Film paper practise paper – ANSWERS

Question 1

 

Lush arrangement for big band and strings and rich harmonies suggest a lavish setting, the kind of music you may find in a hotel! It is a swung waltz and has a sexy feel to it…. Almost like stripper music! Harp glissando’s suggest the idea of flight of the aerial shot. Sexy sax solo represents the bathing beauties. The strong Brass line could represent Bond and his masculinity?

 

Question 2

 

Set in a minor key, the music has an almost funeral feel. The section where Bruce is followed by Vicky has more movement with shifting tonality which highlights Vicky’s uncertainty as to where Bruce is going. The music is an extension and evolvement of the Bat theme, and the Bat theme is not heard fully until Bruce lays down the flowers…..as this happens, the instrumentation changes to child like instruments such as Harp, celeste and glockenspiel which evokes his child hood memories. (Also an Elfman feature!). This is then contrasted with darkly scored, dense chords in the strings as the shot goes to Bruce’s adult face as he remember their demise and feels the conflict within, which is heard in the Elfman cascading string idea.

 

Question 3

 

(a)            Use of chromatic harmony. The use of a contrast of major and minor harmony. Repetition in the Brass, an Ostinato figure in the Harp is also used. Contrast in dynamics and use of crescendo’s and dimimunedo’s. Also use of extremes of register.

(b)            Dark chords chords herald the entrance of an intruder. Loud stabs to accent the chop and drop. Tuned high metallic percussion (crotales) and strings cut through on view of the shadow (hints at Oddjob through the crotales). Slow, repeated chords represent the passing of time and gives a sense of foreboding. These chords are an extension of the Gold 1 Leitmotif. Incessant Crotales are heard when Bond discovers Jill’s body…. Reflects the gold colour and links the Oddjob shadow to the murder successfully. The Harp ostinato maintains the tension while Bond makes a phone call. Cresecndo as he details the death and on the words “covered in paint….. gold paint” we hear a brass chord to punctuate the dialogue.

 

Question 4

(a)

Surgery:    Atonal, tone clusters, dissonance, reminiscent of 10th century composers such as Penderecki.

Face Off:    Pastiche of a fairground waltz/Strauss waltz, quite tonal (diatonic), ends like a lullaby with use of Celeste.

 

(b)

Surgery:    held notes/tone clusters provide tension and add to the eeriness of the scene. This is punctuated by Piano and Trumpet bursts, grumbling strings. The dynamics crescendo and diminuendo to raise and release the tension.

Face Off:    Works directly against the scene for comic/un-nerving effect. Provides a release of tension and most importantly gives the Joker a musical characterisation.

 

Question 5

(a)

Goldfinger: Use of repeated motifs, a single chord, a gradual build up in textural layers and dynamics, increasingly higher pitches, irregular time signatures. Goldfingers death is not particularly marked in the score.

Batman:    Use of wandering harmony or shifting keys creates instablilty, a small use of the Bat-theme gives a sense of climax, build up of dynamics and layers helps give several climaxes! Jokers death is very low key with a music box playing a waltz, referring to his Joker character.

(b)

Goldfinger: The theme is used initially as the top notes of the 2 alternating chords form the top notes of the gradually forming Dbm9 chord. It is finally stated in full when the bad guys are discovered tied up and continues as Pussy is seen helpless in the cockpit!

Batman:    The theme is presented in a very fragmented way, sometimes the first 2 or 3 notes, sometimes 4 or 5. The key change at the end of the first full theme occurs regularly.

 

Question 6

 

The Bond films are very much a franchise. One of the reasons for this is that the Bond theme (and any of it’s components – the rising semi-tone idea, twangy guitar, the famous flaring trumpet line) is incorporated into every film (with the exception of Eric Serra’s Goldeneye score….. the nonce).

The importance of the theme song should not be underestimated. The chance to record a Bond theme song is very much sought after by singers (Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones, Madonna, Duran Duran to name a few) as there is a real money incentive from the song as well as some credibility that goes with it. The song also acts as free advertising for the film ad therefore the film studio, making them more money!

The textures that Barry created (the twangy guitar, strong Brass and lush strings) have long been a feature of the Bond score and have remained instantly recognisable for 3 decades. The fact that Barry kept his Bond sound pretty much the same throughout  all his Bond films, whilst in other scores he constantly changed and evolved (The Lion in Winter – Choir and Orchestra, The Midnight Cowboy – Use of harmonica) demonstrates further that the Bond films are a franchise.

David Arnold’s 5 Bond scores owe a huge debt to Barry’s 60’s Bond scores in particular for incorporating the Bond theme and his lush style of orchestration.

 

Question 7

 

Elfman and Burton’s careers have run in parallel, with Batman being the first big-budget film either of them had worked on. Burton was first attracted to the music of Oingo Boingo, Elfamns quirky, eclectic band. He found the music to be very cinematic and was obviously attracted by the darkly-humorous nature of the lyrics. So Burton asked Elfman to work with him on his first film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Burton’s films are often gothic, contain dark moods and black humour. It is these elements that Elfman captures so well. For this Elfman uses low timbres, such as low strings, low woodwind, low brass and his trademark –  the lowest octave of the piano. These occur in many of his scores from Beetlejuice onwards.

Elfman’s said that he got his musical ideas for Batman by merely walking around the set of Gotham at night when all alone.

Another feature of Burton films is the element of fairytale fantasy (eg, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare before xmas, Beetlejuice etc). Here Elfman contributes 2 main ideas; he uses instruments such as the Harp, Celeste, Glockenspiel and strings to create a sense of fairytale and magic. With this he often use dance style cues (like the waltz in Batman) to create a ghoulish type of humour.

The orchestrations feature electronic timbres (usually played/created by Elfman himself) as well as orchestral timbres which also adds to the other-worldliness of Burton’s films.

Elfman’s habitual use of the tritone, whole tone scale and strange and sudden modulations also fit in perfectly with the strange, dark and un-settling world of Burtons films.