Modernity and the Language of Film Music

A while ago I started watching Homecoming out of curiosity, in part because of my love for the excellent Mr. Robot from the same director (scored by the fantastic Mac Quayle) and in part for all the fuss about the soundtrack, entirely non-original and taken by classic movies of the past.  

That inspired this little post and that “score” generated quite a bit of disappointment in the film scoring community. I still think it was a great idea that goes beyond a sterile exercise and this week I started reading Andy Hill’s book Scoring the Screen, which starts just with an incredible analysis of Bernard Herrmann’s score for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, present in the list of the scores used in Homecoming.    

Reading it and playing those harmonies at the piano made me notice a modernity, in a purely dramatic sense, of Herrman’s music that is hard to find elsewhere. 

This should make every composer think.  

Thinking beyond a taste for old, vintage objects that translates in music in works like Homecoming, what is it that the contemporary language of film music (which, don’t get me wrong, I love as well) doesn’t bring to the table on a narrative standpoint? 

Herrmann had a deep knowledge of classical music as we know, but our references, our influences are different. 

Hans Zimmer shaked our art a while ago leading  a revolution with a new language. Everybody writing music for the screen is influenced at some level by his work and, more importantly, directors are. 

I get a lot of temp music for my projects and it is rare that one of Hans’ scores isn’t there.

I think projects like Homecoming are a sign we’re entering a new era, that needs a new dramatic language and I’m excited to see what comes next.   

Let me know what you think!