Know The Score
Ok, so we all know and love John Williams, his work transcends classical music and transports us to a very specific time and place; whether it be the first time we were captivated by Jurassic Park, or the last time we were bored senseless by a Harry Potter film.
Today though, we’re going to talk about some of the more left-field film soundtracks, ones that you can try to recreate at home, without an Orchestra…
Italian horror classic Suspiria is testament to the fact that prog rock can be deeply unsettling. This proto-slasher flick is everything great about 70s pop culture; the unholy marriage of Synthesizer, Mandolin and Glockenspiel a relic of a time that taste forgot…
Hans Zimmer has long been an inspiration to those of us who have loftier ambitions than being in rock bands. Once the keyboardist on the hit ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, Zimmer has become a behemoth in the world of Blockbuster film soundtracks. This is not to say that he’s forgotten his roots though; Zimmer is a keen proponent of home recording and that DIY ethic. He says of scoring a film: “Ideas are not limited by budget”
Inception is notable in that it was Zimmer’s first collaboration with guitar hero Johnny Marr, and the union of effects laden, jangly guitar with moody synths is one that is easily achievable at home and on a budget. Listen to Dream Is Collapsing as a case in point.
It’s the 80s, and we’re in Miami, who are we going to call? Giorgio Moroder of course.
We’ve included Scarface here not only for its incredible time capsule 80s sound, but also because with modern equipment, it’s fairly easy to try. You’ll simply need a MIDI-controller and a DAW. With the array of plugins most DAWs come equipped with, the world really is yours, just like it was Tony Montana’s.
Staying in the 80s universe let’s move further up the East Coast and to a crumbling dystopia with John Carpenter and the Escape From New York soundtrack.
Escape from New York
Title track aside, this is a soundtrack of soundscapes, sparing of melody or traditional structure. If you’re new to music and simply experimenting with your new instrument, this would be a good soundtrack to use as a focal point. Check out our range of portable keyboards, most come with loads of presets to help you achieve something unusual.
Changing track to a much more subtle method of scoring a film, let’s look at Babel. Oscar winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla is known for his sparse arrangements, usually featuring classical guitar with plenty of reverb. See also Brokeback Mountain and Biutiful. To get started, all you need is a guitar, an audio interface and a microphone. We would recommend looking at condenser mics due to their wide frequency response. You can see our range here.
The Virgin Suicides
Sofia Coppola’s oeuvre is living testament to the power of pop music when compiling a film soundtrack. For her first feature, she recruited French band Air. On The Virgin Suicides they craft a louche yet mournful instrumental LP, proving that an emotive film score can be achieved without the usual orchestral flourishes.
Air’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack is a masterclass in recording an album with a concept in mind. Here we’re talking keyboards, acoustic guitars and plenty of horns. Check out Clouds Up, or for the track that appears thematically throughout the film, Playground Lover.
See also Lost in Translation’ for another perfectly curated collection of mood music. Excellent usage of The Jesus and Mary Chain.
The Social Network
Moving on from the chill out room to the main room, we have the futuristic delight of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack for The Social Network. Tracks like Intriguing Possibilities and In Motion create what is essentially a Techno album. It’s definitely the most danceable soundtrack on this list. To try and achieve this sound you’re looking at a tool like Ableton and a decent step sequencer like the Akai MPC40.
It’s also worth checking out Reznor and Ross’ work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
In this article we started Prog Rock, we’ve turned onto Classical and ended up at Techno. The point we’re trying to make is how blank a canvas you’re given when making a film soundtrack. The seven selections here show how diverse music for film can be when you step outside of the obvious realms of Oscar season fayre.
Please let us know via our social channels if there are other soundtracks we should be checking out!