Tag Archives: Philippe Jakko


Composer, session musician, conductor, Philippe Jakko is a French award-winning composer. He has created music for ballet, theatre, film and has had two number 1 singles in the French and European pop charts.

I first encountered your music while ago when I heard the score for Que D’Amour. I straight away fell in love with the music, I thought this was a superb score, classically slanted and I also thought it evoked a sound that I had encountered when listening to Georges Delerue.

 I didn’t know you knew that score! It was my very first one in 2013, and yes your right the reference to George Delerue was a choice and an idea which I submitted to the director, Valerie Donzelli, and she liked it. I knew she loved some tracks of Delerue as she used “radioscopie” in her Cesar awarded ‘The war is declared’ for example, and as it was my very first score, I wanted to show her my taste could fit her taste!

So why did you think of George Delerue for the movie?

Because the film was a TV adaptation of the 18th century play of A French Author, Marivaux , transposed in the streets of Paris nowadays. I wanted to link the film through the music to the 18th century, the dialogue was the original as in from that period, so with 18th century inspired music, it would give coherence to the whole thing if that makes any sense?  But let’s come back to Delerue. I did my musicology master’s degree on Delerue’s music and the narration in film music, he by this time had already died unfortunately, but I was fortunate enough to meet with Colette his wife on several occasions and to do my research. I analyzed ‘The last Metro’ sequence by sequence, minute by minute studying the images and music. Colette showed me his handwritten scores. I was hugely privileged to be able to read some master pieces, including scores like Camille, Le Mepris, Stellaire 1, and the Grand choral of Truffaut’s Day for Night etc, and in his own piano room, in his home where he worked in Soissy Sous Montmorency near Paris. I will never forget it. So, I have a special connection with Delerue! And it happens that he was inspired often by 18th century music, like many composers in the 1970s, it was a trend , the world re-discovered baroque music , William Christie , The Albinoni Adagio etc were “new” for the people in those years , baroque music became sort of trendy in the 70s. Delerue’s Grand choral of ‘Day for night’ is literally baroque music, Camille theme is not far from Bach either, and he won an Oscar for A Little Romance’ directed by George Roy Hill in 1979 in which he references the music of Vivaldi and employs baroque music.

I composed my score in a sort of “Neo Baroque” way and I paid my respects to George Delerue in adapting and copying his style and sound on purpose, my main theme being a homage to the style in which Delerue created the main theme from a Little Romance. You can listen to my soundtrack and compare my composition “Final Alla Delerue” to the main theme from A little Romance. Well, everyone loved it, first the director and then the film music community, I was surprised!
I even won the Jerry Goldsmith Award in 2014 for best international TV score. Thank you so much everyone!

It is indeed a wonderful tribute and a most gracious and entertaining score. What size orchestra did you have for the movie?

That was a small music budget, I spent most of the money on recording the score, 16 players, strings, flute, and oboe (actually, that was to create a better baroque sound) I did almost everything myself, orchestrations, conducting, I even mixed it to save money. The only music soloist I got because the director wanted an expert on Mozart and Schubert was my mother! She is a very good piano player and very cheap (free for me obviously) we saved money on the whole budget, there was no need to buy the tracks. Being a composer on small budget projects, you must find solutions to deliver quality music, no matter what it takes!

In 2020 you scored Enemy Lines, another wonderful score, it is a score that I felt evoked some of the vintage war movie soundtracks of the 1960’s, and although there was a lot of action cues the themes that you created for the score shone through.

Thank you very much, I have the feeling that score hasn’t been really noticed! It was in the middle of the pandemic, which didn’t help. The premiere and theatre releases in the UK were cancelled as well as other things. I think it is a good score though. Anyway, About the style, yes I wanted something quite classic but I also wanted to avoid war films cliches: “trumpet and snare themes” etc. I wanted to avoid also having too much percussion as in the “let’s go to war” stereotypes – my question was “how to do a war film score set in the 1940s, without using these elements? So I re-watched war films for my pleasure and to get in the mood, from 1962 The Longest day up to Saving private Ryan, and it was whilst watching Platoon I formulated an idea:  I’ll write a main theme based on strings, almost like an adagio. (Oliver Stone uses Barber’s adagio in his movie as the main theme) – it will be perfect for Enemy lines, matching the drama, the struggle of the young guys doing a lethal commando job, they won’t be seen as heroes with snare and trumpets bravado but reluctant heroes, it won’t end good.  I thought it was a pretty good angle, I was lucky that the director and producer also liked it.

Do you think it is important to have themes within scores for movies and TV so that the audience can identify certain characters with a specific theme or musical phrase?

Themes are important yes, especially if you are looking for something classic, this current trend of atmospheric music is just music that is easy to do in my opinion, because of the use of computers and electronics now. As for the audience, unconsciously when you watch a film you can often get the point better when you can sort of recognize a few notes which help also to set the mood. It is not new, it is an operatic way of composing, but it still works. Film music must help you to understand the script, the mood, and the characters better and take them onto another level. Otherwise, there is no point in putting music in a film. If it is only non-melodic/atmospheric music without themes or leit motivs you get what Stravinsky called ” wallpaper music”, which is a style of music which can set the mood, but that s all, but is without a strong narrative path. For a composer, it is easy to put nonthematic tracks, one after another in a film. What is more interesting to do is to build throughout one hour and a half, a narrative process, playing with the themes, sounds and their meaning.


What musical education did you receive, and do you come from a family background that is musical?

I have to thank my mum who was a teacher but wanted to be a concert player, she was good enough for it but didn’t have a wealthy family to support her.  The result was that she worked as a professor and played piano every evening when I was a child for hours! which was my first memory going to sleep and listening next door to Shubert, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven etc being played. At the age of five, I began learning the piano and learning classic music. at age twelve, I became bored with Mozart, and I got a guitar to play pop and rock music, what a blast for the teenager I was!

I started to compose instrumental music on the piano and then songs on the guitar aged at around eleven or twelve I think.
After that I went to different Conservatoire, French music Academies, in my hometown Besancon, and in the Conservatoire Superieur de Lyon. I studied music composition, counterpoint, harmony, analysis, and conducting. I also at the same time in university undertake studies in French literature for three years, and then musicology : I did a masters and masters two at the research center IRCAM in Paris, sort of starting a PhD on narration in film music ( Film music as a modern symphonic poem), that PhD I never finished because  I began to work in the pop music industry and I did not want to be a teacher!

I have been fortunate to get master classes and courses with amazing composers like Pierre Boulez, Pascal Dusapin, and Philippe Manoury, which I am so grateful for. Modern music is not all however as I   liked to compose songs in my teenage years, so I did pop and rock music as well. Students at the IRCAM thought I was weird to do so but for me it was natural, I have always been quite eclectic. I remember one morning being in a analysis master class with Pierre Boulez at the IRCAM, and in the evening I was in a studio making pop music for the French channel TF1 : not really the same universe !   But I guess all those experiences helped me to do film music because you need to be able to work in very different genres and styles and have a very open mind. That’s what is exciting with film music on my opinion.

As you have said you work in other genres of music not just film scores, when you began your career was it always your intention to score movies, or did you just want to be involved in any kind of music?

After being a student and trying not to be a teacher, I had to work. A few songs I composed were signed by a publisher/label and one of them became a huge Hit. ‘Yakalelo’ 1998 TF1/Sony-music. Following this first success, I worked as a song composer, producer, and an arranger during the early years because it was better than being a teacher -lol.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have several songs in the charts during those years, and another one of them became another big hit Parce qu’on sait jamais, Christophe Mae /Warner France 2007.

I Scored also music for Ballet, contemporary and modern dance companies, and also instrumental music for myself, and I did regular rock and pop gigs in small clubs and bars with my friends. That was great because I would have been frustrated to compose only songs for the industry. I wanted to score movies, but I had no contact whatsoever in the cinema industry and despite success as a song writer, nobody was that interested in giving me an opportunity to score a film even a short. So, eventually I did score a few short films and by chance I composed at some point for a famous Actor/theatre director Charles Berling, who happened to sing as well and he introduced me to people. And one day, it was a lucky day, there was no composer for a tv film, and I knew the first director assistant she was aware I wanted to score films for a long time, she had some instrumental demos I had composed in her i-phone, so she introduced me to the director and that was Valerie Donzelli and the film was Que d’Amour!  a very lucky day!

A very lucky day for us all I would say. Do you think that orchestration and conducting are just as important as the actual writing of the music? I ask this because sometimes the list of orchestrators on a Hollywood score is lengthy and some composers use associate composers, additional music composers etc?

Composing finding musical ideas when you have imagination is not very difficult actually. Everybody can sing a melody and with computers nowadays, if you’re smart enough you can do something which is not too bad. And it can be quick to do it. What is trickier is to be able to do the full job from finding ideas, to mockups, to building the themes, and orchestration and conducting. You need to learn to do this and especially demos and orchestration, but this takes a long time to master.

That’s the reason why A list composers work with several orchestrators and assistants, they don’t have enough time (or they get lazy). They can also move on to another film to compose whilst four orchestrators are finishing and cleaning the job.  Without them, they would not be able to score ten films a year, only very few now do not use orchestrators. Colette Delerue said to me that Georges did not want to work with orchestrators, he wanted to control his music, and he was scoring therefore an average of four films a year only. But there are two types of composers who work with orchestrators, the one who knows how to orchestrate, and they don’t have time, but would be able to do it, and the composers that don’t know. And I have to say I respect the former, especially because there is a new generation of film composers who know nothing about it, these are within the electronic scene often, or composers that happen to be well connected and they get jobs without being very skilled and cannot score a film alone and that’s a shame, I think.

Film music should be something you respect and put high standards on it. If you introduce yourself as a film composer you have to be able to do music properly, today everyone is a composer! You can have assistants, orchestrators like Rembrandt or Michel Angelo or artists of the renaissance, no problem but only if you’re skilled enough. Those painters knew their craft 100%. That is the problem nowadays with computers they help to create Charlatans! As for conducting, for me it is a pleasure to share music with the musicians after composing music alone for weeks. But it is not a necessity.


Have you a set routine when you start work on a score for a movie, ie do you like to see the movie more than a handful of times or is once enough to begin to formulate ideas about the placing and style of the score you will write, and do you start at the opening and work through to the end of the movie?

Actually I prefer to read the script, talk to the director, and let my imagination do the rest.  Then when a few themes and demos are ok, I start to work with the images. No rule though, and especially not starting at the beginning and finishing at the end. sometimes you start in the middle because you have a good idea!  Composing is building the music and finding a balance throughout the film , no matter where you start.

A few composers I have spoken to seem to think that the current trend for that non melodic film score you spoke of earlier will soon come to an end, what do you think ?

 I’m not sure it is going to disappear fast because the number of young electronic composers working only with computers, they are more and more… unfortunately…and it is an economic thing as well, it is cheaper to score with computer and synths. As I said, the point to being a composer is to build and play with themes, motives, chords throughout one hour and a half. And on my opinion, When, it is only drones and pads and repetitive music, it shows that the composer is not on the highest level with music skills.

 There are a few of your film scores available on digital platforms, when you are told a soundtrack by you will be released do you have an active role in the compilation of the music for that release, or do you have no control?

Most of the time it is the label who choose the order of the tracks, but I can give my opinion. I trust them, they are experienced. I guess they know better what is best for the soundtrack than me.

Do you perform on any of your scores, and how do you work out your musical ideas, on piano or by other means?

In general, I play the piano, keys and guitars, sometimes a few notes of oud, (I play a little) – I conduct the orchestra when I can. Ideas can come on the piano but very often for me I record my voice singing melodies on my I phone. I have ideas in the most unusual places to do music, tube, street, during the night, then I play around on the piano and build.

I have always maintained that film music is an art, and the composers who work in film must be so disciplined to be able to write music that fits scenes and scenarios, what composers have inspired you and what film music composers do you find interesting and innovative?

I like the way Georges Delerue never gave up working alone. That’s quite heroic knowing he was in California half the time and he had that special French touch coming from Maurice Jaubert, emotion, great tunes, delicate music. In another style, I have a great admiration for Henry Mancini, a very skilled man as well. Beautiful orchestral writing, and great tunes.
More recently, I like the French way of Alexandre Desplat of course, in the UK Daniel Pemberton or Ben Wallfish are creative. For instance, Ben Wallfish mixed electronic and orchestra, and with him it is ok because it is not easy listening to electronic drones during an hour!  and he is a very skilled musician as well.

You have scored feature films, shorts and TV Projects plus written and arranged music for popular songs that have entered the French music charts, there must be a great difference between these mediums, can you identify any for us?

The Pop music industry and film industry are different worlds. Composing Pop songs it is very “skimpy ” comparing to composing film music. There are more styles and genres to embrace. In TV  there are different projects, sometimes you need to do it quickly on a budget, sometimes it is better and you have more time ( like the series “Nona et ses filles “- that will release in December). And the pop industry for me all I had to do was find a good hook and a nice arrangement. A few years I was so bored. I much prefer working with a director, talking about artistic things, looking for the best way to bring the film further, imagining a music setup, a sound for the film which matches the images, the story …it is so exciting every time!

The pandemic hit the film/music industry hard, was it still possible for you to work during this time using zoom etc for any film projects you were engaged on?

Yes definitely. I ve been lucky to be involved in a project  just before the start of the pandemic . A French series ( Nona and her daughter by Valerie Donzelli -gaumont/Arte) and we had loads of time to do phone calls, demos, zoom, etc during lockdowns! I have never been out of work actually. I also had to choose musicians that can record from home because of lockdown and uncertainty. The series will be broadcast from 25th November to January in France and Germany and the soundtrack will be released in December. That’s a soundtrack 100% lockdown recorded remotely.

Do you have any preferences when it comes to where you record your film scores?

No, not at all but it is nice to sort of know the orchestra and the musicians, their abilities etc…

What is next for you?

Another series made last summer for Gaumont / France 2 will be aired in 2022, as well as a TV film for Arte “Cleves” Director Rodolphe Tissot.
And I am currently starting demos for a feature film produced by Amazon France.

Many thanks to the Maestro for his time and patience. JM .



The genre of the war film has always for some reason been a popular one. During the 1950’s and 1960’s many films had musical scores that at times were indeed as memorable or even more enduring than the memory of the films they were written for. In fact, it was not always the scores but mainly the theme that either opened or closed the movie that was the musical item that made people remember such films as 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and their like. In recent years there have been numerous war movies, taking their storylines from true events or fictional ones from many different wars let us face it there have been enough of them. But one thing that has been missing in the more recent productions is a score or a theme that the audience can identify with, a tune or a phrase even that they can latch onto and maybe even hum or whistle as they leave the cinema. The trend being for a composer to write largely a no thematic work, and place drone like soundscapes onto the film, ok in some cases it works as in DUNKIRK which although I have to say I hated the score did bring a sense of tension and a raised mood of apprehension and even hope to the proceedings. But other than the re-working of NIMROD I the closing minutes of the movie ther was no real theme, was there?


ENEMY LINES is a 2020 fairly-low budget movie, but the small budget has not in any way discouraged the composer Philippe Jakko from producing a stirring and highly emotive sounding work. The films story is set in the frozen war-torn landscape of Poland during the second world war. The story centres on a group of highly trained commandos who are sent into Nazi occupied territory to bring out a rocket scientist. Directed by Anders Banke and featuring in the lead roles John Hannah, Ed Westwick, Jean-Marc Birkholz, Pawel Delag and Vladimir Epifantsev. The music is largely symphonic and has to it a bittersweet sound that is not only inspiring, and action led in parts but also contains a deep and affecting element of fragility and poignancy. Although a war movie the composer fashions a rich and emotionally vibrant soundtrack, strings and brass working together to create tensions and purveying a more romantically slanted or pastoral sound on other occasions within the score. This for me was a wonderful listening experience from start to finish, the composers eloquent and delicate touch in places yielding an affecting sound, plaintive woods also come into the equation throughout and convey a sense of solitude as well as melancholy.

It is a score that I have to say please go and check out, as because of the COVID 19 situation the films premiere or screenings have for the moment been postponed, it is one of those soundtracks that you go into not really knowing what to expect, but once you begin to listen it is hard to stop and once you have listened through the soundtrack you feel compelled to go back and start again. On this occasion not to hear again what the music is like but to savour and appreciate it even more and appreciate the themes that the composer has created for the work, yes themes, this is a score that has them and they are haunting, effective and welcomed by this reviewer at least. Ok, there maybe not be a strident or bombastic sounding central theme or march that dominates or suddenly jumps out at the listener, but what there is here is plenty of soul and certainly lots of musical heart the composer writing in at times a low key way but this style becomes powerful and commanding because it is not intrusive but supportive. The action led pieces for example: AMBUSH PT 1, is certainly filled with tension and oozes drama, but there is also present an underlying sound that is less forceful and creates a sound that is patriotism and determination personified. THE CHASE too is an up-tempo affair, with strings and brass working together punctuated and supported by percussion to add a greater sense of urgency. The track MOTHERS DEATH, is a wonderfully mesmeric and beguiling cue, filled with so much emotion, so much sadness. Thus, conveying a yearning and a heartfelt sense of sorrow and loss.




Track 13 LOVE, too is hauntingly beautiful, with harp opening and then passing the piece to the strings and solo piano, which is a combination and performance that you cannot possibly listen to without becoming involved in the moment and emotionally entangled. This I know is a soundtrack that so many collectors will adore, the music has to it a contemporary feel but also contains a sound and style that is from bygone days of movie scores. It is a work that you will return to many times.





I have to say I have been following the work of this composer since hearing his score for the movie QUE D’AMOUR, which is also a work you should as a discerning film music collector check out alongside LE COUER EN BRAILLE and ALLIES.




ENEMY LINES is a Movie Score Media release and is available on digital platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify. Recommended.






One of the latest releases from the Movie Score Media label is KAUFMAN’S GAME by composer Philippe Jakko. This is in my opinion an accomplished work, which is tense and brooding throughout, it has to it a harrowing and taught persona with an atmosphere and sense of foreboding around every corner. The composer very cleverly orchestrates and arranges the score, using a mix of symphonic and synthetic styles both of which fuse seamlessly together to fashion and yield some interesting musical moments. KAUFMAN’S GAME is not a score filled with lush themes or subtle tone poems, although it does still include thematic material that develops as the work unfolds or comes from out of nowhere within a cue that is largely atonal in its makeup, the composer establishing a brief tranquil moment within an atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty and thus highlighting a moment within the movie that maybe takes audiences by surprise because of the way in which it has been scored. But for the majority of its running time it is a tense affair that is riddled with sounds both musical and otherwise that meld together to create a rich dark mood, that tantalises and intrigues the listener. The music for the film is filled with a shadowy ambience, that the composer employs wonderfully throughout, his music is filled with colours and textures that conjure up an unsettling feeling, he also utilises the leit motive method to great effect, and we have themes or sounds for certain characters within the storyline. These are hints of themes and fragments of melodies, which wander in and out of the proceedings and do not out stay their welcome. I love scores such as this, and this is a work that is an incredibly rewarding listening experience, the composer building certain sections of the score with layers of sounds which slowly intertwine and then melt into each other. KAUFMAN’S GAME has a maturity to it and a sharpness, it is an alluring and haunting work that I am confident you will enjoy.




MMI. The score for KAUFMANS GAME is a harrowing one, and oozes tension and anxiety, but I also noticed that you managed to Develop fragments of themes and include motifs throughout, the cue THE BOXER for example, suddenly yields a wonderful short lived themeatic moment, are themes important to you within a score?


P.J. Exactly, it’s fragments of themes/melodies which I used as leit motiv It was a technique which appeared in late XIXe operas especially Wagner and Debussy. Why? Because it was a narrative way to characterise ideas, characters … without being too obvious. This is what I needed in Kaufman s game – classic long and developed themes didn’t work with the film – something more mysterious, eerie was better – and I didn’t want to do like tv series electro/ ambient composer are doing often nowadays: just texture, ambiance without theme. The leit motive technique is perfect for that but as far as I know , composers don’t use it really or are not aware of it , or don’t know history of music enough maybe … anyway , so there are two leit motiv in that film : the soft piano in quick arpeggio ( start of the boxer / Stanley in the building / / start of Kaufman / Stanley on the bridge.It’s Stanley leit motiv : it expresses his tormented personality , he is a kind of lost guy , not bad but one who is looking for a path. The second leit motiv is the electro bass we hear this more or less every time we see the Mafia guys on screen, or the music is used to suggest that they are around in a similar way in which John Williams utilised his shark theme in JAWS.



MMI. Did the director have any fixed ideas about the music?


P.J. I scored the film three years ago now, it was a young director, a student movie, and it took three years to find a distribution company.


MMI. Is the score totally electronic or fusion of both symphonic and synthetic?

P.J. There is a small twenty-five-piece orchestra, with the bass being the vintage MOOG synth, and a couple of electronic sounds like analog pads for example to get the atmospheric sounds, but it has real orchestra, real cello performances by my good friend Eve Marie from the LSO. There is also Cristal Baschet sounds as well, I love weird ambiances, I was Taught by Pierre Boulez at IRCAM music research centre in Paris when I was a student, don’t misunderstand me, I love melodies too, but this movie did not need them.




Philippe Jakko began his musical career as a composer of Ballets and also writing music for the theatre, he has also an impressive list of hit songs to his name. As well as being a gifted composer he also is an accomplished musician and conductor. So why have we not really heard much of his music until now? Maybe we just have not been looking or listening hard enough. My first encounter with his music came last year(2014) when I heard his score for ALLIES after this I was recommended to listen to his music for the film QUE D’AMOUR which was directed by Valerie Donzelli in 2013, what struck me immediately was the maturity and also the inventiveness of his writing on this particular project, his gift for melody and also his ability to create moving and haunting thematic material is stunning and obvious. The score for QUE D’AMOUR is in many ways similar to the style that fellow French composer Georges Delerue employed on a number of his film scores, but in fact there is so much more to the style and also the sound that Jakko has created for this soundtrack. I love the way that the composer combines strings with woodwind and also delicately adds harpsichord, vibes and piano in places to augment and infuse a certain fragility to the proceedings. There is also a definite nod or homage to Delerue in track number 17, FINAL ALLA DELERUE which evokes the style of the great French composer especially when he collaborated with filmmakers such as Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard, there is a Baroque style present and also one that is filled to overflowing with simple but affecting writing. The compact disc opens with the free spirited and exuberant composition, RUE DE LA PAIX, strings build and introduce to the listener a pleasant and slightly up-tempo piece performed by the aforementioned strings that are later joined and supported by wistful sounding flute that is interspersed with delicate and subtle flourishes from the harpsichord. It is a brief but enjoyable piece that sets the scene wonderfully for the remainder of Jakko,s score, tantalising string lines are combined throughout the work with t times melancholy sounding woods and underlined perfectly by childlike xylophone. This is a score that you should own a triumph a delight and I hope that there will be many more to come from this highly talented and inventive composer.