All posts by jonman492000

DON BANKS. UNSUNG HERO OF THE SILVER SCREEN.

 

 

 

Australian-born composer and multi-instrumentalist, trained on piano, saxophone, violin and trombone. The son of a jazz musician, he grew up and was educated in Melbourne. After serving with the Army Medical Corps during the war years, he studied at the University Conservatorium of Music and graduated with a diploma in composition. Banks moved to England in 1950 to continue his training under the Hungarian émigré Matyas Seiber, while supporting himself financially as a sideman in a dance band.

 

 

During the 1950’s, he composed a number of concertos and chamber music which attracted critical notice. He won several prestigious awards, including the Sir Arnold Bax Society Medal (1959). One of his works, ‘Four Pieces for Orchestra’ was performed by the London Philharmonic in 1954. Due in part to his father’s legacy, he also remained very much steeped in jazz, both as a player and as arranger. He became more prolific as a jazz composer after cultivating a friendship with Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. The resulting creative partnership spawned a series of works which fused classical music and jazz, including “Settings from Roget” (1966). He later created pieces like ‘Nexus’ (1971), for jazz quartet and symphony orchestra; and ‘Take 8’ (1973) for jazz and string quartet. Furthermore, Banks was at the cutting edge of combining traditional acoustic instruments with electronics, including using some of the first available synthesizers, eventually becoming a founding member of the British Society for Electronic Music.

 

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Primarily for commercial reasons, Don Banks joined Hammer studios in 1962. He wrote several atmospheric scores for thrillers and horror films, working in tandem with musical directors Philip Martell and John Hollingsworth. Best among a body a body of diverse and polished works, are his jazzy, typically 60’s ‘film noir’ score for Hysteria (1965); his eerie, dramatic theme for Nightmare (1964), full of foreboding and hidden terror; and the equally evocative score for The Reptile (1966), with its predominant Indian motifs.

 

Banks left Hammer after five years to resume, what he regarded as more serious musical pursuits. In 1972, he returned to Australia to take up a position with the Canberra School of Music, followed thereafter by appointments to the music board of the Australian Council for the Arts and as head of composition to the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music. Physically frail and afflicted for the last eight years of his life by leukemia, he died in September 1980, aged 56.

 

INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER, T.R.JOSSET.

After listening to THE ROPE AND THE GUN,I contacted the composer to congratulate them on the soundtrack, he was very kind and agreed to talk to MMI, about this work, his background and his methods of working on film music projects.

My thanks to the composer for his time, patience and also the quick response to my questions.

 

Where and when were you born and what would you say are your earliest memories of music of any kind?

I was born in 1988 in a tiny little village in the North of France, in Normandy. I’m the youngest of 4.5 children who all played music taking piano lessons from an old lady who used to hit your fingers or kick her piano when you played a wrong note! My father listened to Opera or to Blues having done a PhD on the relationships between men and women in America through the history of Blues. My mother came from the USA and grew up in working class Irish neighbourhood with little money always jealous of her friends who played any music. She knew that she would have musical children whatever happened. SO my earliest memories of music are probably just hearing my father play some Robert Johnson or my mother blasting Bruce Springsteen in the house!

 

What musical training or education have you had?

 

I learned to read and write music with this old lady before I could read and write words. And then, once the basis of music theory was acquired, I learned to play the piano with her. Starting from very simple tunes going on to more difficult and technical pieces of classical music. When I was 11 or 12, I discovered I wanted to play the drums and so took classes at the local music school. Quickly after that, I also took trumpet lessons, but never went very far with them. In middle school or high school, I started taking composition classes and a little more advanced music theory and so learned harmony and structure and so on.

 

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I know you write for shorts and also have been involved in scoring of smaller productions, how did you become involved in writing for film?

 

The first thing I scored was for a friend of the families who built a website to promote his comic book about kings of Israel. He made a little flash animation and wanted music to accompany it and so I wrote a little piece of music which I clumsily produced on my mother’s work computer. After that, I tried a lot to copy soundtracks of movies I liked and focused on the composition a lot before trying to produce the sounds, you know what I mean? It’s only much later that I focused on the production and how to create the sounds.

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THE ROPE AND THE GUN is a soundtrack of sorts, by this I mean that there is no film, it’s a project you undertook because you wanted to write a more grandiose score is that correct?

 

Yes, in a way. The small films and projects I usually score are much simpler and are fitted better with minimalist music and atmospheres and ambiances. I could wait around until I get a project that warrants a gigantic orchestra and powerful and complex composition, but I don’t have patience and when I want to write something I just go for it. Similarly, I wanted to write an orchestral soundtrack and came up with a simple story for an action filled movie called Operation Moonrise:

 

 

 

How long did it take to write the soundtrack for THE ROPE AND THE GUN?

 

I started in September 2016 and really took my time. The official release of The Rope & The Gun was August 4th, 2017. I finished composing everything 3-4 months before the released date and then spent the rest of the time mixing everything, rerecording all the live tracks and mastering.

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You were obviously inspired by the music of the Italian western when working on this project, what composers or artists would you say have influenced you in the way that you write music or indeed the way in which you approach a project?

 

When I’m not working on music, I listen all day to soundtracks from modern movies or older ones. I think what interests me most about soundtracks is story. Hearing how a theme evolves from start to finish in a movie. I love everything John WIlliams for example and since he tends to write very long themes going through hundreds of key changes, his range of themes and how they change is just fascinating to me. Of course, I could add Hans ZImmer to my influences because he is, in a way, the direct opposite to John Williams. He focused on the sound, on new sounds on new instruments and different arrangements while using very simple themes.
I usually just start soundtrack radios on Google Play Music and then mark the ones I want to listen to more. Then I usually focus on one composer and listen to everything. For example, this week, I was focused all on Michael Giacchino. A few weeks ago, I was listening to everything Marco Beltrami! I believe that if I listen to these master soundtracks constantly, some of their genius will slip into my mind! But it may just be like a student sleeping on their text books hoping that the knowledge magically comes through!

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The score for THE ROPE AND THE GUN was I think mainly an electronic/samples work, but the guitar solo I think was the actual instrument, did you perform on the soundtrack and what percentage of the score was electronic/samples and what parts were performed on instruments?

Anything that is Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Harmonica, slide guitar, resonator guitar, electric guitars, 12 string guitar, fiddle (in a small amount), some percussion and so on was recorded by me with my own instruments and my own microphones. The Rope & The Gun, for the most part, is those instruments. I wanted them to be the front row of the music and sounds of this soundtrack. If I had to but a number on it, it would be 60% real recorded instruments. 30% Orchestra Samples and 10% Synths.

 

 

Are you planning another recording like THE ROPE AND THE GUN, Maybe a Giallo themed work, or another western?

 

I’d love to, but I’m trying to broaden my range. Right now, I’m working on a couple of films that people have asked me to score. Very small things. And at the same time, I’m making another fake Soundtrack that’s going to be much more focused on Synths and percussion. There will be a string section and I still have a lot of composition to do to figure out how much I want to use Sampled sounds and how much I want to record live with a String Section. Also, I need to evaluate how much of a budget I have to play with. Orchestras are expensive!

 

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THE ROPE AND THE GUN is available in digital form on SPOTIFY etc, will there be a compact disc release?

 

There won’t. At the level at which I distribute things, hard copies are just not worth it and distributing digitally is so much simpler and less costly.

 

Have you worked with an orchestra or a small ensemble of players?

 

For The Rope & The Gun, no. Anything recorded live was done by me. In the past, yes, I’ve worked with a lot of bands and ensembles composing, recording and arranging a lot. I’m working for the next fake soundtrack to hire an orchestra to record key moments or the whole thing depending on budget and timing.

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Are there any genres in film, that you are attracted to or favour and what was the first movie you ever saw?

 

I must go in with the conviction that I can write any kind of music. Whether it’s true or not is another problem. When I talk to directors and filmmakers, they usually use a lot of temp music for editing and get attached to it. At times, I end up having to copy things without them being too close to the original music to avoid copyrights and so on. But I usually try to make two different tracks so that I can suggest something different and we work from there. I think I’d be really into writing one of those big Pirate movie scores, not really in the style of Pirates of the Caribbean, but you know. Also, I always wanted to write music like John Powell. I think in the end he is the one I admire the most. Scores like How to Train your Dragon are just incredible to me and I really look up to John Powell. I also have a Noire detective movie idea I want to score almost in cliche you know?
But whether I can write any style or not, once I start, I’m really faced with the blank page, the empty staves and no idea what the hell I’m going to do. That’s a drive as much as it is extremely stressful.

When working on a movie project it is probably quite restricting because of the timing and the sequences that you are writing for, with THE ROPE AND THE GUN, did the fact that there were no timings or set durations of sequences make it easier to be able to develop the themes within the soundtrack?

No, on the contrary I think. As much as hitting frames perfectly and dealing with unhappy directors and having precise queues can sound restrictive, frustrating and boring, these are great restrictions that make you find ways and tricks to manage them. The advantage of having a movie to score as opposed to doing a fake soundtrack, is that story really takes over the score. For these Fake Soundtracks I make, I need to write down some elements of plot to force myself to see some pictures and then can score with something happening in each piece!
The restrictions you get on films are helpful to get your inspiration going.

 

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THE ROPE AND THE GUN.

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I must be truthful and say I literally just stumbled upon this great soundtrack when I was just looking around the various sites online. This is a superb soundtrack, but I also should be honest with you and say I knew nothing of the movie or even if it was indeed a movie or maybe a game or it’s just an album? Well the latter applies it is a soundtrack to what is called a fake western, so no film sadly, but a soundtrack yes there is and I am so grateful that it has been produced and released. You know me I am a sucker for a western and with a title such as THE ROPE AND THE GUN well I am sold straight away, but this is truly wonderful, there are so many mini salutes musically to composers such as Ennio Morricone, Francesco De Masi, Bruno Nicolai and others such as Stelvio Cipriani, Nico Fidenco, Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, Franco Micalizzi, Carlo Savona and their like, it is a tour de force of musical sounds and colours that hail directly from a bygone age of movie music with the focus being upon the sound and style of the Spaghetti western. However, saying that there is also an originality to the sound and style employed, the composer T.R.JOSSET fusing sounds of the more traditional western as in banjo and fiddles plus atmospheric and grand sounding horns in the style of Copeland with the now stock sounds that we now associate with the Italian or Spaghetti western as in, Harmonica, whistling, guitar and trumpet solos and upbeat and catchy interludes which in this case are straight out of the Morricone/Nicolai text book of music for westerns. So, it’s good guys! There are also a handful of Mexican Hispanic sounding guitar flamenco type passages that add weight and atmosphere to the proceedings. One track in-particular, is cue number three, YOUR PLACE AMONGST THE SWINE, (MAGDALENAS THEME) reminded me of the style employed by Carlo Rustichelli on MAN PRIDE AND VENGEANCE, not a western I know, but it has that kind of vibrancy, that Spanish/South American influence and flavour. Another piece is track number four, ARRIVING TO REDWATER, which is a blend of styles and instrumentation, with percussive elements giving support to banjo, guitar, harmonica and jaws harp, which combined to create an earthy and haunting piece. Then we are treated to TROUBLE BE A HAUNTED PREACHER (PREACHERS THEME) which opens with organ solo, giving the track a kind of irreverent but at the same time Holy sound, this soon fades and is replaced by guitar, backed with subdued percussive elements, that usher in slow but determined sounding strings, which deliver a driving and somewhat unrelenting theme that is noble but at the same time becomes forceful. I suppose the composer has been able to let loose fully with his creative and inventive ideas as he is not restricted by sequences and timings in the ordinary way of scoring a movie, and this certainly shows as he has fully developed some rich and attractive themes and has created a soundtrack that is filled with tension, drama and hints of melancholy.
It is one of those albums that one listens to and as soon as it is finished you return to the beginning and play it again. Well I did anyway. There can be no highlight tracks here because it would be impossible to single out any one, all the music here is good all of it is haunting and riveting. For fans of the Spaghetti western this will be a smorgasbord of sounds and styles, a plethora of musical references that will evoke so many memories. Fuzzy guitars rule alongside soaring trumpets and wailing harmonicas in the superb soundtrack to a film that was never made. Although the score is not symphonic, it certainly sounds it, one would be hard pressed to pick this out as a synthesised work, as it is of the highest quality. Please don’t miss this one, you will be sorry. I look forward to more from T,R, JOSSET.

ANNABELLE-CREATION.

 

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Movies within the horror genre I think need music more than any other type of film. The horror movie has increased in popularity year upon year and the musical scores for films within this category have also become the objects of fascination from collectors of film music and fans of the horror genre as a whole. By this I mean if a collector buys the score to a horror movie and a sequel appears they will invariably buy the score from the sequel even if they have not seen the movie, it also goes without saying that film music collectors buy when they know what composer has scored the film, again in most cases without seeing the movie, they will buy a score because it is by a certain composer. When I heard that Benjamin Wallfisch was onboard for ANNABELLE  CREATION, I was I must say surprised because the original movie had been scored by Joseph Bishara, and I naturally assumed he would be providing the chills and starts and musical jumps for this instalment. For some reason, I associated Wallfisch with films that had a more lush or romantic soundtrack, such as BITTER HARVEST ETC. Which is of course so wrong of me, as we all know that  Wallfisch has worked on numerous movies all varying genres. CONQUEST 1453,  HAMMER OF THE GODS,  A CURE FOR LIFE and PRESSURE among them, plus he scored the TV mini series THE ENFIELD HAUNTING.  ANNABELLE  CREATION is set to be a popular sequel by the looks of things and judging by the little bit of buzz that is surrounding it. The score is a commanding one and a soundtrack that at times is fully atonal but then shifts a gear and alters direction becoming somewhat melancholy and warm with an almost childlike air about it. But, and with horror scores and films there is always a but isn’t there, BUT, underneath the safe and secure sounding interludes there is percolating a seething and ominously foreboding sound that is filled to the brim with terrifying stabs and laced with virulent and guttural sounding passages that infiltrate the work and overwhelm any signs of calm and traces of serenity. The opening track, THE CREATION is at first a low-key affair, with Barry-esque strings and woods intertwining to create a melodic and delicate sounding piece, the strings become more prominent but then the composer moves the composition into a more sinister sounding persona, with a slightly off kilter piano adding a touch of menace and apprehension to the proceedings. The cue turns darker towards the end of its duration, with the appearance of swirling strings that purvey an atmosphere of tension and anxiety bringing it to a close. Track number two, THE MULLINS FAMILY, is a brief but pleasant and effecting piece for piano, the fragile sounding piano being underlined by delicate use of the string section. Track number three, A NEW HOME is slightly less edgy and foreboding initially, with a warm yet melancholy sounding cello solo giving depth to the composition, but all the time there is a somewhat uneasy background or underlying sound which although in the background seems to prevail above the cello and alerts the listener that maybe not all is quite right.

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Track number four, BEE’S ROOM is where the score really begins to get into the deep and evil sounding material, the composer effectively employing the string section to conjure up an atmosphere that is uncomfortable and chilling, but saying this mid-way through piano begins to intervene and adds a calming quality. There are no calm or subdued nuances within track number five however, ANNABELLE AWAKENED, opens with strings again, which effectively hiss and swirl in a maelstrom of sounds which are bolstered using brass stabs, electronics and muffled percussive elements. ANNABELLE THE CREATION is a score that is at times delicate and even fragile, but along the way there are many surprises musically speaking, which literally jump out at the listener and grab their attention. It is a classy horror score, with something for everyone within it, it is inventive, commanding, perplexing and above all, down-right scary, with an almost unrelenting aura of menace being dominant throughout, until track number, 21, THE HOUSE IS BLESSED when the composer adds a little bit of hope in the form of melodic strings, and also in ADOPTION with a piano solo which I would say puts one at ease, but with this score one never knows whether it’s safe to let your guard down, and this certainly applies as we go to the last cue from the score CONDUIT which is a filled with a terrifying and chaotic sound as if the evil is returning after a brief respite. One for the collection.

 

Available on WATER TOWER MUSIC USA.  and  SILVA SCREEN UK.

TRACK LISTING.

1.
Creation
3:42
2.
The Mullins Family
0:43
3.
A New Home
1:28
4.
Bee’s Room
3:01
5.
Annabelle Awakened
2:18
6.
Bunkmates
1:01
7.
Shadows and Sheets
1:25
8.
Bee’s Photo
1:21
9.
Puppets and Mischief
1:16
10.
Your Soul
2:48
11.
Avatars
1:48
12.
Demon Fishing
2:47
13.
The Possession
1:44
14.
Linda’s Suspicion
0:45
15.
Samuel’s Death
2:26
16.
Our Beloved Bee
3:51
17.
Jannabelle
2:58
18.
Transformation
1:29
19.
Demonquake
2:36
20.
Police
1:37
21.
The House is Blessed
1:42
22.
Adoption
1:08
23.
Conduit
1:44
24.
You Are My Sunshine (Charles McDonald)

 

 

 

 

BLOOD FEAST.

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ScreamWorks Records invites its listeners to a Blood Feast, which is an  official remake of the 1963 horror by Herschell Gordon Lewis. This new version of the gory story was co-written and directed by Marcel Waltz and tells the story of Fuad Ramses (Robert Rusler), an American entrepreneur who moves to France with his family in order to open an American diner. With business going slowly, Ramses also works night shifts in a museum of ancient Egyptian culture. Tortured by visions from the Goddess Ishtar (Sadie Katz), Fuad starts to spice up his meals with unlikely ingredients….

The musical score for BLOOD FEAST, comes courtesy of German born composer, Klaus Pfreunder, who has created a harrowing and commanding work via sounds synthetic and symphonic, or at least I think there are some conventional instruments within the score as it is hard to distinguish between electronic and symphonic as the work fuses them both flawlessly. The opening cue entitled THE BEAST, (INTRO) is a piece which sets the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow and immediately grabs the listeners attention, with the composer utilising the sounds of a beating heart and over this we hear the sounds of what I can only imagine to be the beast referred to in the track title, there is a growling and shrieking effect within the opening of the cue, that is edged with sinewy sounding icy strings and jagged brass stabs, with the composer adding a woman’s scream but distorting it to great effect, the heart beat continues and becomes faster and more pronounced as the cue progress’s and develops gaining momentum and becoming more virulent and menacing. The composer fashions an uneasy and uncomfortable composition which can only be described as taught and intensely harrowing, filled with tension, darkness and foreboding. Track number two, NEW DAY is somewhat more low key, and opens with piano underlined by strings, in fact it evoked memories of Christopher Youngs wonderful opening theme for THE HAUNTED SUMMER, with delicate piano taking centre stage and given support by light and romantically laced strings, but the mood of the cue very soon alters as the piano becomes more urgent and the strings also change course becoming apprehensive, there is also a sound in the background that reminded me of BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW, this haunting and fearful cue establishes an atmosphere that is edgy and richly shadowy, but at the same time retains a mood that is tinged with a fragile but melancholy air. The music for BLOOD FEAST is probably not going to be everyone’s idea of a good score, but I liked it and loved the way in which the composer integrated Edvard Grieg’s wonderfully evil and mischievous sounding THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING from Pier Gynt, into one of the main cues, track number 9, THE FEAST. Synthetic or symphonic does not matter really, it is a score that is deliciously powerful and a work that oozes a sound that is affecting and disturbing. The score also includes a handful of songs, by artists such as, Chilli con Curtis and Nici Rox, the latter sounding very much like LORDE who have been doing well recently in the music charts. As I say maybe not for everyone, but check it out you never know you may just like it.

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