERS GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC published and I can see its selling well, what made you decide to write this and how long did it take to write the book?

It was actually my music producer Winnie Waldron’s idea – she suggested that I should write a book about game music.  This was right around the time when I was finishing up work on my contribution to the music of Little Big Planet for the PS Vita, over two years ago.  I didn’t take the suggestion seriously at first, but I did think about it for a while.  I flipped through some game audio books I owned, to see if I had anything to offer that hadn’t already been said.  Game music is a complex subject, with a lot of ground to cover, and it turned out that there were significant subjects that hadn’t really been discussed yet.  That’s what made me decide to write the book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.  From there, it took me about a year and nine months from start to finish.

Your credits for all types of games, TV shows and movies are numerous, was writing for film etc something that you were always attracted to?

379606_10151598244846236_1239147308_nAbsolutely! I’ve wanted to be a composer for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always admired the music in films and television shows, so that was what I wanted to do.  Composing music for games didn’t occur to me right away, but I’d been an avid gamer ever since I was a kid. Games are so incredibly imaginative and adventurous, and they have always captured my imagination. When the idea finally occurred to me that I could write music for games, I was certain that I wanted to pursue game music as a career.

What if any are the differences between scoring a movie and writing the soundtrack for a game, is the process longer or more complicated when scoring a video game?

Yes, it can be much more complex and lengthy.  While a film will last ninety or a hundred and twenty minutes, a game can last for dozens of hours. Often, a game will require music that can adapt to the state of game play, which means that the music needs to be composed in component parts that can be assembled and disassembled by the game depending on what’s happening in the game at the time.  Composing for other media (such as film or TV) really doesn’t prepare a composer for the task of composing for games.  It’s a completely different process.


How many times do you like to watch a game project before you can start work on the score?

I’ll either watch game play videos many times (I’m not sure how many) or I’ll actually play the game while development is in-progress.  The game at this point will be an incomplete version called a ‘build,’ and it usually doesn’t reflect the way the final game will look and how it will play.  However, the experience of playing the game that you’re going to be scoring is tremendously helpful.  When that isn’t possible, game play video can be a useful substitute, and I’ll watch lots of game play videos to get a feel for what the experience of playing the game will be like.

I think your work on video games stands out so much because it is original and also your music seems to flow naturally with other elements such as the sound design and the fx etc, do you work closely with the sound design department etc to achieve this?

1441557_10151916501226236_1887518852_n It depends on the preferred working methods of the development team.  Sometimes I’ll be able to listen to the sound design and aural fx while I’m composing, but sometimes those elements will be added after I’m finished composing the score.  In those cases, I try to imagine what the game world will sound like, what sorts of sound effects may be happening during game play.  The documentation created by the development team usually fills in a lot of detail about the game environment, and that provides a lot of fuel for my imagination. I discuss this sort of documentation in my book, as well as the types of communication that a composer has with the development team in order to more fully envision the world that the team is creating.


You have worked on a number of projects for RADIO TALES, is the scoring process any different when you are working in radio and how did you become involved on these?



Radio Tales was my first gig as a professional composer.  Winnie Waldron, who was the producer, script editor and host of that series for National Public Radio, hired me to create music for the project.  The series adapted classic science fiction, fantasy and horror stories for the radio, so in a way, it was a great training ground for my subsequent work as a game composer.  In radio, a musical score needs to accomplish many things that are not required of a television and film score.  In the absence of visual content, the music of a radio drama needs to help the listener to create a mental picture of the action of the story. There can’t be anything in the score that doesn’t ignite the correct mental imagery, so a composer has to be especially careful regarding instrument choices and musical structure.  It’s a fairly exacting standard, and that helped to prepare me for the artistic and technical challenges that I’d face when I crossed over into video game composition.  Both disciplines are complex and challenging in ways that distinguish them from music for more traditional entertainment media such as television and film.


Winnie Waldron and Winifred Phillips.

You have worked with Winnie Waldron on numerous projects, has she produced all of your video game scores and did you both move into the video game world?

We started working together on the Radio Tales series, and when the opportunity came to join the music team for God of War and compose some tracks for the game, I asked Winnie Waldron to come with me and produce my music for the video game industry.  We’ve been working in the game industry ever since.  It’s been an exciting and tremendously fulfilling career, and I’m glad that I can now share what I’ve learned over the years in my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.


Winifred’s  book A COMPOSERS GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC is a fascinating read that is filled with so much information.

it is available now.