Er, why should I listen to you?

I started learning the violin aged 10 because a music teacher at my school (in the days when Primary Schools had specialist music teachers!) suggested it.  I gave up the violin and took up the guitar 3 years later when being in a band was an act of rebellion – I had three objectives: play like Jimmy Page, get girls, piss my Mum off.  I don’t know if I achieved any of those to my 13-year-old satisfaction.  So I’ve spent most of my life playing music or listening to music or writing music or just whistling, and I’ve made and learnt from an awful lot of mistakes.

In the beginning, I played in bands that played glam rock, hard rock, pub rock, punk rock, ska, psycho-billy, and then, I guess, indie.  I decided that I really couldn’t be bothered with bands just at the moment that technology invented cheap 4-track machines, and then synthesisers, samplers and sequencers and suddenly I was able to have any sound I wanted (subject to sample memory and budget).  Around that time (the early Nineties) I also went to the London International Film School to learn how to write to picture.  The films I scored there were shot on film and edited on Steenbeck machines like this one:

Oh how we laughed!

In the Outside World, I think the actual film industry was moving quickly to computers, but I learned to score to picture – I would guess I was the last man through that door, like the last chimney sweep or a handwriting consultant. Anyway, I can write music that fits the actual film.

Here are some films that you should know are my favourite scores (and I’ll go into these at some time later):

Film Year Director Composer
Vertigo 1958  Alfred Hitchcock  Bernard Herrmann
Anatomy of a Murder 1959  Otto Preminger  Duke Ellington
The Ipcress File 1965  Sidney J Furie  John Barry
Bullitt 1968  Peter Yates  Lalo Schifrin
Get Carter 1971  Mike Hodges  Roy Budd
Blade Runner 1982  Ridley Scott  Vangelis
The Thing 1982  John Carpenter  Ennio Morricone
Paris, Texas 1984  Wim Wenders  Ry Cooder
Road to Perdition 2002  Sam Mendes  Thomas Newman
Solaris 2002  Steven Soderbergh  Cliff Martinez
Zodiac 2007  David Fincher  David Shire
Moon 2009  Duncan Jones  Clint Mansell
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 2011  David Fincher  Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Ex Machina 2014  Alex Garland  Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow
Macbeth 2015  Justin Kurzel  Jed Kurzel

These are scores that, in my humble opinion, stand up as musical work with and without the pictures.  They’re on my iPod and I listen to them all regularly as I go about my daily whatever-it-is-I-do.

My elevator pitch before the Millennium was this:  I can write music to the film you’ve shot – when our hero goes bump, the music goes bump.  I’ll write music inspired by those wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti, I’ll do research because I feel the same way about your Stonehenge film that you do.

But the real truth is that the films I want to score are the ones where I can comfort and disturb in equal measure, and that means thriller, psychological drama, horror.

To answer your question, though.  Why should you listen to me?  Because I’ve spent the required 10,000 hours playing music, 10,000 hours listening to music, 10,000 hours watching films (often in the dark in a cinema) and that makes me an expert, apparently.  I’m as surprised as you.

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