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Added by Jael on 25 Dec 2012 03:15
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Jael's Top Ten Favourite Film Scores

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I put Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in the number one spot because not only is this the first soundtrack I have ever heard but also it is one that has stuck with me through out my life.
I first heard John Williams Score for "Empire" when I was really, really small. Like three years old. And when I was little, my mum owned a 1980's Celica with a busted radio and a working tape deck, so whenever my dad had to drive it, he couldn't listen to his favourite radio programs. And since he hated driving in silence, he decided to listen to tapes in the car.
One of my first childhood memories is of sitting in the back of that Celica with the broken radio and the car seats that smelled like cigarette ash and listening to the rousing, opening beats of the "Main Title". Even before I was old enough to watch my first Star Wars movie, I thought the sound track was really kickass and I looked forward to car rides just so I can listen to it. And while my tastes in music have changed over the years, the Star Wars soundtracks have remained a constant, unchanging factor in my life. And that ability to love "The Imperial March" at the age of four and again at twenty-two demonstrates how timeless Star Wars all together is.
Chances are, I will continue to be listening to this soundtrack well into old age and still love it.

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I enjoy Klaus Badelt's (and Hans Zimmer) take on "Pirates of the Caribbean" for the same reasons Doug Walker explained in his "Top 11 Fuck YEAH Movie Themes" video. It's big, loud, bombastically awesome, and listening to it makes you want to want to don an eye patch and wave around a fake cutlass while shouting "argh". Or at least, while listening to it, do really epic things. Like fight zombie pirates.
The Pirates of the Caribbean score does a great job in setting the tone for the movie it is made for while also getting the listener pumped for anything coming their way. I could explain more, but I think this description best surmises what I think about the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack.

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People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 9.2 IMDB Rating 0
Goodbye Lenin - Various
I first heard the soundtrack to Goodbye Lenin by Yann Tiersen, at the start of what was going to be a very dark period in my life. I was a sophomore in college and I had fallen in love for the first time with one of my housemates.
At the same time, I was taking a German class and one day, my instructor decided to screen the film "Goodbye Lenin" before going into a unit about the reunification of Germany following the end of the Cold War. Almost immediately after watching that movie for the first time, I went back to my dorm room, downloaded the soundtrack off of iTunes, and began a three month period where this was the only CD I would listen to.
As I was trying to deal with the feeling of being in love, a sensation that felt very foreign to me at the time, I turned to this soundtrack as a musical way to channel my emotions. There was the quick, upbeat pace of the piano in "First Rendez-Vous" to describe how my heart fluttered every time I saw my housemate. And the slower, more bellow notes in "Watching Laura" that invokes the feeling of just watching the guy and better appreciating him when my feelings were not going into overdrive.
And then I found out that my house mate had begun a relationship with a girl who was also living with us. I'm not going to go into the full story of what followed after that. Except that it seriously fucked me up for the next few years and I am only just very recently starting to recover.
The first time I heard the song "Summer 78" after that revelation, I had broken down into tears and could not stop crying. Although I knew that the lyrics were about someone loosing their home but still trying to connect with the past, I began to associate the words with someone who is trying to reach out to a loved one but can't fully make that physical connection. And I could emphasize with that feeling because as I was going through this time in my life, I felt like I had died and that I could not reach out to the one I loved and get him to notice that I was there.
I know I am cheating by including a soundtrack in which there are lyrics included, but Yann Tiersen's Goodbye Lenin made a profound impact in my life and I could not bear to leave it off the list.

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Before I talk about why I am putting Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford", I should make two things clear. One is that I fucking love Nick Cave. He is one of my favourite musicians of all time and "Red Right Hand" is among one of my favourite songs of all time. The other is that I have actually never watched the movie this soundtrack was composed for.
Now, the wonderful thing about film scores is that you can still listen to it without having seen the movie and still enjoy it without knowing what scene the score appears in. But a film score is even better when it can convey a story in the music without a visual aid. The score for The Assassination of Jesse James is one of my top five favourites because each track conveys a mood, a tone, a story and you are following this story as the song progresses.
As this is created for a western, you have your obligatory fiddles and triangles but you also get electric and acoustic guitar and piano notes that draw out the slow and somber nature of the music. As dark as some of the tracks such as "Song for Bob" and "Destined for Great Things", both of which contain that dark tone to the music conveyed by the drawn out strings and bass-like instrumentation, you get more upbeat fare such as the light and airy, almost fairy tale-like, "Song for Jesse" and the cheery but still hazy and lazy "Carnival".
To best sum up "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford", I can best describe it as a very atypical western soundtrack that has a personality of it's own that you can listen to outside of the movie and still enjoy. And that's what brings me back every time.

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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
28 Days Later - Various Artists
I love John Murphy's 28 Days Later score because it has the right blend of ass kicking beats and ambient melodies and it serves as a good tone-setter for the film it's made for. I also like how Murphy juxtaposes other music in his tracks, which are best exemplified by "Taxi (Ave Maria" which has someone singing "Ave Maria" and "Jim's Parents (Abide With Me)", which has, you guessed it, the hymn "Abide With Me". Listening to the tracks solo, without the film accompanying it, you think, "well this is nice. This is nice music to listen to while relaxing or doing home homework". But when paired with the movie, the music adds an additional punch that makes it hard to forget what you just watched.
The best way to explain this is when I first watched "28 Days Later" after listening to the soundtrack too many times to count. Now, I should mention that I don't care for hymns or other kinds of religious music. Now, I'm not some God-hating heathen. I grew up in a Christian family and I go to church whenever I can, but religious music is something that just does not float my boat. And when I first heard the track "Jim's Parents", I thought, "well, this is not bad. This sounds like something I would hear in church" and left it at that. Watching 28 Days Later and hearing that same track again packed an emotional punch for me. I don't know if it's because the scene this song played finally provided a context outside of church or what, but afterwards I was more able to appreciate the soundtrack and how it fits both into the movie and in the real world.
Of course, I'm not only adding the 28 Days Later score just because of what I just rambled about. I'm also adding it because "In A House- In a Heart Beat" is one of the most badass pieces of film score ever composed. Every time I hear it, I feel like kicking some serious zombie ass. This is what I listen to to get pumped for zombie tag and there is a damn good reason why I have this on my "Music for Zombie Apocalypse" playlist.

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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
The Piano - Original Soundtrack
The score for Jane Campion's 1993 erotic-drama The Piano is one of the most beautiful scores I have ever heard. Composed by Michael Nyman, it relies primarily on piano as well as a string accompaniment. But what sets The Piano's soundtrack apart from the other entries on this list is how the music is used.
The Piano is about a mute Scottish woman who is shipped off to New Zealand with her daughter as part of an arranged marriage. Because she has limited means of communication with the outside world, Ada, the mute Scots woman, has to use her piano as a means to connect with those around her.
Not only does Nyman's score establish the tone for the film, it is also used as a means to convey what Ada is going through as she struggles to deal with an abusive marriage and being a stranger in a new country while being in love with a man who is not her husband. And while listening to it, you feel like you are sharing in Ada's journey, which further connects the listener to the characters and makes one feel more invested in the story.
There are no other words to describe the score other than the fact that it is gorgeous.
On a personal note, I had listened to this soundtrack so much that when I took a creative writing course a few years ago, I named one of my characters Ada in homage to The Piano and wrote her as a brilliant researcher who has to resort to technology as a surrogate voice after a home invasion leaves her unable to speak. As she was only a minor character in a larger project, I didn't get a chance to further develop her as I would have with the main leads. But if given the chance, I would totally write a spin off story based on this character. And chances are very likely that I will be listening to this score again while writing it.

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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9 IMDB Rating 0
The Fountain [Soundtrack} - Mansell, Clint
I knew I wanted to add a Clint Mansell score to this list. The only problem I had was deciding which one. He is an amazingly talented composer and his work can be heard in films such as Requiem for a Dream, Moon, and Black Swan as well as the game Mass Effect 3. After much deliberation, I decided to go with the score for the criminally underrated Darren Aronofsky film The Fountain.
I chose the score for The Fountain because I firmly believe that music has the power to emotionally bring the listener to their knees and feel what the characters are feeling. Mansell has done this and then some with his composition in eliciting an emotional response from his listeners.
I first heard The Fountain soundtrack during the Eternally Night period of my life that I had mentioned when talking about entry number 3. This was the time where I felt utterly alone and helpless with no one to help me and the track "The Last Man" best encompasses the crippling blackness of solitude that shrouded me during this time. The wavering, drawn out strings invoked that black void of space while the flute was reminiscent of that little sliver of hope that still remains in the nothingness but that still evaded the lone wanderer drifting off in that space but still encouraged him or her to go after it in hopes that catching it and holding on to it will signal for better times to come.
Other great tracks include "Death is the Road to Awe", which begins slowly and builds up over a span of eight minutes to a bombastic and epically awesome conclusion that makes you glad you listened to the song from beginning to end. "Xiabalba", whose slow strings and eerie melody is used to its fullest advantage to illustrate the Mayan Underworld the name comes from through music and it makes you feel like you are traveling through that terrifying place. And "Together We Will Live Forever", whose sole use of the piano best demonstrates that even one simple instrument can make a profound impact in the film and in the world existing outside of it.

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Considering I have listed two soundtracks to two western films made and released in two different centuries, I should probably distinguish how they are different. If Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is about the dark side of Old West myths and legends, then Ennio Morricone's score for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" best showcases the glory years those myths and legends were born from.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly score is one that works both in the world of the film and the one of the viewer. The sparse, low notes of the flute, ocarina, and human vocals invokes the dry and forbidding nature of western frontier our heroes reside in the main theme while
What makes Ennio Morricone's score all the better is how it has become a hallmark in pop culture. You don't have to have seen the film in order to be exposed to the score.
I personally like it because it is so bad ass. Every time I hear any of the tracks, all I can think of is how there is going to be some epic shit about to start. So you can hate westerns but still think this sound track is badass because you heard Linkara give a pre-ass kicking speech to the tune of "Ecstasy of Gold" a Silent Hill nurse in one of his "Dead/Alive" videos.
And what makes Ennio Morricone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is great is that it is awesome music that can be accessible to all listeners regardless of personal preference in music.

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Say what you want about the Twilight movies, but you have to admit, the soundtracks are kick ass. If there is anything the directors have gotten right, it's that they have always gotten some seriously A-list composers doing this serie's soundtracks. As a Twihard, I own all of them. And as a music fan, I can tell you that the scores produced by Carter Burwell are the best of the group.
What sets Burwell's work in Breaking Dawn Part 2 from his previous contributions for Twilight and Breaking Dawn Part I is how he steps up his A-game. Not only does Breaking Dawn Part 2 incorporate leit motifs that had previously appeared in his work but he also adds bits of music that his predecessors Alexandre Desplat and Howard Shore composed for New Moon and Eclipse respectively. As Part 2 is the conclusion, it's great to hear these previous snippets of music once again as it feels like he is harkening back to the previous films.
But what makes me love the soundtrack for Part 2 better than the others is the wide use of instruments Burwell uses. The varying range of musical styles really shows in tracks such as "A Yankee Vampire", which has guitar riffs and drumbeats to invoke the nomad who had fought in the American Revolution to reed flutes for the Amazon vampires to the quiet piano notes of "Reneesme's Lullabye", which reminds me of "Bella's Lullabye", and the somber peal of bells in the same piece that segue into "Something Terrible". I like the wide use of instruments because it gives each track its own personality and style and I never feel like I am listening to the same music over and over again.
Now, I put Breaking Dawn Part 2 fairly low on the list because it is the most recently released score and time will tell how how much I like it.

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People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
The Incredibles (Score) - Michael Giacchino
The Incredibles score by Michael Giacchino is just a really fun soundtrack to listen to. While I know he also scored Pixar's Up, and most people tend to love that score because of the track "Married Life", I always find myself returning back to the Incredibles score.
There are a lot of big band and jazz influences present through out the score that lends itself to the big and bombastic nature of the film. The use of the brass instruments such as the trombone and the saxophone best invokes the glory years of the superheros before they are forced into living in seclusion and which our hero Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible) longs to return to.
What can I say other than The Incredibles soundtrack a lot of fun to listen to. And it's because of these jazz influences that I found myself liking this soundtrack and what got me into listening to more of the Big Band genre of music.
So in my case, I got into a new genre of music that I would normally not listen to because of a movie. And often, that's all you really need.

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I love soundtracks. Hell, my iPod is comprised of 95% soundtracks and 5% of those other genres. And with that in mind, I've decided to narrow down which are my top favorites of all time. What I mean by "favorite", I mean by what I personally like, not what I think are the most important or the best. These entries are just my personal favourite based on my preferences. So if you disagree with my choices, feel free to voice it but keep in mind this is what I like, not what you like.
And to give myself a challenge, I decided to narrow down the playing field by looking at scores, not compilation albums or vocal tracks. This is strictly orchestra pieces territory we're venturing in to today.

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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 7 months ago at Dec 29 14:55
Awesome work! :)
Posted: 4 years, 7 months ago at Dec 30 11:04
Thank you Michael!

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