Monthly Archives: December 2007

This video actually contains a detailed analysis of writing a fugue, but I find it gets a little academic and hard to follow…but the fugue itself (starts about 2/3rds of the way through) is actually kind of nice, I’d like to hear it performed on a large organ, though:

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello
If you attend a talk by an experienced Hollywood composer sometime, you might hear an opinion that film scoring is currently in a “cool” period.

In film after film, the basic rule seems to be that composers avoid displaying any trace of enthusiasm in their music. A certain detachment from the material is essential.

Take a 70s TV scene, such as Fonzie jumping the shark, and you hear the difference right away (notice, by the way, the cute homage to John William’s famous 2-note motive from “Jaws”, in the lower brass):

Audiences today have been so overexposed to media that they’re hyper-sensitized to storytelling conventions. So if you make the mistake of saying too much in the music, you’re insulting them, so they just think you’re corny.

That’s not a bad thing by any means…I myself feel distracted by hyperactivity in old film scores, even ones where the music is clearly a masterpiece.

(Ironically, the music from Jaws, also from the 70s, doesn’t sound the least bit dated at all…)

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello

“The Geometry of Circles” is an old Phillip Glass-scored Sesame Street cartoon that folks seem to have loved as kids. It spooks the heck out of me (as minimalist music always seems to) . If I’d seen it at the age of 3 I would have had nightmares.Still, it’s brilliant, check out the first 30 seconds, especially the 2-note repetitions, to get the idea:

Watching Transformers, the Decepticons music reminded me of it. Getting past the movie’s booming percussion, dark tones and gigantic reverb, it

shares the same minimalist techniques – repetitive rhythms and stark arpeggios. And in particular, a 2-note motive.

I sort of wondered – maybe this choice was the composer’s way of keeping the story kid-like? Transformers are toys, after all, and I related to it like one of my childhood fantasies. Why not use minimalism to suggest the absolute clarity of good guys vs. bad guys?

Can you hear the similarity? Listen to the vocals starting about 1:30 into this remix:

So is this theory right? Here’s what the composer Steve Jablonsky has to say about it:

The Decepticon theme was an experiment. I had no idea if it would work, but as soon as I heard the choir sing the first few bars, I was happy. It’s not really a theme that you can whistle. It’s more of an evil chant. I wanted it to feel somewhat ancient, and I had a lot of fun with it.

OK, Sesame Street isn’t much of a source of ancient evil chants. So there goes that theory.

Still, I’d say he hit the mark.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello

On the podcast he’ll talk about the songs for “Enchanted” and other Disney movies he’s done.

Posted 9 years ago by John Piscitello