The Challenger

January 28, 2016 at 10:30 am

Yesterday I wrote briefly about the challenges of being a film composer – trying to write memorably good music without overshadowing the screen action.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Disaster. I searched around, trying to find a piece of music that might appropriately capture the mood of the tragedy. I did much better than I expected.

American composer Jasha Klebe is currently working in Hollywood, scoring music for TV and movies. This is his theme music for a National Geographic documentary on the Challenger explosion, which aired only a few days ago. It’s perfect music for its purpose – it paints the emotional response of a country who has watched their heroes perish on live TV. The music is also good enough to stand alone, with no video images to accompany it – perhaps as a slow movement theme in a symphony.


What is best in life?

January 27, 2016 at 10:30 am

Conan the Barbarian‘s answer to this question is, well, questionable. And the movie itself … well, either it’s so bad it’s good, or it’s so bad that it goes past good and back to bad again.

Basil Poledouris wrote the film score to many movies. Film composers have an interesting and difficult job – yes, they have to write good music, but they also have to be careful not to outdo the action on the screen. They can make a mundane scene come to life, or make stupid dialogue sound intelligent. But, all the while, their music has to remain in the background.

long live airbrushed movie posters of nearly-naked people!


The milk of Concierto de Aranjuez

January 26, 2016 at 9:30 am

I don’t particularly like Hemingway. I spit in the milk of his literature. I’ve read a few of his books. They just don’t resonate with me. Maybe I was too young when I read them. Maybe it’s because I prefer Dickens. I like long sentences, after all. I like details.

Today’s piece is rich in history. I learned a lot writing this. And I’ve only just scratched the surface.

Joaquín Rodrigo wrote Concierto de Aranjuez. Supposedly it celebrated the end of the Spanish Civil War. Supposedly it celebrated the victory of Francisco Franco. More likely, Rodrigo spit in the milk of Franco’s dictatorship. The Concierto was written for guitar and orchestra. Rodrigo didn’t play the guitar. He scorned the milk of the guitar. The guitar made it sound Spanish, though. Even though he wrote it in Paris. Hemingway reported on the Spanish Civil War. He also lived in Paris.

Miles Davis arranged the second movement for jazz orchestra.  It takes up most of the album Sketches of Spain. Some people complained that it wasn’t jazz. They sneered at the milk of Davis’ music. Davis said that he liked the music, though. He sneered back at the milk of their sneering.

Thanks to Al Pearson for the recommendation. Maybe it’s time to read Hemingway again.