Music inspired by the Motion Picture
                                Composed, and Conducted by Howard Blake            
                                         DDR687 Dragon’s Domain Records.
Many, many years ago, sometimes it seems in a different existence, a colleague from work and myself travelled up from the coast of Devon to Harrogate in Yorkshire, where the Menswear Trade was holding it’s half yearly Exhibition , when it previously it was held in Earls Court in London . I can’t recall where we were staying, but most of the hotels were close together. I recall going to The Old Swan Hotel, where some Exhibitors were showing, and then to the Royal Baths. It was worlds away from the bustle of London, and a superb relaxed atmosphere and I always recall it with enjoyment. I am pretty sure there was a plaque on the wall of the Old Swan re Agatha Christie , but I can’t really remember. I know now I walked the way of Agatha Christie all those years ago, and later Vanessa Redrgave did some ten years on from my visit.

Agatha Christie disappeared from home for well on 11 days in 1926. A nationwide hunt was launched for her, her marriage was going through a tricky period, and no one really knew where she was. When Ms Christie published her auto-biography many years later, the episode was basically glossed over, so no-one will ever really know what happened. Kathleen Tynan wrote a book on the story and collaborated with Arthur Hopcraft on a screenplay.. It was also well known at the time, that the Christie Family tried to get the Movie stopped and put up a fair bit of opposition against it, though, ultimately to no avail Vanessa Redgrave was cast as Ms Christie, not exactly type casting , certainly nor in stature, as Ms Christie was not exceptionally tall, and we as know , Dustin Hoffman who was cast as Wally Stanton, a fictional Newspaper man who eventually found her, is not , shall was say, that tall. So their scenes together , were somewhat incongruous , which didn’t help with the acceptance of the story . That said it was stunningly photographed and the whole venture had a fell of loss, hidden feeling and untold pain.

Which of course, would have been something a good ,well written score would have provided. When we originally saw the film, it probably wasn’t known that Howard Blake wrote an original score which subsequently dumped when it seems that Vanessa Redgrave wasn’t too keen on it. I should say that a lot of the coverage on this side of the story is highlighted in the CD Booklet so I won’t go into here. suffice to say, it was felt that a more modern score with a song was needed. Cue the arrival of Johnny Mandel, a consummate musician who’s great achievement must be rated as his score of the Richard Burton / Elizabeth Taylor movie THE SANDPIPER with its superb song “The Shadow of your Smile”. Which all worked sublimely there but in AGATHA, whether it was time restraints or lack of direction, Mr Mandel came up with basically a one tune score which at the end was worked into a song with lyrics courtesy of Paul Williams. He made the movie more sentimental and it did not propel the story or delve into the minds of the characters as it should have done, indeed I often felt it seemed to be written for a different film all together.



Which brings me, at long last to the main subject of this review. The score of Howard Blake which thankfully has been preserved and showcased in this amazing CD.

As an admirer of the works of Howard Blake for a very long time, I thought that his masterworks were THE DUELLISTS and THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS (a particular favourite), but how wrong I was. Add AGATHA to these masterly scores.

Right from the opening cue (Prelude) we have a score that has been carefully thought out, lovingly created, and recorded with a clarity that takes your breath away. Whereas A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY tapped into the more Pastoral nuances of early 20th Century Orchestral music, here whilst sounding definitely English , has more cosmopolitan feel, more provincial, and full of a sense of not really knowing where the film will take us. Does it end up a possible murder mystery, a love story , a bit of both, or the novelist, just escaping from a marriage that has totally broken down. Coupled with the fact that as has mentioned before, the two main characters are not really written well enough for you to care what happens to them. Here Howard Blake’s score would have accomplished that. What you could not see on the screen or hear in the script, the score is telling you and propelling one to a end that anyone knowing the story before hand would have known

The Prelude sets the Scene and introduces the main theme, finely tuned and exquisitely orchestrated, which will surface again in “Agatha and Wally”. “Schnee” is almost atonal, but Howard very rarely goes down this route and there is a underlying sense of melody. “Following Baths” is a faster cue , where, is Wally following Agatha??. Maybe not. “Therapy Room Door” is very dramatic, drums and full orchestra. whilst I reserve full praise for a 6 minute cue entitles “They Don’t Believe / Closing”. To me it sounds like “They Didn’t Believe Me, originally written by Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds. It is not played in full or sung but running around one minute, just quoted segues beautifully into “Closing” – harp, strings and woodwinds utilising the principal theme to bring the score to a satisfying conclusion

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Anyone remotely interested in British Film Music should avail themselves of this recording. It is required listening. Certainly it a major canon in the works of Howard Blake. Much as we all love THE SNOWMAN, there is much, much more than this score to the continuing genius of Howard Blake., but then we know that anyway!!

Don’t hesitate, just buy it!!



The science fiction film was a popular genre in the 1960’s and it continues to be so now. In the 1960’s however the sci-fi movies would often deal with scenarios and situations that were sci-fi as in had not happened or were thought not to be possible as in space travel to other planets, talking to people on hand held devices where you could see the person you were talking too, driverless cars, robots performing tasks that humans would normally carry out etc, many of these things have now become science fact. So, the sci-fi movie as a genre has like science itself evolved over the years. Films such as PLANET OF THE APES are iconic pieces of cinema and remain relevant and maybe in these uncertain times the events depicted could come to fruition, soon. Who knows?





Things such as time travel however is still not something that has come close to being practised, or has it? We do not actually know, do the authorities tell us mere mortals anything, no not really, they feed us what they think we want to hear giving us drips of information and basically pacifying the multitudes, so let’s say with time travel as far as we are aware no its not possible. Alien invasions, nope that’s an area I am pleased that has not come to pass. But a visit from an Alien, well maybe. So, science impossible in films produced some fifty years ago has become science possible in the 21st Century in certain cases. Many sci-fi movies dealt with the end of the world, whether via natural or ecological means or by man made destruction, this is still a scenario that is a contender for the possible as far as I am concerned, because the human race is a selfish one and will take and take until there is no more to have, but then will blame others for destroying our fragile and delicate environment, letting loose devastating diseases and creating unstoppable germ warfare chemicals and releasing them into this already dying Earth’s atmosphere. Remember the words of the law giver as read by Cornelius (Roddy McDowell) at the end of the original PLANET OF THE APES.

“Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.

Wise words? Well so far in my life I think all the evidence points to them being so. Ok, I know it’s a film, I know its not real life I am just using it for an example, and also to paraphrase a line from a later APES movie, I think I would rather be dominated by apes than live with other humans.


“Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape”!

I will never forget the sight of an ape soldier clad in black brandishing a rifle on horseback in the HUNT scene of the original APE movie accompanied by the chilling, foreboding and somewhat grotesque sounding rams horn that composer Jerry Goldsmith utilised for his innovative and iconic sounding score. I think that scene in particular will stay with me forever, and it still makes me shudder today. I was just twelve years old at the time and I had managed to get into a cinema on a crafty day off school I am not sure what I was expecting but let’s just say I was surprised, a little scared but most of all excited and intrigued. Charlton Heston was marvellous as the cynical Taylor an astronaut who with a crew of three others two male and one female had crashed landed in a lake on what they thought was an alien planet sometime in the future. They had been put into a deep sleep and on impact realised that the Female member of the party had passed away, her aging body seen decomposing in the pod she was laid in. They escape from the space craft and start to explore the inhospitable terrain which is predominately desert they eventually find a green area and take advantage of fresh running water to refresh themselves and bathe, whilst doing so however they become aware that they are not alone on the planet and have their clothes and also their scientific apparatus stolen they give chase but it is too late the apparatus is smashed and they see that the inhabitants of the planet are human like but are mute.


Taylor thinks it is not a bad thing as if this is the best that the planet has to offer it won’t be long before they will be running the place. But he could not be more wrong, an ominous sounding cry is heard and the mute humans freeze for a few seconds and then begin to panic and run, not knowing what is wrong the three astronauts do the same, running in the same directions, but from what or whom?
It is not long before the watching audience and the astronauts find out and from that moment on the film is a rollercoaster ride in a topsy turvy world where talking intelligent apes are the masters and primitive humans are reduced to being guinea pigs for surgeons or target practise for the ape army. Taylor is injured in the hunt and as a result loses his voice after being wounded in the throat by an ape bullet. So the ape elders are not aware that he is different from the others, he becomes close to one of the mute females Nova, played by the beautiful Linda Harrison, and is also befriended by two doctors who just happen to be chimpanzees, Zira and Cornelius, played by Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall, who were most convincing in their respective roles. The cast list is quite impressive, with Maurice Evans, James Whitmore and James Daly with superb direction from film maker Franklin J Schaffner an entertaining screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling that was adapted from the writings of Pierre Boulle and produced by Arthur P Jacobs, with that highly original neo avante garde score by Jerry Goldsmith and convincing make up created by John Chambers.




Released by 20th century fox it was to be the first of five movies in the first series and also spawned the TV series and an animated series. It was a compulsive motion picture that is not only visually outstanding and intelligently constructed but also sent chills down ones spine when it eventually reached the final scene which along with the ape on horseback brandishing a rifle must be one of cinemas most iconic moments. The sight of the statue of liberty or at least part of the statue rising out of the beach as Taylor makes his getaway with Nova is an imposing, sobering and memorable one, because the audience at this point realises as does Taylor that he is actually back on earth back home to the place that he was so desperately trying to get away from, the upside down planet ruled by apes is his own planet, which has been destroyed by war or some natural or man mad disaster.

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Of, course a handful of sequels were produced in the original Apes film series, but none matched the impact that the original movie had. It was not until in recent years that the franchise was given a new lease of life, in the re-boots of the series that intelligent storylines again emerged from PLANET OF THE APES movies.





“When I speak of time, I’m speaking of the fourth dimension.”
From a world that has been turned on its head and inside out with Apes as tyrannical overlords, we go to a scientist creating a new form of travel, not simply to get from A to B but to go back in time and also more importantly forward to the future. THE TIME MACHINE or as it was sometimes called H. G. WELLS, THE TIME MACHINE as it was based upon his novella from 1895.


The movie was released in 1960. produced and directed by George Pal, this is a classy and quite plush looking motion picture. It starred Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux and Sebastian Cabot. Director Pal had already made a motion picture based on the writings of Wells in the form of WAR OF THE WORLDS which hit cinemas in 1953. Taylor plays the part of an inventor who is living in Victorian England.
He constructs a machine that he thinks will travel into the far-off future and it takes him on a journey that not even he could have imagined. He arrives in the future where he discovers that the descendants of the human race have been divided into two groups, one the Eloi, who are gentle and passive and eat fruit and vegetables not having to work but lounging around and playing all day.



Then there is the Morlocks who are underground dwellers descended from people who hid underground during a terrible and destructive ware time traveller soon discovers that the Eloi are being bred for food for the Morlocks in very much the same way that we raise cattle and other animals now. The film won an academy award for Tim Baar and Gene Warren who were responsible for its special effects in particular for their ingenious use of time lapse photography which showed the earth and its environment changing as the time machine hurtled through time and space. The musical score was the work of composer Russel Garcia, his music was not issued onto a compact disc and LP record until 1987, which was released by Neil Normans GNP CRESCENDO label, this contained twenty tracks from the soundtrack and also one cue which contained a selection of music from ATLANTIS THE LOST CONTINENT also penned by Garcia. The soundtrack was re-issued onto compact disc in 2005 by FSM and then in 2012 by Hallmark entertainment.




All re-issues containing the same tracks as the original release. Garcia was born on April 12th 1916, in Oakland California, he became popular as a composer of both film and television music and was also active in the world of theatre and radio. Although born in the United States the composer spent a lot of time as a resident of New Zealand, he was self-taught and got his first break into writing music for a radio show when a friend of his was taken ill and could not work on the project. After this initial foray into writing for radio he became a composer and an arranger for NBD and worked on a number of television series such as LAREDO and RAWHIDE in the late 1950;s.

He also worked for MGM and UNIVERSAL studios, which is where he came into contact with George Pal and was offered THE TIME MACHINE and ATLANTIS THE LOST CONTINENT. He also worked as an arranger and orchestrator for the studios and was involved with the orchestration of the music for films such as FATHER GOOSE (1964) and THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY (1956). He also worked with many artists including Ronald Reagan, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Orson Welles, Judy Garland, Oscar Peterson and Stan Kenton to name but a few. He passed away on November 11th 2011. His score for THE TIME MACHINE was an accomplished one, filled with melodious interludes but also having to it an ominous and dramatic edge. Although scored in 1960, the score had to it a luxurious and lavish persona that we often associate with the scores of the Golden Age of Hollywood by composers such as Newman, Steiner and Korngold.





I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal .



I suppose the big sci-fi movie of the 1960’s was 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY, directed by Stanley Kubrick, this was a movie that one either hated or loved and also one that you either fully understood or failed to even comprehend what was going on but pretended that you did. I think or rather I know I was one of the dumb ones, well not dumb but just a little confused even after sitting through the movie more than once, I was still jot really aware of what the hell I had just watched, so yep dumb. But saying that I was around 13 years old at the time. The film for me at the time of watching in the cinemas was really slow, it was also something that I thought of as being, its ok I suppose. But it did not float my boat or fire up my rockets at all. The use of classical music in the movie was also a disappointment for me as I would always think what a great job a composer such as John Barry, Ennio Morricone Jerry Goldsmith or even Alex North could have done on it, Ok maybe North is a bit of a longshot, (LOL).


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The story I was told about the music was that Kubrick had been using the classical stuff throughout the production, so when it came to an original score which had been submitted by Alex North the film maker had like a blind spot for anything apart from what he had already been using and I suppose when one is watching a film that you have made over and over and editing it and cutting it etc, its only natural that you become comfortable with the music you have been using, and as we all know film makers are pretty insecure and after all its their work on the screen that could have taken years to put together.



So, its natural they will be somewhat nervous and suspicious about handing it over to a composer who could in effect ruin it or not understand it (glad I was not doing the score). A composer could miss the directors point or angle completely, swamp the film with inappropriate music in the eyes of the filmmaker and put months on the release date because of re-scoring. Kubrick took the easy route or at least the one that suited him and his movie, so he thought. North’s original score was rejected or not used, and the film was released with the music of Strauss and others installed on its soundtrack, did it work, well that is something that is down to personal preference, but in my opinion yes it did. The now famous scene with the space vehicle docking with the massive space station is the perfect example, Kubrick looked at the sequence and compared the two space vehicles docking as a waltz a grand dance which is in effect what we are witnessing, and with the opulent and sweeping BLUE DANUBE which was penned by Strauss some 102 years before the film was released playing over it, it became even more apparent to audiences, that the director had got this right. But the soundtrack to 2001 was not all Viennese waltzes and romantic sounding interludes drawn from the Strauss family’s canon.

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There were also several complex and intricate pieces of music tracked onto the movie. Which were written by composers who many were and still are not that familiar with. Such as the off-beat and modern sounding ATMOSPHERES by Gyorgy Ligeti and the symphonic poem by Richard Strauss entitled ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA. Which was heard over the impressive opening of the movie. That majestic and at times imposing theme is now part of film music history going down as being one of the most recognised and iconic pieces utilised on the soundtrack of a movie. Gyorgy Ligeti’s music was also used on the film THE EXORCIST because it is so dark, ominous and complex, it can literally make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up but other times it is music that one listens to and lets your imagination run away with you. Many think that the soundtrack for 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY is a masterpiece, which when you think about it, is a fair enough opinion, simply because of the composers that Kubrick selected to utilise. That also included, Khachaturian.




But as a soundtrack or a film music fan I personally am more interested in scores that have been specifically written for a movie or a TV show, rather than already known or written music that is basically tacked onto the film’s soundtrack. Alex North’s original score is in my opinion just as varied and diverse as the one that Kubrick eventually decided to install, in fact in many ways it is more polished and suited to the film.


North’s modern and leaning towards avante garde style creating romantic and also thematic moments within in a sea of atonal and less melodic sounds. Years after the release of 2001 North’s score was recorded and released with Jerry Goldsmith conducting, so as a film music collector and maybe as a critic if that is what I am I would say that North’s soundtrack his original score is the masterpiece. I tried watching the movie with the North score playing but it does not really work, maybe because Kubrick re-cut the movie to suit his classical soundtrack, who knows?



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From a film that is considered a classic and has a score that is known by nearly everyone, to something that is a lesser known movie, released in 1965 THE SATAN BUG, was directed by John Sturges, it starred George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Dana Andrews and Anne Francis, and had a score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Composed three years before his landmark score for THE PLANET OF THE APES, this is one of the composers more accomplished and inventive soundtracks from the 1960’s. The movie which was based upon the novel by Alistair Maclean who wrote it under the name of Ian Stuart is a harrowing and tense affair with the action on screen is matched perfectly by Goldsmith’s, powerfully disjointed and at times discordant score, which maintains an underlying air of the sinister and has to a dark and menacing aura.



The relentless and all-consuming music although being largely atonal, does still have to it thematic qualities and its commanding and slightly quirky musical persona combines electronic elements with fully symphonic moments, it is a score that not only enhances the on-screen scenarios but underlines and punctuates the fast paced and suspense filled storyline. It has to it that typical Goldsmith trademark sound, with its percussive elements creating a sinister and apprehensive sound supported by brass, woods and strings, in many ways it was I suppose a pre cursor to his experimental approach on THE PLANET OF THE APES and also was the inspiration for so many of his later scores, THE OMEN trilogy and CAPRICORN ONE included. The opening theme possess a sound and style that oozes dread and foreboding. It is an edgy and unsettling sound that sets the scene perfectly for the film’s ever changing and edge of the seat storyline. This bio terror sci fi, was adapted for the screen by James Clavell and Edward Anhalt.


It attempts to and succeeds in showing the audience the workings of secret government facilities, and also takes a look at what could have been the world of the deadly viruses that were supposedly being developed. Weapons of mass destruction that in this case can kill every living thing in a city the size of Los Angeles without destroying any infrastructure, just people and animals. It is also a pretty good story about investigation and the discovery of these virulent and destructive viruses.



The director managing to fashion a convincing and entertaining movie and motivating the cast into giving some convincing performances. A very different subject matter from Sturges previous movie which was the highly successful war drama THE GREAT ESCAPE. So that concludes the look at SCI-FI but it’s a subject as I said is always evolving and developing, with science fiction, more often than not these days becoming science fact. Maybe we will re-visit this again at another time.


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Pantawit Kiangsiri was born in Thailand and is a graduate of the Scoring for Motion and Television Program at USC, having studied with Bruce Broughton and Christopher Young. As a classically trained composer and orchestrator he is comfortable with all schools of film scoring from the symphonic to the contemporary, and has created scores in a rich variety of formats and styles. Whether it’s a traditional wall-to-wall score or something quirky and modern, Pantawit never fails to deliver what is needed to enhance every kind of project.

He currently works on film, television, video games and concert music from his studio in Los Angeles. His career spans film commissions in Hollywood, China, and Thailand. At the moment he is composing a score for the first sci-fi film from China Film Group. His list of credits includes writing music for Warner Brothers, Netflix, Digital Domain, Sony and Vevo.

Taken from the composers website. 

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How old were you when you began to take an interest in music. And was it film music that you were attracted to?

I started my first piano lesson when I was 5 and around the same time, I took an interest in listening to a lot of Thailand’s pop music of the day. I remember I felt as if I were under a spell every time, I heard the rhythms so my father bought me a toy drum set which I played on for a long time. Then, I became a hardcore fan of the Star Trek franchise, and that’s when I started to take notice of film music. But I didn’t know the true power and effect of it until I watched Star Trek First Contact when it came out in 1996. This was the first time I thought, “Film music is so cool!”



What musical education did you receive?

I took private composition lessons with Thailand’s top composers: Somtow Sucharitkul, Narong Prancharoen, and Narongrit Dhamabutra.
I graduated with a bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). After that I got accepted into the USC film scoring program (SMPTV at the time) where I learned from some of today’s top film composers, Bruce Broughton and Christopher Young.

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Did you focus or concentrate on any one instrument when you began to take an interest in music?

Not really. My first piano lesson was a disaster. I didn’t like it, and I cried! After that, I would do a lot of listening while playing some drums on the side. Then jump to 9 years later, I decided to seriously pick up the piano again after having discovered the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I did have a habit of changing up other composers ‘music (mainly because I was too lazy to practice) and would make up some random tunes. My piano teacher at the time then suggested that I should try composition and even taught me how to write down those tunes. Because of my mediocre playing skills, my mentor at the conservatory, David Garner taught me to compose by using my head and to develop my inner ear— to hear the sounds I wanted and not be limited by my inadequate technique.


Do you think that contemporary scores are more soundscape than (traditional) soundtracks, and do you think they utilize the drone effect too much?

I think so and part of it is the development of technology. It is so easy now for everyone to make (or choose) electronic drone sounds from their computer, versus the old days where one has to have a concept of melody, harmony, rhythm and orchestral textures first.

The problem is not about overuse of the drone technique, but more about many composers using the same drone sound all of the time without being creative. As long as it enhances the film, then it is ok to use the drone effect! That being said, many wonderfully melodic driven scores are still being composed, such as the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, Avengers: Endgame and most of Michael Giacchino’s scores.

How many times do you like to see a movie before you start to formulate ideas as to what style of music and where the music is placed in the movie?

I usually sketch out the musical themes, ideas, texture, etc. as soon as I have read the script or viewed some of the raw footages. I usually engage in a creative conversation with the directors in the beginning stages of their film. Then, when the nearly finished cut arrives, we will have a formal spotting session for music placement. At this point, all of the main musical components would be finished and ready for scoring.

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Do you conduct at all. And if so, do you conduct your scores or prefer to monitor the scoring process from the recording booth?

Yes, but only when there is no budget for a real conductor (Laugh!) Seriously, I have conducted for other composers’ scores, but for my own music, I would prefer to listen in the booth at the recording session with the director beside me so we can discuss the emotional response he or she is hoping to evoke in that passage of the film. Then, I can instantly tell the musicians and make the necessary changes right on the spot.


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What artists or composers would you say have either influenced you or inspired you?

There are so many names! My main influences come from Beethoven, Jerry Goldsmith, and Somtow Sucharitkul. But I do listen to Stravinsky, Bartok, John Williams, The Beatles, and many others.

Do you have an active role in selecting what music from a score is released onto the CD?

Yes! Working with Mikael Carlsson at Move score Media is a blast! Usually, I will pick out cues which I think are a great listening experience and discard the less interesting ones. Then I will put them in the order which I think will have a nice pacing and flow for the album. Afterwards, Mikael would come back and suggest to me some reordering of the tracks for a smother, more even flow.

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What is your opinion of the temp track? it a useful tool or something that can cause problems?

I really don’t like using temp tracks all that much because of the difficulties it can create. If the director loves the temp track too much, it can stifle my freedom to create something fresh let alone getting it approved. Sometimes though, when the director doesn’t know exactly how to explain what he or she wants with the music, a temp track could be a useful tool. Temp tracks can give me some insight for the basic mood, tone and, pacing for each cue. In short, I don’t like it but it is useful to have it as a backup!
Is orchestration just as important as the composition of the music?

Yes. To me, orchestration is an integral part of the composition process, and I find it difficult in separating the two. I always thinking about instrumental colors when I am composing. If I write for the violins, then it will be for that sound rather than composing something on a piano sketch and then waiting to assign instruments later. The choice of instrumental colours (vocal and soundscape in recent years) is very important in film scoring, because composers can use a specific combination of instruments to convey different emotions to the audience. So, if you are very skilled at orchestrating, chances are your musical ideas will have a better clarity in presentation and will be more effective in helping support the film as well.

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What instruments or tools do you utilize when working on a score ?

When doing an orchestral score then I’m still a bit of the old school style. I usually sketch out ideas with a pencil and paper, and occasionally check the sounds on the piano. Then I will create a demo mock-up in Logic Pro for the director to listen. If I have enough time left, I will usually do my orchestrations using pencil and paper as well. Other times I would use anything I can find in my place from instruments, toys, objects, kitchenware, etc. to create scores as well. Basically, anything goes, as long as it takes me to the result that film maker and I want!



The Secret of Immortal Code is a great score. How much music did you compose for the project, and did the director have specific ideas as to what type of music he wanted for the film?

Thank you! There’s about 80 minutes of music in this film. I actually composed this score twice in the period of a year and a half! At the beginning, when the film was still coloured, the director Li Wei and I had the same idea that we wanted to do a classic sci-fi orchestral score that paid homage to classical sci-fi films of the past. We wound up with a rather good score but felt that some originality was missing. So a year later, the producer Wang Donghui had the wild idea to make this a black and white film, which we all thought was a bold and creative move! The producer told me that now the music would have to take center stage in the story telling rather than as a supporting role as in our first version. The question of how much originality was still on our mind, so I decided to rewrite about 90% of the score. Next, I experimented with using just the double bass and came up with hundreds of ways to produce very unique sounds (sometimes noise) on the instrument. Afterwards, I sent those sound samples to the film makers, and they said, “That’s it! Those are the original sounds we’ve been looking for!” So, in the final score, there are several sequences that were scored using only the double bass and nothing else. Combining those sounds with an 86-piece symphony orchestra and electronic sounds (and even an occasional drone!) and we finally came up with a score that satisfied us all in the end!

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What would you say is the purpose or job of music in film?

The main function of film music is to support and amplify the film emotionally. It has to help convey certain emotions that film maker wants the audience to feel. An excellent film score should enhance the whole viewing experience. Music is the best tool for this because everyone can instantly feel the music. Aside from this function, I also strive to write a score that can stand on its own for either as an album experience or as standalone pieces for a concert performance.


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Do you buy or listen to soundtracks by other composers at all.

I grew up as a soundtrack nerd. Needless to say, I have a huge collection at my home! When I was 8 years old, I listened to almost exclusively to film music. I also studied this craft intensely and was very interested in the history of film music, so I tried to acquire and collect as many soundtracks from the different cinematic time periods as possible. They served as an excellent inspiration for me!
What is next for you?

I am currently wrapping up work on two documentaries and a TV series. I will soon be starting on a new feature film, a documentary and a 4D experience ride.



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Is anyone in your family musical?

My wife is a concert pianist and a guzheng player (like a Chinese harp). She’s also the score producer/supervisor and a founder of my company Pantawit Music Production Corp. (PMP). Aside from this, I have a cousin who is also a musical composer and my father played a bit of guitar when he was younger.



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Do you think it is possible for a great score. To save or help a not so good movie?

A great score can help a little bit in my opinion. But what I feel a good film needs in order to be successful is for everyone in the creative department to be good and blend well with each other in the first place. A good director, producer, actors, cinematographer, editor, production designer, composer, etc.; they all need to contribute in order to make a good film. A great score can help in terms of bumping up the excitement and exaggerate an outpouring of emotion. But if there’s not enough excitement and emotion in the first place then the improvement by music will be minimal at best.






When you look back over the career of composer John Barry he was involved with so many great movies, his music became the soundtrack of more than one generation and still today is inspiring and entertaining music lovers of all ages. But, although the majority of his soundtracks fit comfortably into the popular category, there are a few that seem to have been either overlooked or at times ignored, I think this is because his work on the James Bond series obviously overshadowed not only the music of other composers but at times has also cast a shadow over other works by this highly talented and prolific composer. Films such as DUTCHMAN, THE CHASE, THE WRONG BOX and even scores such as THE KNACK, RUBY CAIRO, FOUR IN THE MORNING, SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, THE WHISPERERS and to a degree DEADFALL are not in the public or film music collectors gaze as often as I think that they should be. Deadfall (1968) is one such case, yes we are all probably aware of the excellent ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA which played a highly integral part of the films narrative, but the remainder of the score, and the song MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES seem to be, dare I say somewhat forgotten. The same can also be said of MIDNIGHT COWBOY and again only to a degree, because we all know and love the central theme and the FLORIDA FANTASTY sequence music, but there is so much more to the soundtrack that again is probably not as familiar as it deserves to be. THE CHASE too has a pretty dramatic and familiar opening theme, but the remainder of the score apart from a handful (if that) of cues many collectors or film music fans would be hard pressed to recognise as coming from the score. But it is DEADFALL I will focus upon at first.




Released in 1968, and directed by British actor turned film maker Bryan Forbes, it was one of those clever caper movies that were so in abundance in the 1960.s. It starred the man of the moment in British cinema at that time Michael Caine, with Nannette Newman. Giovanna Ralli and Eric Portman. It is a classy and attractive crime caper, that brings out solid performances from each of the films central characters, which is probably due to the work of the esteemed film maker Forbes. Who always paid meticulous attention to detail and also the smaller finer points to make the bigger production more credible and also ultimately far more entertaining, the movie was not just a run of the mill crime or heist story, it also contained shadowy yet subtle sexual and psychological elements and looked at the central figures within the story closely, focusing upon each ones insecurities and personalities. Based upon the 1965 book by Desmond Cory, Caine portrays a cat burglar who’s name is Henry Clarke. Clarke is having an affair with Fe Moreau (Ralli) who is the young wife of Clarke’s gay partner Richard Moreau (Portman), who in turn is having a relationship with a young Spanish man Antonio played by Carlos Pierre.

Confused, well it is a little like that but that’s all part of the intrigue and the attraction of the storyline. As all these romantic and sexual secrets are being played out there is a jewel robbery being planned by the Moreau’s and Clarke. Who are targeting a multi-millionaires home Salinas, portrayed by David Buck. As a dry run for the main robbery Clarke decides that they should to break into another home, but the practise robbery goes wrong because Richard cannot break into the safe at the house. This and other scenarios bring Clarke to the decision that he will go it alone and do the Salinas job on his own. The cast also included Leonard Rossiter, Emilio Rodriguez, Vladek Sheybal, Philip Madoc, Santiago Rivero, Antonio Sanpere, Geraldine Sherman, Renata Tarrago (guitarist) and Carmen Dene and composer John Barry who played a conductor at the concert where THE ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA was performed, Forbes using the music to accompany the robbery, which ran with no dialogue and elevated and enhanced the sequence greatly. Filmed on the Spanish Island of Majorca, the film contained stunning locations. John Barry’s score I often think is a Bond score but not for a Bond movie, if you understand what I am saying, except for the Romance of course. The song is straight out James Bond, and would I think have made an excellent title song for the franchise, and maybe was even the inspiration for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and MOONRAKER. Lyrics were courtesy of Jack Laurence, and MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES was performed by Shirley Bassey over the films titles, the release of the soundtrack onto CD came in 1997 on the Retrograde label, and included the tracks from the Stateside LP release plus an instrumental version of the title song and a demo recording of MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES by an unnamed Male vocalist, who for me sounds very much like Scott Walker but saying that it probably isn’t him. The majority of Barry’s score is quite low key, with his trademark breathy woods and underlying mysterious sounding strings that conjure a tense but at the same time melodic and subtly romantic atmosphere. Barry’s delicate and light musical touch purveying both the drama and hints of melancholy throughout. The highlight for me when I first heard the soundtrack was STATUE DANCE, which is a typically Barry sounding piece as in being catchy and upbeat and written in a similar style to that of of other cues such as THE GOLDEN HORN in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and the DEATH OF FIONA from THUNDERBALL and was a pre-cursor for future compositions such as FLORIDA FANTASY etc.


Castanets, strings, brass, woods and a cheeky bass line that supports and punctuates the proceedings, all these components combine to create a haunting and entertaining cue. But the main piece within the score is THE ROMANCE, which as a concert piece works so well and supports as well as adding another dimension or level of tension to the robbery sequence. It works gloriously within the film, but at the same time one can listen and enjoy it without even looking at any footage. So, DEADFALL is maybe an overlooked gem of a score, and if you have not yet savored it maybe you should, or like me if its been a while since you sat and listened to it, it is now time to re-visit appreciate and enjoy.




A year previous to working with Bryan Forbes on DEADFALL John Barry scored the directors movie THE WHISPERERS, it was the fourth film that Barry had scored for the filmmaker, and at the time of the film being released Forbes was of the opinion that it was the best score the composer had written for one of his projects. Released in 1967,this British drama was based upon the 1961 novel by Robert Nicolson, it starred the excellent Edith Evans and was filmed in the rather run down town of Oldham in the north of England an area that was once a thriving industrial Centre for the textile industry. The film is still relevant today and deals with the ever-present subject of the loneliness of elderly people or people in general, when they have no family or friends to turn to or to ensure that they are well and ok. It is a movie that although released over half a century ago remains current and shows us that society has not altered its attitude whatsoever towards the elderly person who lives alone. The theme has been a re-occuring one throughout the history of British cinema, and Forbes handles the subject matter with respect and understanding, it is a somewhat disturbing and haunting drama, with the title THE WHISPERERS being a referral to the voices that the elderly Mrs. Ross portrayed brilliantly by Edith Evans can hear at times which are maybe coming from her neighbours or are just a figment of her imagination, because she actually craves company of some sort. The cast list was impressive with Eric Portman, Gerald Sim, Nannette Newman and Ronald Frazer contributing excellent performances.

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The central character Mrs. Ross who has separated from her husband and lives in poverty fending for herself in an uncaring world. The score by John Barry is an affecting one and employs lilting themes and also jazz infused pieces, but it is the emotive and poignant cues such as THE LETTER that tug at the heartstrings, with Barry utilizing solo violin and subtle woods that are enhanced by vibes to purvey a sense of loneliness and fragility. Considering this was a score that came pretty early on in the composer’s film music composing career it is surprising mature and sophisticated. Barry, tailoring his touching and melancholy music to suit the unfolding scenario on screen.
There are also dramatic interludes, which have that unmistakable Barry musical fingerprint as in THE RAZOR ATTACK and THE THREE ATTACKERS, plus there is the central or opening theme which Barry realizes via the use of subdued harpsichord that is eventually supported by woods.


This is a soundtrack that is masterfully written and also one that is precisely placed to support without being intrusive. The soundtrack was issued on LP record in 1967, on United Artists records in both the UK and the U.S.A. it was later re-issued on the MCA Label with LP and also Cassette being available, finally it was released onto CD by Rykodisc in 1998. Again, a John Barry score of great quality, that is maybe overlooked.


1966, was a good year for movies, THE CHASE being one of them, the cast itself was I would have thought good enough a reason to go and see the film. Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, James Fox, Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Angie Dickinson and E.G.Marshall all under the direction of esteemed filmmaker Arthur Penn. Produced by Sam Spiegel the film was set in an American South western community that was populated by a wide range of characters which ranged from wealthy cattleman to lowly farm workers. It is a town that is basically controlled by wealthy banker Val Rogers (E.G. Marshall). A native of the town Bubber Reeves (Robert Redford) has escaped from jail and it is thought that he will head straight for his hometown. The Sherrif of the town portrayed by Marlon Brando is convinced that Bubber is innocent and awaits his return, knowing that Bubber’s wife (Jane Fonda) is involved in an affair with the bankers son Jake Rogers (James Fox) who is also or was at least Bubber’s best friend before he went to prison. The towns people get together awaiting Bubber’s return but things get out of hand and they demand that the Sheriff take action, but he refuses, and they attack him. This is a sultry and steamy affair filled with tension and drama. John Barry’s score is at times highly dramatic the opening theme especially being menacing and unsettling, the composer utilizes elements of this theme in the second cue on the soundtrack release THE CHASE IS ON with solo trumpet taking Centre stage sounding more Morricone than John Barry and introducing a full working of the scores central theme. Which is a combination of percussion, strings, brass, banjo and harmonica.

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This is classic John Barry, with downbeat and sombre compositions, romantically laced interludes and jazz flavoured renditions of the scores core themes alongside groovy sounding Hammond organ tracks as in SATURDAY NIGHT PHILOSOPHER which evoked memories of the composer’s score for THE KNACK AND HOW TO GET IT (1965). I remember buying the LP on the CBS label with its monochrome artwork and the title THE CHASE in bright red standing out. The soundtrack was later re-issued on LP by Varese Sarabande in 1989 and then in 1998 onto compact disc by PEG records which was a Sony special product release. In closing this brief look at John Barry scores that maybe do not get the recognition they deserve or are discussed as his other soundtracks are, PETULIA, THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, MR MOSES, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS etc.





Every week there seems to be so many film scores being released some new others that were either not issued at the time of the films release or maybe expanded versions of the scores, and sometimes first time on CD or digital download items. So it is at times difficult to keep up with the flow of so many, therefore as part of a new feature I am going to do like a potted round up of scores that I may have missed or maybe have not got round to reviewing or mentioning, not an in depth review as I like to do at times but a glance into the release maybe some info on the composer and what label has issued the score etc. For this the first soundtrack supplement.


I am going to begin with a television score, LA VITA PROMESSA 2, is an Italian production, and as far as I can make out has quite a following in Italy, the music is by composer Paolo Vivaldi, as soon as I saw his name I knew that this would be a worthy soundtrack. He is a composer I have followed and have always been amazed that he has not been given more assignments, as every score of his for me anyway, is a delight. LA VITA PROMESSA 2, is no exception, and contains some beautiful thematic material, the style employed by the composer is fully symphonic and has to it a grandiose and neoclassical sound. At certain points the music evoked the style of Morricone, with a light touch but also having an ingratiating and lush presence. It is a score that I know you will become immersed with as soon as you begin to listen. It will mesmerise and attract with its haunting and delicate nuances adorning the duration of the score. Vivaldi employs lilting solo violin and fragile sounding piano passages and performances throughout alongside strings and poignant woods. It is a sheer joy and I know will entertain as well as captive each listener.



From an emotive score to one that brings raw and urgent musical colours and textures to the arena, a horror movie entitled JACK IN THE BOX, which has a score by composer Christoph Allerstorpher, I was actually prompted to listen to the score which is released on Howlin Wolf records by composer James Griffiths who recommended it. I have to say he is not wrong, it has to it a sound and style that maybe can be likened to that of Christopher Young when he was just starting out on films such as DEF CON 4 and the like. It also contains a real sense of virulence and a sinister underlying persona which surfaces when you are expecting it least, adding a mood of apprehension and something that resembles organised chaos as it is a fusion of atonal and drifts into melodic interludes, which although short lived do shine through to give the listener a little respite.

The horror score has in recent years come into its own and more and more of these scores are getting a soundtrack release bringing composers such as The Newton Brothers and Joseph Bashira into the sights of collectors, it’s a funny thing but back in the 1970’s the horror score was ignored as far as being issued onto a recording was concerned, but record labels seem to be taking into account that film music collectors do actually like a score that oozes atmosphere and a malevolent mood. Composer Allerstopher has written a score that is certainly affecting and his use of synthetic and conventional instrumentation blends well and creates a spidery and somewhat tantalising but unsettling sound.

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The next release is from December 2019, and I think I missed this one due to a little holiday called Christmas, but if you too missed THE LEGEND OF BEN HALL by composer Ronnie Minder then please check it out, the composer utilises both symphonic and electronic elements to fashion the at times epic and exciting music. And I am so glad that I returned to this to give it a thorough listen. The movie is about the Australian bush ranger Ben Hall, and charts his life from at first deciding to give up a life of crime to becoming one of the most wanted criminals in the New South Wales territory of Australia, Composer Minder has created a pulsating and adventurous score, filled with percussive elements and tense strings that also drive the proceedings forward giving the score a tense and urgent style. Track number ten, THOSE BOLD BUSHRANGERS even display’s traces of the style employed in the Italian western with electric guitar taking centre stage accompanied by percussion and underlying strings that gradually build and create an emotive backdrop for the cue. This is a hard and fast score, filled with powerful and rhythmic compositions that are dark and commanding. Certainly, one to check out and add to your collection.


From the antics of a bushranger in 19th century Australia, we go now to, more of a contemporary story in the form of the TV series THE NEW POPE, which ahs a score by Lele Marchitelli, the score for this is an interesting one with the composer employing varying styles throughout.
The soundtrack album also features various songs, but as they were not actually written specifically for the series, I wont include them in the review as it is the score that I think we all are interested in. The actual score is I suppose something of an unassuming one, as it is not grand or excessively lush or lavish in its style, the composer mostly relying upon the use of solo performances such as violin to purvey moods which can be somewhat solitary, there are a handful of pieces within the score that do evoke the style of maybe Nino Rota or even British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, this I think is the flawless violin performances that are scattered through the work, but again it is a score that you should take a listen to, maybe skipping over the songs. The cue UNEXPECTED POPE, I think for me is the highlight of the score, because it is slightly darker and more urgent than the majority of the other compositions.

Staying with television, Clinton Shorter has produced many interesting soundtracks over the past five or six years, and his music for THE EXPANSE, follows this path. Season 4, of the show is the latest to get the Shorter musical treatment, and it’s a great action score, but there is more than pounding action music here, the composer provides the series with a thoughtful and varied soundtrack, which is realised via a fusion of symphonic, samples and electronic means. The composer fuses these elements effortlessly and seamlessly to fashion some pulsating and thematic sounding cues, its one score that you do not want to miss out on, it contains an ethereal sound at times an otherworldly atmosphere being delivered with effective and affecting precision.



And finally its back to 2019 for THE GENTLEMAN, with a score by composer Chris Benstead, again this is a classy and interesting work, containing well structured themes and unassuming at times nuances that give the score great entertainment value as in listening to it away from the movie it was intended to enhance. I enjoyed this quite low key at times score, which contains inventive orchestration and themes that although are not full-blown lush affairs still manage to do the job effectively.  Although there are a handful of more urgent and imposing pieces that are also welcome. Recommended.