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The Music I Listen To While Writing

PROFILE: Darren Aronofsky

Five Great Original Film Scores I Love

When music occurs in film, as we all know, it’s either soundtrack or score. I think more focus is put on the soundtrack than one of the most important parts of the film, the score. It represents the mood and feeling of the movie, and can carry all the emotions without even speaking a word.

Magnolia by Jon Brion

In my favourite movie of all time, I could list hundreds of reasons why I love it as much as I do, but one of the top ten would have to be Jon Brion’s fantastic score. I bought the CD a few months back, and it’s been playing over and over almost non-stop. It’s easy to miss it while watching the movie, but every time I watch it now that music is in my mind; I notice it, and it affects me. It’s an almost perfect score, for a perfect movie.

American Beauty by Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman’s score to Sam Mendes’ breakthrough feature manages to be consistently soft, even when it’s in its angriest mood. The complex layer of disputing emotions conveyed through the music track the path of the characters as they are pulled along a storyline of uprising and downfall. An incredibly original, poignant and affecting score that’s enough to put a tear in your eye every time:

Mulholland Dr. by Angelo Badalamenti

The film’s reliance on music is extraordinary, and even though not all of it is composed by Badalamenti, much of it including the terrific ‘Love Theme’ is. It’s incredibly sad, moving music that lulls the viewer into the same dreamlike state of frightening dystopian disorder that Lynch does with his film. Listen to it for yourself:

Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell

Arguably the most well known score on this list, Clint Mansell’s score, while being overused in various advertisements and television programs, consists of much more than just the popularised, searing Lux Aeterna. The downward path of drug abuse portrayed in the film and it’s effect owes a lot to the music, which subliminally makes it seem more horrifying and disturbing, if that were indeed possible. Check out this piece from the score, which is nowhere near as appreciated as it should be:

The Fountain by Clint Mansell

The second album from Clint Mansell also features some of his best, most underrated work as a composer. While the film itself was rather disappointing and conflicted among critics, the score is an inarguable success. The track ‘Death is the Road to Awe’ is one of the ten best pieces of musical score I have ever heard, and it’s not the only one worth mentioning. So much of the album is pure brilliance.

Those are my picks. I could list more, but this is plenty of listening material for you guys for now. Hopefully you can find the time to listen to some of the tracks above… there are many more on YouTube. If there’s anything you’d like to add, leave a comment below.

The Seven Best Original Film Score Tracks by Clint Mansell

Clint Mansell is a film score composer whose compositions for films such as Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain have made him famous. He is formerly of the British punk rock band Pop Will Eat Itself, but when his good friend Darren Aronofsky asked him to compose the soundtrack for his film Pi, he began a memorable and successful foray into original film scores. Here are the seven best pieces (that I’ve heard) of composition by him for films.

7: Ghosts (VOCAL REMIX), Requiem for a Dream

This is a remix version of the original RFAD track. What makes this special is the addition of vocals, sung by none other than Clint Mansell himself.

6: Ghosts of Things to Come, Requiem for a Dream

This is the original version of the previous track. I know it may seem pointless to include them both, but I couldn’t leave either one of them out. I just love the simplicity of this track; how it seems like nothing special, but still manages to evoke emotion.

5: Together We Will Live Forever, The Fountain

Saddening, heartbreaking, depressing and tearjerking, this wonderfully emotional track truly shines as among Mansell’s best, and helps to demonstrate the variety of different musical techniques he can use, from loud and blasting electricity such as in #4, to this simple, quiet piano theme.

4: Pi r 2, Pi

This terrific drum-and-bass opening to Darren Aronofsky’s thought-provoking debut Pi was made with a music video as well. This song really sums up the quick thinking and insanity in the main character’s mind in the great film.

3: Welcome to Lunar Industries, Moon

Mansell has proved he is good at simple and effective piano themes, and this may be one of the most exceptional. The strings, as usual, are a more than welcome and perfectly decent accompaniment.

2: Lux Aeterna, Requiem for a Dream

Just because it’s been heard a million times and become annoyingly tiresome doesn’t make this track any less brilliant than it was the first time. This is the original version, with those haunting strings and sombre mournings for the darkness of the past and the inescapable Hell that will be the future. Close your eyes and listen to this at full volume. Please.

1: Death is the Road To Awe, The Fountain

This is it. This a hectic, pulsing, triumphant mixture of harmful strings and horrible memories. Even if you have not seen the film, as I hadn’t when I first heard this track, you can feel the emotion in it. A classic.

Thanks for reading and listening.

The “Requiem for a Dream” Soundtrack: Overused and Underappreciated

Requiem for a Dream. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s likely you’ve heard the title spoken before. It’s a dramatic horror film directed by Darren Aronofksy (Black Swan) that trails the adventures of four characters whose lives are forever altered by the presence of drugs and drug abuse. The movie is brilliant. It features some great shots, many of which use cameras mounted to the actors, a terrific pacing, excellent character development and a strong script. But another large factor in what makes the film what it is is the original score, composed by Clint Mansell, formerly of the pop-techno band Pop Will Eat Itself.

This was the second film score Mansell composed (after Pi, another film directed by Aronofsky), and this time he managed to conjure up an ingenious and iconic creation. The film’s main musical pieces were performed in no small part by the Kronos Quartet, a string quartet who harmoniously played some of the most well known parts of Mansell’s music.

The film’s main track, “Lux Aeterna” has been popularly remixed and used variously in several locations, from advertisements to trailers. Due to this, people have grown tired of it and it has lessened in popularity. I think this is tremendously unfair, since the film score as a whole (including Lux Aeterna) is a brilliant, clever work of art. And so, I am going to quickly analyse and review all the most notable of the 33 tracks:

1: Summer Overture (2:35)

The first track, from its blaring and stunning opening to its abrupt conclusion, is the perfect beginning. The instruments played by the quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) are brilliantly triumphant. It works as a kicking beat, and plays along at a perfect rate.

2: Party (0:28)

3: Coney Island Dreaming (1:04)

A dreamlike state of drug-induced utopia.

4: Party (0:36)

5: Chocolate Charms (0:25)

6: Ghosts of Things to Come (1:33)

A moment of beautiful clarity where everything is fine, with shadows of the darkness around the corner.

7: Dreams (0:44)

8: Tense (0:37)

9: Dr. Pill (0:42)

10: High on Life (0:11)

11: Ghosts (1:21)

A much darker version of #6.

12: Crimin’ & Dealin’ (1:44)

An interesting techno pop track as the drug business is introduced.

13: Hope Overture (2:31)

The second of many variations of the main theme. This version has much more hip hop/pop elements, and the strings have quite a smooth edge.

14: Tense (0:28)

15: Bialy & Lox Conga (0:45)

An upbeat conga dance which is very out-of-place with the rest of the tracks. I dislike this, but still it manages to have an effect.

16: Cleaning Apartment (1:25)

The beginning of the second third of the album is a sharp bang and the main theme.

17: Ghosts-Falling (1:11)

Again, a darker and more intense version of #6.

18: Dreams (1:02)

19: Arnold (2:35)

There is a dark and scary sense of foreboding in this quite track.

20: Marion Barfs (2:22)

Another version of the main theme.

21: Supermarket Sweep (2:14)

An edgier and cooler version of #12.

22: Dreams (0:32)

23: Sara Goldfarb Has Left the Building (1:17)

Like track #19 before it, this track has a scary and intense feel to it, which builds to a crescendo as it progresses. The album is certainly getting darker.

24: Bugs Got a Devilish Grin Conga (0:57)

An unnecessary repeat of #15.

25: Winter Overture (0:19)

A short and sharp version of the main theme which is quick but effective.

26: Southern Hospitality (1:23)

A continuous, scary beat plays throughout this short track.

27: Fear (2:26)

A scary moodiness and various jumpy beats are doubtlessly going to shock but work very well.

28: Full Tense (1:04)

This quiet but moody piano theme has played twice already at least, but it never worked as well as it does here.

29: The Beginning of the End (4:28)

The longest track on the album is really just an assortment of samples of various scary beats. The abruptness of the beats works very well, however.

30: Ghosts of a Future Lost (1:50)

When played alongside the scene in which it appears, this track (like #32 after it) is likely to bring a tear to your eye.

31: Meltdown (3:55)

If you wanna be really scared, play this track. It is full of tension before finally its terrifying beat plays, striking the heart full of fear. It’s appropriate though, when you consider the scene in which it appears.

32: Lux Aeterna (3:54)

This is the main theme. Not the ridiculous, stupid Lord of the Rings remix. This is the original. And it works. It is terrifying, and sad. It’s the best track on the album, undoubtedly, and it works on so many levels, especially its repeat epilogue.

33: Coney Island Low (2:13)

This is nothing more than the sounds of waves and the ocean along the shore of Coney Island, and it serves no purpose other than to let the audience meditate for a minute and think about what they’ve just heard. It’s necessary.

So there you have it. The best tracks, with a short summary. You might ask, why must I do this? Does anyone really care? Probably not, but I decided to do this because I want more people to see the movie and hear the soundtrack. It’s beautiful, and like so many people, I feel I must share what I’ve experienced. I’m not advertising, I’m simply sharing my opinion.