Category Archives: Interviews



Ian Arber is a film and television composer, known for his work on “I Am Bolt” (2016), “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015), “My Name Is Lenny” (2017) and BBC2’s comedy “Quacks” (2017). Ian is an emerging talent in the film music world. With a growing portfolio of work across a variety of genres, Ian is bringing a fresh and unique compositional style to each project…



I know you started in music from the age of five, so what are your earliest memories of any music?


I began playing cello at age 5. My earliest memories of music were certainly around this time period, I used to play in very young orchestras when I was 7/8 years old. I remember being fascinated by instruments, and wanted to build a collection. I had a bass guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, cello and piano before the age of 10.



What musical studies did you undertake?

I studied cello through my whole childhood, earning grade 8 in my teens. I studied piano from 10, then began to produce music later in my teens. At university I studied Music Technology which focussed on music production, orchestration and composition.

Were you always drawn to TV or film music, or was this something that just happened as you experimented with performing and composing?
I was obsessed with movies, and movie music as a kid. Ever since seeing E.T. I was fascinated in what music could do to picture. It wasn’t until university that I really understood what it took to make a career as a film and TV composer. I would say that I have always been drawn to working in music, and that film was a passion I wanted to pursue in combination.


You worked as Joe Kraemer’s assistant on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION, what was your duties as assistant on this?

Cheerleader. Friend. No, seriously.. I guess doing what I could to allow Joe to focus on the creative aspects of the scoring process. On such a huge movie with intense deadlines, it was important to support Joe to allow him to focus on the music.



You collaborated with Ron Scalpello the director on MY NAME IS LENNY, did he have any specific instructions or ideas concerning what style of music he though the film needed?
I loved working with Ron. He had a very clear, and collaborative approach to the Lenny score. The basic idea was for the score to represent the trauma of Lenny’s past, and building uncontrollable anger within as a result. So the score is very sound-design heavy at parts, and builds throughout to disturbing and claustrophobic climaxes. We also wanted to incorporate the sound or feeling of punching in the percussion for some of the fight scenes. I actually ended up recording the sound of myself punching my studio sofa, and layering this in with the percussion.

How many players did you use on MY NAME IS LENNY?

One. Just me. We didn’t have the budget for an orchestra, and most of the score is distorted cello, piano and bass and electric guitar, all of which I performed live.

So you perform on your score, your scores, and do you conduct at all?
I perform on every score. Even if it’s just layering some cello ambience or percussion on top of samples to bring them to life. On the BBC series ‘Quacks’ I performed every instrument in an almost fully live score. A large selection of percussion and props from the show, cello, violin, guitars and a plucked piano.


You have worked on many documentaries, I AM BOLT and MO FARAH RACE OF HIS LIFE, come to mind straight away, is it more difficult working on a documentary as opposed to writing a score for a feature film?

I haven’t actually worked on a huge amount.. Perhaps 3 or 4, but generally I love working on cinematic documentaries. I Am Bolt and Mo Farah were both very cinematic and required “big” scores. It can be tricky to work on a documentary, as generally there is a lot of dialogue, and not a lot of room for a melody. But in the case of these 2, there was plenty of space for thematic writing.

Did you have any say in compiling what music went onto the MY NAME IS LENNY and I AM BOLT soundtrack releases?
Yes I put together the tracks/suits for soundtrack release, in collaboration with the label. They sometimes suggest an order change or to perhaps remove or add another track.


Are there any composers from film music and other genres of music that you feel have influenced you?

Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, John Williams, Joe Kraemer, Muse, Radiohead.. to name a few.

You worked on all 6 episodes of QUACKS for TV, is it demanding for the composer working on a series?

Yes, the whole of series 1! 🙂 – It can be, deadlines in TV can be very tight. I was scoring an episode a week at some stage on Quacks. I’m currently working on season 2 of Netflix show ‘Medici: Lorenzo the Magnificent’ and it is a lot of music, to be written in a short amount of time. So it’s important to keep writing and stay on top of deadlines.

What was your first scoring assignment, and how did you become involved on the project?
My first project was scoring a short film for a good friend and very talented director, Matt Campbell. I think I may have dropped him a message on facebook with my portfolio back in 2009 and we hit it off. I’ve scored 3 or 4 of his films since then.

For you what is the best time to become involved on a movie, do you start at the rough-cut stage and spot the movie with the director or producer or are you given a script?
It differs from project to project. The best time, for me, is to be hired during filming, when they have some rough footage from the shoot. Ideally you’re working with some picture, and have enough time to experiment and come up with some ideas before the edit starts. Deadlines suddenly become tight after the locked cut, so ideally I’m on board a good amount of time before then.



Is it hard to break into writing for film and TV?

Very… There’s no right way into the industry. You have to create your own network and make your own luck.

Budgets at times can be rather tight, especially for the music as it is often the last thing that is considered, if the budget is low how does this effect the way in which you score a film or TV project?

Low budget usually means no live musicians. You have to be a great programmer to be a composer these days. I make the samples sound as real as possible and record a layer or two of live instruments myself.



Have you encountered the TEMP track on any of your assignments, if so did you find that it was useful to you or maybe distracting?
I don’t think I’ve ever NOT encountered the temp. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes it’s problematic. If the temp is a rough guide for tone and instrumentation or emotion, that’s fine. But sometimes a director can fall in love with a temp track, which can be tricky for a composer. I would hate to have to do a sound-alike of a temp track.
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How do approach a project, I mean do you start with core themes and develop the score around these or do you work on smaller cues and stabs and from these develop the main themes?

This can differ.. but generally I like to work on some core themes. Once I have a few themes or ideas I and the director are happy with, I’ll begin to attack scenes. Either from scene one, or perhaps from the ‘biggest’ scene of the movie and backwards.


What are you working on at the moment?

I’m in the middle of season 2 of Medici. I’m also working on a documentary called The Story of Motown. There are a couple very exciting projects lined up for later in 2018 too.








Many thanks to the composer for his time and patience and for giving such an interesting interview.



What for you is the job of music in film?



As long as a movie needs music, because music is not always a must, the soundtrack should always increase the quality of the film. A good score must help to understand what is not understood and to improve what is possible. Either a poor assembly or a lighting that has not been achieved as wanted, a positive music can illuminate a dark scene among other possibilities, can enhance characters with little personality, emotions not achieved with the acting and just the opposite if necessary. This is the aim of my work. A good soundtrack is a movie itself, with its own script.



You were born in Barcelona, what musical training did you undertake, and what areas of music did you concentrate upon?

In fact, I was born in Zaragoza but at the age of 14 I moved with my family to Cerdanyola del Vallès, a town near Barcelona. It was in Barcelona where I studied Modern Music and Jazz at Aula, the first Spanish Music school that was recognised by the prestigious University of Berklee. I graduated in Guitar and my professional career started as an instrumentalist, having been part of numerous bands of Jazz, Rock, Funky, Blues, etc. It was not until later that I began to be interested in composing and I attended several seminars. Among others with José Nieto, a fantastic composer of Spanish soundtracks, with the magnificent Armando Trovaioli and the great Ennio Morricone in the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, of whom I have fond memories.

You have scored a number of animated movies, do you think that it easier to score animated features as opposed to writing the music for a live action movie or maybe it is more of a demanding task?

Yes, because of coincidences of life animation has been and it is the genre par excellence that has given me the most satisfaction. And unlike in fiction movies in which the composer usually has to use more resources and imagination, an animated film can bring together elements of other genres condensed in the same film such as comedy, action, mystery, drama, etc. In addition to doing it many times over 90% of the footage and in synchrony, either with the use of Micky Mousing or without reaching that extreme. They are normally films with many characters, situations and different settings that require a very elaborate narration.


At what age did you decide that you wanted to make music your career, and were any of your family musical in anyway?

I realized that I really wanted to get myself into music when I was 18 years old. At that age I had already started a Teaching degree and I gave it up to chase my passion. It was then when I decided that I would dedicate myself professionally to music. In fact, it wasn’t a surprise, it was the logical consequence of having been brought up in a family that provided me with a fantastic musical environment generated by the passion, that my mum who was a “soprano” and my father who was a “bass” (although both were amateurs singers) had always kept at home.

I loved your score for PAPA SOY UNA ZOMBIE, it was richly Gothic and evoked so many memories of Horror film scores of the past, plus it also had more contemporary sounding passages, what size orchestra did you utilize for the score and was the sound that you created intentional or something the director wanted for the film?

Thank you, John. Yes, I really enjoyed composing this soundtrack. I have to say that the movie was clearly inspired by the Tim Burton universe and also the horror B movies and besides, Danny Elfman is one of my favourite composers. So I had the opportunity, with the absolute freedom given by the directors, to compose with that sonorous universe as a reference and to turn it around until I got my own sound. Motivated by the characters and the story that is narrated in the film I could not record with a large orchestra despite having composed the entire soundtrack thinking of that possibility. But I am lucky to have an excellent team of professionals and my engineer Mikel F. Krutzaga always gets the best possible sound in my soundtracks.



CHER AMI is a great score, how did you become involved on this project and how long did you have to complete it, and did the director have any specific ideas about watch musical direction he would like you to take?
For many reasons I feel especially satisfied with the soundtrack of Cher AmĂ­. After many years working as a team in one of the musical production companies that I had founded for the audio-visual industry, with numerous works for television, documentaries, audio-visual installations, etc, Cher AmĂ­ was my first great soundtrack for a feature film that I did all by myself. It was not the first work with its director Miquel Pujol, with whom I had already collaborated in other films, but it was the one that represented a great qualitative leap. It was a great movie with a clear Disney influence. In it I worked for about a year joining the production once I could have an animatic or leica reel in rough but with the reel locked in order to start composing in synchrony. Taking two of their main themes previously composed as a starting point and the Disney universe always as a reference, I was closing sequences prior validation by its director with whom we had regular working meetings, and while in parallel they were finishing the animation, the colour, lighting and visual effects. This time I was able to record with a great orchestra, the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Hernando and with my team of great professionals with Ferran Cruixent as orchestrator and Mikel F. Krutzaga as sound engineer.


What composers either film music or classical would you say may have influenced you or inspired you?

I am very, very eclectic and I listen to a lot of music from a wide range of genres and styles that go from jazz to contemporary music, and although I do not like talking about the one I admire the most or the one who has influenced me the most because there are so many great composers, it is true that, in classical music, composers such as Mozart, Debussy, Camille Saint-Saëns or Igor Stravinsky are referents. Music movie composers such as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Howard Shore and Danny Elfman are references, but so are Nino Rota, Alexander Desplat, Ryuichi Sakamoto and many other great and admired composers.



If you are offered a movie and a temp track has been installed on the film, do you think that this is a good guide for you or maybe it is a tool used by film makers that you find less than helpful?


It is true that the temp track is a clear example of what the director wants for his film. Most of the times, they are a good help in the final editing of the movie, acting as a “tempo” track that provides rhythm. Sometimes it is an emotional reference but it is never a good narrative reference, never. They tend to be an unconnected selection of musical themes. Of course, they help us to know what the director wants and compose in that direction, but it is a double-edged tool since it facilitates that understanding, but at the same time it limits the creativity of the composer. Sometimes it can even end up on the verge of plagiarism as it has already happened in some movies. I’d rather talk to the director about his references, the narrative/emotional needs of the story, than have a synchronized “temp track”. In any case, I want to be the one who decides on them.


Do you orchestrate all of your music for film, or do you use an orchestrator if the schedule is a tight one?


I do not understand the process of composition without the orchestration if this requires it. In fact, I do not just enjoy composing melodies. Working with all the instruments of the orchestra is very exciting. The endless sound possibilities are incredible, and that itself is already part of the creation process. However, I am not a typical orchestrator and when I orchestrate my scores I follow my intuition I don’t follow “the rules of the good orchestrator”. That’s why in my great soundtracks I always entrust the final revision to my reference orchestrator who is the one who corrects and prepares my scores, making the necessary decisions so that there are no errors and the recording is as fluid as possible.



Likewise, do you conduct at all, or is it better for you to watch and supervise from the recording booth and use a conductor?
I am only capable of directing small formations and just occasionally. The recording of a soundtrack with a large orchestra requires a great director so I prefer to delegate the direction and supervise the process from the Control Room of the studio.

EVO was an interesting film, how much music did you write for this project?


Evo is a short film with a feature length of 9 minutes, but it is also very intense. I wrote the music in sync, no more and no less. And, in spite of not being able to have a great orchestra, we recorded the soundtrack with small orchestral sections of wind, metal, string, etc. and also a mixed choir using the Overdub technique, layer by layer. I am very happy with the final result. And if it sounds as good as it does, it’s thanks to my engineer Mikel F. Krutzaga. Check out all the awards he has received. I am very grateful.



How do you bring your musical ideas to fruition, by this I mean how do you work out your musical ideas, do you use piano, keyboard etc?


I am a guitarist par excellence, it is my main instrument and the one I studied, but few melodies / harmonies come from the guitar. The vast majority comes from the controller keyboard that it is also the instrument that directly connects with my sequencing system, with my computer and my “virtual” instruments with which I am able to create good musical demo that closely resemble the final result I will get with the recording. Of course, over the years I have bought many musical instruments that I often play (or try to play) always looking for that inspiration that a few organically executed notes can offer me.


When you watch a movie to spot the scenes that you think will need music, how many times do you like to see it before beginning to get fixed ideas of any kind about styles, sounds and where music would be best placed to serve the picture, and at what stage do you like to become involved on a project?


To start composing I need and I like to have all the information, documentation and possible material of the project: the script, the Story Board, the visual reference material or anything that helps and can be a source of inspiration. The ideal is to see the film several times, write down ideas and whenever possible, talk to the director about them. Where and when the music will be necessary and incidental and work the sequences chronologically developing the main themes, the secondary ones and the musical motifs as the narration requires it. Although sometimes I can also start to compose the first ideas without the film, with the previous information and develop them later in synchrony.

You have been involved with a number of seminars and you also teach I understand, do you tutor young composers who want to work in film and what does the course entail?

I have taught different Master Classes, I have given some conferences and I have planned several seminars, however these are always occasional jobs since my compositional activity does not leave me time to do more. I usually focus on the importance of soundtracks in the audio-visual world and especially in cinema. I also talk about the basic knowledge and the necessary resources such as specific musical equipment for synchronous composition. And above all, I stress the importance of understanding that the good film composer is at the service of the story, of the image and it is not enough being just a good composer. You have to know what you’re facing up. Understanding the guidelines of the director, time constraints, budget, the number of changes that can be made to hit with what another person sees or wishes where you see and would like other things, etc



Would you say that contemporary film scores lack the thematic qualities of movie scores from the 1960.s and 1970.s?

I will not be so categorical with that premise, but it is true that nowadays there are other types of soundtracks, some absolutely environmental, underscore, not incidental. There are also soundtracks where epic or contemporary percussion take priority over the melody. But luckily and as I see it, there are directors / composers who continue to recognize the value that the melody has above all. The value that lasts over time and is harder to forget. Generally, if a good soundtrack lasts over time, the movie lasts, definitely.



Do you like to be involved on the compilation of any CD release of your scores?
Obviously I do, but the editing of my scores has never bothered me.

My compositions for the audio-visual industry far exceed my film soundtracks. And the opening and closing of the TV series, the Jingles, etc. were not edited back then. Of course, I have a lot of material uploaded on social networks like Sound-cloud and some edited CD. But I also have material prepared to participate in any compilation. Kronos Records and Rosetta Editions have made some proposal to me, but I am waiting for the right moment.



What is the biggest orchestra you have utilized and what assignment was this for?


Without a doubt the one utilized in Cher AmĂ­, and in my last project Hullabaloo with almost 70 musicians.


HULLABALOO, is an animated movie, when can we expect to see this in cinemas and can you tell us something of the movie and what type of score you are composing?

I am especially happy and excited with this project. I’m working with one of the great animators of Disney, James Lopez who has an incredible curriculum having participated in numerous films of the Disney factory. Hullabaloo is his personal project, pure 2D animation with some 3D integration. Besides having a spectacular quality, it is set in the fascinating Steampunk universe, in retro futurism, which I love. It will provide adventures for the whole family and fans of this genre. Hullabaloo has as a starting point 4 short financed by a successful crowd funding campaign that achieved 588% of what it requested in a short period of time, with more than 10,000 people collaborating. It is planned to edit a DVD / Blu-Ray with these shorts and then distribute it on some platforms. And maybe, sooner or later, it will become a great animated film, or a successful television series, who knows… The score is orchestral, with small references to the Disney universe, but not only, also with more current ingredients, with powerful percussions and great melodies, combining adventure, action and mystery with humour. We have already recorded a large part in Bratislava and we will shortly record what remains to be done.





Are there any preferences for you when it comes to recording a film, studios, soloists or orchestras etc?

I always want the best possible team if the budget allows it, so whenever I can I work with my usual collaborators as I have mentioned before, because besides excellent professionals they are best friends and when you want to go fast, you better go alone, but if you want to get far, you better go in good company.





Do you think that a main theme is an important part of a film score, as so many films in recent years seem to be lacking any real thematic material to introduce the movie, also what is your opinion of the fashion by many composer to employ the DRONE sound on many of their scores, do you think this can still be categorised as music?

It depends. Some characters, stories can be benefit with a main theme.
It´s true that sometimes it´s not clear the frontier between music and sound design. The most important thing is the film, not the music. If the viewer enjoy/ understand/ is excited with the film our work as film composer, no matter how music is, is done.


What are your first memories of any kind of music and when did you decide that it was music that you wanted to follow as a career?

We listened many musical genres at home, from classical to Pop, Rock Music and from all times. I did’nt decide to be film composer, It started as a hobby that become a job.


So was film music something that you always wanted to do and was in your mind or did you become involved in scoring film as your career progressed?

I started writing tv signature tunes, then in 2000’s a tv producer gave me “You´re the One” script to try a demo and send it to Jose Luis Garci, the director and producer of this film.
He liked the theme and that’s how I started scoring for films.

You have scored both feature films and TV productions, is there a great difference between the two, or is it mainly down to budget and time when it comes to working in TV?

Certainly time is the main difference between tv productions (tv movies or tv series) and feature films. However, how the music works with picture is the same in both circumstances.



You have worked with Jose Luis Garci on a few movies, does he have a hands-on approach when it comes to the score?


He is always searching for a clear Main Theme. A recognizable, memorisable theme. He doesn’t need you to work with the picture, he tells you the emotion he wants in the music for his film.



What musical education did you undertake and where did you study?

I started with private music and piano lessons when I was 13. But I am mainly autodidact. I studied a couple of years in the Seville Music Conservatory also.


What composers both classical and those who write for the cinema would you say have either inspired you or influenced you in the way you compose or approach a project?

I love themes from composers from all decades and styles, not only classical or cinema music. But to mention some of them:
Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Mahler, Gerald Finzi and from Cinema Morricone, John Williams and Thomas Newman.


There is an album recently released I think which has music from your film scores, from 2001 to 2005, did you have any involvement in compiling the tracks for this collection?

Sure. Antonio Piñero, from Rosetta Soundtracks records (, and I worked on this and chose the themes.


YOUR THE ONE is a very emotive work, and sounds very John Barry-esque, how did you become involved on the project and what size orchestra did you use for the score?

Thanks, John Barry was a great composer. I love “Chaplin” main theme.
I sent to Jose Luis Garci a demo inspired by “You’re the one” script.
We didn’t use orchestra, just some violins, viola and cello with dubbing technique. The oboe was played as a midi file with sample sounds.


Do you have a preference when selecting a studio to record a score also do you tend to utilise the same soloists and musicians for your scores?


Most of my work is self-produced due to budget.
Sometimes all the music is made with samplers, sometimes I use a soloist and for some film scores I record with a full real orchestra in Bratislava.

Is orchestration for you just as important as composition, and do you try and carry out the orchestration on all of your scores for TV and Film, or is this not always possible?


Yes, it is very important. I had always orchestrate my music but I would like to work with orchestrators in the future for sure.


SANGRE DE MAYO is a powerful score, at what stage of the production did you become involved, by this I mean were you sent a script initially or did you begin with the rough cut of the movie?


I started working with the script but due to the synchronization needs in the battle scenes, I finished the score with a rough cut of the movie.


Do you perform on any of your film scores, and do you conduct or do you find it better to supervise and have a conductor?

When I work with midi and sampler I played all the tracks. When I had worked with full orchestra David Hernando from the Bratislavia Symphony orchestra was the conductor.


What is your view of the increased use of synthetic, samples and electronics in film music?


Due to budget, and above all, less time to do our job, synthetic, samples and Daws (Digital audio workstation platforms) are indispensable nowadays.



How many times do you like to watch a movie before you begin to think about the style of music or what type of score you are going to compose?


Most of time I am thinking about the music that at the same time I am watching the film but obviously I analyse the films as many times as I need to. Anyway, I usually get involved by and go by first impressions. It´s a very intuitive process.


At the moment Spain seems to be the driving force behind symphonic film scores, or at least Spanish composers, also in Spain there are many film music concerts, have you ever had any of your film music performed live?


Yes, I have. In october 2012, The ORTVE (Spanish public tv orchestra) programmed a film music concert with some film composers as Federico Jusid, Pascal Gaigne, Bingen Medizabal, Arnau bataller, ZacarĂ­as M. De la Riva, Emilio AragĂłn, Alejandro Amenabar and myself.




In 2014, the Malaga Spanish Film Festival programmed a concert with my music.
What should music do for a film?

Tells us the accurate message in terms of emotions (what to feel), narrative (what to understand) and structure (organization and tempo).


Have you encountered a Temp track on any of the films that you have scored, and do you think it is a useful guide for a composer, or maybe at times if the director has lived with it so long that it can maybe be distracting as the director may say just do something like this?



I always had temp tracks in tv series, and less times in feature films.
If we do not have time, temp tracks can be useful to know where and how the music should sound or be placed. It’s true that sometimes directors or producers are not capable of seeing their movie without the temp track. But this is a risk we composers have to take.


How much of an impact does a budget or lack of it have upon a score for a film or TV series?


It depends. If the film just needs a piano or electronic music, budget doesn’t have too much impact. If the film needs a huge orchestra and you don’t have budget enough maybe then you have a problem.



This year so far you have worked on four projects, one of them COMA is a short, is it more difficult creating and establishing a musical identity for a short film as opposed to a full-length feature?


It’s equally difficult to write one minute of music for a short or a feature film but as a rule a feature film needs more minutes of music.



Can I begin by asking you about the TV series, ANNO DOMINI 1573, How did you become involved on the series, and how much music did you compose for the series?

Firstly, it was a movie called THE PEASANT UPRISING directed by Vatroslav Mimica that introduced me to the director and I got the Golden Arena for the music at Pula film festival 1979. Then Mimica made from this material and some additional material TV series ANNO DOMINI 1573. I recorded some music specially for series with choir and Symphony orchestra of Croatian radio television. I was involved in the movie by my friend Branko Lustig who was a producer, and later in LA he got 2 Oscars.

Is it very different writing for a series on TV than it is composing a score for a motion picture?

It is just little different because for series you must write very quick and in motion picture you have more time, but there are directors who change timing in last minute, so you must be prepared to change the score at the recording. As I conduct my scores I can solve easily the new timing.


What was your first scoring assignment and how did you become involved on it?
As a child I was in love with pictures and I was always listening to the background music. In a period from 1960 to 1970, and of course later I was known as a hit composer and the most famous Yugoslav singers have recorded my songs. Also, I got many prizes at International and Yugoslav song competitions. At year 1971 a small movie company in Zagreb proposed me to write some short movies for a talented young director Lordan Zafranović. For this recording I wrote music mostly in classical style for Zagreb Philharmonic, so it was a surprise because they did not expect from a hit composer. A lot of musician came to me asking to write some chamber music for them, which I am writing even today.

You have worked on European and American movies, does the process of scoring a movie differ greatly from country to country?
It is not a big difference from country to country. The director is important – how is his knowledge and interest in music, and of course the budget for music is important. The communication between director and composer is the most important thing in realisation of music


SKY BANDITS was a film I felt should have done better at the box office, your score was filled with so many themes, where did you record the soundtrack, and what size orchestra did you utilise?

I am sorry that the movie was not a great success. I had a great symphony orchestra called National Philharmonic orchestra from London where the best London musicians play. It was recorded by famous engineer Keith Grant who also recorded The Beatles. I also used in an orchestra contrabass clarinet and euphonium.


When you begin to work on a movie, at what stage do you like to become involved, do you like to read a script initially or do you prefer to start by looking at the film in its rough-cut stage?

I prefer to read the script and speak with director and producer. With rough-cut is a little faster, but today there are some directors who want to hear some cuts on synthesizer. It is important to trust the composer.

Do you feel that Orchestration is an important part of the composing process, and do you carry out all the orchestrations for your film scores or does this at times become almost impossible because of the scheduling?
Orchestration is very, very important. I love to orchestrate and when I compose I hear the whole orchestra. It is convenient when you have some more time for orchestration. Just in one movie I had to give my music to orchestrator ‘ because I was writing my opera  CASANOVA IN ISTRIA, at the same time, and opera was a great success.


What are your earliest memories of music of any kind?

My first memories are when I was listening my mother playing classical music and some contemporary hits on piano. I started to learn music with 6 years and I had wonderful professors, a famous Croatian composer Rudolf Matz and his wife Margite Matz as a piano teacher. My parents had a wonderful big collection of records, mostly classical music, but after the war I bought a lot of Soviet music and records for peanuts, and we had an American library with many movie and musicals records. This was my “university” of good music.

When did you decide that you wanted to compose music as a career?

Even with 10 years I started to compose imitating my professor, but during my study of Architecture, which I finished I realised that the music will be my profession. I was very successful with my song writing, arranging and producing for record companies and radio and television. In 1969 I wrote my first musical THE BIG RACE and in 1971 the most famous YALTA YALTA which is still on repertoire.


What musical education did you receive, and did you concentrate upon one particular area or instrument during your studies?

I finished the music school Vatroslav Lisinski in Zagreb. I played piano and flute and I was excellent in theory. But my best school was when I started to conduct my music for records, film music and in theatres conducting my musicals.

I understand that there is A collection of compact discs available which are all your film music, did you have an active role in the selection of what cues would be used and what scores would be included in the collection?

I have very active role in the selection of my cues, but unfortunately still there are a lot of my film music which are not on the records.

Would you say that you have been influenced by any particular composer or composers, either in film music or classical music?

Stravinsky, Ravel, Shostakovich had a big influence on me and in film music Jerry Goldsmith and Nino Rota.

What is your opinion of the lack of themes in contemporary film scores?

Even today in songs there are not many good melodies, but good themes in contemporary film music are rare. It is a question of talent and education.



When you begin to write a score do you have a set way in which you approach a project, by this I mean do you begin with the opening theme and work through to the end titles, or is every movie different?

Mostly I try to begin with an opening theme. This theme if I like I am trying to use it in different arrangements.

How much time are you normally given to work on a motion picture score, or doe the time scale differ from project to project?

It differs from project to project, but it is very seldom that I have a lot of time.


How many times do you like to view a movie before you begin work on writing the score?

2-3 times is enough for me, because I am writing every situation in my notebook.


Do you perform on any of your film scores, and do you conduct all of your soundtracks?

I conduct all my music and sometimes I play piano. If there is a song I also sing backing vocals.


Do you have a preference to what studio you record your film scores at. If so is there any reason for this?

I like a good studio with big space and with excellent technical equipment.

Is the TEMP TRACK something that you have encountered often, and do you find it helpful or distracting and have you encountered a director who has wanted you to copy the temp?

It is most of the time distracting.

What is your opinion of the increased use of samples and electronics in film music and of the DRONE sound that is now a part of the scoring process in many recent scores?

I am not happy with this. It is bad for all composers, especially young one.


What is the largest orchestra that you have used on a film score?


The largest orchestra was National Philharmonic Orchestra in London, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, euphonium, harp, piano, a lot of percussion, 16 I. violins, 14. II. violins, 12. violas, 10 cellos, 8 contrabasses.


When you are writing a piece of non-film music, for the concert hall, do you find it easier to write without images and sound effects etc that are present within films?

It is easier to write when you have nice images in movies, but if not, a lot of time I find some imaginations in my mind.



My thanks to the Maestro for his time and patience.

Also Many thanks to my good friend Sergei Karov, without whom this interview would not have happened,

Thank you Sergei.






You started to become involved with music at an early age, I understand?


C.F. I began piano studies at age six at the National conservatory in Buenos Aires and later I studied piano privately with Lucia Maranca and Guillermo Iscla, except for a few seminars in composition I was largely self-taught until I moved to Mexico in 1971.



After your initial studies and after re-locating to Mexico, and then going to the United States in 1974, did you continue to study?

CF. Yes, indeed I went to Mexico and worked as the music director for Fermata publishing. I was twenty-one years old and there was this composer, Humberto Hernandez Medrano, recently graduated from the Moscow conservatory who studied with Shostakovich. I think I was one of his first students. Later, he taught most of Mexico’s new composers.

Were you from a family background that was musical in any way?
CF. Not at all. My Father was an MD in the army, who retired with the full rank of Colonel and my Mother, although she liked music, was more interested in painting more than anything else.

At what age did you begin to compose music?


CF. I think I was like eight or nine, when I started writing very simple melodies. I would try them on guitar and not on my real instrument, the piano.

One of the first recordings that I added to my collection by yourself Was the soundtrack to LA PELICULA DEL RAY, which is a stunning score, I was lucky enough to get the Milan LP back in 1986, how did you become involved on the movie and what size orchestra did you have for the assignment?

The 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards - Pre-Telecast

CF. This was during a brief returned to Argentina in the mid-eighties. (I lived in Buenos Aires for three years, commuting to the States every couple of months) Film director Carlos Sorin, came to a jazz concert where I was playing my compositions, and asked me to write the soundtrack for his new film. He had a nice budget and gave me Card Blanche for the music that I was going to compose.
We had a very nice orchestra, basically the Buenos Aires Philharmonic woodwinds by two, meaning 2 flutes, 2 oboes, two clarinets and 2 bassoons. Four horns, three trumpets, true trombones, tuba, percussion and a large string ensemble 14/12/ 10/8/6 plus a 16 strong female choir ( 8 sopranos and 8 altos ).



You are a multi-talented composer arranger and musician, and have written many different types of music, classical, jazz, movie scores etc, is there any genre of music that you are more at home in than others?


CF. I love films especially European films. In the sixties and seventies, I was very much intrigued by some movie scores by Hermann, Rota, Alwyn, Goldsmith, Schifrin, John Williams. Walter Schumann (Schumann wrote his only and one of my all-time favourite scores for (The Night of the Hunter). Manuel De Sica : The Garden of the Finzi- Conti, William Alwyn ; Odd Man Out, John Dankworth, amazing score for The Servant .
In those days Film music was an outstanding contribution to the genre so I was very attracted to the idea of becoming a film composer and did several films in Argentina before moving to Mexico, where I also composed for movies. Eventually my interest moved to concert music rather than films.

Is writing the score for a movie, more difficult or restricting than writing for the concert hall, I ask this because the movies have sound effects, dialogue that you have to be aware of, and also timings that have to be precise?

CF. A film composer becomes another actor on the film he or she is working on. One day the composer has to become a whimsical, magical commentary, another day a Mexican or Cubano full of energetic mambo rhythms, a great seductive melodious soul, or a military commander. You have to be prepared to do it all. As far as timings, music under dialog, etc everything is paramount in the artistry of film scoring. Nowadays we live in an age of minimal music scoring, when in some cases, it is non-existent.





You have recorded two albums I think, where you cover various themes and pieces from motion picture scores, are there any film music composers that you find particularly interesting and what composers either jazz, classical or film music, would you say have influenced you in your approach to musical composition?


CF. Well I have more than two albums under my name, I think I have about forty, between classical and jazz (of course I’m only talking about CDs where I’m the artist and not collaborations) I’ve mentioned before some of the film composers that I admired and whose music influenced some of my film work. In classical or academic music, I feel that my interest fall more on twentieth century composers, such as Stravinsky, Ravel, Shostakovich, Hindemith, Dutilleux and Berio.

FILM NOIR is a very entertaining album, did you decide what tracks would be on the recording and how long did it take to prepare and record?


CF. I always wanted to do an album of film music where the saxophone was the main ingredient. I thought about calling it “Sax Scenes” but the label decided to name it Film Noir. I came out with the repertory and had a lot of fun writing the arrangements. I especially liked the John Barry: Body Heath, one of the best Film Noir tunes ever, as well as the Hermann Taxi Driver and Raskin, The Bad and the Beautiful: what a great haunting American melody!



When writing the score for a movie, at what stage do you like to become involved?


C.F. As soon as the movie is edited. Unless is a movie where the director is asking you to compose source music, for dancing, singing etc. In that case you work before they even shoot.


You have worked with the City of Prague Philharmonic, who as we all know are an excellent orchestra. Do you have any preferences when it comes to recording, i.e. venues or studios and do facilities in recording studios vary in different locations?

CF I’ve done about a dozen different projects with the City of Prague Philharmonic and I always find the experience rewarding. Their musicianship is outstanding and the recording studio, engineers and producer: top notch. You just have to show up with your baton, and the music will be in the stands, the microphones placed accordingly and the coffee ready. All you have to do is your job, they do the rest marvellously.


When you are scoring a movie do you conduct the music as well as performing piano?


CF. Very rarely, I would rather conduct the music against picture and make sure that the timing is correct and that the orchestra performance excellent. In most cases I will have the piano part performed by my wife, concert pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti: finest musician I’ve ever known also great ears, can catch any wrong note coming from the end of the room. In some other cases I will overdubbed the piano at the end of the session.


Do you orchestrate all of your music or at times do you use an orchestrator if the schedule is a little tight?


CF. I have never used an orchestrator, I believe in orchestrating your own music, like Bernard Hermann did. I have done music scores, both composing and orchestrating 40 minutes of music for a sixty piece orchestra in a week.


Your first two movies were both directed by Juan Battle Planas, did he have a hands-on approach to where the music should be placed and what style of music was required, or was he happy to let you work on the score and give you freedom?

CF. I wrote my first score for Juan Battle Planas when I was twenty years old. I wasn’t sure of how good I could orchestrate so a couple of days before the recording I called the small chamber orchestra and invited them for tea and pastries at my parents’ house ( a very large house in BA,) I also invited Juan Battle and played the score, luckily everything worked out fine and a couple of days later we recorded the music.
Many years after while working with Sidney Lumet in Q&A I went through a similar experience, but in this case, it was something that Lumet would do with every score for his movies. He would record on Mondays, but Friday prior to the final session he’ll have a reduce orchestra playing the complete score against picture, if something didn’t work or he didn’t like, you’ll have to revise and rewrite over the week-end. Luckily this time it also went OK.

What are you working on at the moment?


CF. I just finished a composition for two pianos based on Alice in Wonderland, also some arrangements for the Canadian Brass and on the 21 st of this month I’m going to the studio to record a new solo piano album, to continue my love for film scores, this CD will include music from the French film Diva and Morricone’s Ricordare from the Tornatore film. A Pure Formality.

We look forward to hearing that, many thanks to the composer who took time out of a very busy timetable to answer my questions.