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Film and Music

Saturday 5 January 2008 12:15-13:00 (Radio 3)

Tom Service investigates the hidden world of film music. He visits the Abbey Road Studios where scores have been recorded to such monumental movies as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the more recent Golden Compass.

Plus composers Howard Shore and Mike Figgis explain their own philosophies of film composing, and a look at the modern sound library technology which shapes the scores of today.


45 minutes

In this programme

Film and Music Special

Download the complete programme on this week's Music Matters podcast

Film is the medium through which many people first become aware of classical and orchestral music.

For audiences the world over, the dramatic scores of Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore conjure up an imaginative world of cowboys, war, outer space, espionage, Hobbits and romance long after the film has finished.

And it is not only the underscore, or original music, which becomes familiar through film. Classical music itself looms large with Strauss in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rachmaninov in Lean's Brief Encounter and Mahler in Visconti's Death in Venice.

The story of how film music developed from unseen pianists providing live soundtracks to silent movies, to the lush soundtracks of Erich Korngold in the 30s and 40s or John Williams in the 70s and 80s, is a fascinating cultural tale. Historian David Huckvale recounts some of the highlights in more than a century of music for film in the high-tech surroundings of London's IMAX cinema.

Mike FiggisTom also talks to two of today's leading film composers: Howard Shore, who wrote the epic oscar-winning score for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Mike Figgis, who as a director and composer has a unique insight into the sometimes vexed relationship between score and screen.
Shore sees himself as an equal with the film-maker, but director Mike Leigh offers an alternative perspective.

To find out how computer technology is advancing film composition techniques, Tom goes to the studio of Shallow Grave's composer, Simon Boswell, with technology writer Jono Buchanan.

Mike LeighJoining Tom for the whole programme is Miguel Mera, who has written about Toru Takemitsu's film scores and set up a highly respected film course at the Royal College of Music. Together, they dip into some of the classic film soundtracks of all time, and discuss how music works with image and what makes a truly great score.

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