KAUFMAN’S GAME.

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One of the latest releases from the Movie Score Media label is KAUFMAN’S GAME by composer Philippe Jakko. This is in my opinion an accomplished work, which is tense and brooding throughout, it has to it a harrowing and taught persona with an atmosphere and sense of foreboding around every corner. The composer very cleverly orchestrates and arranges the score, using a mix of symphonic and synthetic styles both of which fuse seamlessly together to fashion and yield some interesting musical moments. KAUFMAN’S GAME is not a score filled with lush themes or subtle tone poems, although it does still include thematic material that develops as the work unfolds or comes from out of nowhere within a cue that is largely atonal in its makeup, the composer establishing a brief tranquil moment within an atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty and thus highlighting a moment within the movie that maybe takes audiences by surprise because of the way in which it has been scored. But for the majority of its running time it is a tense affair that is riddled with sounds both musical and otherwise that meld together to create a rich dark mood, that tantalises and intrigues the listener. The music for the film is filled with a shadowy ambience, that the composer employs wonderfully throughout, his music is filled with colours and textures that conjure up an unsettling feeling, he also utilises the leit motive method to great effect, and we have themes or sounds for certain characters within the storyline. These are hints of themes and fragments of melodies, which wander in and out of the proceedings and do not out stay their welcome. I love scores such as this, and this is a work that is an incredibly rewarding listening experience, the composer building certain sections of the score with layers of sounds which slowly intertwine and then melt into each other. KAUFMAN’S GAME has a maturity to it and a sharpness, it is an alluring and haunting work that I am confident you will enjoy.

 

 

THE COMPOSER ON THE SCORE.

MMI. The score for KAUFMANS GAME is a harrowing one, and oozes tension and anxiety, but I also noticed that you managed to Develop fragments of themes and include motifs throughout, the cue THE BOXER for example, suddenly yields a wonderful short lived themeatic moment, are themes important to you within a score?

 

P.J. Exactly, it’s fragments of themes/melodies which I used as leit motiv It was a technique which appeared in late XIXe operas especially Wagner and Debussy. Why? Because it was a narrative way to characterise ideas, characters … without being too obvious. This is what I needed in Kaufman s game – classic long and developed themes didn’t work with the film – something more mysterious, eerie was better – and I didn’t want to do like tv series electro/ ambient composer are doing often nowadays: just texture, ambiance without theme. The leit motive technique is perfect for that but as far as I know , composers don’t use it really or are not aware of it , or don’t know history of music enough maybe … anyway , so there are two leit motiv in that film : the soft piano in quick arpeggio ( start of the boxer / Stanley in the building / / start of Kaufman / Stanley on the bridge.It’s Stanley leit motiv : it expresses his tormented personality , he is a kind of lost guy , not bad but one who is looking for a path. The second leit motiv is the electro bass we hear this more or less every time we see the Mafia guys on screen, or the music is used to suggest that they are around in a similar way in which John Williams utilised his shark theme in JAWS.

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MMI. Did the director have any fixed ideas about the music?

 

P.J. I scored the film three years ago now, it was a young director, a student movie, and it took three years to find a distribution company.

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MMI. Is the score totally electronic or fusion of both symphonic and synthetic?

P.J. There is a small twenty-five-piece orchestra, with the bass being the vintage MOOG synth, and a couple of electronic sounds like analog pads for example to get the atmospheric sounds, but it has real orchestra, real cello performances by my good friend Eve Marie from the LSO. There is also Cristal Baschet sounds as well, I love weird ambiances, I was Taught by Pierre Boulez at IRCAM music research centre in Paris when I was a student, don’t misunderstand me, I love melodies too, but this movie did not need them.

JAKKO

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DEADPOOL 2.

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I suppose it was inevitable, yes, It’s here, DEADPOOL 2. Again, we fight the good fight or not so good fight with this highly controversial and foul mouthed super hero. On this second outing the musical score is taken care of by Tyler Bates, which I suppose is slightly less disappointing than it being Junkie XL. (or is it?) But wait do I hear a hint of the style of another Tyler in the opening track, yes, I certainly do X MEN ARRIVE is most definitely got leanings towards something that could be Brian Tyler or even John Debney from both of those composers IRON MAN scores. Ok lets just move on shall we, next track FIGHTING DIRTY, ummmm yep, there it is again, Tyler raising his head within the Bates penned cue, choir and booming percussion working alongside brass and driving strings, not sure what the choir are actually singing here, it all gets a little tangled and muddled. I think what I am saying is, if you buy the score for DEADPOOL 2, expecting something that is different or even slightly original, well wow, are you going to be disappointed and maybe you, like I will think didn’t Bates get into hot water once before for a score sounding like something else. I am not saying that DEADPOOL 2, is not a high octane score or even a damp squib of an offering, it’s just, well, it could be IRON MAN, IRON MAN 2, or even well, IRON MAN 3, and maybe THOR all ‘a Tyler as well. The theme that is belted out during the obviously high action scenes resembles the central theme written by Brian Tyler a few years back for the IRON MAN pictures. So yes, it’s good, but where is Brian Tyler credited???? OK,  go to track number 3, HELLO SUPER POWERS, (why Hi there how ya doing?). OK, listen, powerful stuff yes? Good, however I don’t want to be a kill joy or anything like that, But, now let’s go to, IRON MAN 3, and take a listen to the theme, Yep, so you noticed it too….(you have a good ear). Thought so very similar isn’t it, in fact I mixed the two tracks and it was so simple to do because they were almost identical, Oh dear Mr Bates…this could be a tricky. Apart from the obvious similarities between the scores I have mentioned, DEADPOOL 2, is not a bad sounding work, it is robust and action led, and also has a number of tracks that contain choral work, some of which is as irreverent as the central character himself, in the form of HOLY Sxxx BALLS and YOU CANT STOP THIS MOTHER FXXXXX. (wash your mouth out Mr Bates).  I can’t say to you this is brilliant this is great, because it really is not, but I suppose it’s another example of superhero or Marvel character movies being uniform and at times uninspiring. Saying that if you like the Hussle, bustle and tussle of action cues that are relentless and rely a lot on the repeat instruction from the composer and a mish mash of electronic percussion and droning or high pitched stabs, it may be for you. You, might like it all down to personal taste or lack of it I suppose. A case of the film being more exciting than the score here, which is a turn up for the comic book, notice I did not say a case of the film being better than the score, I wont go there even. Not for me I am afraid, as I already have the IRON MAN scores thanks.

SOLO-A STAR WARS STORY.

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Well at last SOLO a STAR WARS STORY has landed, not managed to see the movie yet, but the score by composer John Powell is in my opinion just great. It is filled with so many high-octane themes and great action pieces its hard to stop listening as it is a constant and relentless musical onslaught in a nice way. The composer keeps faithful the sound that we associate already with anything STAR WARS related, set pieces that are filled with proud and anthem like brass flourishes, booming percussion and racing and driving strings that carry the remainder of the orchestra along on the crest of an asteroid field never stopping, dodging, diving, zooming, rolling and blasting its way through establish itself as a score that is unstoppable. This I have to say is a soundtrack that is just a pure delight, it is sheer entertainment, just sit back listen and be transported to another world, a world that is jam packed to the overflowing with action, action and yes more action. Powell as I have already said stays true to the spirit of STAR WARS and weaves into his score several familiar themes written by John Williams, but he also lays the foundations of the work with his own style and musical fingerprint. I love the way that Powell employs percussion, it has to it an almost pop orientated sound, also he adds to this the symphonic and familiar orchestral style that we as collectors have come to know and love within the scores of Mr Williams for the franchise. Dark and threatening strings drive the work onwards in places and add a sinister and almost malevolent atmosphere to the proceedings. Powell is I have to say at home scoring an all action movie, but he also provides the picture with music that can turn in an instant and become romantic, melancholy and beautifully tragic, perfectly setting the tone and creating the right atmosphere for the story that is unfolding. Each cue is a delight, is a great fulfilling listen that is not only inspiring but is exciting and enjoyable. This is one for the collection, do not hesitate, go buy this NOW, highlight cues are, ALL OF THEM.

 

1.
The Adventures of Han (John Williams)
3:47
2.
Meet Han
2:18
3.
Corellia Chase
3:32
4.
Spaceport
4:05
5.
Flying With Chewie
3:28
6.
Train Heist
4:46
7.
Marauders Arrive
5:13
8.
Chicken In The Pot
2:07
9.
Is This Seat Taken?
2:34
10.
L3 & Millennium Falcon
3:15
11.
Lando’s Closet
2:11
12.
Mine Mission
4:09
13.
Break Out
6:13
14.
The Good Guy
5:23
15.
Reminiscence Therapy
6:11
16.
Into The Maw
4:47
17.
Savareen Stand-Off
4:24
18.
Good Thing You Were Listening
2:06
19.
Testing Allegiance
4:19
20.
Dice and Roll

WALT BEFORE MICKEY.

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In recent years music in movies has sadly in many people’s opinion been lacking in any themeatic content, the drone sound or the “Sound Design” being utilised in so many productions, the score becoming just a noise or a sound that has no direction and never seems to develop beyond anything other than a monotonous “DRONING” on the soundtrack, some like this style and approach, but the majority loathe it, (I loathe it). WALT BEFORE MICKEY is I am pleased to say something of an oddity in the category of recent film scores, because it has such a richness and wonderfully infectious and haunting themeatic aura to it. Released in 2015, WALT BEFORE MICKEY is an independent biographical drama that covers the early days of Walt Disney, the score contains mesmerising and affecting themes that tantalise and enthral the listener and on each return listen one hears a hint of a theme or a melody that maybe they had not noticed before. The score is the work of young composer Jeremy Rubolino, who has written numerous scores for documentaries and shorts, and has recently completed the music for THE LITTLE MERMAID which should be released on August 17th. The score for WALT BEFORE MICKEY opens with a lilting tone poem that commences with piano and added to this are woodwind, strings and trumpet, it is an American sounding piece that could easily be mistaken for Randy Newman or Mark McKenzie or even for the romantic and melodic work of British born composer Rachel Portman, as in THE CIDER HOUSE RULES. His music for this movie is so emotional and filled with a fragility that one cannot fail to be attracted to. The entire score has such a charming and delicately melancholy sound to it throughout, and it is a score that is simply overflowing with strong themes that are poignant and emotive. The soundtrack is piano led, which at times is the foundation on which the composer begins to build his affecting themes, introducing harp, strings, brass and woodwind, the delicate sounding piano solos at times introducing hints of themes that are then taken on by strings and developed further by the use of the woodwind and punctuated by harp that is further augmented by pizzicato and a childlike chime. Which adds a sense of wonderment and magic to the proceedings. If you love romantic and melodious film music then this is for you, this is a composer who seems to have listened to what we I suppose refer to as old fashion film scores and taken his cue from them, creating a rich and gorgeous collection of themes that tug at the heart strings and play with the emotions and stand alone as just music as well as acting as support for the movie itself. Please check it out, you will not be disappointed.

INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER, IAN ARBER.

 

Ian Arber is a film and television composer, known for his work on “I Am Bolt” (2016), “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015), “My Name Is Lenny” (2017) and BBC2’s comedy “Quacks” (2017). Ian is an emerging talent in the film music world. With a growing portfolio of work across a variety of genres, Ian is bringing a fresh and unique compositional style to each project…

 

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I know you started in music from the age of five, so what are your earliest memories of any music?

 

I began playing cello at age 5. My earliest memories of music were certainly around this time period, I used to play in very young orchestras when I was 7/8 years old. I remember being fascinated by instruments, and wanted to build a collection. I had a bass guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, cello and piano before the age of 10.

 

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What musical studies did you undertake?

I studied cello through my whole childhood, earning grade 8 in my teens. I studied piano from 10, then began to produce music later in my teens. At university I studied Music Technology which focussed on music production, orchestration and composition.

Were you always drawn to TV or film music, or was this something that just happened as you experimented with performing and composing?
I was obsessed with movies, and movie music as a kid. Ever since seeing E.T. I was fascinated in what music could do to picture. It wasn’t until university that I really understood what it took to make a career as a film and TV composer. I would say that I have always been drawn to working in music, and that film was a passion I wanted to pursue in combination.

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You worked as Joe Kraemer’s assistant on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION, what was your duties as assistant on this?

Cheerleader. Friend. No, seriously.. I guess doing what I could to allow Joe to focus on the creative aspects of the scoring process. On such a huge movie with intense deadlines, it was important to support Joe to allow him to focus on the music.

 

 

You collaborated with Ron Scalpello the director on MY NAME IS LENNY, did he have any specific instructions or ideas concerning what style of music he though the film needed?
I loved working with Ron. He had a very clear, and collaborative approach to the Lenny score. The basic idea was for the score to represent the trauma of Lenny’s past, and building uncontrollable anger within as a result. So the score is very sound-design heavy at parts, and builds throughout to disturbing and claustrophobic climaxes. We also wanted to incorporate the sound or feeling of punching in the percussion for some of the fight scenes. I actually ended up recording the sound of myself punching my studio sofa, and layering this in with the percussion.

How many players did you use on MY NAME IS LENNY?

 
One. Just me. We didn’t have the budget for an orchestra, and most of the score is distorted cello, piano and bass and electric guitar, all of which I performed live.

So you perform on your score, your scores, and do you conduct at all?
I perform on every score. Even if it’s just layering some cello ambience or percussion on top of samples to bring them to life. On the BBC series ‘Quacks’ I performed every instrument in an almost fully live score. A large selection of percussion and props from the show, cello, violin, guitars and a plucked piano.

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You have worked on many documentaries, I AM BOLT and MO FARAH RACE OF HIS LIFE, come to mind straight away, is it more difficult working on a documentary as opposed to writing a score for a feature film?

I haven’t actually worked on a huge amount.. Perhaps 3 or 4, but generally I love working on cinematic documentaries. I Am Bolt and Mo Farah were both very cinematic and required “big” scores. It can be tricky to work on a documentary, as generally there is a lot of dialogue, and not a lot of room for a melody. But in the case of these 2, there was plenty of space for thematic writing.

Did you have any say in compiling what music went onto the MY NAME IS LENNY and I AM BOLT soundtrack releases?
Yes I put together the tracks/suits for soundtrack release, in collaboration with the label. They sometimes suggest an order change or to perhaps remove or add another track.

 

Are there any composers from film music and other genres of music that you feel have influenced you?


Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, John Williams, Joe Kraemer, Muse, Radiohead.. to name a few.

You worked on all 6 episodes of QUACKS for TV, is it demanding for the composer working on a series?

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Yes, the whole of series 1! 🙂 – It can be, deadlines in TV can be very tight. I was scoring an episode a week at some stage on Quacks. I’m currently working on season 2 of Netflix show ‘Medici: Lorenzo the Magnificent’ and it is a lot of music, to be written in a short amount of time. So it’s important to keep writing and stay on top of deadlines.

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What was your first scoring assignment, and how did you become involved on the project?
My first project was scoring a short film for a good friend and very talented director, Matt Campbell. I think I may have dropped him a message on facebook with my portfolio back in 2009 and we hit it off. I’ve scored 3 or 4 of his films since then.

For you what is the best time to become involved on a movie, do you start at the rough-cut stage and spot the movie with the director or producer or are you given a script?
It differs from project to project. The best time, for me, is to be hired during filming, when they have some rough footage from the shoot. Ideally you’re working with some picture, and have enough time to experiment and come up with some ideas before the edit starts. Deadlines suddenly become tight after the locked cut, so ideally I’m on board a good amount of time before then.

 

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Is it hard to break into writing for film and TV?

Very… There’s no right way into the industry. You have to create your own network and make your own luck.

Budgets at times can be rather tight, especially for the music as it is often the last thing that is considered, if the budget is low how does this effect the way in which you score a film or TV project?

 
Low budget usually means no live musicians. You have to be a great programmer to be a composer these days. I make the samples sound as real as possible and record a layer or two of live instruments myself.

 

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Have you encountered the TEMP track on any of your assignments, if so did you find that it was useful to you or maybe distracting?
I don’t think I’ve ever NOT encountered the temp. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes it’s problematic. If the temp is a rough guide for tone and instrumentation or emotion, that’s fine. But sometimes a director can fall in love with a temp track, which can be tricky for a composer. I would hate to have to do a sound-alike of a temp track.
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How do approach a project, I mean do you start with core themes and develop the score around these or do you work on smaller cues and stabs and from these develop the main themes?

This can differ.. but generally I like to work on some core themes. Once I have a few themes or ideas I and the director are happy with, I’ll begin to attack scenes. Either from scene one, or perhaps from the ‘biggest’ scene of the movie and backwards.

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What are you working on at the moment?

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I’m in the middle of season 2 of Medici. I’m also working on a documentary called The Story of Motown. There are a couple very exciting projects lined up for later in 2018 too.

 

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