Composer Vito Lo Re, is probably a name in film music that you maybe not have yet encountered, his recent score for L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO, is a work that every self respecting film music collector should own. The rich and dark musicl colours and textures ooze suspence and forebodding, and his lighter more melodic themes are affecting and haunting. The composer has created a soundtrack that is filled with innovative and striking musical compositions, and I am confident that we will be seeing his name a lot more in the coming years. My thanks to the composer for taking the time to answer my questions. And thank you for the glorious music Maestro. JM.
One of your recent film scores is for L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO, how did you become involved on the project?
I’ve been working with the director Donato Carrisi since the very beginning of both our careers. We did many works together: theatre, musicals, radio, TV shows, songs and eventually cinema. The plot for the movie has been taken from an international best seller Donato wrote a couple of years ago. So, when the movie took its first steps it was natural for him to ask that I write the score.
What would you say is the purpose of music in film?
Music is supposed the take the audience’s hand and to bring them where the director wants them to be. Donato specifically asked me to let the music permeate the whole movie. My scoring is – I hope – always very tied with images. I follow every single frame and I always try to get the music to follow any even slight change on the screen. I think that each composer would like to play his music loud to scream to the world “Listen how good I am!” but in my opinion this is not the role of score music. Someone says the perfect score for a movie is the one the audience is not aware of. It’s a matter of ego and balance to know when it’s necessary to remain subtle, as the time to make the orchestra explode will always come and it would be a shame to waste the effect if you write invasive music during the whole movie.
The soundtrack from L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO is released on compact disc on Plaza Mayor, when a score is released in any format are you involved in the process of compiling what cues will be used on the album?
Absolutely. I always follow each step of the process and I always have the last word on it. But this doesn’t mean I’m a dictator. I always listen to the people working with me on the project.
As you have said, you have worked and collaborated with director Donato Carrisi on a number of varying projects, does he have a hands on approach when it comes to the music in his films, or does he explain what he thinks the film needs and leave it to you?
I just said I am in no way a dictator; well, Donato is! But that’s definitively a compliment to him. He perfectly knows the effect he wants to arrive at, and I write again and again the cues, until he’s satisfied. In our first movie I wrote the very first cue 14 times; I’m not talking of 14 version of the same cue: I’m talking of 14 different cues! Luckily, I compose very fast and probably this is one of the skills a movie score composer is supposed to have.
How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin to formulate ideas as to what style of music you will compose and where to place the music to serve the movie beat?
A rough idea comes in my mind the very first time I see the movie, but it is only after many and many views that this rough idea becomes something the director can listen to. The placing of the music is always something that is a collaborative task, you deal with the director and the editor during the spotting sessions. The question of the style, that is simple: scoring music is supposed to have the same aesthetic vision that movie has.
Using L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO as an example. how much time were you allowed to work on the score and how much music did you write for the film?
After choosing the main themes, I had about six weeks to compose, synchronize, orchestrate, record, edit and mix 86 minutes of music for full orchestra.
What would you say were you musical influences, or what composers and artists would you say have interested or inspired you the most?
I think no movie composer on Earth could claim not to be influenced by the two greatest composers, in my opinion: Ennio Morricone and John Williams. That being said, there are so many wonderful musicians: James Newton-Howard, Thomas Newman, Jerry Goldsmith, Howard Shore and James Horner all of whom are definitely important milestones in the art of film scoring.
Even though L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO is a drama and calls for darker music at times, it still contains rich melodies and thematic pieces, do you think it is important for film music to remain thematic or for a film to have a central theme for the audience to identify with?
Each new film I score I swear to myself I’ll use only one main theme in the whole movie but in the end, I always commit perjury! That’s because I always feel the need to give a different theme to each situation or character. So eventually my scores are always very thematic, even if I do not disdain follow the scene with isolate notes or sounds. Many times, I used to decompose themes in a way that only a very careful listener could recognize them. I like definitively doing this sort of subliminal use of my themes.
You worked with the Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra, is this an orchestra that you have a preference for?
In Italy there are many wonderful orchestras, such the Roma Sinfonietta but I’ve been working with BNRO for several years and I do like their sound and their ability to always follow your wishes.
What percentage of the score for L’UOMO DEL LABIRNTO was performed via synthesizers?
I’d say about 30% but I never use synthesizers alone. I always add at least one real instrument to get a hint of “life” in the cue.
Do you conduct your film scores, or do you like other composer/conductors prefer to supervise the recording of the score from the recording booth?
I’m also a professional conductor – having the right feeling with the orchestra it’s absolutely important. I would rather say vital. Especially with the clock running, but I think one day I’ll give myself the luxury of giving the baton to a colleague. That will happen, I’m sure.
Do you orchestrate your own music, and is orchestration an important part of the composing process?
I always orchestrate music since orchestration is for me a founding part of the composition process. Nevertheless, I know there are so many skilled orchestrators and, in the future,, I think I’ll hire one of them. Not because of laziness but for learning new secrets of this wonderful art.
When you are working on music for film or indeed any medium, how do you work out your ideas, by this I mean do you write them straight to manuscript, or do you compose at the piano or maybe utilise a more contemporary method as in synths or computers?
The piano is certainly the first approach. After writing the main melody and harmony I immediately orchestrate, using my inseparable Mac.
What musical education did you receive, and whilst studying did you focus upon any one thing more than others?
I trained as a classical musician at the Conservatory but certainly score music is something different from classical composition and follows different rules. That’s why I attended several courses.
Was writing music something that was always something you knew you wanted to do as a career?
Absolutely. Writing music for me it’s more than natural. I began as a guitar player and I remember I wrote my very first compositions a couple of weeks after I started playing guitar. Even with no technical skill or musical knowledge I immediately felt the need to compose my own music.
Italian film music has always held a special place in my heart, I grew up with composers such as Morricone, Alessandroni, Lavagnino, Rota, Ferrio, Ciprani, Nicolai etc, do you listen to other composer’s film scores at all?
I have no problem to say I listen to many soundtracks from the past and from nowadays. This never-ending process is what music is based upon and has been forever. A composer listens to a musical idea and then develops it into something more personal. No composer has ever invented something really and genuinely new. That always starts from a spark someone else has generated. That’s why I don’t trust composers saying they never listen to what their colleagues write.
What is your opinion of contemporary film music as opposed to the style and sound that was created in the 1960’s?
It’s a completely different situation. Until a very few decades ago there were more movies released and definitively fewer composers. Computers help us so much I almost can’t figure out how it was possible in the past creating so many masterpieces as they did this without them! Until few years ago musical software and hardware was so expensive that only a very few composers could afford them. Now there is more democratization of the technological instrumentations; this process along with the developing of musical software has allowed more and more composers to do this job. That’s why I said today is a completely different situation. I think in recent years there are many talents but very few that can be referred to as being a genius, if this word today still makes a sense.
Were any of your family musical at all, and at what age did you begin to take an interest in music of any kind?
My grandfather was a trumpet soloist who did a wonderful career and three cousins of mine are professional musicians but I’m the only composer. So, I grew up in a family where music has always been played and listened too. Nevertheless, I started to study “seriously” music only in high school.
Have you experienced the use of the TEMP track, if so what is your opinion of this?
Sometimes these are useful for they can let you understand what a director has in his mind regarding the music. Problems come when he or she becomes so accustomed to listening to the temp that it is impossible to see past the scene or sequence without it and also cannot allow a new cue to work. That irremediably brings the composer to write a new one that can be so similar to the temp that sometimes it can brush against plagiarism. This is not the natural flowing of musical ideas I spoke about before; this is the end of music.
Have you any preferences when it comes to a recording studio?
No, no preference.
When you begin work on a film score, do you prefer to develop a core theme and then build the remainder of the score around this, or do you focus on smaller themes first?
That depends on the narrative trend. Generally, I let the images suggest me the best way to tackle the score.