Knutby is your latest release, can you tell us how you became involved on the series, and how much music did you compose for the series?
I actually made a pitch for the series and the director, Goran Kapetanovic really liked the mood of that music. So, I got the gig and started to write a lot more music without seeing any picture. When they got on to edit the series they used that music exclusively, so later the only temp I had to beat and replace was my own!
Knutby has a score that combines both symphonic and synthetic elements, what size orchestra did you have for the project and where was the music recorded?
Everything is recorded in my own studio, Studio Gagarin here in Stockholm. I played all the strings myself and have developed a little technique for that. I set up a stereo mic in my room and move around my chair according to general orchestral seating. I do 4 overdubs per instrument, violin 1, violin 2, viola and celli, and I own two of each instrument and play them with and without mutes. That creates quite a convincing sound stage which I then enhance with various analogue reverbs and tape delays! Other instruments I used frequently in the series is a Finnish instrument called Kantele, basically a type of plucked Zither. Oh, and then I used a Ondes-Martenot-based instrument, which you play on a ribbon controller. There is no set pitch, much like the string instruments so I utilised that by double tracking it and slowly going up and down from the pitch centre to create an unsettling, haunting colour.
The score is I think excellent, and employs many varying thematic avenues, dramatic, romantic, and emotive. The opening track Manifesto I thought was at times quite Herrmann-esque purveying a tense atmosphere but at the same time stayed melodic. Did the director have a lot of input into the style of music that they wanted?
Thank you! This was a dream project. No temp at all except from my own compositions and the input from the director was just “That´s great, thumbs up!”
Do you think that any composers or artists have influenced you, inspired you or prompted you to score a movie in a certain way?
I’ve always listened a lot to classical music and get a lot of inspiration from that. Antonin Dvorak is one of my absolute favourites and I think he has affected me on how to think about melody, harmony and voice leading, even on a subconscious level!
When you work on a series such as Knutby, are the schedules quite tight and do you score episodes in chronological order?
Yes, it’s a quite tight deadline once the editing is locked. I had 5-6 days to score each episode and I did it in a chronological order. However, since I already gave them so much music the editor had already spread out the same themes on different episodes. Sometimes it was great and sometimes they needed replacement. Prior to locking the episodes, I saw which of my music they repeatedly used, then I went on and recorded strings and other things on those as a template because there was just not enough time to record new strings for each cue. So, by the time I was scoring EP6 I think EP3 was already on air!
When you spot a movie how many times do you like to see it before the ideas about the music begin to formulate?
I like to spot the movie and take notes with pen and paper the first time I see it. In my experience the unbiased first impression is always the best! Then I put the movie in Pro-Tools and watch it again. This time I put out markers with cue names and further notes about where I really want a certain cue to go emotionally.
When thinking about music in a film do you consider any scenes that you think could benefit from not having music?
Absolutely, silence is as important as the music in my opinion! It can create so much tension. A good example is the first 30 minutes of “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” Totally quiet and totally magic. And they could have had music written by my absolute favourite, Ennio Morricone, who scored the movie, if they wanted!
Can I ask what musical education did you have, and was it music for film that led you to studying music?
I studied Jazz in high school with double bass as my main instrument and then went on studying for two more years. After that I got really fed up with school and picked up the violin, accordion, mandolin, and other instruments on my own. I was always curious on different timbres and sound and really wanted to play them myself without being academic about it.
There is a song on the soundtrack for Knutby, did you also work on this or was it the work of someone else and who is the vocalist?
The vocalist is Alba August, one of the main characters; “Anna” from the series. She’s a true multi talent and releases a lot of music as an artist by her own. The song “Du får göra som du vill” by Partik Isaksson was a big radio hit in Sweden at the time when the happenings of the series took place, early 2000s. In EP2 “Anna” and her boyfriend “Johnny” are singing this song live at a party and some brilliant person came up with the idea to finish of the series with this song.
In 2018 you scored the movie Esamma I Rymden, which was a futuristic story, and a movie entitled Sune vs Sune you are credited alongside Joel Danell on the movies, did you collaborate, or did you contribute pieces to the score individually?
Joel is a great, his is an old friend of mine and he was in a tight spot and needed to share the load on some projects. We wrote some music together and some of it he wrote, but I helped arranging and polishing it. It’s actually great to have a writing partner sometimes. Scoring by your own can be a lonesome process at times….
What for you is the main purpose of music in film?
Film music is like a character on its own, but often going other ways than the films actual characters. They are pushing forward the music is pushing backward vice versa. It’s hard to do this and I often follow the action more than I want. For me, the ideal film music is when it’s telling something that you can’t see on the screen.
In recent years several busy film music composers have utilized orchestrators sometimes more than one, do you like to work on your own orchestrations and is orchestration just as important as the composing of the music?
Usually I’m recording everything myself, so there’s even no sheet music to deal with! I like to write music in great detail but if it’s going be recorded at the stage I will use an orchestrator.
I was going to ask if you performed on any of your scores, but you already answered this, what about conducting I suppose this does not really apply?
I perform a lot! My music studio is literally flooded with various instruments. When it comes to recording ensembles outside my own studio I’m more of a control room person. You could also say that I suck at conducting!
What is next for you?
Currently I am writing music for a new TV-series for STV, the Swedish national television called “Spelskandalen” by director Patrik Eklund. It’s based on a big sports betting scandal that took place in 1990. The music will be totally different from Knutby, more of an uptempo heist feel and a lot of drums, guitars and nostalgia synths! I´m also working on a movie by Mårten Klingberg starring Lena Ohlin and Rolf Lassgård called “Andra Akten” It’s a feel-good romantic drama and it’s gonna be great. It’s the third time I have collaborated with Mårten and our previous movie “Ur Spår” will premiere in cinemas at the beginning of 2022.
Many thanks to the composer for his time and patience..
Coppelia is a movie that manages to successfully combine charming animation and live action dance in a modern retelling of the love story between Swan and Franz. Which is based upon the 2008 production by The Dutch National Ballet. The relationship between the two central characters is jeopardized on this re-imagining by a cosmetic surgeon Dr. Coppelius and his remarkably beautiful protégée Coppelia. Through the fiery Swan’s quest to uncover the truth about the mysterious and charismatic doctor, the townspeople begin to realise that in an increasingly image conscious culture – it’s never been more important to be yourself. Directed by Steven De Beul, Ben Tesseur and Jeff Tudor, Coppelia, has a score by respected composer Maurizio Malagnini, who put his own musical stamp upon popular TV series such as Call the Midwife, and The Paradise, as well as creating an enchanting and robust soundtrack for Peter and Wendy at Christmas time in 2015.
His music for Coppelia is probably one of his best works to date and is overflowing with wonderfully romantic and emotive compositions, the composer utilising the string section to its full capacity, via lush and sweeping melodies and cheeky and mischievous interludes performed pizzicato. It also contains charming and lilting piano solos, vibrant brass and percussion and a scattering of electronically generated instrumentation.
One of the many stand out tracks being Grand Waltz (track number 8) which is as the title hints grand and opulent in everywhere. This is a wonderous sounding work and we at MMI recommend it without reservation.
Composer Eric Neveux is another creative talent, who is chameleon-like when writing for film and can tailor and adapt his music to any genre and any scenario, one of his latest works is for De Son Vivant(Peaceful). Neveux has fashioned a compelling and delicate sounding work, his subtle melodic content creating highly emotional passages and interludes that are touching and moving, his light yet powerful score is filled to the brim with eloquent and elegant tone poems, performed by piano and strings, with solo violin at times making an appearance, which is fleeting but present, the score can at times be downbeat and somewhat melancholy, but this is the attraction for me at least, I love subtleness and fragility, and the composer does this perfectly with his music.
He introduces at certain points within the score solo piano, again this is fleeting but totally effective. This is no way grandiose or even overly thematic, but the music is alluring and at times oozes mystery and apprehension. I adored the composers score for Cezanne et Moi which he penned in 2016, and De Son Vivant is another score that I think I will be listening to a lot. Available on digital platforms, its one for your collection.
Dwaal Spoor is a dramatic thriller made for TV, it focuses upon the disappearance of a young girl who goes missing, her grandfather who is a retired detective attempts to distance himself from the investigation but soon finds himself leading his own enquiries because he can see how the girl’s disappearance is affecting his family. His love for his granddaughter driving him to cross lines and boundaries to find her. The score by Belgian composer Steven Willaert, has to it a solemn aura, but also a rather beautiful one. T times his music for this TV movie evoked the sound and style of Johan Soderqvist, as in it is complex but so simple and so affecting. The composer makes effective use of solo instruments such as piano and guitar and combines these with synthetic sounds and icy sounding strings to create tense, calming, and dramatic moods. There are also brass flourishes which are understated and percussive components that bring a greater density to the work. Recommended and available on digital platforms.
Evolution is a drama that traces three generations of a family, from a surreal memory of World War II to modern day Berlin, unable to process their past in a society still coping with the wounds of its history. Composer Dascha Dauenhauer has come up with a soundtrack that is certainly innovative and combines vocals with electronics and a scattering of conventional solo performances to realise an inventive and effecting sound.
The score is available on digital platforms, and I would say well worth checking out because it is so different and has to it a vibrant freshness.
Directed by Torquil Jones, 14. Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible premiered on November 29, 2021, on Netflix. Fearless Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in seven months. Is he successful well you will have to watch the film, the music is by award winning composer Nainita Desai, who once again creates a highly attractive soundtrack whilst enhancing and supporting the action on screen. Her music is always excellent, and this score is no exception, in fact it stands out amongst all her recent scores, it is varied, vibrant and dripping with a rich thematic presence, but always serves the movie. A fusion of symphonic and synthetic, with the conventional instrumentation complimenting the electronic contributions and vice versa. Superb.
Life is so cruel for a little girl named Winky. She has been forced to leave her native China for the mysterious and distressing world of a place named Holland. But she gradually adapts and finds solace by becoming attached to Sara, an old pony. Of course, her parents would never allow her to have a horse but at school she learns that an old man with a white beard called Santa Claus brings presents to all the good children in Holland. So, she decides that she will ask him for a horse. And that is the plot of the 2005 movie, Het Paard van Sinterklaas. ( A Horse for Winky) .A Dutch family film which received several awards and was re-released in 2006 because it was so popular.
The score is the work of composer Johan Hoogewijs, who also composed an atmospheric score for Kinderen van de Collaboratie. A Dutch made documentary that concentrates of events during the Second World War, when tens of thousands of Belgians collaborated with the Nazi regime. Their children look back and testify about the war period. What did their parents do, why did they collaborate, and how do their children feel about it now?
The composer’s music for Het Paard van Sinterklaas is as one can imagine lighter, sweeter, and more thematic, with the composer creating melancholy interludes and feel-good compositions throughout. It’s a score that is likeable but whether one would return to it after the initial listen is another matter, give it a listen on digital platforms.
Anna, is a young and innocent woman who moves to Knutby to become part of the free church congregation as a child minder, which at first to her seems like a warm and caring community. But soon the honeymoon period that she experiences there ends abruptly, and manipulation, power games, social exclusion, group pressure, brainwashing, fanaticism, and both more and less religiously sanctioned left-wing chatter end in murder and grief. This is a fact based focusing upon the infamous Knutby case. The series is based on the novel by author Jonas Bonnier and directed by Goran Kapetanovic.
The musical duties on the series are undertaken by composer Andreas Tengblad who tense and atmospheric score plays a major part within the storyline and helps to create an uneasy and somewhat malevolent mood throughout. It is a score that once heard you will want to re-listen, there is a great air of melody present throughout the work, and the action cues or the more apprehensive pieces to contain fragments and hints of melodious interludes. It’s a mix of symphonic, chorale, and electronic, but the synthetics are well done and never jar or clash with the conventional performances, the choral performances are flawless and rather unsettling, the composer at times employing a whispering behind shadowy musical passages.
It’s a score I would say that you should own or at least give it a try, its dark, enticing, at times celestial, and chilling, its sinister persona drawing the listener in and fixing itself into their subconscious. Available on the likes of Spotify. And look out for an interview with the composer here on MMI soon.
Well, something that is not available on digital platforms is the 5Oth Anniversary edition of Fiddler on the Roof the movie version soundtrack. The three compact discs set which is released on La La Land records, contains no less than fifty-nine tracks, yes fifty-nine. This classic musical movie soundtrack was long overdue for a re-issue and who better than La La Land to do it. I remember going to see the movie when I was sixteen years old at a grand cinema which was called the Regent but sadly has now for many years been a Boots the chemist superstore in Brighton. (at least it was not a bingo hall).
So, follow me up West Street in Brighton to the pedestrian crossing across North Street and opposite the famous Brighton Clock Tower stands a large Boots the chemist, which is situated in Queens Road the main road to the railway station. The Boots building goes around the corner into North Street, and this is where The Regent stood, a gorgeous Cinema, which was originally a dance hall but became in later years the flagship picture house of the Rank Organization. The Regent in the 1960’s and 1970’s was the Cinema in Brighton where all the big movies were shown, Oliver, Half, a Sixpence, Fiddler on the Roof, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, Mary Poppins, Cromwell, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the Russian made War and Peace. etc all were screened there, and I can still see people queuing around the block on weekdays as well as weekends if I close my eyes. This was a plush cinema a luxurious picture palace in every sense of the title. A wide set of steps led up to the box office and the Cinema entrance, one walked into a large and rather lofty entrance hall, with thick red carpet and staff in smart uniforms. I remember the Regent for the coming attractions posters and stills, where they would advertise films that were coming that one could examine whilst waiting to get a selection of goodies that they had to help the audience get through the movie.
Fiddler on the Roof was screened in 70mm full stereophonic sound etc, and I loved it. I think at the time I wanted to be Topol. Anyway, this new expanded edition of the songs and the score is incredible, firstly the sound quality is greatly improved from the LP and the original compact disc releases, there is so much material here, outtakes and unused material, alternate versions, and playbacks. I am sure we all know the songs from the musical. But just in case I thought I would mention a few.
Tradition, which is the impressive opening number of the musical performed by with much conviction by Topol and the cast, with some fantastic music adapted and orchestrated by John Williams and Alexander Courage, featuring the iconic violin performance by Isaac Stern. Then there is If I were a Rich Man, Sunrise Sunset, Sabbath Prayer, the fantastic Dream Sequence, Chava Ballet Scene, and so many more, the latter being particularly affecting and poignant. Plus, on this edition we are treated to several score tracks. This is in my opinion a great release which rekindled my love of the musical and brought back so many memories of going to the cinema in the 1970’s. Well worth investing in a copy of this, available now, go get it. It’s a Miracle of Miracles.
Produced, restored, mixed, and mastered in high resolution by Mike Matessino from the 1-inch 8-track soundtrack masters for the main program material, the re-issue is a limited edition of just 5000 and comes with wonderful art work by Jim Titus and an informative booklet filled with info by Matessino, which also provides a detailed account of the creation of the score, which was recorded in England, and from that recording at The Anvil Studios there are never before seen photographs. Then there is a second booklet, that is a colourful program guide. Highly recommended.
About musicals, one I can recommend that is currently airing on Netflix is Tick, Tick, Boom. Great movie, solid performances, inspired direction by Lin-Manuel Miranda, great songs, and music by the sadly missed Jonathan Larson, who the film is about. I won’t review it, so it’s just to say if you have the time then sit, watch, listen and enjoy.
Also, whilst checking this out on Netflix why not click onto Spotify etc, and sample the musical delights of Lin-Manuel Miranda, in the form of his latest release Encanto, which is available in multi-lingual editions and also there is Hamilton the musical and Vivo, as well as In the Heights. All fantastic listening experiences.
Danny Elfman is a composer we all know and love or not love what ever the case is. His latest score is for the movie The Woman in the Window, which is a work that I consider to be one of his most accomplished in recent years. The crime, drama is directed by Joe Wright and is airing on Netflix, it has an impressive cast list that includes Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julien Moore, Brian Tyree Henry and Anthony Mackie. Anna Fox (Adams) is Living in denial, the depressed, pill-popping child psychologist, has been hiding away in her dingy Manhattan brownstone apartment for nearly a year. She is separated from her husband and her young daughter. And is struggling with her agoraphobia and intense panic attacks.
Then, across the street she sees a new family moving in. Anna decides to try and help herself and distract attention away from her many problems by basically observing the family and trying to analyse the lives of the unsuspecting new tenants. Then, one night whilst she is watching she sees what she thinks is a brutal murder following an argument one night in the house across the way, she sees tempers flare and a kitchen knife gleaming in the darkness. But, has she witnessed a killing or could it be the effects of her alcohol and medicated brain playing tricks upon her? Elfman’s moody sounding score is at times as claustrophobic as the main character’s existence, but then the composer adds simple but hauntingly melodic tone poems which give the atmosphere a lift at times, I suppose the central character with depression has good days and bad days and this I think is reflected in the music on the soundtrack.
The music can also be harrowing and unsettling, but the subject matter within the movie calls for a darker approach and Elfman delivers. Symphonic textures compliment and work with electronic sounds creating and supporting throughout. This is one of my favourite Elfman scores in recent years and one that you should take the time to check out. Go to Netflix watch the movie and watch how well the music underlines and works with the images and the storyline. Recommended.
Pascal Gaigne and Paula Olaz have collaborated on a delightful score for the movie Nora, as with every score penned by Gaigne it is filled with so many wonderfully haunting musical themes, each overflowing with a special emotive and effecting sound and style. Its not what I would call over the top or grand, but the intimacy of its delicate and fragile music wins the listener over straight away. There is a warmth and an alluring aura to this work that just works and makes it a compelling and rewarding addition to any film music collection.
That’s all for this time, back soon I do not doubt with more soundtrack releases.
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