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  • Jonny Greenwood's film score There Will be Blood

    I know there are a lot of discerning musicians on this forum and want to pass on the thumbs up on this recent score acquisition. It's a bold film score and one that employs a lot of techniques founded by Penderecki, Schoenberg, Berg, Crumb and even some Bartok. It's an atypical score because it so opening embraces atonalism and dissonance as a part of its vocabulary. There Will be BLood is an A-list Hollywood film directed by PT Anderson but the music is more akin the the concert world. It's very emotionally repressed which apparently was what Anderson wanted since he was going for a Kubrick-styled film.

  • Ok - where are the links? Who is the writer and who's in it?

  • You can hear examples of the score on iTunes or even at Amazon. It's written and directed by PT Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love) and stars Daniel Day Louis as a misanthropic oil tycoon. The score by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood (who is conservatory trained and plays viola among other instruments) is steeped in modernist string techniques. Give it a listen. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Happy Holidays David

  • Not to be too contrary, but I don't think that any of these techniques are modern or even unusual in movie scores. Stars Wars has atonal sections.

    Penderecki and the other once-shocking Modernists are very old now. Today nothing is shocking or new.  Everything is permitted in the words of William S. Burroughs.

    What really needs to be done is to completely supercede the convention of orchestral sound. 


  • I disagree. Being an avid film score fan, I have found most scores from the past decade to be safe, predictable fare with a few notable exceptions (Williams' War of the Worlds was appropriately avant garde). Just listen to the mass of work that comes out of Media Ventures.Remote Control studios or whatever. This rock anthemic styled movie music is what has passed for the norm. Greenwood's score isn't doing anything that most of us musicians who have studied didn't already know but to assert that film scores have employed this style that much is simply not correct. Guys like Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, and Leonard Rosenman are examples of guys who lived in that realm quite comfortably. Elliot Goldenthal would be last composer who worked adeptly with these techniques IMO.

  • Having given it a listen via iTunes I would make this judgement - it probably works very well with the film, although I will make that judgement when I get to see it eventually. I notice DD Lewis is in the film - one of the great screen actors ever probably, even though he was in that debacle Gangs of New York. Musically, it doesn't sound new, but not too bad either. If it works with the film - great! I wouldn't buy it as a standalone listen though - that's personal taste of course.

  • At least you gave it a listen. Some folks on film score forums don't like it or else say it's nothing new. Perhaps the techniques he's employed aren't but the type of narrative/style of film married to this modernist music is something we don't see/hear every day. Daniel Day Lewis looks outstanding in this role.

  • Well Jonny Greenwood whoever that is doesn't need me.

    However I agree that most film scores are safe. of course they are. Most film scores are shit.

    I was just making the point that modernistic music is now very old-fashioned, and I find that vaguely amusing.  It is now just a section in a film score, usually to denote psychosis or weird atmospherics, etc. 

    That is good you mentioned Leonard Rosenman, as his stuff is excellent.  Didn't he do Rebel without a Cause?  I'm not sure on that.  Paul? 

    Also, he did the AWESOME score to "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."  Did you hear that?  Wow, that is so memorably insane for the most surreal and radical of all those Apes films.  I loved it.  It included a beautiful-horrible "Ode to the Bomb" sung by deformed mutants in a radioactive church.  My kind of film.


  • Yes - I had to remember and couldn't actually. But Rosenman did do those films. Beneath the Planet of the Apes - is insane and I can't remember now if the score in any way nods at Jerry Goldsmiths very interesting scoring for the original. I remember 'the bomb' scene in the church and of course this has been done in many guises in film over time. For instance, Dr Strangelove and Slim Pickens - which was the one where they finish up singing All Things Bright and Beautiful? Too much exposure to the radioactive core has damaged my memory.

  • Yes, that is it!  All the radioactive mutants sing "All Things Bright and Beautiful" and at the end of the deeply moving chorus they take their masks off, revealing their melted faces. 

    It was the "Feel-Good" scene of that year, as I recall.


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