Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part V

You know, it's a little sad that, with all the scores I've written about for Halloween, I've never covered the work of a composer who truly loves the holiday. That man is Danny Elfman, and he's no stranger to creepy films. One of the creepier ones was Sleepy Hollow.

A mysterious figure on a horse is leaving the citizens of Sleepy Hollow...much shorter. Investigator Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. Huh. The Disney version I saw as a kid (and just recently) wasn't quite like this. Just as visually striking as you'd expect a Tim Burton film to be, this also features some impressive performances and, along with Mindhunters, one of the all-time great 'why I did it' killer speeches.

'Evocative' is the best word to describe Elfman's music. The orchestrations include deep male voices, quavering strings, pipe organ, a boy soprano, harsh horns, twinkling chimes, a cooing choir, tolling bells...and this is just the friggin' prologue! ("Introduction")

For the "Main Titles", Elfman whips up a cornucopia of skittering orchestral effects, leading to the main theme, a haunting piece of work run through four phrase interpretations on oboe, strings (and muted trumpet) and solo female voice. "Young Ichabod" continues with the main theme on boy soprano (pointing out the obvious in 3, 2...), likely to reflect the innocence of our hero as a child, before the soprano (augmented with the deeper voices) traiis off into a new, hopeful melody.

There's lots to enjoy here, from the scritchy-scratchy violins of "The Witch" to the romantic variations on the main theme in "A Gift". "Love Lost" features a subtler, not-immediately-recognizable take on the main theme.

Of course, it wouldn't be a story about Sleepy Hollow without the Headless Horseman, and Elfman provides him (it?) with a suitably blaring five note theme on horns (which pops up throughout "The Church Battle" and "The Windmill"), as well as a small sub-motif on growling horns (the beginning of "The Tree of Death", about halfway through "The Final Confrontation").

And then there's "The Chase". Listening to this rousing action cue, I can only assume that the string players in the London orchestra had to soak their hands after every take. The string work is that furious. "A New Day!" reprises the hopeful melody on horns and soprano, giving the score and film a happy ending.

Unlike a lot of scores I've talked about recently, this one is readily available (at No fan of Elfman should be without this fine score.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home