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Exclusive Interview: Composer Jason Graves talks video game soundtracks

Sean Wilson chats to the Tomb Raider and Far Cry composer about what makes a truly great score…

Video game music has come on extraordinary leaps and bounds since the early days of 8-bit synths. Orchestral sophistication and symphonic power is now the order of the day, and at the forefront is acclaimed, award-winning artist Jason Graves.

We caught up with Jason to discuss his work on the rebooted Tomb Raider series and other hit video game franchises, discussing his musical process and what it means to honour the musical legacy of console gaming.

What you and your fellow soundtrack composers do is truly remarkable, adding further layers of emotion to our favourite games and films. How did you get into the industry to begin with?

I started working in La when I was still in school for a degree in Film and Television Music. That job gave me a
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

In Space You Can Hear a Symphony: The Story Behind the Theme for "Alien"

  • MUBI
Jerry Goldsmith was already a veteran film composer with numerous iconic scores under his belt by the time he was enlisted to work on Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). He’d worked in radio and television through the 1950s, contributing music to classic shows such as The Twilight Zone (1959) and Perry Mason (1959) before making the move to film, writing scores for films as diverse in subject matter (and sound) as Stagecoach (1966) and Planet of the Apes (1968) in the 1960s and Chinatown (1974) and The Omen (1976) in the 1970s. Goldsmith’s rich orchestral scores for such films, which were informed and influenced by early 20th century modernist composers, are both experimental and economical in their use and development of thematic material. He explained, “What I really try to do is to take one simple motif of the material for the picture, and a broad theme, and construct it so they always can work
See full article at MUBI »

Jason And The Argonauts, and more Greek myths

Aliya Whiteley Jun 2, 2017

If Clash Of The TItans or Jason And The Argonauts are your thing, then a few book recommendations right here...

This month, with help from BookBeat - who we thank very much for their support - we're trialling a book club series of features, where we look at books, how they translate to movies, how they work in audiobook form, and just generally chat about a certain title. You can get a free trial of BookBeat - a sort-of Netflix for audio books - right here. Den Of Geek readers get a full month free trial, as opposed to the usual two weeks. But you need to click on that link to get it!

This week? We're looking at Greek myths...

The 1963 film Jason And The Argonauts, directed by Don Chaffey, with a soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann and featuring the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, was my
See full article at Den of Geek »

Mark Reviews John Waters’ Multiple Maniacs [Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review]

From the opening of Multiple Maniacs when Mr. David introduces us to Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversion are we being introduced to John Waters’ own perversion? And how long do we want to stay? Divine’s entrance is as an engorged Elizabeth Taylor bathed in shimmering white light furthering the early mystique of Divine and her Cavacade. From robbing to rosaries, movie posters to murder John Waters is “performing acts” as we have truly entered Waters’ World.

“Produced, directed, written, filmed, and edited by John Waters” – auteur: check. Multiple Maniacs is not a high-budget film and was certainly never screened before the hours of midnight in the 1970’s. Waters made the film for $5000 borrowed from his father also borrowing the land surrounding their house to set the film. During the making of his first film, Mondo Trasho, he was arrested by the police so the early scenes of Multiple Maniacs
See full article at CriterionCast »

John Williams defined a musical template with ‘Star Wars’ — and then redefined it in ‘The Phantom Menace’

  • SoundOnSight
It’s easy to take the music of Star Wars for granted. After all, that would mean no iconic opening fanfare. There would be no disco remixes nor any “Cantina Band” for future filmmakers to quote from. College marching bands would have to find something other than “The Imperial March” to tease the away team with, and Nick Winters would never treat his lounge audience to his timeless cover. A reality without Star Wars music would find a different soundtrack sitting atop AFI‘s greatest film scores.

Fortunately, John Williams’s original Star Wars score did happen, and in 1977 it was a big deal. Disco and R&B owned the pop music charts. For science-fiction and fantasy cinema — genres whose idealism had diminished in the wake of the Vietnam War and Watergate –soundscapes were defined by synthetic music that separated viewers from their fantastical worlds onscreen. Context is essential to
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Godzilla review

  • Den of Geek
Monsters director Gareth Edwards heads up a new Hollywood incarnation of Godzilla. Ryan takes a spoiler-free look...

When director Ishiro Honda unleashed Godzilla on an unsuspecting Tokyo in 1954, the result was so much more than just another monster movie - even if it did spark a wave of sequels and imitators. Honda’s Godzilla captured the anguish of a nation reeling from the impact of the atom bomb. His giant monster was a walking, roaring psychic wound.

If subsequent Godzilla films portrayed the beast as an increasingly affable Toho mascot, wrestling a procession of other colossal kaiju to the ground as the world looked on in admiration, then Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla film entirely failed to evoke either the nightmare chill of Honda’s original creation or the charm of the legion sequels which followed. 16 years on, and British director Gareth Edwards brings his own American version of Godzilla to the screen.
See full article at Den of Geek »

The future's bright. Shame cinema isn't

Tattooed thugs in vests using lasers that look like kids' water guns … Why can't sci-fi films get to grips with what the future might actually be like?

Elysium: interviews with Matt Damon and director Neill Blomkamp, plus Peter Bradshaw gives his verdict

Immediately after executing yet another monstrous act of unspeakable violence, Sharlto Copley, who plays the villain in the new sci-fi thriller Elysium, says: "That's what I'm talking about." It is the year 2154, yet the sadistic mercenary makes use of an expression that first appeared in a Depression era Fats Waller ditty, and enjoyed a certain vogue in the United States at the dawn of the present millennium, but is now, in 2013, no longer heard that often.

Is this a deliberately "ironic" use of a retro, anachronistic Americanism by a snarky South African scumbag, tantamount to some wiseacre in 2013 reaching back more than a century and exhuming the expression,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett obituary

Composer and pianist whose work included film scores, opera and jazz cabaret

The composer Richard Rodney Bennett, who has died in New York aged 76, pursued multiple musical lives with extraordinary success. He was one of the more distinguished soundtrack composers of his era, having contributed to some 50 films and winning Oscar nominations for his work on Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

But it scarcely seemed credible that this knack for writing for a mainstream audience in a melodic, romantic style co-existed with his mastery of serialism and 12-tone techniques. From 1957 to 1959, Bennett was a scholarship student with Pierre Boulez in Paris and soaked up the latter's total serialism techniques as well as his infatuation with the German avant garde. He also attended the summer schools at Darmstadt, the mecca for diehard atonalists.

His tremendous facility as a pianist would prompt the
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett obituary

Composer and pianist whose work included film scores, opera and jazz cabaret

The composer Richard Rodney Bennett, who has died in New York aged 76, pursued multiple musical lives with extraordinary success. He was one of the more distinguished soundtrack composers of his era, having contributed to some 50 films and winning Oscar nominations for his work on Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

But it scarcely seemed credible that this knack for writing for a mainstream audience in a melodic, romantic style co-existed with his mastery of serialism and 12-tone techniques. From 1957 to 1959, Bennett was a scholarship student with Pierre Boulez in Paris and soaked up the latter's total serialism techniques as well as his infatuation with the German avant garde. He also attended the summer schools at Darmstadt, the mecca for diehard atonalists.

His tremendous facility as a pianist would prompt the
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett dies aged 76

Versatile musician was equally at home writing jazz and film scores as music for the concert hall

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, one of Britain's most versatile and talented composers and performers, has died peacefully on Christmas Eve in his adopted home city of New York, aged 76.

Over the course of a distinguished career he has been equally at home writing music for the concert hall and performing cabaret at the Algonquin Hotel; as enthusiastic about Cole Porter as Pierre Boulez. His publisher, Gill Graham of the Music Sales Group, said: "He was, I think, the last of his kind. He wrote 32-bar jazz standards, the most complex serial music, and everything in between."

To a broad audience he is perhaps best known as a prolific writer of scores for film and television, including for Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express and Four Weddings and a Funeral; his film
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Five-year Plan: December albums

  • CultureCatch
December is a month that increasingly sees few releases of new albums, so the closer this list gets to the present day, the fewer albums of importance there are to discuss, and most of those are hip-hop albums.

1967

Traffic: Mr. Fantasy Aka Heaven Is in Your Mind (Island)

Shortly after Steve Winwood quit the Spencer Davis Group (of which he was the lead singer and organist), he formed Traffic with some guys he'd jammed with at a club in Birmingham: guitarist/vocalist Dave Mason, saxophonist/flutist Chris Wood, and drummer/lyricist Jim Capaldi. After a couple of hit singles, they convened at a country cottage and put together the debut album by Traffic, titled Mr. Fantasy in their native country. By the time it was released, Mason had already quit.

The English and American editions were rather different. Not only did the U.S. LP (on United Artists) have
See full article at CultureCatch »

Orchestrating a Melody for the Woodwind Section

Welcome back! Having gotten the technical part out of the way, let’s now explore the different ways in which we can have the woodwind section play our melody.

I. Anatomy Of The Woodwind Section

Woodwinds are found in an orchestra in three basic configurations :

Solo woodwinds : one of each ; 1 Flute – 1 Clarinet – 1 Oboe – 1 Bassoon Woodwinds in Pairs : two of each ; 2 Flutes – 2 Clarinets – 2 Oboes – 2 Bassoons Woodwinds in Threes : three of each ; 3 Flutes – 3 Clarinets – 3 Oboes – 3 Bassoons

However, many woodwind players are proficient in more than one instrument of the same family (e.g. flutes, clarinets, bassoons etc) and can be asked to double on another instrument if the orchestration calls for it. For example, a flutist can be asked to double on the piccolo at some point during the orchestration (provided that a flute is not required at the same time!). When there are more than one of each instrument available,
See full article at SCOREcastOnline.com »

Anniversaries: Ralph Vaughan Williams Born 140 Years Ago

  • CultureCatch
The son of a vicar (and Charles Darwin was his great-uncle), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) became one of the most popular English composers. He studied under Charles Villiers Stanford and Hubert Parry at the Royal College of Music, but also read history and music at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he palled around with the philosophers Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore. He also went to Germany for lessons with Max Bruch, but ultimately rejected the 19th century German Romantic style Friendships with fellow Rcm students Gustav Holst and Leopold Stokowski later bore more fruit, in different ways: Stokowski, who moved to the United States, became Rvw's biggest supporter there; Holst and Vaughan Williams critiqued each others' work and joined in the study and collection of English folk songs. "The knowledge of our folk songs did not so much discover for us something new, but uncovered something which had been hidden by foreign matter,
See full article at CultureCatch »

Venus Transit 2012 - The Ultimate Prometheus Viral?

So, yeah. Everyone knows that today the planet Venus passed between the Earth and the Sun. Especially Fox, which has Ridley Scott's Prometheus (review) hitting theatres this weekend. Can you think of a better rare celestial event to capitalize on? Dig it!

Star gazers (and perhaps legions of movie fans) will have their eyes on the sky today to catch a glimpse of The Transit of Venus, a rare celestial event that occurs when the planet passes directly between Earth and the Sun. Such transits help us to identify the capacity for life on other worlds as they move across the face of their home star. It was a transit like this that helped the scientists at Weyland Industries identify life on a distant world, which would ultimately lead to a world-changing, exploratory space mission aboard the ship The Prometheus.

So is the Transit of Venus timing and the
See full article at Dread Central »

Prometheus Hints Unveiled Through the Transit of Venus

  • MovieWeb
Prometheus Hints Unveiled Through the Transit of Venus
Star gazers (and perhaps legions of movie fans) will have their eyes on the sky today to catch a glimpse of The Transit of Venus, a rare celestial event that occurs when the planet passes directly between Earth and the sun. Such transits help us to identify the capacity for life on other worlds as they move across the face of their home star. It was a transit like this that helped the scientists at Weyland Industries identify life on a distant world, which would ultimately lead to a world-changing, exploratory space mission aboard the ship The Prometheus.

So is the Transit of Venus timing and the release of the Ridley Scott film a coincidence? The heavens reveal all beginning this afternoon. You won't want to miss it - the last one was in 1874, later inspiring Gustav Holst to write "The Planets." And if you'd like some company, catch it
See full article at MovieWeb »

Prometheus – Catch A Glimpse Of The Transit Of Venus; FIlmmakers & Cast Talk About Film

Star gazers (and perhaps legions of movie fans) will have their eyes on the sky today to catch a glimpse of The Transit of Venus, a rare celestial event that occurs when the planet passes directly between Earth and the sun. Such transits help us to identify the capacity for life on other worlds as they move across the face of their home star. It was a transit like this that helped the scientists at Weyland Industries identify life on a distant world, which would ultimately lead to a world-changing, exploratory space mission aboard the ship The Prometheus.

So is the Transit of Venus timing and the release of the Ridley Scott film a coincidence? The heavens reveal all beginning this afternoon. You won.t want to miss it . the last one was in 1874, later inspiring Gustav Holst to write .The Planets.. And if you.d like some company, catch
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Homeland resonates to jazz – but what other shows benefit from great music?

Carrie listens to Thelonius Monk, while Treme is also filled with jazz, proving a powerful soundtrack can enhance any TV plot

The squeaks and squalls of jazz are an essential part of Homeland. Music features frequently in the Channel 4 Us import, from the hazy, trumpet-led dissonance of the opening titles – complete with archive footage of Louis Armstrong sandwiched next to the portentous rambling of Donald Rumsfeld – to CIA members Carrie and Saul's discussions about their favourite jazz musicians.

Yet the music does not merely add an air of sophistication to the drama. It is another knot to untie as we unravel the complexities of the characters in particular the wayward Carrie (Claire Danes). At the beginning of Sunday's episode she listened to a version of Thelonious Monk's standard Straight, No Chaser while driving to a meeting at CIA headquarters in Washington.

Monk was hospitalised at various points in
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Anthony Burgess archive reveals vast body of previously unseen work

Gifted by the author's widow, the resource includes a great deal of music writing, as well as new literary gems

A greatly expanded slang lexicon for the delinquent droogs of the novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in a vast archive of the work and life of Anthony Burgess held in Manchester, alongside the libretto and score of an unseen opera about Leon Trotsky, and the script for an unmade TV series about Attila the Hun.

In preparation for next year's 50th anniversary of his notorious novel, one of the most controversial modern works in the English language, the small team at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation have been working to organise and catalogue hundreds of papers, letters and original compositions, ready for an influx of international visitors.

The extraordinary resource, which has been left to the foundation by Burgess's widow Liana, is newly housed in a renovated building
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Anniversaries: Underrated English Composer Edmund Rubbra Born 110 Years Ago

BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox Edmund Rubbra: Complete Symphonies (Chandos)

Edmund Rubbra (May 23, 1901 - February 14, 1986) was an English composer much admired by some connoisseurs in his native country, but not much recorded even there and rarely heard overseas. His teachers included Cyril Scott, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, and Eugene Goosens. Rubbra wrote much excellent chamber and choral music, but as is so often the case, his reputation seems most closely linked to his symphonies, and they certainly reward attention. From much commentary that exists about these works, especially the first four, the neophyte might expect pedantic grayness, but I think that's unfair.

read more
See full article at CultureCatch »

Letter: Modest aims of Holst museum

Those of us engaged with the Holst Birthplace Museum are delighted that Tony Palmer has made such a splendid film about the life and music of Gustav Holst (The inner orbit of Gustav Holst, Film & Music, 22 April). The film accords with one of the prime purposes of this museum, which is to create a greater awareness of the man and the extensive range and beauty of his compositions. Holst's music deserves to be much better known and the new film illustrates this amply.

We are less pleased with the derogatory comments about this museum which are made in the article. With much less space and less funding it is inevitable that there are limitations compared with those museums which are much more generously endowed, but this does not mean that all that is offered is "twaddle", as suggested, or that spurious claims are made about its contents. On the contrary
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »
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