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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Great Score

Recently I have been reminded of the impact of truly great music. 

First, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, which was superb in almost every way, had an incredibly powerful and evocative soundtrack to drive the heartbeat of the story Danny Boyle had visually so wonderfully created.  

Second, the score to the recently-released The Dark Knight Rises which, and I'll be careful to avoid spoilers, did so much to underpin the theme and tone of the film and, indeed, the trilogy as a whole.

Of course, sometimes a film score only works when it's played along with the film itself; but a great film score, something truly memorable, can be played on its own long after the images in the mind have faded away.

To that end, I offer you my own listing of top film score composers, complete with a smattering of what I can consider to be some of their finest work:


Hans Zimmer

He's worked on some memorable films but most notably, in my experience, on the scores of Gladiator, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and Inception.

Personal favourite tracks:

Time (Inception)
528491 (Inception)
Like a Dog Chasing Cars (The Dark Knight)
Why Do We Fall? (The Dark Knight Rises)
Rise (The Dark Knight Rises)
The End (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aurora (a choral version of "The End" released in the wake of what happened in the town of the same name on the night of TDKR's release)

If you've been watching the BBCs coverage of the Olympics, chances are you will have heard some part of the above tracks being played. 


Michael Giacchino

The television series LOST was the first time I came across his music, but generally he seems to be director JJ Abrams go-to guy for scoring anything he is involved with, from Alias to Lost to Star Trek to the Mission Impossible films.

Personal favourite tracks:

Landing Party (LOST)
Moving On (LOST)
Labor of Love (Star Trek)


Henry Jackman

I've only recently heard some of his work (via the score for X-Men First Class) but already I've found myself compelled to seek out other scores he has worked on.

Personal favourite tracks:

Magneto (X-Men First Class)
Frankenstein's Monster (X-Men First Class)
Big Daddy Kills (Kick-Ass)


John Murphy

This guy frequently works on Danny Boyle films (Sunshine, 28 Days Later) and more recently on films by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class).

Personal favourite tracks:

Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor) (Sunshine, but also re-worked slightly for Kick-Ass, titled ‘Strobe’)
In the House - In a Heartbeat (28 Days Later)


Other great film orchestral soundtracks:

Braveheart (James Horner) - some hugely emotionally powerful tracks on that album;
Lord of the Rings (James Howard) - particularly like the end section of Bridge of Khazad Dum, which was recently used in the trailer for next year's The Man of Steel film;
Platoon - Barber's Adagio for Strings - just for that bit where Willem Dafoe doesn't quite get away from his pursuers after being left behind


For the full effect of all this music, two points are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, excellent though they are standing alone, it's perhaps worth watching the related film or television show at the moment the music was penned for to fully appreciate its impact. Secondly, either with or without the accompanying film, play the music very loudly, as if you were just two or three rows back at an orchestra concert.  These tracks are not just background music to films; they are works of wonder and great power to be enjoyed to the full and that means loudly.

If you have a favourite film or tv score composer, or a particular favourite track, please feel free to share via the comments box.

Cheers for reading!