Arr on the track a guide to contemporary score


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Arr on the track a guide to contemporary score

  1. 1. ON THE TRACK
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  3. 3. ON THE TRACKA GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY FILM SCORING Second Edition Fred Karlin and Rayburn Wright Revised by Fred Karlin Foreword by John WilliamsNew music examples engraved by Doug LeBow Routledge New York • London
  4. 4. Published in 2004 by Routledge 29 West 35th Street New York, NY 10001 Published in Great Britain by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane London EC4P 4EE Copyright © 2004, 1990 by Fred Karlin and Rayburn Wright. Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, includingphotocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Karlin, Fred. On the track: a guide to contemporary film scoring/Fred Karlin and Rayburn Wright; revised by Fred Karlin; foreword by John Williams.— 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index. ISBN 0-415-94135-0 (alk. paper)—ISBN 0-415-94136-9 (pbk.: alk. paper) 1. Motion picture music—Instruction and study. 2. Composition (Music) I. Wright, Rayburn. II. Title. MT64.M65K3 2003 781.5′4213–dc21 2003011579 ISBN 0-203-64390-9 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-68122-3 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-415-94136-9 (Print Edition)
  5. 5. To Doris, my wife and fellow artist RWTo my wife, Megan, who brings so much vision and insight to everything I do FK
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  7. 7. CONTENTS Foreword xvii by John Williams Preface to the First Edition xix Preface to the Second Edition xxi Acknowledgments for the First Edition xxiii Acknowledgments for the Second Edition xxiii Introduction 3 How to Use This Book 10I PRELIMINARIESII CONCEPTUALIZINGIII TIMINGSIV COMPOSINGV RECORDINGVI ELECTRONIC AND CONTEMPORARY SCORINGVII SONGSVIII THE BUSINESS Epilogue: On the Track 730 The Interviewees and Authors 734 Appendix A. Study Assignments 755 Appendix B. Footage/Timing Conversions 763 Appendix C. Calculator Method for Timings 766 Appendix D. Drop-Frame 769 Glossary 772 End Notes 781 Bibliography 787
  8. 8. Web Sites 791Music Excerpts 794Index 802
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  10. 10. FOREWORDI am often asked by young composers how they might gain entry into the world of filmmusic. The answer, of course, cannot be simple. While there is no magic formula, goodtraining, patience, and a large measure of assistance from lady luck will be indispensable. To begin with, knowledge of the great films and awareness of current trends in thefield are solid prerequisites. After that, experience will be the best teacher. Becausepractical experience is difficult to come by, the next best thing would be the aid of top-caliber professionals willing to share ideas and techniques that have been gleaned fromyears of experience. On the Track does just that. It sums up the experience of theseprofessionals and offers the reader the opportunity to learn about film composing fromtheir inside point of view. In the past, most composers approached the world of film music from a variety ofbackgrounds. They began by studying concert music or playing jazz, rock or pop music,orchestrating for other composers, writing arrangements for vocalists and big bands,working on theater productions, creating and producing television commercials, and ingeneral, exploring all styles of music. They also studied the great film scores that led theway for all of us. The broad experience gained from this eclectic background was, and is,probably the best preparation for a film composer. Today, as new composers begin theircareers in film, they have access to extremely sophisticated synthesizers and computertechnology, but they may find that their background is more limited in scope than theirpredecessors’. To offset this, these musicians will undoubtedly work in areas other thanfilm in order to gain a wide range of useful experience. Although the study of music will be ongoing throughout a composer’s career, he willneed the information contained in this book to understand the usage and function of filmmusic as it exists today. Writing, conducting, and playing music while learning aboutdrama through the study of great literature, theater, and films are all essential in preparingfor the challenge of scoring films. Karlin and Wright encourage the reader to apply his or her knowledge by practicingscoring film segments from available videotapes. Because their book is organized bytopic, it is easy to use as a reference manual or textbook, yet can be read chapter bychapter if you wish. The many musical examples and references to specific moments in avariety of films make the book a tremendously valuable source of study. One final note. In the past we’ve noticed that many of our best musical minds were notinterested in film scoring. This was probably the result of the fact that these composersfound too many restrictions and technical problems in the film medium, and for some, thepractice was simply too “low brow.” I do, however, think that in the future we will seemore and more “serious” young composers willing to devote some of their energies tofilm music. If this happens, and I think it will, the resultant music may have an effect,hopefully beneficial, on the development of the art of music itself. Media music is here to
  11. 11. stay. It is part of our musical future for better or worse, and this book can help to make itbetter. For these and other reasons, I celebrate the publication of On the Track. I wish this book had been available when I started in the film industry in the 1950s. Itcollects and presents so much painfully acquired knowledge that it is a signal advance inthe study of our field. Finally, I wish all students and readers of this book great joy and much success as theyenter what is a universe of sight and sound that we are all just beginning to explore. JOHN WILLIAMS
  12. 12. PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITIONThis book has been written to fill a gap on the film music bookshelf. Rayburn Wright hadnot been able to find a text for his film scoring courses at the Eastman School of Music.He wanted a book that discussed traditional film-scoring methods and also the currentcontemporary practices in the new era of computers, synthesizers, MIDI, and song scores.Coincidentally, Fred Karlin had started a book on film scoring in answer to manyrequests for information explaining how films were scored in contemporary Hollywood.As two longtime friends and colleagues, we decided a collaboration would be ideal. Our aim has been to create a comprehensive and practical manual detailing theprevailing techniques in the art and craft of contemporary film scoring as practiced bytoday’s leading composers and lyricists. To achieve this goal we have interviewed forty-one composers and lyricists. In addition, because we sought to offer a well-roundedpicture of what it is really like to be a professional composer or lyricist in the film world,we have interviewed thirty-six talented professionals from other aspects of the workingenvironment: producers, directors, writers, film editors, music editors, music executivesand supervisors, network executives, recording engineers, dubbing mixers, musicians,music contractors, copyists, and composer’s agents. Network and music executives’ titlesare given as they were at the time of their interviews. To make these candid interviews most useful, quotes have been integrated into our textby topic; for example, quotes about dubbing by composers, directors, and dubbing mixerswill be found in Chapter 19. We have of necessity edited the tape-recorded comments(with permission) for purposes of clarity and readability. We do not mean to slight in anyway those of our colleagues who did not participate in these interviews; any suchomissions are due solely to space limitations or, in some cases, scheduling difficulties. We have limited our discussion and score excerpts to approximately 150 films, most ofwhich are currently available on videocassette. We have not necessarily selected ourfavorite films and scores (although all the films and scores included herein have much torecommend them). Rather, we have chosen a well-rounded cross-section of works thathave yielded invaluable film-music examples. We have placed soaring symphonic scoresand funky contemporary scoring solutions side by side, believing that musical style is thelanguage through which the score speaks, and that each film score should find its ownappropriate and sometimes even unique musical language. We have made few distinctions between composing for motion pictures and television.We have pointed out those differences that affect the composer, but the process ofscoring a film is basically the same in either medium. To provide a historical frame of reference, release dates are indicated parentheticallyfor all motion pictures and television films the first time they are mentioned in eachchapter. This book is addressed to women and men alike. To make this clear we started writing
  13. 13. “he/she” and “himself/herself” before reluctantly recognizing that this procedure wasboth cumbersome and unreadable. Until a nongenderized pronoun comes into usage weare using the generic “he” and “him” to include all people. More and more women arenow becoming active in all phases of film production, and we hope the informationwithin this book will encourage women to compete in a field which historically has beenheavily dominated by men. Although our primary goal has been to create a textbook by and for film composersand lyricists, it is our hope that all those involved in or interested in filmmaking and theprocess of scoring films will find this book helpful in developing a deeper understandingof the art and craft of film scoring and of the men and women who dedicate their lives tothis highly demanding profession.
  14. 14. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITIONThe function of music in films has changed somewhat from the forties, the sixties, oreven the eighties. Different generations of filmgoers bring to the movie-going experiencedifferent levels of awareness, emotional needs, and expectations of what that experiencemight be. An emotional moment that would have been emphasized in a film made in1948 would not necessarily be played with the same emotion in 2003. This is to a considerable degree due to the differences in the films as much as theaudience. When films are made that reflect the emotional values of past generations, themusic is invariably in tune with those values. The Harry Potter series and the Lord of theRings trilogy are clear and convincing examples of this, and there are many others. Thatis not to say that the music is dated, which it isn’t by any definition, nor are the films. Infact, those films use every technical advancement possible to tell their stories. But when afilmmaker takes a different point of view, creating a film that speaks to the audience in adifferent way emotionally, then the music must come from the film and do the same.American Beauty (1999) is one such film, and the music Thomas Newman created for itis completely appropriate to its story and method of storytelling. With its abstract malletand percussion sounds and emotional understatement, it is perfectly suited for the filmwritten by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes. High tech films, fast cutting, digital imagery used for style as well as content—theseelements can signal the creation of films demanding like-minded musical sounds andapproaches. Scores inspired by these films may well have been difficult or impossible tocreate twenty years ago, just as the technology didn’t exist to make the films. In thisregard there have been changes and developments in the scores created at the turn of thetwenty-first century. By and large, however, the values inherent in a fine film score remain constant: astrong concept, a deep connection with the film and its emotional core, the appropriateexpression of those emotions (whether understated or played full out), and an organicempathy with the film’s characters and story. In this revision of On the Track, I havedeleted some, but not many, references to films from the seventies and eighties; thelessons these scores and excerpts teach are timeless. To offer the best overview of filmscoring in 2003 I have supplemented these resources with many excerpts from thenineties through 2002. In updating this second edition it has been necessary to omit Alex Brinkman’s clickbook. Although still useful, especially in learning the craft of film music timing(s),almost everyone writing music for any sort of film or video project today uses a computeras a timing aid, relying on various sequencers or the Auricle program to do so. In a bookthat is still over 500 pages, it just isn’t practical to include it. I have also deleted materialabout television commercials and other special applications of music with images (and Ihave not added a section on music for computer games, a growing business). This is not
  15. 15. to imply that these fields are unimportant; in fact, there are film composers who havelearned a great deal about scoring films by writing music for commercials. Spacelimitations have precluded a discussion of these subjects, but the reader will find that thetechniques and philosophies discussed here will prepare you well for work in those otherrelated fields. Scoring for television, on the other hand, has its own new chapter (Chapter22). I have done a moderate amount of reorganization, giving ethnic and genre music aseparate chapter (Chapter 11), for instance, and adding a great deal of material on thecreation of electronic mockups. The two chapters on electronic music have beencompletely rewritten, now being represented by “Using Electronic Music.” The“Filmography” has been replaced with a section listing “Music Excerpts,” which containsall the excerpts included in this text accompanied by their Figure numbers. Filmsmentioned within the text now can be found in the Index. This text was never intended to be a survey of film scores. My choice of films todiscuss and to illustrate with musical excerpts should be taken strictly as examples thatillustrate points and techniques discussed within the text. A section entitled “Scores forStudy” will be found at the end of some of the chapters, and these, too, should in no waybe considered an all-inclusive survey, but rather, as the title suggests, a guide tocontemporary film scoring. On the Track does not offer a tutorial on writing melodies, nor will you learn fromstudying it how to create effective harmony, rhythms, or orchestration. These are allrequisite skills requiring study and analysis. If you need help with the latest electronichardware and software, you will need to study the available monthly journals (see theBibliography), enroll in a course for this purpose, or learn with the help of a friend. Thesame is true of the arts of composing or conducting. Our purpose is to help you to learnhow you can best use all these musical elements in motion pictures and television. If youcan do so, we will have fulfilled our goal. Fred Karlin
  16. 16. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FOR THE FIRST EDITIONWe wish to extend special thanks and gratitude to our seventyseven colleagues whoshared their experiences with us so candidly. Their generous comments during our tapedinterviews have made it possible for the reader to benefit enormously from theirprofessional experience and know-how. Many music copyright owners, administrators, and print licensers have generouslypermitted us to reprint many excerpts from their motion picture and television musiccatalogs. In most cases these musical examples are not available through any othersource, and permission to reprint them here has allowed us to integrate these invaluableeducational reference materials into our text. Our thanks to ABC-TV, Almo Publications,Brooksfilms Music, Buttermilk Sky Associates, Inc., Chrysalis Music Group, ColumbiaPictures, Columbia Pictures Publications, Famous Music Corporation, The Guber-PetersCompany, Hal Leonard Publishing Cor