All posts by jonman492000

soundtrack collector, film music enthusiast, what ever you like to call it I just love film scores.

Nuno Malo.

 

 

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Nuno Malo has worked on many feature films (including THE CELESTINE PROPHECY), several short films, high profile commercials, and has also released 3 instrumental solo CD albums: ‘Cloud and Water’, ‘Star-Crossing’, and ‘Morning Star’. ‘Star-Crossing’ was nominated for a Golden Melody Award (the Equivalent to a Grammy in Taiwan). In addition to his film credits, Nuno has been awarded with many prestigious international awards and accolades including a BMI Film Music Award/Scholarship (At USC), Los Angeles USA, The Malcolm Arnold Prize, London UK, The Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal, London UK, The Henry Purcell Composition Prize, London UK and the Camões Song Competition, Portugal.

 

John Mansell: You began by being involved with film making itself, when did you decide to start to concentrate on writing music for film and was being involved with movies something that you had always wanted to do?

Nuno Malo: Absolutely. I always had a passion for films, from an extremely early age. As a child I watched obsessively as many movies as I could. I did not know I wanted to do music for films then, but I knew that I wanted to be in some way related to films. When I was around 12 years of age I developed a big interest in music, and at 14 it become clear to me that my biggest passion in life was film music and that I would do my best to try to follow down that path, even though at that time it seemed to be like an impossibly hard job to me, and I thought I was miserable at it. But it was then to late to change my mind, as I was completely hooked and heavily obsessed with it.

John Mansell: Where and when were you born?
Nuno Malo: Madeira Island, Portugal, on October 22, 1977

John Mansell: I think your first movie scoring assignment was THE POLICEWOMAN in 2003, how did you become involved with this project?
Nuno Malo: At the time, I just had a piece performed in a Young Composers’ Concert, organized by the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra. I was not present at the concert as I was already living in Los Angeles by this time, but the director of the film was somehow present at the concert and liked my piece. He then contacted me about working on his film. He came to see me in Los Angeles, and I ended up working on the film. He was an immensely kind person and gave me my first opportunity to score a whole film with an Orchestra, which was something that had not been done in Portugal for many years. Since then I have tried my best to bring back the trend of scoring with orchestras in Portugal and I think I have successfully managed to get a few directors and producers to realize its power in film.

John Mansell: Do you conduct all of your film scores, or do you at times have a conductor so that you can monitor the scoring process from the recording booth?
Nuno Malo: I have conducted on a couple of projects, but mostly have sat in the booth, as I thought I should humbly learn more about the process until I think I am really ready to achieve the highest quality of performance out of the orchestra. I eventually want to conduct my scores, as I think it is one of the most fun parts of the process, so I would be sad to miss out on that wonderful opportunity. I conducted the whole music of ‘Cloud and Water’ Album in 2004, with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra, and absolutely loved the experience.

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John Mansell: BACKLIGHT is one of your latest projects; will there be a compact disc release of this score, as the samples sound excellent?

Nuno Malo: Thank you! I am not yet sure about a release of a BACKLIGHT CD, but I had many personal requests, so the likelihood of a release is high, if a Record Label will be interested in putting it out.

John Mansell: AMALIA, is a movie about the famous Portuguese diva Amalia Rodrigues, what size orchestra did you utilize for this particular picture?
Nuno Malo: The size of the Orchestra was around 55 musicians, plus solo cello, guitars and piano which were recorded separately.

John Mansell: You scored an advertisement for ‘Sagres’ entitled DIAMONDS, which starred Pierce Brosnan, which attracted a lot of attention, it had a definite James Bond feel and sound to it, was this something you decided to do, or were you asked by the director to approach it in this way?
Nuno Malo: I was asked by the director to approach it that way, and I think it made sense because the whole advertisement was a kind of homage to the films of James Bond, so I think the music had to play along that road, in order to successfully allude to the well known character.

John Mansell: Do you orchestrate all of your own music for film, and do you think orchestration is an important part of the composing process?
Nuno Malo: I love to orchestrate, and for me it is a very, very important part of the process, where a further personal stamp can be added which helps the music become more personal, and further develop and define a personal style, which is perhaps the most important thing for any composer. I have fully orchestrated most of my scores. However, due to time constraints I have had to use on occasion the help of orchestrators in order to deliver the music on time. But there was never a project or film where I didn’t do at least half of orchestrations.
I really feel that when I orchestrate my pieces, I am still adding compositional ideas, and extra lines, that otherwise would not be there if I had given such a piece to an orchestrator. This is because he would be simply fleshing out from my sketch, and would not adding lines, improving voicings, thickening out certain parts, etc.
I feel that when I orchestrate my music I am given the chance to refine the music, and really take it to the next level by adding things that perhaps in the rush of finishing each cue for the director to hear, there was no time to do everything I intended to do compositionally. I love and treasure this second chance to make the music better!

John Mansell: What musical training did you receive, and what instrument or instruments did you concentrate on whilst studying, and do you perform on your movie scores?
Nuno Malo: I concentrated on piano and classical guitar whilst studying. However, I am an eternal student! I am always learning a new instrument because I love to learn new things. I collect all kinds of ethnic instruments and I learn every year to play new instruments.
I play several different kinds of guitars, like Portuguese guitar (Ethnic Portuguese 12-string guitar), mandolin, dobro, electric guitar, etc…
I also play gusle (Ethnic Balkan violin) which is absolutely beautiful and unusual in tone plus ethnic flutes and Armenian duduk.
I perform extensively on my scores as I love to do it, and I think that it is an opportunity to expand on the orchestra and add another layer of texture. I think it allows us to create more personal textures and sounds by recording our own instruments, rather than limiting ourselves to using just sample libraries. I often also record my voice on my scores. Sometimes solo voice, and other times multi-layered overdubbed choral lines.

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John Mansell: How many times do you like to view a project before you begin to get firm ideas about where music should be best placed and what style of music you will provide?

Nuno Malo: Once or twice. I like to have a fresh approach to the film, and I prefer to remember my first impressions, than to wash them away by viewing the film too many times. At least in the beginning when I am developing the main ideas or themes of the film. Later in the process, after I have composed the main themes and hopefully have captured the essence of the film in them, I don’t mind watching a scene many times over, to perfect it as much as I can with more details in the music, for instance, by playing around with the exact placement of the music or perhaps by doing some orchestration changes in certain cuts in order to dramatically enhance or subdue a moment etc…

John Mansell: ‘Cloud And Water’, is a commissioned album and was released in 2003, who approached you with the idea for this to be recorded and how do you get the inspiration to compose music for such a project?
Nuno Malo: ‘Cloud and Water’ was the second of three commissioned albums by Serena Chen, the first one being Star-Crossing, and the third one being Morning-Star. Cloud and Water is my favourite of the three.
Serena Chen, who was a music colleague of mine in London, is very fond of film music so the stylistic approach for the album was a kind of lyrical, lush and dramatic story-telling. The album is an homage to the Taiwanese Buddhist Master Shin-Yung, who is one of the most well known religious personalities in Asia. Each track in the CD depicts a real situation from his life. So the inspiration was basically his life, which was quite a dramatic one, so it lent itself to musical dramatization. There is a lot of influence from Chinese folk music, which was blended and threaded into a more cinematic orchestral sound, upon the producer’s wishes.

John Mansell: You have utilized a number of orchestras, The Bulgarian State Orchestra being one of them; do you have a preference for any one particular orchestra or any specific recording studio?
Nuno Malo: I worked quite a lot with the Hungarian Radio Orchestra and liked the result very much. They have wonderful sound stages in Eastern Europe, and these have been my preference until now. Of course where budget would allow I would certainly choose a London Orchestra. I also really loved working with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (on THE CELESTINE PROPHECY). To put it simply, better paid orchestras such as in Los Angeles and London, often work harder, play better, and give better results. Unfortunately due to budget restrictions I can’t always work in these two cities, and fortunately there are wonderful alternatives out there, like Hungary, and Czech Republic, which can produce amazing results in most cases.

John Mansell: When a recording is issued or to be issued of one of your scores, do you have any involvement in selecting certain cues to go onto the CD?
Nuno Malo: Usually I do take part in that process.

John Mansell: What composers either classical, contemporary or those who write for film, would you say have influenced you?
Nuno Malo: I have listened a lot, and I really have a wide range of composers and styles that I like and that influenced me. When I was a child Prokofiev was a big influence in captivating my attention to orchestral music, with his wonderful ‘Romeo and Juliet’ score. I also love Mahler, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff.
In the film area, I have been influenced by John Williams, Thomas Newman, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman, James Horner, Alan Silvestri. I tend to favour composers who have a very identifiable style, and strong emotional content in their music, and a fair amount of originality.
I have also been very influenced by such artists as Sting, Pat Metheny, Sade, Yellow Jackets, Huey Lewis and the News, and 80’s pop music in general.

John Mansell: Have you ever decided not to work on a project for any reason, or had music rejected by a producer/director?
Nuno Malo: I have rejected a few films, based either on lack of quality, or inability to agree upon the terms.  Fortunately I have never had my film score rejected. However I have nightmares about it, and dread the day it will happen and it probably will, I am sure. If a composer stays long enough in the film industry, as I plan to do, it’s very rare to not ever have a score rejected! Oh, I have shivers just to think of it.
Actually I did have once a pop song for a commercial rejected. But I was working on spec anyway, so it was not totally unexpected. The replacement was an existing American #1 hit song which they probably planned on using all along, so it did not hurt that much. Having a whole score rejected – That is the nightmare!

John Mansell: In your opinion, what role should music play in a film?
Nuno Malo: I think it depends of the film or on the scene. But my favourite thing is when the music adds an extra layer of emotion or expression. It tries to express something that the movie alone is somehow missing, rather than just illustrating what is already there. However one can’t do that all the time, because it would probably overpower the film. There are all kinds of moments in a film where music plays slightly different roles, and they are all valid, as long as they work to picture. It is up to you and the director to shape a balanced structure that will have subtle moments, and heightened moments. In my opinion the overall story is very important in helping you make decisions about the role of the music on each scene. The idea is to thread a score that takes you on an emotional ride that is unexpected, captivating and fulfilling.

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John Mansell: The usefulness or effectiveness of the temp track is a question that I often asked composer about, do you like to have a temp track installed on the movie to get an idea of what the director or producer thinks would suit the particular project, or do you prefer no music at all so that you have a blank canvas to work on?
Nuno Malo: Most composers always say they hate a temp track! However I think the answer depends a lot on which kind of director/producer you are working with. In general I would say that not having a temp track is a better thing so I have a blank canvas and so the director does not have a pre-conceived idea of what each cue should sound like. I prefer the director to have just a general idea of which type of music genre he would like to have, and to tell me the purpose of music in his film, at a dramatic/emotional level. This way it is more likely that I will be able to compose a more original score, which is usually a better thing.
I always try to compose something that is not derivative from the temp track, and depending on the openness and sensitivity of the director I may or may not manage to influence him into accepting a different musical path from the one he got used too with the temp track.
However on some films where the Director is very inexperienced, or simply does not know what he wants the film to achieve dramatically, it can be of great help to have a temp score, and it might even keep you out of trouble. I have worked on projects where there was no temp at all, and where the director was very unsure of himself, and this lead to having to do countless re-writes because of lack of direction from the director. For a fruitful and pleasant collaboration on a film, I think that a director must have confidence and know what he wants.
Even if not musically at least dramatically, so that the composer can then translate that into a musical language that should result in the director receiving a score that works with the film and that lives inside the realm and vision of the Director. The temp track gives us very good clues as to which direction the music should take, and if a composer if skilled enough it should not be a problem to create something that addresses the dramatic needs of the scene but stays completely away from the temp. Nothing feels better than when a director says, “Your piece is so different from the temp but it works much better”.  Even when the director is addicted to the temp, I believe that it is possible to create a piece that will make the director see it differently. “Copying” the temp is easy, but is not a brave decision from the composer, and should be the last solution in a very bad scenario, and it should never be copying, but be inspired by. In cases where the director/producer actually asks the composer to copy or come really close to the temp, I think that is a case where the composer should ask himself if he should remain in the project, and how much is he willing to let go of his own integrity to please the director, or keep the job.
Fortunately, I have never been asked yet to come really close to a temp track, and have so far been able to luckily resolve “temp addictions” in creative ways.

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John Mansell: Do the directors/producers you have worked with have a great deal of input into the way in which their movies are scored, i.e. what style of music, how much music etc. is to be used within the film?
Nuno Malo: It’s a combination. Usually I try to guide them into the right direction, like not over scoring the picture. Not making understatements with the music. Playing against the picture in some scenes etc. Often they have trusted me and followed my suggestions. The one thing that sometimes doesn’t follow is the amount of music. They sometimes, because of lack of experience with film scores, feel uncomfortable with the scenes being left without music, so they ask me to score more than I think is enough. Maybe they feel they are getting more for their money by having me compose more music, but this is often a big mistake that makes the audience become desensitized about the music as there is too much of it. Spotting the film well is such an important part in order to have a score work in an effective way with the picture.

John Mansell: How much time are you normally given to complete a score, or does this vary from project to project?
Nuno Malo: It varies on the type of film, the amount of work involved, whether or not there is the use of an orchestra, etc. I usually get anywhere between a month and a half to 3 months.
Ideally I like being brought on before the film is completed so I have extra time to develop good themes, this way when the film becomes locked and ready to score, I already have the most important things worked out, which are the themes. The raw material upon which the score will be built and tailored on.

John Mansell: When working on a film score, how do you work out your musical ideas, by this I mean do you use piano, synthesizer or computer?
Nuno Malo: I use all of those methods. It just depends on the music style that I am working on. I often like at a direct connection to an instrument when starting out ideas rather than having immediately the computer. I think it is better when working on melodic and harmonic material. So usually go to my acoustic piano, or sometimes a guitar when the style lends itself to it. However I sometimes use crazy methods. The main title of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY was composed while playing on a synth patch and singing into a microphone that was heavily processed with reverb and delay. Sometimes I like to play with sound patches that help me feel the mood I want to reach with the theme.
Other times I might create a rhythmical pattern or ostinato and after that I’ll literally sing melodic lines and counter-lines to it. Sometimes I’ve also written entirely orchestrated pieces directly onto score paper in Sibelius, without sketching out anything beforehand. I use several different methods, but one thing is key to me, which is I always follow my intuition, and always follow my heart.
Usually what I am playing on an instrument is just a very small percentage of what I am hearing inside my head. Most of my musical ideas are created first in my head or inner ear.
The musical instruments are just like tools to help get an idea out of depths of the mind into the real world. Oh Gosh, I think this might sound pretentious when I am saying it, but it really is the best way to describe the way I feel about my process of creating music.

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John Mansell: Do you think a good score can save a bad movie and vice versa do you think a good film can be spoilt by inappropriate music?
Nuno Malo: This is a very important question, and very tough to answer decisively. I have thought a lot about this topic over the years and discussed it with friends and colleagues. In my opinion music cannot save a bad movie. It can however make it more watchable and more entertaining. I guess we could say that’s already partially saving it, but it is not turning it into a great film. Equally, I also do not think that bad music can really destroy a film, because I can think of several examples of films I really love, but I did not like the score. The music can slightly spoil my experience of the film, but it cannot turn a good movie into a bad movie. Music cannot turn a film into a great movie or an awful one by itself. But it can turn a good film into a pure wonder, or a bad film into an unwatchable one. I guess this is a grey area and I admit I am not fully decided about this issue and will continue to think and ponder on it.

John Mansell: Have you conducted any concerts of your film music, and if not would this be something you would like to do?
Nuno Malo: No I have not. This is indeed something I would love to do in the future.

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?

 

Nuno Malo: I think I am going to work on a Spanish/Portuguese TV series called  ‘Barcelona, Neutral City’. It consists of two episodes of 90 minutes each. It is a period piece set in the First World War, taking place in Barcelona. The tag-line of the film is “An impossible love in a city shaken by the First World War”. That’s all I know about it at the moment.
After that I have THE GREAT GAME by Leonel Vieira, who was the director of JULGAMENTO. There are also two other American films slated which I hope I will soon be able to talk about.

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John Mansell: Many thanks to Nuno Malo, for his time and his patience with all my questions.

Francesco De Masi.

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Born in 1930 in Naples, Italy, Francesco De Masi studied composition at San Pietro a Maiella in Naples under the guidance of Achille Longo, who was also his uncle. De Masi got interested in film music when Longo was asked to compose a soundtrack for a film, and he asked De Masi to be his assistant.Although Francesco De Masi is a gifted and highly original composer, and has scored in excess of 200 motion pictures, the composer has never really received the recognition that he deserves outside of Italy. He has placed his unmistakable musical signature upon these films and although his music for film is not as grandiose or nearly as operatic as that of fellow Italian composers Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, it has the ability to enhance, support and perfectly compliment the action on screen, without being overpowering or intrusive. De Masi died of cancer at the age of 75.

John Mansell: It was whilst still studying that you first became involved with film music?

Francesco De Masi: I was still busy studying in Naples, when I became very attracted to the idea of writing music for the cinema. My teacher Achille Lango, who was also my uncle, was asked to compose the soundtrack for a film and asked me to go to Rome with him to act as his assistant. It was while I was assisting him on this project that I made up my mind to make a career out of writing for film. So I left Naples and moved to Rome and in 1951 I scored my first film; this was not a feature but a documentary which was entitled FIAT PANIS.

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John Mansell: During the following seven years you worked on numerous documentaries.


Francesco De Masi: I remember one series of films in particular. I went on location to Argentina for this and stayed there for about eight months or so with the crew and managed to collect documentation etc. on local music. This was very useful and assisted me a great deal when it came to composing the soundtrack. The film that I initially worked on for this series was entitled, DAGLI APPENNINI ALLE ANDE which was directed by Folco Quilici. They were all about Polynesia.

John Mansell: Like many composers in Italy during the ‘60s you were busy scoring westerns. You were responsible for many soundtracks for these spaghetti sagebrush sagas. One in particular earned you recognition outside of your native country. This was ARIZONA COLT which contained the theme song THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.


Francesco De Masi: I composed the theme and also some of the score for ARIZONA COLT with Alessandro Alessandroni. This was the first time that I had collaborated with him and thankfully this collaboration continued on other film scores and developed into a great friendship. Working with a musician such as Alessandro is always interesting and most certainly always stimulating.

John Mansell: How much time did you get to score westerns that were being produced at that time – taking ARIZONA COLT as an example?
Francesco De Masi: I can only say not long enough time. It is always the same when scoring pictures. The directors want the score ready before you have started and that is the same for each genre, not just westerns. I think that I took three weeks to complete the music for ARIZONA COLT.

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John Mansell: Record companies have recently been re-issuing a number of older soundtracks on compact disc. Do you think there is enough of your music available to collectors?


Francesco De Masi: There have been many records released and also many that have been re-released but having written the music for 211 feature films and hundreds of documentaries, I am sure that not all of my works have been made available. There are a number of jazz scores that feature excellent soloists and there are some television scores that I think would also be of interest.

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John Mansell: Many of your scores contain title songs. Was this something that you were keen to include or did you receive instructions from the director or producers of certain movies to have a song on the score?


Francesco De Masi: I think that having a song on the soundtrack makes it easier for the music to be identified, especially the theme, and this is particularly true with westerns.

John Mansell: You have been involved with music for the cinema for half a century and have worked on many types of movies. Are you more at home working on one particular genre of film?


Francesco De Masi: Let us say that I am allergic to stupid and vulgar films. I don’t really have preferences for any genre. On the contrary, I think it’s interesting to find, each time, the best solutions to any requirement arising from the different genres of film.

John Mansell: Your scores for the cinema are instantly recognizable. Do you orchestrate your own work all of the time or have you used orchestrators or arrangers at times?
Francesco De Masi: I normally take care of the orchestration of my own scores. I am used to writing in a very big way, almost a complete score at first in rough version. Sometimes due to the lack of time I may use an orchestrator but he has to only do a final draft of all of my indications on the rough version.

John Mansell: During your time within the film industry you must have seen a lot of changes and many new composers appearing on the scene. What do you think of the new generation of film music composers working in Italy at this time?


Francesco De Masi: Excluding very few cases of well prepared young composers, the line up of new composers that are working on films is a little distressing. Most of them lack a good technical knowledge and they are also lacking in the techniques of the actual scoring of motion pictures – these people are just improvising the job. They have little experience and have little or no imagination and lack the courage that is required to work on films. They seem to be reluctant to experiment or try something new.

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John Mansell: As well as your film music you are very interested in classical music. You teach at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and are also the permanent conductor of the Conservatory’s orchestra.
Francesco De Masi: I have recently been doing a tour of the United States with the orchestra from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory. We also performed in Canada. I acted as musical director for opera and symphonic music. I also compose chamber and symphonic music for concert hall performance and have recorded some of this on EDI-PAN records, which is a label that was founded by the late Bruno Nicolai and is now operated by his family. Some of my classical compositions have also been released on the Pentaflowers label.

John Mansell: So have you been influenced by any composers in particular, in the way that you compose music?
Francesco De Masi: I think that anyone who says that they have not been influenced by the music of others, is obviously not being truthful, or they are a genius. I have been influenced by many composers, from Palestrina to Stockhausen, everyone has stimulated me. I was always interested in the harmonic world of Ravel, in the theme construction of Shostakovich and also the counterpoint of Hindemith. These I would say are the main influences for my symphonic music. My jazz influences would, I think, be the likes of Stan Kenton and later by all his followers of the California school. I must admit though, that the encounter that I had with the great composer of film scores, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino was a crucial part of my musical education, and also a very important lesson in the actual technical aspects of scoring film. I studied with him at the Accademia Chigiana of Sienna and went on to be his assistant for a number of years. He taught me all of the necessary elements of the job, from the initial setting to the development, all with absolute accuracy. Which is in my opinion the only way to obtain good results.

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John Mansell: And do you still write music for the cinema?
Francesco De Masi: I do, but only if the film is good, or the conditions are correct. It has to be this way for me to be able to produce a score that is good for the production. By this I mean that I am not interested in working with inadequate means, such as keyboards, synthesizers, computers and so on, unless of course they are being used as part of a real orchestra.

John Mansell: What is your opinion of synthesizers?
Francesco De Masi: I am of the opinion that music should come from within, and not produced by artificial means. So this is why I do not really like electronic devices. The sound that is created by a full orchestra is the best way to hear music. Likewise I never use a keyboard to put together my musical ideas; I prefer to imagine the music without any sound suggestion.

John Mansell: Have you ever written under a pseudonym for any film score and have you ever refused a project for any reason?


Francesco De Masi: In unpleasant situations, I always refused to be compromised. For example the films that were typical of the 1970s based on striptease shows and various vulgar situations. I turned them down. Unfortunately due to publishing agreements I could not prevent some films being scored with my pre-existing music. In some cases I would insist that my name be changed to Frank Mason.

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John Mansell: You said you have recently been touring America and Canada giving concerts of classical music. Have you ever considered giving concerts of your film music?


Francesco De Masi: I have given some concerts in Italy where I have included in the programme some of my music from films but I have never given a concert that is just film music. I am aware that other composers have performed some of my compositions within a programme of a concert that they are giving. I think in Sorrento, a concert is held regularly, and my music for the cinema has been played at this.

John Mansell: Do you like to work in any particular order when scoring a film?
Francesco De Masi: Firstly I think that it is very important for a composer to be involved with a film as early as possible. Better to have a script and work to this – it gives the composer an insight into what is happening and also enables him to work out where music might be required. This happens very rarely. Most of the movies that I have scored I have begun during the principal photography stage, or even when the film is finished in its rough cut stage. When I see a film for the first time its quite an emotional experience. It’s at this time that I receive most of my ideas and also suggestions from the film’s director or producer, that will later help me to realize the complete score. As to the order in which I score a project, I do try and write the main theme first, this assists me when writing the remainder of the soundtrack. I find that if I have the principal theme plus maybe a few other pieces that are for the film’s main characters, I can then proceed with the remainder of the score. I go ahead in chronological order, so that the score follows the development of the film.

John Mansell: You have also conducted a number of scores for other composers and a few years ago, directed the music for MAKING THE GRADE, which had music composed by Basil Poledouris. How did you got involved with that project?
Francesco De Masi: The collaboration with Poledouris on this soundtrack came from the fact that the score was being recorded in Rome. Because of economics, it is much cheaper to record in Italy as opposed to having the score recorded in America. For some reason Basil was unable to conduct himself so the contractor, a good friend of mine called Donato Salone, asked me to conduct the orchestra. I have very nice recollections of working with Basil, and I consider him to be an excellent composer.

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Franco De Gemini.

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October 4th 2006; a hot day in Rome. I was lucky enough to be invited to the offices of the well known record label BEAT. The temperatures were in the mid 80’s and I decided to take a taxi from Vatican City to my destination which was just a little way from the impressive architecture of the Pope’s residence. I was greeted warmly by Daniele De Gemini who very soon introduced me to the esteemed and respected musician Franco De Gemini. We went to Mr. De Gemini’s office and sat for a while just chatting. After a while he began to relay to me stories about recording sessions and also about concerts and specific film scores which he had worked on.

I was amazed to find out that he had played harmonica on no less than 800 film scores. I remember thinking to myself, God I don’t think I have or will ever see 800 movies in my lifetime. One particular story that stuck in my mind was about Ennio Morricone. De Gemini had been asked to play harmonica on a score by the maestro, but the score began with a very low bass note. De Gemini explained it was virtually impossible for him to play this note first thing in the morning at this session, so he told Morricone that the note could not be played on the harmonica. The Maestro accepted his word and made the necessary alterations to the score.

Some weeks later De Gemini found himself in the studio again with Morricone and again the Maestro had begun his score with a very low bass note. De Gemini reminded the maestro that this note could not be played on the harmonica. Morricone looked at him and then produced a harmonica of his own, played the note and told Franco “once you can get away with it but twice NO…”.There was also a story that involved Leonard Bernstein, De Gemini played harmonica on WEST SIDE STORY, he began to play at the recording session, and Bernstein called a halt to the recording, calling the harmonica player over to him mis-pronouncing his name as De Geminy, he asked him why he was playing in the way he did. De Gemini shrugged his shoulders more or less saying this is how I play. Bernstein produced a record of a harmonica player performing a piece of music. He played it for De Gemini, saying this is what I want. De Gemini said this person is a dog, I am the best, but the recording was of De Gemini that Bernstein had had for some time; Franco De Gemini did say I knew this but was not admitting it… Mr. De Gemini also told me he was the only artist to be known for three notes; he looked at me and then hummed the opening three notes from THE MAN WITH THE HARMONICA.Franco De Gemini was born in Ferrara in the North of Italy, on the 10th September 1928.

John Mansell: Did you come from a family background that was musical in any way?
Franco De Gemini: No. Not at all, my Father was a policeman; my Mother was my Father’s wife.

John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
Franco De Gemini: My education was mainly self obtained; I taught myself and also developed my own skills on the harmonica.

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John Mansell: When did you begin to specialise in playing the harmonica?
Franco De Gemini: I was very young and used to play the harmonica everywhere, there was not much to do in my free time after World War 2, OK lets say that there was not much time to waste in that period also. Nevertheless my specialisation began in the 1950s it was at this time I played on my first soundtrack.

John Mansell: Do you play any other instrument at all?
Franco De Gemini: No not at all, although I do play lots of different harmonicas.

John Mansell
: Can you recall how many soundtracks that you have performed on?
Franco De Gemini: Yes, it is around 800 in all, maybe more, and that is just the soundtracks.

John Mansell
: This year is the 40th anniversary of the BEAT record label, what was the first release on your label?
Franco De Gemini: The first release was not a soundtrack as such, but a compilation of film music, IL SOGNI DELLA MUSICA LPF 001. I do think that maybe there were some 45rpm records released before this.

John Mansell
: At one time you had a Manchester address on your record releases. Was this your UK base?
Franco De Gemini: No, it was just a distributor in Manchester.

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John Mansell: Are there any items in the BEAT catalogue that were issued on LP that have not yet received a compact disc release?
Franco De Gemini: Yes, most certainly, dozens maybe even hundreds, it’s very difficult to say just how many.

John Mansell
: When you were working on ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, did you have any idea just how successful the music and the movie were going to be. And did you imagine that it would still be popular some 30 years plus on?
Franco De Gemini: Difficult to say really, I surely did my best in my performance to obtain a sound that was perfect for the movie.

John Mansell: Are there any movies that you have worked on that you have particularly fond memories of?
Franco De Gemini: ITALIANI BREVA GENTE which had a score by Armando Trovajoli, brings back many fond memories for me; that and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST of course.

John Mansell
: Your style of playing the harmonica is quite unique. Were you influenced by the performances of others at all?
Franco De Gemini: No I created that kind of sound alone; I consider myself my personal censor.

John Mansell
: What would you say is BEAT’s best selling soundtrack?
Franco De Gemini: All of the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone sell very well, but also DEATH IN VENICE was a best seller, and music by other composers such as De Masi, Trovajoli, Ortolani, Piccioni and Piovani also do well.

John Mansell
: Because of the company’s 40th anniversary, will you be issuing any more special soundtracks this year?
Franco De Gemini: We will release two compilations, this will be at the end of the year, one dedicated to Joe D’Amato, and one to BEAT and of course we are preparing the BEAT original book.

John Mansell
: Have you ever performed in concert at all?
Franco De Gemini: Yes many times and still today I perform.

John Mansell
: What was Bruno Nicolai like to work with?
Franco De Gemini: He was a great Maestro, I worked with him on many scores including ALLORA IL TRENO.

John Mansell
: You also worked on many of Francesco De Masi’s score.
Franco De Gemini: I played on around 80% of Francesco’s scores, I worked with him many times.

John Mansell
: Is there a specific harmonica that you use?
Franco De Gemini: Yes, a Honer Chromatic.

 

 

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John Mansell: What would you say is the most difficult score that you have had to work on?
Franco De Gemini: It was an American Maestro’s work, there were 25 pages of dodecaphonic music, and I finished it in two and a half hours.

Many thanks to Franco De Gemini and his son Daniele and for their kind hospitality in Rome…

Photograph of Franco de Gemini with his wife, is courtesy of Tim Ferrante, who very kindly allowed me to use it for this interview. many thanks….

Fernando Velázquez.

Fernando Velázquez is one of a handful of composers that have recently stirred more than a ripple of interest outside of the borders of his native homeland Spain. He was more or less catapulted into the spotlight when he produced the magnificent score for the movie DEVIL,

Velazquez it seems is now one of the most sought after composers of film music world wide and is beginning to amass a veritable army of fans that are eager to hear more of this composers work. He not only has the ability to write dramatic and dark musical phrases, but also posses a real and rare talent to create lush, lavish and highly emotive tone poems when a project calls for them. At 35 he is an original and powerful force within the film music arena and enjoys every moment of a profession his says he is lucky to be in.

John Mansell: Can I begin by asking you, what was your first encounter with scoring film?
Fernando Velázquez: The first memory I have of “scoring” it was scoring the plays we used to do in school. Ever since I have been playing and composing music for theatre, short films… In fact, I used to play the organ in the church (sometimes I still do)… So I have always had this approach to music related to things “happening”. More seriously, the first “real” job was a short film by my very good friend Koldo Serra, called HÁCHAME (Axe-me), which we recorded with a four-track recorder, a midi keyboard and a guitar multi-effects. Which was a lot of fun.

John Mansell: DEVIL, is one of your more recent projects, this I understand was scored in Canada, what orchestra did you utilize, and will there be a compact disc of this excellent score?
Fernando Velázquez: The production was in some part Canadian, but we recorded in London, at Air Lyndhurst with the LMO. It was SUCH a great experience. You know, one can imagine music, and even make some “sampler” demos, but everything comes so alive if you can use such wonderful musicians as in London.
I think something might happen with a CD, but I prefer to wait until it is confirmed to give the good news.

John Mansell: You have scored a number of Horror movies and you have produced some great music for this genre. Are you not concerned about maybe getting typecast as a horror movie composer?

Fernando Velázquez: Well, I don’t consider myself more able to do genre music than any other kind of music. In fact, if I gained the consideration of some directors like J.A. Bayona it was precisely for the melodies more than for the loud chunky bits. I am aware of this danger and I hope I will have next opportunities to do comedies, dramas or other different kind of scores. Moreover, if this genre scores work well it is precisely because they have a beautiful-sad-nostalgic side, as in THE ORPHANAGE or JULIAS EYES. Well, in the DEVIL score there was not this opposite side, but there was so much amusement. This being said, I consider myself extremely lucky to do this for a living and I prefer to be grateful than much concerned.

John Mansell: Where and when were you born and are you from a family background that is musical?
Fernando Velázquez: I was born in Getxo, in the Basque Country in Spain, by the sea, November the 22nd (Santa Cecilia’s day, Saint Patron of the Musicians) in 1976. Although there is not any musician in my family, but they are all great music lovers and I was so lucky to have and older brother listening music all day long, so when he was out I could secretly play his Dire Straits, Moody Blues and all this great music on LPs.

John Mansell: What or who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
Fernando Velázquez: Any kind of good music. I have always played electric guitar with friends in bands when I was younger. So I had the chance to enjoy all this great music we used to hear… all Pop bands… Police, Dire Straits, Queen, Aerostmith… Well, the list would take several pages, as you can imagine, I adore this ‘Passion and Warfare’ Steve Vai album, and so many more… I was also amazed by Alan Parsons productions, and of course the Spanish traditional music. And above all this, I have always loved so called “classical” music. There was a time in my life when I was professional cello player (I studied for this in the music school), so I had this enormous luck of playing all these Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart (oh, Mozart), Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel… For a time I was a trainee in the orchestra at the Spanish opera theatre Teatro Real, and then I could play all these Puccini. The list might be endless. But, for instance, I can always remember shivers down my spine when I was playing in a youth orchestra ‘Zadok the priest’, one of the Anthems for the Coronation by Handel with a big choir. I am so lucky music has been always a part of my life. The Brahms clarinet trio, when I played with my friends …or… what about Dvorak’s 8th symphony? I am a lucky guy, doing what he likes for a living!

John Mansell: When starting work on a project, how do you proceed to work out your ideas, do you use piano, keyboard or a computer or maybe write straight to manuscript?
Fernando Velázquez: It really depends on the project, as sometimes, in these days you start directly trying to make a demo in the sequencer more than writing notes in a paper for yourself… but, for instance, today I was using paper and pencil. You never know, and this is partly one of the things I love of this job, every project is different and you need a new approach for each one. Sometimes they want to hear the whole movie as a demo, sometimes they don’t care. So it really depends.

John Mansell: When scoring a project, do you have a set way in which you tackle this, do you maybe do larger cues first, main theme through to end titles or concentrate on creating a central theme and then proceed to form the score around this?
Fernando Velázquez: Again, this really depends on each project. For instance, the DEVIL score is based on the opening credits music, in fact, the whole score is based on a cell of C-e flat-d-B which is really the axis of the whole score, and I composed first the credits, without caring too much about the rest of the movie. Once I saw the opening was working, I squeezed the whole score out from these four notes. I consider this a part of the fun of composing, to create my own rules and then follow them (and sometimes break them if I need to). On the other hand, a score like THE ORPHANAGE is based on the music of the ending of the movie. We fought hard to find a music that would work for the end and then worked backwards.

John Mansell: How much time do you normally have to score a feature film, or does this vary from project to project?
Fernando Velázquez: This can vary extremely from one project to another. For SHIVER, for instance, I had around 4 weeks (and I had to compose-demo-approval-orchestrate-record-mix in this time). I think many of us working on this paradoxically enjoy this suffering of tight deadlines. In other projects the deadline is more reasonable, like some two or three months, and in other chances there is not a critical deadline.

John Mansell: Do you have a preference at all when it comes to what orchestra you use or where you record a score?
Fernando Velázquez: I enjoy myself wherever we go to score. For instance, in Spain there are quite good orchestras but it is a little difficult to get them playing and recording scores due to schedule problems. For instance I am very happy with the music of FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS recorded with the Basque national orchestra or LOPE scored with the Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid . THE ORPHANAGE was recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria. JULIA’S EYES was recorded in Budapest with amazing musicians. And of course, there is always London, with the “Rolls Royce’s” of Orchestras and studios. Generally, this is a matter of time and budget, but I am always doing the best we can to get the best sound and the best energy in the recording.

John Mansell: Do you conduct all of your own scores, or do you at times use a conductor on certain scores?
Fernando Velázquez: Precisely because I come from this “orchestral” playing world I cannot allow myself not to be conducting. It is one of the greatest experiences, and, as usually there is not much time, although another conductor might do a better conducting job, he wouldn’t have the time to study the music. Conducting for me is one of the greatest enjoyments!

John Mansell: How does scoring a motion picture differ from scoring a television project?

Fernando Velázquez: The budget is even more ridiculous in TV …ja ja ja…

John Mansell: What musical training did you receive, and what instruments did you focus upon whilst studying?
Fernando Velázquez: I was always playing both Spanish guitar and electric guitar at home (no lessons with this). Then I went to the music school and chose cello because it was the only instrument available (and there was not really any space for a piano at home), then I followed the professional studies to be a cello player (playing always in many orchestras, which was of great help in understanding how things work inside the orchestra). Later I made some studies on composition, but I think it was experience that taught me the most.

John Mansell: When working on a TV series, do you think it’s important to attempt to come up with a theme that will be easily recognised and that can be identified with that series?
Fernando Velázquez: Well of course, and as in a movie, it makes it easier to work because if you have a plan, you know what addresses every moment (a little like in a Wagner’s opera). If you do a good “big main theme” then you can extrapolate most of the score out of it. Unfortunately, you cannot always do this; due to lack of time to check if your plan is right. That is why I admire great composers that are really skilled in thematic development, like all the classics, the music film “fathers”, Williams, Goldsmith, Morrionne… Again, the list would be very long.

John Mansell: Do you orchestrate all of your own music for film, and do you think orchestration is an important part of the composing process?

Fernando Velázquez: I am one of those who think that orchestration is part of composing itself, so I always do it myself unless time doesn’t allow it. Then I always try to be sure that the orchestrator does what I’d do. I have always a clear idea of how I want the things to happen when we work with the orchestra. This being said, I keep studying scores to learn from the great professional orchestrators that have been working on film music. Anyway, I don’t think using arrangers or orchestrators is bad itself. I was shocked when I saw, i.e., that AN AMERICAN IN PARIS was not orchestrated by Gershwin himself, but it doesn’t mean it is not a great work!

John Mansell: At what stage of proceedings do you like to become involved with a project, i.e.; do you like to receive a script, or do you prefer to see the film in its rough cut state?
Fernando Velázquez: This is another of the things that really depends on the project. However, I think I do best when I have a cut where I can see what the “film” tells me, and then, sometimes I can hear the rhythm of the music if I see it. And I won’t tell you where, but the only time I convinced a production to make a sequence a little longer because the music, it was finally not a good idea …ja ja ja…

John Mansell: Have any of the directors or producers you have collaborated with had a more hands on approach than others when it came to spotting their movie?
Fernando Velázquez: Well, as before, it depends on projects. Some directors know exactly what they want and the composer can only be the “executor” of his plan, and some other times, I have felt that I was directing the movie as the director didn’t have any clear idea of what the music can do with the film.  So I am always trying to find out their idea of the film and then I work on it. If they don’t have an idea or if they are open, I just do what I feel I have to and then try to sell it. It is a thrilling job, when you feel you have a cool idea that will make the film better.

John Mansell: What are your thoughts on the state and quality of film music today?
Fernando Velázquez: I certainly miss a little bit the work of the great masters. I don’t want to say I don’t like different approaches and in fact, I admire composers that can work in different scenarios, like John Williams, who can score both RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. But of course, you must have and awesome talent and find movies where you are welcome to display it. In general terms, we must not forget that most of the time, movies are a business and, as such a conservative investment.

John Mansell: What is next on your schedule?
Fernando Velázquez: Good things to come, I keep my fingers crossed and prefer not to say anything until it is done and mixed down with the movie, you never know what can happen …ja ja ja… Anyway, last thing I did which is ready to go is a great Norwegian film called BABYCALL, directed by Pal Sleutane with the truly amazing actress Noomi Rapace.

David Sinclair Whitaker.

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David Sinclair Whitaker is a composer who is familiar to collectors of soundtracks, and also cinema goers alike. His contributions to the world of motion pictures have been both varied and memorable, and although he has not worked on hundreds of motion pictures he has certainly made his mark on the pictures he has been involved with. He also made a name for himself composing and arranging for artists such as THE ROLLING STONES. I would like to thank the composer for taking the time out to talk to me, and also many thanks to P.R.S. in particular Angie Willard of that organisation for making the interview possible. The composer sadly passed away in JANUARY 2012.


John Mansell
: Where did you study music and what did you concentrate upon during these studies?
David Whitaker: I studied at the Guildhall school of music in London; this was from 1947–1949… I suppose that makes me sound rather ancient doesn’t it. I studied piano, composition and conducting.

John Mansell
: Do you also orchestrate all of your own music as well as conducting it?
David Whitaker: Yes I do, I think that orchestration is a very important part of the composition process, if you have composed the music, then why hand it over to someone else to orchestrate it, it’s like writing a book and then having someone else re-write it before you send it to a publisher. I have conducted all of my scores with the exception of the Hammer films I worked on which were THAT’S YOUR FUNERAL, VAMPIRE CIRCUS and DR.JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. These were conducted by Phil Martell, who was Hammer’s MD at the time.

John Mansell
: What do you think is the role of music within a movie?
David Whitaker: Well, it should be a perfect marriage, but invariably as marriages are not perfect, things do go wrong at times. I suppose it’s a chance to make things work when you write music for film, I think one of the last big pictures I did was way back in 1983, this was THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, now the film was not that good, but I like to think my music helped it along on its way to being a watchable film. It desperately needed music, I actually wrote 75 minutes of score for that film which ran for just over 100 minutes. But if a film is poor then no amount of music will cover up its pitfalls, and that’s whether it’s written by me, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Jerry Fielding or Ennio Morricone. After all most people go to watch a movie, not listen to its score. I don’t think music should ever overpower a film; it should underline or punctuate certain scenes and support the story. When I did my first score, the producer was very indulgent and also very sweet, but I did make a lot of silly mistakes.
I suppose most of it was due to stress and wanting to get things right. I tended to go over the top a little, thus making the scenes I had scored look silly. Luckily the producer let me go back and re-do a lot of the cues. Today I think that music should not be subservient to a movie, but there are times when I think that there is too little music in a film. Many of the movies that are released nowadays have a very sparse score, and they fill out the soundtrack with songs, obviously this is good for the film company or the record label that is releasing the soundtrack, but often the original score that a composer has crafted especially for a film is ignored and overpowered by the use of songs being tacked onto the soundtrack. Back in the days when composers like Bernard Herrmann were reigning supreme in Hollywood, music would run more or less continuously under a film, but it was done in such a way that you never really noticed, and it was never intrusive above the storyline or the acting. The composers then would even follow the dialogue, but it was never obtrusive and gave the film what I call its flavour.

whitaker4John Mansell: How many times, do you like to look at a movie before you begin to form ideas about the music?
David Whitaker: Well, nowadays everything is different, you get to see the movie with the producer/director etc, and also you get a video/DVD of the film as well, so you have it at hand at all times to refer back to, so this is a lot easier than when I first started to write film scores. We used to sit down with the editor to work out all of the timings done in relation to the footage. Back in 1966 there were no videos, so after a screening one had to rely on what notes you had made and also on cue sheets which were very detailed. I think I would see a picture four maybe five times and then would return to view it on a movieola in the editors office on occasion. So with video and DVD you don’t have as much of the going back and forth.

John Mansell: What is your preferred method of working out your musical ideas; do you use piano or synth?
David Whitaker: The piano is my instrument so I use it when composing, I also have a little synthesiser which I use to demonstrate ideas, but I think that the music that comes out of it sounds rather like a zombie, it’s very artificial. I hope that one day there will be no synthesisers left. But seriously I prefer real instruments and real musicians.

John Mansell
: How did you become involved with Hammer films?
David Whitaker: A lot of years before I started to do things for Hammer, I had contacted Phil Martell asking him if he would be able to conduct one of my scores, I wanted to be in the sound box with the engineer to supervise the proceedings. Unfortunately because of a very small budget I could not afford Phil. But as a sort of thank you for thinking of him he called me and asked if I was available to score a picture for Hammer. Of course I was thrilled to do this, and the film turned out to be DR. JECKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. I know that the film was being worked on by another composer who had certain disagreements with the producers, but I got along fine with them. I then was asked to do VAMPIRE CIRCUS, I always remember seeing the film for the first time and thinking how camp the Vampire was at the start of the film, but I kept that to myself.Vampire Circus 69

John Mansell
: What size orchestra were you allowed to use on VAMPIRE CIRCUS, because it sounds like a huge symphony orchestra?
David Whitaker: It is certainly not huge, after seeing the film I decided that it needed a big orchestral score, at that time Hammer’s formula for an orchestra line up was around 120 musicians, and it was up to the composer how those players were utilized. With some guidance from Phil Martell, I spread them out as I saw fit, I think we used about 60 players for each session.

John Mansell
: What was Phil Martell like to work with?
David Whitaker: Phil did have a bit of a reputation, he however was ok with me, I don’t think we disagreed about a lot of things, and any difference of opinion was always handled diplomatically. He was always quite serious, and although there were not many light moments with him, I think we hit it off both professionally and outside of the studio.

David WhittakerJohn Mansell: Do you score a film in any particular order, for example do you begin with the main theme and work your way through the movie?
David Whitaker: I like to start with the cue that I think will be the most difficult, I leave the smaller cues or music stabs till later on, when I might be wearing a bit thin. I begin with a large size orchestra and then as the sessions progress I reduce this down to fit the requirements of the film. Speaking personally I think it is probably better to start with the composition of the main or central theme, then one can develop this material and it can be used throughout the score. Everything has to be organised, after all you are booking musicians etc, and the film company will not be best pleased if you take up valuable studio time if things are not all in place. Sessions are very expensive, and with music budgets being what they are, everything has to go without a hitch.

John Mansell
: What is your opinion of the increased use of electronics within film scores?
David Whitaker: I think that electronics certainly have their place in film music, and nowadays technology makes it very easy for composers. But I think that you will find that the films of a better quality will tend to stick with a symphonic score, maybe electronics will support in places, but bigger budget movies do not seem to contain that much electronic material. Vangelis is a composer that excels with electronic or synthesised music, but even he in recent times has begun to utilise an orchestra and choir. I personally would always prefer to hear a real orchestra on a film score.

John Mansell
: Have you ever had a bad experience whilst working on a film?
David Whitaker: Not a bad experience, but if you mean have I ever had a score thrown out, yes of course, this happens to the best of us. One score that was rejected was BLIND TERROR or SEE NO EVIL as it was called in the States, this was a Mia Farrow movie, the producers had already had Andre Previn score the picture and were not happy with it, so I was asked to score it, I actually liked the Previn score, but mine too was deemed unsuitable and eventually Elmer Bernstein scored the movie. Bernstein told me he did like my score, so I was happy about that.

John Mansell
: Are there any composers at all that you find interesting or have maybe influenced you in any way?
David Whitaker: Oh yes. There are quite a lot, Korngold for one, I knew his son George very well. I was in Hollywood for about a year, which is where I met him. He sadly passed away a few years ago. Bernard Herrmann is also on my list; his score for FARENHEIT 451 is marvellous. Nowadays there is John Williams, and of course Jerry Goldsmith still has an influence even after his death. I think his best was BOYS FROM BRAZIL, I met him whilst he was on a trip to London, and I was doing some arrangements for him or maybe conducting something for him, he said that he had heard my score for RUN WILD RUN FREE the mark Lester film about a horse, he said he thought it was very Brahmsian work, I took that as a compliment because out of the classical composers I think I did lean towards Brahms more than any others. I tend to go for the more romantic sounding composers such as Rachmaninov, I think that most composers are influenced by classical composers especially Holst and Prokofiev. Maurice Jarre is another composer of film music that I admire, he has written some wonderful soundtracks.

John Mansell
: At what stage of the proceedings do you prefer to become involved on a film?
David Whitaker: As you probably know, when the rough cut of the movie is more or less ready they are then looking for a date for a fine print. This is because they will try and bring the production in under budget. It is really a question of when I am asked to work on a film, the best time for me is when a rough cut of a movie is more or less finished, I can then sit down and spot the film with the editor, this could take up to two weeks at times.

John Mansell
: What do you do musically away from film?
David Whitaker: I like to write music for piano, some of this gets published most of it does not. I always have music in my head, I am involved in doing some video material at the moment for a French company, this is a sort of thinking mans rock and roll, but for this I use my little Japanese machine.

John Mansell
: Were there any scores that found particularly difficult?
David Whitaker: In point of fact I suppose you could say that every score is difficult, But I must admit that when one was given the challenge to come up with a score within a five or six week period I sort of rose to the occasion, when under pressure I never found it difficult to produce music. Although it might not have been the right music (laughs). When I did my first film, which was a Jerry Lewis movie entitled DON’T RAISE THE BRIDGE, LOWER THE RIVER. I went into the studio with my heart in my mouth and my cap in hand. The recording was at the old Shepperton studios, it was 3 track and all that, so if I made a mistake the rewind used to take forever, and I used to get very red faced and very hot under the collar. But after this my baptism of fire in film music I got used to the studios and the routines and the rest of my scores seemed to come to me easily.

John Mansell
: You arranged some of your music from VAMPIRE CIRCUS into a suite for a re-recording which was released by Silva Screen, were you present at the recording?
David Whitaker: Yes I was, and to be honest I was a little disappointed with this recording, I felt that the orchestra was not utilized in the proper way, and the conductor was probably not the best choice for the recording.

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John Mansell
: GDI, records in the UK have recently been releasing the original scores from Hammer pictures, and you are represented on various discs with tracks from all three of your Hammer scores, and they have also hinted that DR JECKYLL AND SISTER HYDE may be given a full soundtrack release, what are your thoughts on this?
David Whitaker: It would be nice, but to be honest I do not know who GDI are, as I would really like to be paid some royalties for the music they have released. That’s the thing with film music or indeed any music every one seems to think that they can just releases a soundtrack or sample somebodies compositions and pay no attention to the person or persons that wrote it.