News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tyler Bates' '300'

Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 free Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian slave army. Facing impossible odds, their valor and sacrifice ultimately inspired all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy to fight for democracy.

For this "Battle Epic" director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) engaged Tyler Bates to create a score that embodies expansive orchestral and choral themes that express a sweeping palette of color and emotion, while embracing a tonal palette unfamiliar to studio films of its nature.

In developing a sound that wouldn't betray the Frank Miller-inspired dark and stunning backdrop, the rugged stature of the Spartans, and the threatening characters they encounter on their quest to preserve freedom and democracy, Bates chose percussion as an effective foundation for much of the score. Bates explains, "My intent was to support the physicality of the actors, while staying true to the inspiration of this film and that of the Spartans -- freedom and will." Singer Azam Ali (Niyaz, Vas) served as both the voice of Sparta and the Persian threat. Orchestra and choir were recorded in London at Abbey Road studios, serving as the emotional canvas for the many colors and textures of Azam's haunting voice. Bates designed score pieces to incorporate Ali's many singing techniques in a broad range of emotions. Feeling it important to not color the story with specific words, yet to be bold and confident with voices throughout the score, Azam's vocal melodies were written in a phonetic language, as were all the choral parts. The guitarviol, an obscure electric bowed instrument, was used to create the crude melodies and much of the score's darker atmospheres, in addition to hand-crafted ambient sound design apparent in the music.

Bates comments, "The greatest challenge to writing and producing the music for 300, was to bead a musical thread throughout the film's ever-changing landscape of visual art and its ominous, horrific and mystical beings, while sustaining the epic and emotional qualities from which this film was made. I had to approach it in a style as inventive as the film itself." Warner Bros Records is distributing the score soundtrack album, comprised entirely of Bates' music, with the film's March 9th theatrical release. More: