Saturday, April 13, 2013

A "generic" cue

I’ve often wondered about what exactly shapes up my taste in music. Now granted, where I’m from, a dude who listens to nothing but the “background music” of films is already weird enough to earn a shining geek badge. But even as a film score fan, I find myself repeatedly revisiting material which most other listeners would consider generic or subpar at best. Of course, music is a very subjective experience and you can’t really judge a piece solely by the opinion of others – no matter now universally accepted that opinion may be. A recent example is from Patrick Doyle’s soundtrack to last year’s Oscar-winning Pixar film, Brave. It’s a wonderful Scottish-flavoured score with bagpipes, Celtic fiddle and whistles magnificently creating an appropriate sonic aura to compliment the film’s setting. While the score received mostly positive reviews, like many other scores, not all of its tracks got space in the spotlight. One of my favourite tracks on the album is Show Us The Way, a largely suspenseful cue which explodes into a frenzy of brutal orchestral savagery as Merida is ambushed by the demon bear Mor’Du. It’s a brief but exciting moment of action music that, while nothing groundbreaking, has earned many repeats on my music player. However, many reviews of the soundtrack I read criticized this track for being dull and slowing down the pace of the album.

Action cues are often said to be too chaotic to be enjoyable on their own outside the film. I, however, have a special thing for action music. At least 90% of all scores in my collection have at least a couple of action cues in them and it is those that get the most repeated visits from me. Usually it is the action cues that I listen to first upon getting the album. And I feel there’s plenty of scope for harmony and melody in action music as well. This is a major reason why I always prefer to as much score as possible in a soundtrack. Creating a short album program for a better listening experience is both creatively and economically very understandable (honestly, given the current economic times and remembering how most of A.R Rahman’s amazing Indian scores are only available as SFX-riddled DVD rips, I’m grateful enough just to have a score CD in my hands), but I’m never going to be one who complains about the length of a score CD. What’s a boring track for me could well be the highlight of the album for someone else. I can easily remove that track from my playlist, but if it’s unreleased then nobody else can have it even if they want to (through legitimate means, that is). The more complete the soundtrack is, the more of a win-win situation I feel it is.

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