Thrilled to make it up to Charlotte last weekend to see a performance of I Dream. It’s been great working on this the last couple months with composer Douglas Tappin and orchestrator Carl Marsh, getting the music ready for these Opera Carolina and Toledo Opera performances.
Sometimes my work week takes an unexpected turn because Brian Wilson has emergency back surgery and has to cancel his shows with the Nashville Symphony, and they need 21 orchestra charts edited and printed ASAP for The Beach Boys cover band they found to fill in.
Every time I work on a new orchestration, I think of a story Carl Marsh told me of a conversation he had with another arranger—Ronn Huff, if my memory serves me correctly. One of them was having trouble with a spot in the orchestration they were writing, and lamented that they had tried everything they could think of but nothing worked. The other asked, well, have you tried that? So they did, and it was perfect. “Nothing” was exactly what the song needed from the orchestration in those bars.
I was reminded of this advice last night, sitting in the theatre as the credits rolled for Darren Aronofsky’s stunning, description-defying new film, “mother!” when I noticed that the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was credited as “music and sound consultant.” There are few things that turn me off to a movie more than a score that is working at cross purposes with the storytelling, and I kept being glad, watching “mother!,” for the pitfalls being avoided where a bad score would have ruined a scene. It turns out, I discovered after I got home and started reading about the film, that Jóhannsson actually wrote a 90-minute score but during the editing process arrived at a consensus with Aronofsky that the music—all of the music!—was taking something away from the storytelling. So he turned to creating a minimalistic score (playing a pane of glass with mallets, recording the key clicks of a sax player, etc.) and then his work was mixed in with sound designer Craig Henighan’s contributions. The result is a score that perfectly suites the film. Kudos to Aronofsky and Jóhannsson for having the kind of working relationship that allowed those discussions to happen (seemingly without conflict), and for digging until they discovered what exactly the film needed.