While I often like to take the time to listen to new Film, TV and Video Game soundtrack releases, as good as much of this music may be, I recently came to realise that I frequently forget about many of these releases once I have moved onto something else. However, there are a number of pieces from certain soundtracks that have stuck with me for a long while now; pieces that I often come back to and am always in awe of how great they sound, regardless of how simple of complex they are.
This gave me the idea for this first blog post. A compiled list of great, standout tracks from a number of all-round fantastic soundtracks. While this is partly for my own benefit as a way of compiling reference pieces along with my thoughts on them, hopefully it may also be of interest to anyone reading this, wether you're a filmmaker, composer, game-developer or even just a soundtrack enthusiast.
So, rather than read anymore of my ramblings, simply check out the awesome tracks listed below...
'Dripping Chills' by Jon Paesano (from the 'Daredevil: Season 2' soundtrack)
First off, this is clearly a piano-lead composition, the soft/dampened tone and dynamics of which give the track a gentle, dream-like quality, along with the pacing of the track itself. What really stands out for me though are the gorgeous pad textures and the scratchy, hypnotic tones of the solo violin (possibly viola though - not altogether sure). Basically, why I love this track so much has less to do with the melodic content that the piano plays, but more to do with the supporting aspects of the track: all of which create a lush ambient soundscape that feels incredibly dream-like.
'10 Cloverfield Lane' by Bear McCreary (from the '10 Cloverfield Lane' soundtrack)
I believe this track shares the same name as the film's title as it is essentially the main suite for the film - and what an amazing suite it is! Everytime I hear this piece I'm hooked from start to finish. It basically incorporates everything that is great about the entire soundtrack, featuring the haunting yayli tanbur motif, a section almost solely dedicated to the blaster beam, and outstanding orchestration all-round. This is honestly one of those pieces where, each time I listen, it almost makes me want to give up being a musician altogether - its THAT good! Bear McCreary, what is this wizardry?!
For a riveting in-depth insight into how this score was created, check out Bear's own blog post on his website - http://www.bearmccreary.com/#blog/blog/films/10-cloverfield-lane/
'Finale' by Danny Elfman (from 'The Kingdom (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)')
I may be wrong here, but I’d say when most people think of what an emotional piece of film music would sound like, they expect to hear soft legato strings, or maybe even a dampened grand piano. ‘Finale’ by Danny Elfman is a track that I find to be very emotional, yet despite including a string arrangement, the track is almost entirely lead by a small ensemble of harmonising guitars - and they sound gorgeous! What’s even better is that, yes the piece is emotional, but it isn’t sad, its in a major key and arguably connotes a feeling of contentment more so than anything else. Give it a listen and hopefully you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do!
'The Tale of Viktor Navorski' by John Williams (from 'The Terminal' soundtrack)
I had no intention of including a John Williams piece in this list. First off, I think it goes without saying that Williams has written some of the most iconic film soundtracks of all time - music that ABSOLUTELY stands on its own when separate from the films. But the point of this list was partly to highlight lesser-known pieces. However, I recently woke up one morning with the main suite from The Terminal (2004) in my head, despite not having seen the film in a long while. I absolutely couldn’t not include it in this list after that. I’d forgotten how fantastic this piece is. It feels like one of those pieces that the orchestra must have had an absolute blast playing. As expected, the orchestration is masterfully done. Each instrument section gets to shine as the piece progresses and the solo clarinet parts are brilliant.
'Nate's Theme 3.0' by Greg Edmonson (from 'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Original Video Game Soundtrack)')
People may well disagree with me on this, but I think that great original themes are few and far between these days. However, 'Nate's Theme' from the Uncharted series is most definitely one of these. The original theme was written for the first Uncharted game released back in 2007, though I've chosen this version (3.0) as I believe Greg Edmonson and his musical collaborators had a much larger orchestra at their disposal. This makes for a really harmonically-rich and incredibly well-orchestrated version of a theme that has now become iconic - much like the character it was written for.
'Nightcrawler' by James Newton Howard (from 'Nightcrawler (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'))
I love this track! It has such a hypnotising dream-like soundscape. The way the guitars repeatedly play the same phrase while being bathed in reverb and set against a backdrop of ethereal pad-like textures is enough to almost send you into a trance. Also, to me, it doesn't seem to convey any distinct sense of mood or emotion, and could literally lie anywhere within a spectrum ranging from euphoria to despair (deep, I know, but listen to it and you'll get what I mean). I also, admittedly, really like the film itself - much like the rest of my suggestions in this post if I'm honest - so no doubt that's one of the reasons I'm so fond of this track.