Aggie's Music

I usually blab about film scores on this blog, but I don't mind the occasional tangent towards other interests. :)

Friday, September 29, 2006

David Newman - Part 1

I wanted to talk a little bit about current film composers before I dive into the past. I’ll start with David Newman, who is one of my favourites... well, sort of. I’m not a fan of all his stuff, but whatever I like... I REALLY like. He has some amazing work, which I’ll get into.

I wanted to do this in a timeline, because it’s hard to find film composers who hold on strong as they become more popular. In my opinion, film composers like John Williams and James Horner are getting weaker, and sadly, I have to put David Newman in the category. I’ll go into his earlier work first.

The Brave Little Toaster (1986) is one of my favourite film scores of all time. It is incredible how rich this score is, with a good balance of heavy and light music. Have you ever heard those really simple, tonal melodies from Horner’s ‘A Beautiful Mind’ or ‘Titanic’? Yeh, sure, they sound very nice to the ear, but it doesn’t use enough of the notes. Sometimes, it feels empty, no matter how many performers you have. David Newman’s ‘The Brave Little Toaster’ is far from empty. I remember reading a review to this score, where the critic was like, “it’s just filled with notes!” Haha. It really does, but in a good way.

If I knew how to cut a clip from my DVD and paste it into youtube, I’d show you how wonderful it sounds, but I guess a track will have to do.

The track is called ‘The Storm’ (my favourite from the score), played when the appliances are caught up in a storm and Blankey gets blown away. It starts with a high note, just trilling in the air, waiting for the horns to announce themselves. After four notes are played by the violins (as if beginning the scene), everything takes action with great low dissonance. It sounds so chilling, and then the horns come in, belting a minor third, the high strings accompanying them. Thirty-five seconds into the song, everything just goes crazy (more from the horns than the strings). It quiets down for a bit and gives a nice, almost reassuring melody, and then BAM at fifty-eight seconds. It contains so much energy and eerie excitement. The strings hold an unresolved note (with the horns playing around it) when lightning hits the sky, and they start moving again when the lightning strikes Lampy. Silence is established the instant he hits the ground unconscious. It freaks me out just typing about it.

Other tracks that show great richness are ‘Vacuum Rescues The Group’, ‘Into The City’, and ‘Finale’ (Finale is cool because it does a tremendous build-up, but ends on a loud, unresolved chord, making you want to shout, ‘damn!’ That, or you won’t be able to exhale. Luckily, ‘End Title’ does a great job of wrapping it up).

I’m pretty much convinced that this is his greatest work. I really think this should be in the collection of any aspiring film composer. Amazon has it, and the CD comes along with a great booklet filled with pictures, interviews, and interesting information which shines in comparison to the lack of anything in the DVD.

I’ll talk more about David Newman in my next post. I have a lot of university work to do.