Last month I attended a funeral in which the music selection, having been chosen by the deceased, was played throughout the service. And while torn between not wanting to disrespect her memory (we had often shared new music with each other in eager anticipation of the others' finds) and coming to the ultimate conclusion that the music she chose for her final journey, well...sucked, I set out to craft my own soundtrack of demise, "Funeral Music Which Doesn't Suck."
There were those who knew of my endeavor that called it morbid, and while hopefully I have many years to add, remove, and adapt my end music, I felt it important to be prepared in the event of the inevitable. I chose low, melodic pieces which would allow for the somberness of the event - music in other words which would be right at home in the setting - most ended with sweeping conclusions; tracks such as "Allegro Maestoso" from Organ Symphony #3, Mozart's "Introitus" from Requiem and score selections like "Loved Ones & Leaving" from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix along with "Real Rain," "Father's Funeral" (of course) and other beautiful yet appropriate pieces. All my selections were very carefully chosen - I spent two full days on this, pulling selections out with Audacity (the audio software, I assure you I wasn't pulling out selections with insolence and disregard) to create a half-hour FLAC image.
Problem is, it sucked. It was difficult putting one after another, or between two others. Dissimilar sounds, dissimilar instruments, meter, rhythms...Gah! Which to start and which to end? I scrapped the whole project.
Later, having so enjoyed Age of Conan, I wanted to piece together a playlist in which composers used the range of voice as an instrument. I pulled several tracks from Conan and added to it gentle wordless vocals from A Beautiful Mind and Pan's Labyrinth, then moved to choral selections such as "Sirens" from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Galaxy Quest and others. Incorporating chants I chose tracks such as "Optiums vs. Megatron" from Transformers: The Score. Then I ran into that same brick wall - they didn't play well together.
Another project scrapped.
My last entry took me 72-hours to complete, in which I was able to listen to four mixes that didn't suck:
I don't often ask myself, "How does he do it?" But after trying my own hand at it with the consequences I ended up with, makes these mixes even more impressive. Not only do they all work, they manage to convey a story of sorts with them - like reading a good book. All these albums are constructed using the same methods: A rousing intro to set the tone followed by a little exposition - some background information to introduce characters or locations - before getting into the 'plot' so to speak, which is the majority of the album. And just like life, these albums run through any number of emotional cues depending on what's trying to be conveyed. Shaft for example is action-packed, and at times, elusive, mellow. Vice is best described by the arrangers own words, "...in addition to beautiful long-form themes, there is also a streak of weirdness that runs through his music..." Just as I was being drawn into a movement there would be hooting, or clanging of an instrument - and not just moar cowbell - strange, eerie sounds which weren't identifiable waking you from the lull of the melodies, lest you forget where you were...The Old West. (And might I add a brilliant album when the lights are low in the office late at night while working surreptitiously on teh internetz.)
Of these four, Love & War is perhaps the most traditional of the mixes - and far more contagious than I first imagined. Tinny YouTube videos don't do justice to these lush orchestrations, and for not being a movie the score was quite comprehensive and likely greater than the sum of its parts insofar as bringing the listener full-circle in just under an hour and a half. Whatever I was expecting from a mini-series despite having understood that was a full score was surpassed almost immediately. The album is an exceptional listen, taking you back to another time with an almost duality to it: Romanticism and happiness, but always with an underlying tone of foreboding doom.
But for me the real surprise was the jazz compilation Father to Son. I have quite a few jazz CD's but I'm very selective with my jazz, and my conversations surrounding it. There are few artists that I enjoy, and jazz encompassing such a varied sub-set what with fusion, big band, acid (I could go on) finding just the right album is usually a frustrating and time-consuming effort. And while I have only a few 'Jazz in the Movies' albums, they're usually very slow, sensual collections. Mood music. Just what I like when I like it. Granted, that's not often. All this being said, one might begin to see the source of my surprise when Father to Son turned out to be the most oft-listened of the set. While each of these albums are perfect in their own right, arriving all at once they way they did, and having listened to them back-to-back, I was shocked at how seamless Father to Son came off, and how enjoyable it was, having been more a jazz album, than a score album (though the jazz was indeed original score music to a film).
The only thing left for me now is to slide Shaft into my car's CD player on my next trip ;)
Boys from Brazil two-disc set is finally on its way, ordered Rest Stop: Don't Look Back (signed by the composer) and Wrong Turn 2 ($4.98 special!) both by Bear McCreary and almost ordered Beltrami & (sometimes composer) Sanders' Max Payne. Twice. In the end, however...I puss'd out.