process of musical writing for movies - either for feature films, short films,
advertising, documentary, etc. - is a unique exercise of precision, common
sense, versatility, patience and talent. In some cases, it is also important
having a wealthy dose of sense of humour, experience and even faith... And as
faith moves mountains, composers never lose the hope and the passion for their
inclement but passionate profession. After all music is the
"invisible" element in the cinematographic narrative and, therefore,
the most difficult to be argued. It is the less tangible component among those
involved in the most collective of the composition forms. For this reason,
before we initiate the sacred work of musical creation, we always pray with the
teachings from the great masters (or prophets, perhaps?):
"Why a trained musician
would embrace a career that asks for the exactness of an Einstein, the diplomacy
of a Churchill and the patience of a martyr? Anyway, after writing 350 scores, I
cannot think about another musical form that offers as much challenge,
excitement and creative demand in putting music to work".
Victor Young (1900-1956) - Among hundreds of his works are Shane, For whom the Bells
Tolls and songs like "Stella by Starlight" and "When I fall
impossible to make films without music. The film needs the cement of music. I
never saw a better film without it. Music is so much important, like
cinematography. I spent my entire career fighting against ignorance".
Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) -
Mythical figure, Hitchcock’s preferred composer, creator of movie music
masterpieces like Vertigo, Citizen
Kane, Taxi Driver, etc.
"I always see the
director as a secret code to be deciphered".
Danny Elfman - Creator of references
like Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Mars
Attacks, The Simpsons main title
and several others.
"The biggest problem is
to take the initial decision about the musical evolution of the movie. You have
to decide what the music must do".
"I really believe that in ideal circumstances music would have to be a
Bernstein - In this business since 1951, he is
a master who already left his mark in all genres: The
Ten Commandments (epic), The
Magnificent Seven (western), To Kill a
Mockingbird (drama), Ghostbusters (comedy),
"I presume that
creative people are reluctant to admit their suffering in the creation process.
But I see the suffering as an inevitable part of the experience. There’s no
score that I have finished exactly the way I originally wrote. You have to hear
the director’s suggestions, to have the skill to make the changes and still to
remain constantly creative".
Goldsmith - His career is impressive, he is one
of the most prolific composers and created memorable scores like The
Omen, Star Trek The Motion Picture,
Alien, Gremlins, Mulan, etc.
"The music must be
synchronized with the action? Yes and No."
"The music’s function is not to illustrate, but to complete the
"Apparently only a composer knows the time is taken to write music".
Rozsa (1907-1995) - Great Hungarian master
from the 40´s and 50´s, composer of such classics like Spellbound,
Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Ben Hur, etc.
"I don’t know who
started with this theory, that the best score is the one you don’t perceive,
but this is not true."
"Good music can improve a good film, but it cannot turn a bad film into a
good film. We composers are not magicians. We write music".
Mancini (1924-1994) - Obligatory reference, creative composer of Breakfast
at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, Days
of Wine and Roses, Victor or Victoria,
"Even if you
particularly do not like music, you can recognize its efficiency at the
Thomas Newman - Born in a
family of great film composers (he’s the youngest son of the legendary Alfred
Newman), already considered as a contemporary icon, creator of scores like Fried
Green Tomatoes, American Beauty, Scent of a Woman.
”If Wagner had lived in this
century (20th) he would have been the number 1 composer for movies".
"There is an old belief in this business, that a good score is the one that
you don’t listen. How can it be good if you can’t even notice it?"
Steiner (1888-1971) - Austrian, the first of
the great masters, he composed King Kong,
Gone with the Wind, Casablanca and hundreds of scores.
"My early films had
been light or costume comedies that required simple scores that were easily
created, a genre that I never completely abandoned even when I went to work on
more important films and for great directors".
"To say the truth, people are little concerned about the musical element
when they are watching a movie, except when the music is well mixed, or when it
is particularly emphasized like in Sergio Leone films, when music is really
Enio Morricone - Italian, cult
composer from Once Upon A Time in America,
The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, etc.
"(The melody)... came
fast to my mind, when it came I was worried if it really would come. I had from
Friday to Monday morning to appear with something immortal, after all you do not
create something immortal every day".
"To say that the score is not to be heard is like to say that to breathe is
only useful when you do not know that you are breathing. The music for films is
utilitarian, as well as many things are and some of them are gorgeous by
themselves. A tea-pot is made for a purpose, but it also can be a piece of
Raksin - Great composer of classics like Laura, Forever Amber,
teacher and influence for many current composers. In an almost Biblical tale,
Raksin, during the production of the film Lifeboat
(1944) was informed that the director (Hitchcock) did not want music in the
film, since it was set in a life-guard boat on deep sea, and he asked: where the
music would come from? Raksin then said: ask to Mr. Hitchcock to explain where
the cameras come from, and I will tell him where the music comes from".
Listening to Movies (Fred Karlin)
The Score (Michael Schelle)
Settling the Score (Kathryn Kalinak)
for the movies (Tony Thomas)
Composer and Musical Producer for Sound
Design (Brazilian firm specialized in creating and producing audio for
movies, radio, Internet and other media)