Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Best Score Writers in the Industry

In the ongoing series of guest posts, here is one from one of the guys over at My Dog Ate My Blog.

Often, the praise for a great film goes directly to the director. If you think of the classics, though, most have something in common: great, iconic music. The score of a film can create suspense, drama, or be just plain catchy. Here are ten of the top film score writers whose music you definitely know, even if you don't know their name.
1. John Williams: Williams has scored some of the most iconic American films, such as Jaws, Home Alone, E.T., and The Star Wars Saga.
  • Why he's great: Whether or not you realize it, Williams compositions are most likely lodged into your pop culture subconscious.
  • Have a listen: Star Wars Medley

2. Bernard Hermann: Hermann is known for teaming up with Alfred Hitchcock to score his most suspenseful films, including Psycho, Vertigo, and North by Northwest.
  • Why he's great: Hermann's creativity transformed and modernized music for thrillers and suspenseful movies.
  • Have a listen: Psycho theme

3. Max Steiner: Called "the father of film music," Steiner was one of the first to compose music for motion pictures His list of films reads as a list of American classics: Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and Little Women are some of his best known.
  • Why he's great: When Steiner first arrived in America in 1914, he had only a few dollars to his name. He worked as a musician for 15 years before scoring films.
  • Have a listen: Gone With the Wind- "Tara's Theme"

4. Elmer Bernstein: Bernstein rose to fame by scoring classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Ten Commandments, and The Man with the Golden Arm. Later on, he took a chance by scoring National Lampoon's Animal House, which sparked a second wave of his career scoring comedies.
  • Why he's great: Bernstein was not afraid of attempting all types of film, and thus, we have some of the best comedy scores in history, including Ghostbusters and Airplane!
  • Have a listen: Airplane! Medley

5. Jerry Goldsmith: Goldsmith composed for many films, but most were action filled: Rambo:First Blood, Chinatown, and Basic Instinct are some of his most notable scores.
  • Why he's great: Goldsmith experimented with lots of strange instruments not usually found in film scores, like schofar, pizzicati, and steel drums.
  • Have a listen: Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme

6. Henry Mancini: After his first year at Julliard, Mancini was drafted into the army to serve in WWII. After he was discharged, he went on to score many memorable TV shows and movies, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, and The Party.
  • Why he's great: Mancini found time to do a little bit of everything; he recorded his own albums (over 90 of them!), voice acted, and even made an appearance on Frasier.
  • Have a listen: The Pink Panther theme

7. Lalo Schifrin: This Argentine composer has written the music for many classic action films. Cool Hand Luke and Enter the Dragon are among his most famous, and he scored the music for the long running Mission: Impossible TV series.
  • Why he's great: Schifrin founded his own record label, Aleph Records, and his work has been sampled on famous hip-hop records.
  • Have a listen: Mission:Impossible theme

8. James Horner: If you want drama, you want James Horner's scores. You can hear his intensity in Braveheart, Apollo 13, The Perfect Storm, and Avatar.

9. John Barry: This English composer's family was in the film business, sparking his interest in movies. He went on to write the soundtracks for eleven James Bond flicks.
  • Why he's great: Barry might be great, but he's also failed: he took a chance and wrote the music for two Broadway disasters, The Little Prince and the Aviator and Lolita, My Love.
  • Have a listen: Dr. No

10. Maurice Jarre: Jarre's scores are modern classics. He won three academy awards for Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and A Passage to India.

Joy Henry is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog 

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