News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Monday, July 31, 2006

'Mercs 2' Tilton's playground

Assignment news: Chris Tilton (Mercenaries, Black) has signed to score Mercenaries II for Pandemic Studios. He previously collaborated with Michael Giacchino on the original Mercenaries game, but will score the follow-up himself.

Cmiral still has 'Pulse'

Composer Elia Cmiral scores 'Pulse'
Composer Elia Cmiral scores Pulse for director Jim Sonzero and The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films. Inspired by a popular Japanese film, the Wes Craven-penned thriller tells the story of young computer hackers who channel a mysterious signal that opens a doorway to another world, full of forces looking for a portal to cross over in order to wreak havoc. Starring a hot young cast that includes Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder and Christina Milian, the film opens August 11. This is Cmiral's second collaboration with Craven, having scored Wes Craven Presents: They in 2002.

For Pulse, Cmiral crafted a contemporary electronica/modern orchestral score. Using an ISDN connection from his home in Los Angeles, he conducted seventy minutes of score with a sixty piece orchestra located in his native Czech Republic. With three programmers to handle the huge amount of sound design and five orchestrators, he used extensive synths and percussion programming, a programmed choir and live voices including his own. "The work was intense," he says, "(director) Jim Sonzero made me explore every possible or impossible musical and sonic corner."

Born in Czechoslovakia, Elia Cmiral quickly established himself as one of Europe's leading young composers after graduating from the prestigious Prague Music Conservatory. He wrote scores for several European films and three ballets before coming to the United States to attend USC's famous Film Scoring Program, after which he was hired to produce tango-based music for Apartment Zero, composing a now-classic full length score in a scant ten days. By the mid-1990s, Cmiral had garnered a reputation with Hollywood executives, and after scoring the successful Nash Bridges television series, he was selected to score John Frankenheimer's suspense thriller Ronin starring Robert DeNiro. Following the success of Ronin, Elia has continued to provide highly original and evocative scores for major Hollywood studios as well as independent filmmakers, including Stigmata, Battlefield Earth, Bones and Species 3.

This year, in addition to Pulse, Cmiral scored the dark drama Journey to the End of the Night, directed by Eric Eason for Millennium Films, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sony sells 'Serenada'

Danny Elfman's first concert work "Serenada Schizophrana" in stores October 3rd on Sony

Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated composer of music for over 100 films and tv series – Batman, Spiderman, Beetle Juice, "The Simpsons"

Work premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2005, with American Composers Orchestra conducted by Steven Sloane – music later featured in IMAX’s Deep Sea 3D

Adding another facet to an already brilliant life in music, Danny Elfman steps out from his career-defining role as a Grammy Award-winning, Oscar-nominated composer of original music for film (Batman, Spiderman, Beetle Juice, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and television ("Pee-Wee's Playhouse," "The Simpsons," "Desperate Housewives") with the release of Serenada Schizophrana, his first orchestral composition written specifically for the concert hall.

The world premiere of Serenada Schizophrana at Carnegie Hall on February 23, 2005 drew ecstatic reviews across-the-board from both classical music and pop culture critics. It subsequently received worldwide exposure as the featured music in the soundtrack to the IMAX film Deep Sea 3D which was narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. The Sony Classical recording is conducted by John Mauceri, best known for his sixteen years as conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The genesis of Serenada Schizophrana was a commission from the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), a new honor for Elfman and a challenge that he welcomed. Without the usual visuals to drive his orchestral music, he writes, "I began composing several dozen short improvisational compositions, none of them related. Slowly, some of them began to develop themselves until I had six separate movements that, in some abstract, absurd way, felt connected."

Serenada Szhizophrana was scored for large orchestra, electronics, two pianos, and female voices, with Steven Sloane conducting the ACO, joined by the ACO Singers, directed by Judith Clurman. "With six movements, rolling piano solos ... and the charming hoots and chirps of eight female voices," wrote Bernard Holland in the New York Times, "Mr. Elfman gave us music comfortable in its own world and highly professional in its execution ... The composer of this piece has an ear for symphonic colors and how to balance them."

"In keeping with the piece's title," Mac Randall also noted at the time in the New York Observer, "the music veered madly from Ellingtonian whimsy to Bernard Herrmannesque agitation ... The tortured swing of the third movement conjured up the image of a jazz band on a storm-tossed raft, with trash-can cymbals acting as the crashing waves. And the furious horn-stoked climax and surprising last-second resolution of the closing movement made for a rousing finish."

For Elfman, a self-taught musician who had never heard any of his orchestral music performed live on stage, it was a "thrilling experience." Highly influenced by the work of such mid-20th century film composers Bernard Herrmann, Nino Rota, Dimitri Tiomkin, Max Steiner and Erich Korngold, among many others, Elfman's music is also tempered by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Orff and Bartók, as well as early Duke Ellington. "I am forever attached to the music of the early 20th century," Elfman writes. To this mix, he adds his recent discoveries of Harry Partch, Philip Glass and Lou Harrison.

Serenada Schizophrana is a ‘gumbo' of all these styles and influences, as conjured up by the imaginative and often surreal pen of Danny Elfman. A prolific composer for more than a quarter-century, Elfman has written music for over a hundred films and TV series. He is well-known for his collaborations with equally eccentric director Tim Burton on a partnership that began in 1985 with Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and went on to include Big Top Pee-Wee (1988), Beetle Juice (1988), Batman (1989, whose theme won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), TV's "Family Dog" (1993), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Planet Of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), and Corpse Bride (2005).

For most of this time (until about a decade ago) Elfman was a mainstay of the beloved Los Angeles-based group Oingo Boingo, which was originally assembled in the late-'70s by his older brother, writer-director Richard Elfman, to provide the music for his first movie Forbidden Zone (1980). The group flourished (over the course of eight albums) but also became ubiquitous on movie soundtracks through the '80s: Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), Bachelor Party (1984), Weird Science (whose title song became a pop hit, 1985), Something Wild (1986), Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Teen Wolf Too (1987), and Ghostbusters 2 (1989), to name a few.

Meanwhile, as his working friendship with Burton grew in the '90s (and Oingo Boingo eventually disbanded), Elfman focused on what turned into a string of some 50 signature movie soundtracks, among them: Dick Tracy (1990), Sommersby (1993), Dolores Claiborne, Dead Presidents, and To Die For (all 1995), Mission Impossible (1996), the Men In Black franchise (1997, 2002), Good Will Hunting (1997), Spy Kids (2001), Chicago (2002), Hulk (2003), and Nacho Libre (2006). Upcoming projects include Disney's animated Meet the Robinsons, Paramount's adaptation of Charlotte's Web, and a reunion with his brother Richard on The Sixth Element.

Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and deutsche harmonia mundi are labels of SONY BMG MASTERWORKS. For e-mail updates and information regarding Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and deutsche harmonia mundi artists, promotions, tours and repertoire, please visit

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Memories of A Ubeda

Check out photos from the Ubeda Film Music Festival (via Film Score Monthly message board).

That's it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

MSM comes home to 'Roost'

MovieScore Media presents

The Roost
Original Motion Picture Score
Also featuring music from Joshua

Music composed by Jeff Grace

Exploring even darker territories, composer Jeff Grace moves from Middle-Earth and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the world of zombies and vampires in the acclaimed cult horror film The Roost, directed by Ti West. Grace, who worked as an assistant for Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore on numerous scores including all three Lord of the Rings soundtracks, is now pursuing a film composition career in his own right. His refreshingly modern horror score for The Roost, written for a string quartet using many experimental avant garde techniques, is a very impressive work that ranks among the best of scores written in the low budget horror

Jeff Grace is a classically trained composer who, besides film scores, has among other things was selected for American Opera Projects' 2005-2006 Composers and The Voice Series. He has also worked with composer Robert Ruggieri on his ballet scores and as an orchestrator for trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

The Roost: Original Motion Picture Score will be available exclusively from iTunes on July 25, 2006, with wider digital distribution to follow.

Visit to check out our catalogue of recordings.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Let's go to the Expo

The Composer Expo
Friday, August 4, 2006
The Academy Ballroom / The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Register today at:

On Friday August 4, Turner Classic Movies and Film Music Magazine present The Composer Expo, a special event that brings together the best and brightest composers and other industry professionals to focus on the state of the art, craft, technology and business of instrumental music for film, television and video games.

Featured at The Composer Expo will be a full day of panels and networking activities featuring top VIP industry professionals focusing on all aspects of instrumental music for film, television and video games. More info...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Spin it again!

It's Friday, and frankly I can't think of anything you'd rather be reading about than this...

Remember this old tune?

Oh-ee-yeah (Tale Spin)
Oh-ee-yoh (Tale Spin)
Friends for life, through thick and thin
With another tale to spin
Oh-ee-yeah (Tale Spin)
Oh-ee-yoh (Tale Spin)
All the trouble we get in
With another tale to spin

(Spin it!)
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh ...
(Spin it again!)
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh ....

It's from the early '90s Disney animated series Talespin which ran for one year.

Music for a handful of episodes was composed by the late Christopher Stone.

So why the hell am I posting about TailSpin? Well, Intrada has a copy of the ultra-rare promotional disc of Stone's music from the series for sale. The price to enjoy this much desired material? A mere $249.99.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

iTunes: Keyword Fun!

Ever search your iTunes library with keywords? Sometimes the search results create interesting "themed" compilations. Let's give it a whirl and see what we come up with (via searching over 9000 tracks)...

Keyword: "Finale"
Results: 44

Some titles include...
"Finale Pt1", "Finale Pt2" - X3: The Last Stand (Powell)
"The Big Empty Finale" - The Big Empty (Tyler)
"Finale" - Curse of The Werewolf (Frankel)
"Finale" - The Jungle Book (Poledouris)
"Finale/Hallelujiah" - The Robe (Newman)
Keyword: "Chase"
Results: 48
Danny Elfman has written at least 6 cues with "Chase" in the title, including "The Chase" for Dick Tracy, Sleepy Hollow and Men In Black, "Studio Chase" for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, "D's Memories/Chase" for Men In Black and "Stairway Chase" for Midnight Run. Chris Young also titled four of his cues from Hard Rain with "... Chase".
Keyword: "Battle"
Results: 83
Plenty of "Battle" to be found here, including such noteworthy titles like "Final Battle" from Van Helsing (Silvestri), "Rain Battle" from The Greatest Game Ever Played (Tyler), "Space Battle" from Serenity (Newman), "Leviathan Battle" from Atlantis (Howard) and the artful "Night Battle" from First Knight (Goldsmith).
Keyword: "Journey"
Results: 24
No we're not talking about Trevor Rabin's old rock band. You'll find "Journey" in: "Journey To The Cradle of Life" from Tomb Raider 2 (Silvestri), "Night Journey" from Dracula (Williams), "Boat Journey" from Half Light (Rosenberg), "Journey Backwards" from The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (Tyler), "Buddy's Journey" from Elf (Debney) and "Journey To Nepal" from Raiders of The Lost Ark (Williams) among others!
How much fun is this?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Soundtrack Preview: 'Monster House'

This is the fifth entry in the ongoing soundtrack preview series. Wipe your feet on the welcome mat and step inside Monster House, Douglas Pipe's big orchestral score for Imagmover's latest mo-cap CGI-fest. Despite two of cinema's biggest visionaries behind-the-scenes in Spielberg and Zemeckis, director Gil Kenan stayed loyal to his composer Pipes, bringing him along for the ride. The result is one of the most infectious major debut scores since Burton and Elfman and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Using full orchestra, choir and a touch of theremin, Pipes proves he has what it takes to score major features.

Firmly in the spooky-kids-mode, Monster House slots nicely in the niche currently occupied by Elfman's Beetlejuice, Debney's Hocus Pocus, Horner's Casper and Goldsmith's The 'Burbs. Of the scores mentioned, Pipes' Monster House snarls loudest, with significantly bombastic scoring for a seriously pissed off domicile.

Here are five clips from the album, available in stores now from Varese Sarabande.

1. Opening Titles
2. Eliza's Song
3. Awesome Kite/Bones Tossed Out/Construction
4. The Battle
5. End Titles

Links: Purchase Monster House / Varese Sarabande Records

Previous previews: Lady In The Water / The Omen / Cars / X-Men: The Last Stand

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tuesday is Buying Day

Two big soundtrack releases today:

James Newton Howard's Lady In The Water on Decca Records (in case you missed it, you can listen to five clips right here on the blog) and Douglas Pipe's big orchestral score for Monster House on Varese Sarabande.

Varese also begins shipping their latest club releases and La-La Land Records ships Farscape Classics - Volume Two and the immortal Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare. Yeah, dude!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Armstrong handles 'WTC'

Craig Armstrong scores Oliver Stone's controversial 'World Trade Center'
Soundtrack release from Sony Classical August 8th

(Hollywood, CA) Golden Globe winning film composer Craig Armstrong delivers a haunting score to Paramount Pictures' World Trade Center. Oliver Stone directs the true story of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, two police officers who became trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena star as the two officers. The film opens August 11th, and Sony Classical releases the score August 8th. This is the first time Stone and Armstrong have worked together.

Craig Armstrong, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, has composed, arranged, produced, and performed a multitude of respected works. He began his professional music career with the group The Big Dish, performing on keyboard, writing, and arranging; this led to arranging assignments for artists including Massive Attack, U2, and Madonna. Later, Armstrong became composer in residence at Glasgow's Tron Theatre Company, writing commissioned pieces for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In the last ten years, Armstrong has composed extensively for film. He won a Golden Globe and was named AFI's Composer of the Year for his score to Baz Luhrman's musical Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. His work on the Ray Charles biographical film, Ray, earned him a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album. His other credits include The Quiet American, Plunkett and Maclean, and Love Actually.

In addition to his film scores, Armstrong has released three solo albums: "The Space Between Us," "As If To Nothing," and "Piano Works." Most recently, his new musical trio "The Dolls" released its first self-titled album. Currently, his music can be heard as part of an exhibit at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. He will perform with a full orchestra October 19th in Belgium at the 33rd Flanders International Film Festival, incorporating several of his popular film scores.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Review: 'Superman Returns'

Superman Returns
Music Composed and Produced by John Ottman

So, Superman has returned. Neat. His first appearance in 1979 was all that was really needed. Richard Donner’s original still stands as the definitive film version of Superman… (as was his original version of The Omen the definitive version of THAT franchise.) New Superman Brandon Routh does a nice Christopher Reeve impersonation, and Kevin Spacey is a believable Lex Luthor, but it all still doesn’t add up to much. This is mostly the fault of Bryan Singer and his team creating a film that has little excitement and suspense despite some nice special effects, and try as it might (with a cute Super-son), can’t create any sort of emotional involvement for the viewer. As a kid, I was much more upset about Lois Lane “dying” in the original and was slightly startled at Superman’s grief and rage upon discovering her body. Now, as an adult, in the new version, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to her. “Eh… let her drown. Oh wait. Here comes Superman. Yay.”

But I digress. So upon Bryan Singer getting the Superman Returns gig (after about a dozen other directors), it was pretty apparent who was going to be scoring it. Kudos to Singer for being loyal to his editor/composer John Ottman and not hiring John Williams to write a new Superman score. Of course I would’ve loved to hear Williams’ take on his classic score nearly 30 years later, but loyalty in Hollywood is a rare thing and should be respected. And like Marco Beltrami and the remake of The Omen this year, John Ottman shouldn’t be taken to task for the insane tightrope act he had to perform with this score. Use the Williams themes, but don’t use them too much. Make it sound like Superman, but don’t sound like you’re just copying Williams. Write a new theme or two, update the sound of the original… the list goes on and on with conflicting demands.

The final score, unfortunately, is a mixed bag. Ottman takes quite liberally from John Williams’ original, often using complete passages of the score, or taking themes and changing them in new ways… which isn’t exactly a good thing. Harmonically or melodically changing themes that were perfect to begin with is like putting old wine in a new bottle… a really weird looking bottle. The main theme, fanfare, Kent family theme, Krypton theme, and “Can You Read My Mind” all make appearances, but often are changed ever-so-slightly. The titles, incidentally are exactly the same as the original… except with an oddly altered final chord.

Full review coming soon...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 launches

Here's the lowdown on a new filmmusic website...
After many months of work and planning Tom Kiefner and Bregt DeLange have created a new website at

While Golden Scores will focus a lot of attention to those older classic scores and recordings it will also keep you up to date on the current news and scores. There will be something for everybody! In addition to reviews there will be a column and forum. Look forward to some contests with prizes as well as all sorts of surprises. I have had nothing to do with the look of the site other than an opinion or two, all of the effort and praise is to be given to Bregt for his fine effort. We hope all of you will take the time to see what we have come up with. My effort will be directed toward some good solid content that will show my enthusiasm for soundtracks. Since we are in are early stages of development all suggestions are extremely important to us. Our goal is to make this the #1 site for soundtracks on the web and without your support it will never happen. Adam Anderrson who has written excellent material for scorereviews is joining our staff and will share his opinions. Please join us for our for a fun adventure! You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

MSM: Rosenberg's 'Half Light'

MovieScore Media presents
Half Light
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music Composed by Brett Rosenberg

Australian composer Brett Rosenberg's score for the supernatural thriller Half Light starring Demi Moore made a strong impression on its audience: an online petition resulted in hundreds of people expressing their interest in a soundtrack release of the music. In answer to this petition, and proudly introducing yet another exciting new name to the film music community, MovieScore Media releases the Half Light score. It's the company's ninth online release since the launch of the label in January.

Brett Rosenberg's score for Half Light is a dark and romantic orchestral score filled with beautiful themes that are contrasted by eerie suspense writing, colourfully orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd and performed by first rate London session players recorded in the magnificent Air Lyndhurst Studios. The film has been described as an "Hitchcockian thriller with a supernatural twist", and Rosenberg's score has its Herrmann-esque moments and a lot of moody atmospheres that recalls some of Christopher Young's finest genre works.

Half Light: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be available exclusively from iTunes on July 11, 2006, with wider digital distribution to follow.

MovieScore Media is an online soundtrack label devoted to make high quality film music available on the internet. Visit to check out our catalogue.

'Breakheart' is no 'Pass'

Breakheart Pass
Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
La-La Land Records (LLLCD 1044)

Just when you think they’ve released every worthwhile Goldsmith score in the late composer’s filmography, another month passes, and a new excellent Goldsmith release is ready for shipping. As of this writing, the latest gem is La La Land’s release of Breakheart Pass, one of the many dynamite Westerns that Goldsmith scored in the first two decades of his career. The plot involves Charles Bronson and a train (I believe the original tagline read, “Get these mother-f^%#ing Charles Bronsons off this mother-f&*ing train!”), which is about all you need to know to get a feel for the score. In other words, the music is stoic and ballsy, racing with train-like momentum (though never in any obnoxious or obvious way) and pushing the adrenaline button as only Goldsmith could.

Interpretations of this score seem to vary in the film score community; I’ve seen it score described as a straight-out action thrill ride by some, and as a slow burning suspense piece by others. Both arguments have support – sometimes the music is balls-to-the-wall action, and sometimes it barely whispers with nervous suspense. Most of the time, however, the music is somewhere in between, racing with momentum, but restrained and uneasy. I’d have a hard time qualifying a cue like “On The Move / Runaway” as either straight action or straight suspense, and I don’t see any purpose in trying. Suspense and action feed off each other in this score, making for a nail-biting and riveting listen – that’s all that matters to me. Goldsmith’s general formula is to play with tension, play with extreme tension, and then when it seems like we can’t take any more tension, BAM, whip out the main theme and commence the Bronsonian ass-whoopin. Repeat as necessary, and you more or less have the score. The formula sounds banal and repetitive on paper, but you’d be surprised how many fresh and surprising ways Goldsmith can apply this formula throughout ¾ of an hour. - Paul Cote

Full review coming soon.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ottman: "Don't screw this up."

A Reuters/Billboard interview with John Ottman re: Superman Returns is available online at Yahoo! Movies.

Q: Why did you incorporate John Williams' classic "Superman" theme in "Superman Returns?"

A: It (was) a bittersweet process for me because it's always great when you can write your own theme, and that really gives you the impetus to write the rest of the score. I vacillated between that and "Hey, this is a great opportunity to keep alive one of the greatest themes ever written." My ego squashing the greatest theme ever would be tragic. I completely understand the fan mentality, and I would be one of the rioters in the street if we didn't use his theme.

Read the entire interview.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

58th Annual Emmy Noms

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series(Dramatic Underscore)

Masters Of Horror, "Dreams In The Witch House"
Music by Richard Band

Rome, "Triumph"
Music by Jeff Beal

Stargate: Atlantis, "Grace Under Pressure"
Music by Joel Goldsmith

Supernatural, "Pilot"
Music by Christopher Lennertz

24, "6:00 AM - 7:00 AM"
Music by Sean Callery

Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special (Dramatic Underscore)

The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
Music by Bruce Broughton

Human Trafficking, "Part 1"
Music by Normand Corbeil

Into The West
Music by Geoff Zanelli

Sleeper Cell
Music by Paul Haslinger

The Water Is Wide
Music by Jeff Beal

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Soundtrack Preview: 'Lady In The Water'

This is the fourth entry in the ongoing soundtrack preview series. This time I've got James Newton Howard's Lady In The Water, M. Night Shyamalan's swimming pool thriller. It's no secret that Howard does his best work musically enhancing Shyamalan's films, and while the movies have slowly gotten worse, Howard has never wavered.

Lady In The Water is structurally not that different than Signs. It's a slow burning build to the climax, anchored by a strong, circular theme (first heard in "Prologue" and given weight in "Charades" before exploding in "The Great Eatlon"). Howard wrote about 75 minutes of music for the film, with about 40 of those making Decca's album (in stores July 18th). Here are five thirty second clips from the score.

1. Prologue
2. Charades
3. The Blue World
4. The Healing
5. The Great Eatlon

Links: Purchase Lady In The Water / Decca Records

Previous previews: The Omen / Cars / X-Men: The Last Stand

The day we fight back

I'm Canadian, so I took the long Canada Day weekend off. But I know a lot of Americans, so I'm taking off Independence Day as well. Happy July 4th! See you Wednesday.