A distinctive list of five mood enhancing scores.
Score: The Elephant Man
Composer: John Morris
Notable Tracks: The Elephant Man Theme
Recommended Listening: During feelings of despair or self pity. Best experienced while hiding in the shadows so no one can see your tears.
While best known for writing the score to nearly every Mel Brooks film, composer John Morris briefly ventured outside the world of comedy in 1980, scoring David Lynch's film The Elephant Man. It is a melodically sad, and at times creepy interpretation of traditional circus music. Paired with John Hurt's heartbreaking performance as John Merrik, the music has all the sadness of a room full of crying clowns. The score often gets dark, mirroring the shadows Merrik often sought to avoid ridicule due to his heavy deformity. For a man who has written so many comedic accompaniments, Morris' score to Lynch's drama is a thing of tragic beauty. Morris gives listeners the opportunity to hear the longing of an unloved heart, and the suffering of a soul who wants nothing more than to be treated as a fellow human being. The final track, while not the works of Morris, is a tear jerking piece Lynch choose for Merrik's final moments. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber is a heavenly piece that stirs deep emotions. The layer of strings simulates a choir, adding to the heavenly feel which is a justifiable accompaniment to Merrik's final moment. Morris would receive an Academy Award nomination for his musical contributions.
Score: The House of Flying Daggers
Composer: Shigeru Umebayashi
Notable Tracks: Lovers - Flower Garden, The Beauty Song, Battle In The Forest
Recommended Listening: While lost in all of life’s creative moments - writing, art, cooking, ect. Great for meditation.
Shigeru Umebayashi score to the 2004 wuxia film House of Flying Daggers reflects the love story that gives this film a depth over the other entries in this genre. The voice of Daggers comes from the erhu, a one stringed bowed instrument often called the Chinese violin. It's impressive range creates a unique longing which help enforce the repressed desires of love in Daggers. Umebayashi’s score is a variety of moods ranging from percussion driven tracks, to intimate simplicity. The shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, makes several appearances, giving the score an air of mystic. While many of the tracks are solo instrument driven, The Beauty Song stands out for its multi instrumental harmony. With balance and a noncompetitive continuity between tracks, Daggers is a great inspirational stimulant for listeners.
Score: Edward Sissorhands
Composer: Danny Elfman
Noteable Tracks: Introduction, Ice Dance, The Grande Finale
Recommended Listening: While lost in dreams of the future, or recollections of the past. Preferably while under the stars and dancing in the snow.
Danny Elfman's score to Tim Burton's third film is like a mysterious long forgotten music box that only gets played at night. Big choir sweeps mixed with quiet chimed xylophones and violin plucks stirs the imagination with long lost emotions of soothing wonderment. It's a constant crescendo/ decrescendo of layers, and it is as beautiful as it is magical. Scissorhands' haunting experience pulls listeners through the unique experience of simultaneous joy and sorrow which gives Elfman’s score it’s memorable quality. Paired with a ghostly harmony choir, Scissorhands has a timeless feel, as if the emotions it conveys were captured in a snow globe and shaken through out the ages for new generations to experience.
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Notable Tracks: Married Life, We’re In The Club Now,
Recommended Listening: All of life's leisurely moments. Highly recommended with the one you love.
The first ten minutes of Up is a roller-coaster ride through a life long love story. Michael Giacchino's charming piece Married Life is a 1940's inspired arrangement that is the voice to a series of struggles and successes in a montaged love story. Giacchino's score incorporates the classic sound of muted and muffled horns that were the standards of the big band era. Animation does lend advantages when synching music to the screen, and Giacchino's piece shines all the more because of it. The follies, the dreams, the broken hearts. All wrapped up in a candied whirlwind that ends with two slowly repeated piano notes that seem just as alone and out of place as Carl during the montage's tear jerking finale.
Score: The Hours
Composer: Phillip Glass
Notable Tracks: The Poet Acts, Morning Passage
Recommended Listening: During morning coffee or while starting your day. Great score to listen to while reading.
Phillip Glass' score to the film The Hours is as beautiful as it is moody. Written to help accentuate the struggles of three women from different generation, Glass' classic minimal approach suits the anxiety on screen. The opening track The Poet Acts is a melodic layer of violins that creates a soft wave that washes the senses. It is not big, but powerful in its own right, eventually giving way to one dominate violin that briefly trumps the others. It's a wonderful arrangement that fairly represents the women of The Hours as each feels as if they are drowning, fighting to be heard. The short start and stop fluttering piano in the song Morning Passages creates an uneasiness, further showcasing the spiral of nervous tension. Despite the dreary subject matter of the film, Glass' score is a thing of beauty. With continuity and balance, it creates a black and white structure, with occasional splashes of color as brief crescendos rise to be momentarily heard, before fading again with the quiet masses.
-Lee L. Lind
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