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.
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.
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.