November 19th, 2007

Kambei (The Seven Samurai)

"Zhaan, let me explain to you what's going on inside my nose right now...."

I had a mostly quiet weekend, with a nothing job on Saturday and a fun trip to Jing Fong on Sunday That last was nice because Russ, Jess and I were introducing the some people to dim sum and for once our party was large enough to fill up an entire table. I woke up at 3:30 A.M. today, which is strange not so much because the Varèse Sarabande club releases* were announced today at that time (midnight P.S.T.), but because I had determined not to bother staying up late in order to catch them. The alarm was set to 6:00 A.M. but I ended up just waking up at 3:30 anyway, and I didn't go to bed early or anything, which means that I'm going to be somewhat grumpy today - so I have to watch myself. Other than that, it's been mostly quiet, finishing up FarScape season one and loading music onto the iPod.

I have to admit that the iPod is, in fact, working out beautifully. While there are some issues I still have with iTunes and some of the interfaces (the cover flow looks so nice, but they really need to link it to "Album Artist" rather than just the regular "Artist" field), for the most part the iPod itself works rather nicely. However, this morning when I picked the iPod up it said that the battery was completely drained, which was odd because I had charged it before and only played it for about eight minutes (I wanted to hear the How the West Was Won version of "Since I've Been Loving You"). I'm going to assume at the moment that I accidentally left the player running last night and will observe its power consumption closely over the course of the day.

glenniebun has pointed out that the Return of the King complete recordings FSM preview podcast (it can be listened to or downloaded from here) is up... and my question is one of those that are featured, including samples illustrating the answer (I ask about Gandalf and Pippin's arrival). Doug also confirms that his book will be out next November and that it will indeed contain the rarities... and the cast closes off with an alternate version of music for the Pillars of Argonath in the first film, in which he incorporates the 'Realm of Gondor' theme. The more familiar versions ("The Great River" on the original album and "The Fighting Uruk-hai" on the Complete Recordings; the latter is the film take) feature a dramatic reading of the 'History of the Ring' theme; as it stands, the 'Realm of Gondor' theme - which is one of the primary aspects of the score for The Return of the King - only appears in The Fellowship of the Ring during the Council of Elrond. This only strengthens my resolve to hold off on the creation of my eventual 2 CD Lord of the Rings mix for when the rarities become available, even though I must admit that I am already developing a structure for it in my head. I'm still dying to hear the version of the prologue that had something happen in it that caused Doug to be agape...

I just received an e-mail from informing me that my copy of the complete recordings of Return of the King has been shipped. Hopefully it will get here sooner rather than later as I am most eager to listen to the tragic, heroic settings of the 'Nature's Reclamation' and the 'Rohan fanfare' in "The Battle of Pelennor Fields" in advanced resolution 5.1 surround.

My car stereo is starting to show its age. It is skipping all the time while playing mp3 CDs, and is much less stable when playing standard audio CDs. It is now about over three and a half years old, and has been through quite a lot. I don't want to replace it not so much because of the cost involved (prices have dropped considerably), but simply because I like it. Nevertheless, it may be something to look into after the holidays. If I'm replacing the head unit, it may also behoove me to do something about the overloading speakers as well...

* Here's hoping that the new recording of Benny Herrmann's North by Northwest isn't miked from the next room like the Royal Scottish National Orchestra recordings sound like they were.
Shore (film composer)

Film Music Extravaganza

I mentioned in my last post that at the end of the FSM Podcast, Doug played an alternate 'Realm of Gondor' theme version of the Argonath cue. Alex Shore has taken the sample and synched it up to the film:


Okay, these samples of the new Varèse Sarabande recording of North by Northwest sound outstanding! "The Wild Ride" sounds as close to the original performance as I've ever heard, and the other samples have that thick Herrmannesque sound that seems to be very difficult to reproduce. I can't wait to have this disc in my grubby hands, the low quality of these samples don't do this score the justice it deserves! Now I really regret missing the theatrical showing last week.

Nice cover art, too.

My co-worker Charlie was going through my iPod. Naturally, he gravitated first to the Seattle stuff I had on there, playing a couple of Soundgarden tracks... then he started playing Marco Beltrami's score from 3:10 To Yuma. I don't know what was more shocking, that he even bothered to select it, or that he really enjoyed it.

It is strange, but film music is something that most people dismiss because it often doesn't sound like what they would prefer to listen to. I also sometimes wonder if it is as inaccessible as I often kind of assume it must be; I've found that giving the film music some sort of context - such as with my game scoring for Jenga and Risk - often allows people who wouldn't necessarily listen to it on their own a way to connect with the idiom.

I've often wondered what is different about film music fans versus fans of other musical forms. Obviously there is the element of the dramatic, which of course occurs in other genres, but in none is quite as functional as it is in film music. In putting music on the iPod, I have been thinking about what it is that I listen to film music for versus other types of music, and have noticed that with respect to the rock & roll that I like that I gravitate towards a harder-edged sound such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix, all of whom were the springboard for the heavy metal subgenre... one which I don't really care much for by itself.

However, I do draw a parallel between the rush I get from listening to a real balls-to-the-wall action cue like the ones heard in Goldsmith's Total Recall, Beltrami's Blade 2, Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian or Talgorn's Heavy Metal 2000 (or Herrmann's North by Northwest for that matter) to the hair-flipping kind of reaction you often see people listening to heavy metal have. For example, on the way to work this morning I was listening to Return of the King and noticed that I was tapping my finger on the handrail and moving my body in time to the mounting beat of "The Battle of Pelennor Fields." It was an identical reaction as one which somebody really getting into Metallica, Megadeth or Pantera.*

It is an interesting correlation because for a very long time I have wondered whether or not film music enthusiasts were, in fact, somehow wired differently from everybody else. However as Crassus from Spartacus (Laurence Olivier) would say, it is a matter of taste, and taste is not the same as appetite.

More excellent news! Dan just e-mailed me to inform me that due to my connection with Charged by the System I am on the guest list to see ...and you will know us by the trail of dead at the Bowery ballroom on Friday night! This is turning out to be a rare Monday!

Hmmm... there is a significant delay with respect to comment notifications. I know it's not my mail system this time partly because I've rerouted LJ notifications to my GMail account, but also because the comments do eventually show up, just later... and appear in my Message Center until at about the same time.

* Not Slayer, though... they're their own breed:

We had a TicketMaster at the Tower Records, and we sold tickets for all kinds of crazy shit, including Slayer. The absolute worst, though, were the old Jewish ladies coming in for Barbra Streisand tickets. I still have nightmares.