Tag Archives: Howard Shore

Hobbitunes

Howard Shore’s extraordinary music was a big part of why I fell hard for all three Lord of the Rings films, so I was delighted to hear that Shire was on board to score all three installments of The Hobbit, due to hit the cineplexes  in about a month. His music for the first film is streaming here. Shore is still the perfect composer for Middle-earth. 

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Drive, he said

Cosmopolis, an unreadable novel by Don DeLillo, has begotten a somewhat watchable film from David Cronenberg, which in turn has begotten a highly listenable soundtrack by Cronenberg’s longtime collaborator, Howard Shore. And I do mean “collaborator.” Cronenberg gave Shore his entree to film scoring with The Brood in 1979, and he’s used Shore’s music on all of his subsequent films except The Dead Zone.

Though there are plenty of long-running relationships between directors and composers — I’d be hard-pressed to think of a Steven Spielberg film that hasn’t been scored by John Williams — few compare with Cronenberg and Shore in terms of artistic quality. Alfred Hitchcock relied on Bernard Herrmann to give his films warmth and humanity, to the point that I’d give Bennie co-auteur status on just about all of Hitch’s certified great films. But Shore’s approach is more adaptive than Herrmann’s. His scores for Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and Crash, for example, do not announce themselves as Shore’s work the way Vertigo, Marnie, and North by Northwest are instantly recognizable as Herrmann’s compositions. Shore is also exceptionally astute in his choice of collaborators. His use of Ornette Coleman makes Naked Lunch an exceptional soundtrack. The Lord of the Rings is a showcase for beautiful female voices, such as Aivale Cole, Isabel Bayrakadarian and Emiliana Torrini.

Shore’s work for Cosmopolis has some of the same metallic sheen as Crash (appropriately, since cars figure heavily in both flicks), but without the earlier film’s spiky menace. Shore wrote his music to be performed by Metric, a Canadian band with a bright, synthesizer-heavy sound that works for the protagonist’s disaffected mindset. Like the young financier in his stretch limo, the music combines forward motion with a sense of drifting. There are very few composers whose work I want to get even before the film comes out. Shore is one of them.

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A Bernstein moment

Glassworks has always been my favorite Philip Glass disc, but it became immortal when I played the lovely “Opening” for my eldest when she was about six years old. I had just played her “Evenstar,” Howard Shore’s beautiful song from his soundtrack music for The Two Towers, and she responded with a slow, pensive dance that matched the mood of the piece. Then “Opening” came on, and after a few movements she stopped and said, “Daddy, this music is making me chilly.”

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Friday finds

Nick discovers the meaning of curds and whey.

Take a tour of book of 2,500 different book covers from 1926 to 1947.

Bat Segundo comes in torrents. Really.

Doc Mooney marks the premiere of It Might Get Loud, a documentary about the electric guitar featuring Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White, and offers a prescription for electric guitar bliss.

Christian Bauman gets a terrific profile in Acoustic Live.

The Virginia Quarterly Review is sponsoring a contest to pick the best young book reviewer, “young” meaning below the age of thirty. The winner gets a grand plus a publishing contract for three more reviews at a grand each.  

Michael Gray’s excellent biography of Blind Willie McTell, Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes, is about to come out in a handsome paperback edition in the U.K. Still no sign of a U.S. edition, but I’ve read the hardcover and I can tell you the book is worth the extra freight for anyone interested in blues, American music and, of course, Bob Dylan, who wrote one of his very best songs about the Georgia bluesman.    

Would you like a signed copy of the most dangerous book of poetry ever written?

Some enterprising soul has posted clips from Dead Ringers, which not only gets my vote as one of David Cronenberg’s best films but also signaled the arrival of Howard Shore as a major film composer. A couple of minutes into this clip you’ll find the bondage interlude, in which Shore’s lush, romantic score helps carry the scene from outrageousness to poignance. I’ve held forth at length on Shore’s work before — click here if you want to read the post.

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