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Music At World’s End

By Randall D. Larson     May 17, 2007


"Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End" soundtrack.
© Disney Records
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
 
Hans Zimmer’s music for the third Pirates of the Caribbean film, At World’s End, released on CD next Tuesday by Disney Records, is a terrific rhythmic hybrid action composition that generates as much excitement and adventure as his efforts in the previous films, not to mention the original Pirates score composed mostly be Zimmer but fully realized by his associate Klaus Badelt. Built around a solid foundation of aggressive rhythms, Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End is enhanced by further development of the original Badelt/Zimmer compositions and an array of new themes, all powerfully connected by a strong orchestral sensibility, enhanced by choir and occasional use of exotic instrumentation. The score extends and resolves themes introduced and developed in the first two films – Captain Jack Sparrow’s theme, the connected music of the Kraken and of Davy Jones, Becket’s cold and bureaucratic motif, the original Pirates Theme, and what becomes the overarching, ubiquitous musical statement for At World’s End, a multi-layered Love Theme which, in the end, becomes the musical summation of the entire trilogy.
 
The soundtrack album not in strict film sequence, at Zimmer’s insistence; a few cues were re-arranged to allow for a better listening flow. The CD opens with “Hoist the Colours,” a rousing chorus sung by the Pirates to rouse them into action before a battle (the song was actually written prior to the second film but not used until this one, according to Zimmer). The score proper is introduced in “Singapore,” which begins with a progressive tinge of Asian music, featuring strong bass koto notes and the smooth sonority of the erhu, performed by Karen Han, bridged by a strident and ultimately cheer-worthy construction of the main, heraldic Pirates Theme from the first two films, clearly reminding us who is here with us in this Singaporean port when it morph’s into Jack’s jaunty theme at the end of the track. 
 
“At Wits End” is a superb action cue which grows from hushed, violin beginnings into a fully realized and proudly dynamic composition, rife with choir and billowing brass and surging crescendos from French horns amid a raging sea of roiling strings and battling percussion. “Up Is Down” and “I See Dead People In Boats” are both stirring action tracks, nicely displaying Zimmer’s adroitness at crafting wildly progressive compositions that remain well under control, like a massive covey of excited birds whipping this way and that but never losing their pace or their proper place in the formation.
 
“Jack’s Theme” is taken through several very interesting variations in “Multiple Jacks,” a wonderfully amusing track enhanced by plenty of reverb and unusual instrumentation, giving the theme a nightmarish carnival quality until rescued by a reprisal of the Main Theme and then transformed into a brusquely percussive electronic rhythm piece. This piece and its resplendent reverberations are reprised in “The Brethren Court,” over which intones a soft male chorale rendition of what we will come to recognize as the score’s love theme. 
 
“Parlay” is by far the score’s most striking track, an admitted and intentional homage to Ennio Morricone’s hyper-dramatic “Harmonica” gunfight theme from Once Upon A Time in the West. Zimmer reflects it radiantly in a massive orchestral cue embodying the same incessant rhythms, growing wave of orchestra, and massive, cosmically-empowering downbeat of electric guitar over wailing, mournful harmonica. It’s an incredible musical moment both in what it does for this scene in Pirates and for what it represents musically and dramatically from the previous Leone film, providing here in Pirates a bit of that same thematic magnificence.
 
The track is followed by the initial quietude of “Calypso,” which doesn’t stay quiet for long; choir and percussion drive it into a quickly-impelling rage of undulating aggression, which morphs into a reflective association or hushed choir, rippling harpsichord, and shimmering strings. “What Shall We Die For” is a splendidly powerful track that rises to a fiercely proud crescendo full of choir and orchestra, a last hurrah for piracy and a marvelous evocation of the characters and adventures of the trilogy. The cue proceeds without a break into “I Don’t Think Now is The Best Time,” a massive 10:45 action cue (shortened by Zimmer from its original 26-minute length in the film) that reworks all of the film’s primary thematic ideas in a richly harmonic distillation. Astoundingly orchestrated and arranged, the cue drives itself into a gloriously dynamic climax, slowing persuasively near its crescendo to reflect on itself in a moment of almost blissful self-awareness – before blasting into a final retake of its colossal complexity. It’s an outstanding and vibrantly energetic musical tableau of clash and cohesion, with the horns resounding resolutely in the following “One Day,” a poignant reflection of the characters on whose adventures so much in these films has depended. “Drink Up Me Hearties” concludes the score with a return to the carefree mischievous magic of Captain Jack Sparrow, as Jack’s Theme segues into the Main Theme for a final, upswelling climax and resolution.
 
The film’s Love Theme, in the final analysis, winds up becoming the overall theme for the whole movie, as Zimmer has elsewhere explained. It’s essentially a wonderful, lilting string melody that eventually mirrors the aggressive rhythm of the main Pirates theme which is heard in or morphs into almost all the other cues in the film (“Parlay” is, in fact, derived from the first part of the Love theme; “Up is Down” is comprised of the latter part of the Love Theme, and also features the main Pirates theme turned upside down).
 
The score is massively orchestrated and presented – and is actually only a fraction of what Zimmer composed for the film. He’s promised an album of Pirates of the Caribbean suites for the future, allowing each theme to be more fully developed and “through composed” than the timings of the film permitted. For a trilogy that wasn’t intended to be, Zimmer’s music has strikingly progressed and developed from the original through the second and final film, and the score for At World’s End is a captivating and frequently breathtaking excursion into musical fantasy adventure, beautifully melodic, lavishly bombastic, and brilliantly assembled. 
 
By the way, for a fascinating interview insight about Zimmer’s music for Pirates III – including his own analysis of each of its themes and how the scores developed over the three films as well as his comments on his score for The Simpsons Movie – see Dan Goldwasser’s interview with Zimmer, available as a podcast from www.soundtrack.net/podcast/
 
 
FILM MUSIC NEWS
 
Spider-Man 3 musically revealed by Film Music Radio: “Christopher Young has always weaved a mean scoring web since his melodic talents propelled him from such low-budget films as Pranks and Avenging Angel to the big Hollywood leagues.  When Sam Raimi asked Young to come aboard to compose additional music for Spider-Man 2, most significantly providing the thrilling subway battle between Doctor Octopus and the web-slinger. Now with the super-powered successes of the Young-scored Ghost Rider and Spider-Man 3, this Halloween geek has become the composer to beat in the comic book genre – especially with the runaway box office of the new Spidey film. Given numerous new characters, massive action sequences and a studio to please, Christopher Young has avoided the film’s potential stylistic and political pitfalls with a dexterity that Spider-Man would admire. Coming up with his own spin on the franchise, Young’s own voice is heard in the powerful theme for The Sandman, the devilish villainy of Venom, as well as the emotional web between Peter Parker, Mary Jane and Harry Osborne. Even with the studio’s decision to incorporate Danny Elfman’s themes into the movie, it’s still Young’s melodic voice that’s the strongest one the soundtrack, with music that gets across the triumph and tragedy that has made Spider-Man the screen’s most successful superhero.” Download and hear Daniel Schweiger’s hour-long interview with Chris Young about his Spider-Man 3 score at: www.filmmusicradio.com
 
Alf Clausen recently recorded the music for the 400th episode of The Simpsons, which is scheduled to air on Fox on May 20. Clausen has been scoring the series since its launch in 1989, and has been the John Williams of the Emmy Awards, being nominated for his Simpsons music almost every year. Despite Clausen’s unparalled experience in the Simpsons musical universe, the upcoming feature film based on the series is being scored by Hans Zimmer. – via filmmusicweekly.com
 
Film music writer Jon Burlingame has featured Clausen in a special report on scoring the 400th episode of The Simpsons, posted at the Film Music Society web site. “The 400th episode of the series was an event marked both by a celebratory cake for the musicians and by the presentation of a plaque to Clausen by American Federation of Musicians Local 47 president Hal Espinosa,” reported Burlingame " ‘It's nice to know there are writers and producers who insist on live music,’ Espinosa said, referring to the fact that most TV series are now scored with electronic music.”
Although it will be the 400th episode of the series, noted Burlingame, it was actually Clausen's 382nd original score for the show (he joined on episode 4 of the second season). ‘It's been a wonderful ride,’ [Clausen] said after the session. ‘We work so hard on this show, and have our noses buried in stuff every week, that we really don't understand the impact that the show has had on American popular culture.’ “
For the full report, see: www.filmmusicsociety.org and select “news and events.”
 
Following Shrek the Third, which opens in cinemas this week, Harry Gregson-Williams will provide the music for a TV special spinoff entitled Shrek the Halls, which will be aired on ABC in December. Gary Trousdale (Beauty and the Beast) directs. Other upcoming film scores on Gregson-Williams’ plate include Joelen for director Dan Ireland and Gone Baby Gone for Ben Affleck. He’s also scored the Eddie Izzard/Minnie Driver TV series, The Riches. – partially via filmmusicweekly.com
 
A way cool video clip showing conductor William Stromberg taking what is presumably the Moscow Symphony through their paces in a vibrant rehearsal of a track from Bernard Hermann’s Mysterious Island (one of the best cues from one of the best fantasy film scores of all time, imho), which Stromberg is re-recording for his new film music label, Tribute Film Classics, has been posted to: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoID=2028550116
By all means, check it out. For more information on this recording and others relating to Bernard Herrmann, see: http://www.bernardherrmann.org/news/recordings.xdoc
 
And speaking of Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony, Naxos will release Stromberg’s latest CD, a stirring rerecording of the classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold scores for The Sea Hawk and Deception, reconstructed by John Morgan, will be by released by Naxos in late June/early July. 
 
TV veteran Snuffy Walden (The West Wing, Felicity, Roswell) is doing the music for the pilot of Lipstick Jungle, a new NBC series directed by Gary Winick (Charlotte’s Web, 13 Going on 30). Starring Kim Raver, Brooke Shields and Andrew McCarthy, the series is set to air in the 2007-08 season. According to the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency, Walden is also doing the theme and music editing for Heartland for TNT, a drama series starring Treat Williams, produced by David Hollander and directed by Milan Cheylov and Steve Gomer. – via filmmusicweekly.com
 
Milan Records will be releasing a special deluxe edition of the soundtracks to Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima films: Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. Packaged in a double digipack, this special release will contain the soundtracks to both films, extra material, an audio interview with composers Clint Eastwood and Kyle Eastwood, a map, and a beautifully-illustrated booklet. The album will be out at the end of May.  www.milanrecords.com
 
Soundtrack label MovieScore Media launches its new series of high quality film scores, ”MovieScore Media Discovery Collection”, on May 29, 2007. The first release in the series is I Capture The Castle, an acclaimed British 2003 drama with a heartbreakingly beautiful original score by Academy Award-nominated composer Dario Marianelli (Pride and Prejudice, V for Vendetta, The Brothers Grimm, Goodbye Bafana). The poetic and romantic score will be available online (www.itunes.com and www.moviescoremediashop.com) as well as on CD, exclusively distributed by Screen Archives (www.screenarchives.com). ”We couldn’t find a better score and composer for our premiere release in the ’Discovery Collection’ series,” commented label executive Mikael Carlsson. ”So far, MovieScore Media has concentrated its activities on current film scores, but there is so much exquisite film music out there to be discovered from films that came out before we entered the market. With the ’Discovery Collection’ we will try to catch up and release the most interesting, exciting and beautiful film scores we can find!” I Capture The Castle is based on a novel by Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmatians. Directed by Tim Fywell and starring Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Henry Thomas and Rose Byrne, the film was released in 2003.
 
The darkness of the upcoming Harry Potter film will be reflected in the film’s score, which was recently recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Film Music Weekly spoke with composer Nicholas Hooper about the score for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For the full article please visit www.filmmusicweekly.com for the latest edition of the magazine.
 
 
Recommended Soundtrack sources:
www.buysoundtrax.com
www.intrada.com
www.screenarchives.com
www.footlight.com
www.arksquare.com/index_main.html (Japan)
www.intermezzomedia.com/ (Italy)
www.moviegrooves.com
www.moviemusic.com

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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maverickrenegade 5/17/2007 2:32:36 AM
First of all ... POTC: Curse of the Black Pearl was a fantastic stand alone (meaning you can listen to it for the music itself) album. Klaus Badelt and the many other people who wrote and orchastrated the music did a fantastic job ...... and then they hand the reigns over to the brilliant, but boring Hans Zimmer. Basically all he did was play the same theme over soft "emotional" music and call it new ..... dead man's chest was a bad movie and an even WORSE soundtrack Then to top it off we get Chris Young who sucks all around at film scoring. His work is one of the very few reasons i didnt like Spiderman 3 ... and GHOST RIDER was just a piece of shit movie anyways, but his music didnt help at all.
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