Top 5 Original Movie Scores
Way back when this blog was just a baby I wrote a post about the importance of movie music and how I thought we should hold the film composers up against the classical masters.
Continuing on that idea I thought I’d write a post about my 5 all time favourite pieces of movie music. I’m restricting myself to individual movements rather than whole scores, all of these being instrumental pieces that I think are simply fantastic. Narrowing down to just five was very tricky, so I’ve tried to pick a variety of music and composers. I doubt any of my choices will shock you, but I’m interested to read your comments and find out which bits of movie music do it for you.
The best way I could think of to get the music onto the blog was to provide links to the Spotify tracks, since that shouldn’t upset any copyright laws as the music is freely available. So hit the links to have the music playing while you read.
**I’m trying not to put spoilers in this, but it’s hard, so if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know then maybe skip that section.**
5. Father Kolbe’s Preaching-Burkhard Dallwitz-The Truman Show
I’ll forgive you for not having heard of this guy, ‘cos even I hadn’t. This particular piece of music plays right at the end of the film and is a perfect fit to what is happening on screen. The simple piano and strings are tragic but at the same time seem to have a kind of optimism and the slow processing rhythm is a great match for the semi-biblical dialogue going on between Truman and Kolbe.
4. Star Wars theme-John Williams-Star Wars
This man is the God of movie music. I have no idea how he does it. Everything he writes is an iconic masterpiece, but I think if I had to pick just one track to sum up the genius that is John Williams it would have to be the Star Wars theme. Every time that first brass note leaps from the screen I jump, even though I’ve seen Star Wars more times than I can count. It’s such a triumphant march, giving way to the more fluid strings of Han and Leia’s theme, which take on a fantastically ethereal quality as the flutes echo the main theme in the background. There are so many layers in that one piece of music it’s incredible. And I dare you to find me a single person on the planet who can’t hum it.
3. He’s a Pirate-Klaus Badelt-Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
I’ve never wanted to stand up and cheer at the end of a movie more, (in fact, me and my friends did the second time) and a big part of that is this awesome piece of music. It just has pirate stamped all over it. It works better when played through from the previous piece (One Last Shot) as the sudden drums and pace are an impressive contrast to the sweeping strings from before. It’s a great example of a piece of music being custom-made to fit a scene. In my head, the music always starts with the words, “Drink up me hearties Yo HO!”
2. Freedom/The Execution/Bannockburn-James Horner-Braveheart
I know I’ve been on about this piece of music a lot recently but it really is magical. The deep drum beat is symbolistic of death, and the strings are quintessentially tragic, but interweaved with the celtic pipes (I think it’s a chanter, it’s definitely not full bagpipes) we have a score which is both moving and able to transport you to a time and place in order to make the film seem more real. The fact that one movement takes us through three key moments in the films finale shows how each event influenced the next, and the tone of the music adapts accordingly. I particularly love the solo flute towards the end, and how it dissolves into what is essentially a roaring cheer in instrumental form.
One of only two pieces of music that will make me stop what I’m doing and just listen if it happens to come up on shuffle. The other is my next choice.
1. The Breaking of The Fellowship-Howard Shore-The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Infuriatingly the real version of this isn’t on Spotify so I’m forced to use a YouTube link.
I know nobody is shocked by this choice but this was the moment I fell in love with LOTR. I absolutely love this score. Howard Shore has this amazing ability to tell a story with music, which in a film like this is so important. You can listen to the score and know what’s going on without needing to see the images that go with.
For me, this is the perfect orchestral capturing of Hope. James Galway’s flute (I am a sucker for those things) is gorgeous and the understated horns are a great backdrop for the sadness after the loss of Boromir, but at the same time support the dialogue between the remaining Fellowhip members as they promise to stay true to eachother.
The piece moves from an achingly beautiful solo string to the dramatic revival of the Fellowship theme and then back to the restrained strings and flute as we watch the two hobbits picking their way across Emyn Muil. Ben Del Maestro’s vocal kicks in just as the credits begin to roll, using lyrics from Tolkien’s own hand. It’s both an ending and a beginning as we know that there is a whole lot more to come for the characters we have just been introduced to.
Here are some of the pieces that didn’t quite make it to the top 5, but I strongly suggest you check out.
Craig Armstrong: Love Actually
Alan Silvestri: Forrest Gump
Hans Zimmer: Gladiator
Gustavo Santaolalla: Brokeback Mountain
Stephen Warbeck: Shakespeare in Love
OK, I’m done with being artsy now. Your turn.