Sunday, 9 December 2012
Patrick Doyle: interview
For film scores, composers create a world, note by note
A film's music is often considered a character itself, and this season the roles composers have to play aren't getting any easier. Talking about love between the emotionally unstable is one thing, but how, for instance, does that sound? Or when a character speaks to God, should God answer back with silence or an orchestra? And what of a period piece that isn't a period piece, or a piece that's six periods at once? Here we offer a look at just a handful of 2012's notable film scores.
Five minutes into a conversation with "Brave" composer Patrick Doyle and the topic shifts to fairy tales. No, not the kind recently favored by Disney/Pixar. Doyle is talking more about ancient stories, ones with Scottish giants turned to stone.
There are references in "Brave" to such Scottish folklore — the fable-inspiring Callanish Stones among them — and Doyle hoped his score would evoke these tales of yore. He even speaks of the music in "Brave" as if he's telling stories around a campfire.
He uses the phrase "Loch Ness of it all" to describe the more rumbling, mysterious aspects of the film's music, and in speaking of the score's emphasis on small sounds, such as Celtic harps and violins, he says he wanted to capture the feel of "ancient vials."
"I had to revisit and rekindle what's in my blood," said Doyle, who lives in London but was raised in Scotland. "They said they wanted this to be as Scottish as it could be."
That wasn't as simple as adding bagpipes to the standard-issue film orchestra. Bagpipes are perhaps most evocative of Scotland and Ireland, but Doyle wanted to play them like the "medieval equivalent of trumpets." Also, "Brave," being a Disney/Pixar film, wouldn't exactly be a period piece.
To capture the look of the more magical aspects of the film — a pan into a dark, witch-infested forest, for instance — Doyle, who was nominated for 1996's "Hamlet" and 1995's "Sense and Sensibility," turned to computers. The more synthesized moments allowed the strings to startle and the bagpipes to feel all the more lively.
Still more difficult, said Doyle, were the moments that called for vocals. Doyle wanted "Noble Maiden Fair" to sound like a forgotten Scottish lament.
"The simple things in life are the most difficult to create," he said. "When you think of the most simple melody — 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' — that's simple. Everyone knows that. Well, you try and write that."
Read more at L A Times