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February 01 2005

Just who is the new Serenity composer? On his website, Carter Burwell says " I've heard rumors that David Newman or John Debney may end up scoring the film". Brian Ralston, who did additional music for Angel, says apparently the replacement has been hired and it's not Greg Edmonson.

For those who are curious, here's the IMDB profiles for the two composers that Carter Burwell mentioned:

John Debney
David Newman

And here's Brian Ralston's website. If you go to the music section and then select 'action adventure cues', you'll find a piece of work he submitted for Serenity.

I can understand why Joss went with Carter Burwell, but why would he choose one of these guys over Greg Edmonson? The composer of Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2 versus the composer of Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2. The choice is easy Greg Edmonson, you know the guy that did the music for Firefly!
Isn't John Debney up for an Oscar for "Passion of the Christ," though?
I do agree with you, though. I really wish Edmonson would get the job.
If wishes were horses we'd all be eatin' steak. Sorry, I couldn't resist...
Zoic, Universal wants a bigger name composer to do the film. Studio politics, you know how it goes.
is there even such a thing as a big name composer unless that name is Howard Shore or John Williams?
His music sounds like Serenity but I still want Christophe Beck. I watched Saved the other day and the music was perfect. It made the scenes dramatic.
That score was fine until it turned into heavy metal. Eeek!
I could have done without the heavy metal guitar solo too :)

But I loved the rest of the clip!
Well, here's hoping the new composer can provide Uni with the musical vibe they're looking for, and satisfy JW at the same time. I don't doubt that the studio hired someone who can do the job just as well as GE or CB would have (albeit differently), but keeping all parties happy is going to be somewhat of a tricky balancing act. There won't as much room for experimentation now with the time-crunch factor, and it'll take a while to score the film, then hire musicians and orchestrate the pieces, even if everything falls perfectly into place.

I wish whoever it is that got the job the very best of luck; guess we'll be seeing (and hearing) the results in about seven months. I wonder if the idea of a soundtrack album has been discussed much? Maybe that's part of the reason the studio wants a 'name'-type composer. Greater visibility = potentially better sales of both film and ancillary profit streams?

Boy, wouldn't it be cool if a snatch of the Serenity main theme got leaked (from official channels, of course) sometime in late spring/early summer? Just a tease....
I still say all he needs is a couple women playing acoustic guitars. Sheesh, why make a big production out of it? Music doesn't travel in space anyway.
Bigger name?

Well, I'd pick Danny Elfman. (I'm not keen on Williams and uncertain about Shore.)

I listened to the Brian Ralston bit. That guitar solo makes queasy to say the least. Sorry, Brian.
To me the music score is like the icing on a cake. You can make the best cake ever made but if they don't get the icing right then it just won’t be as good as it should be.

One of the strong points of Firefly was its music. So they better not stuff it up. It would have been so much easier if they had just hired Greg Edmonson. I thought his music on Firefly was brilliant and movie quality from go to wow.
Well we know that Howard Shore has the technical ability to pull it off, from a viewpoint of time crunch versus cranking out quality. During RotK, he was writing an enormous amount of material in a very short time that sounded fantastic.
Brian Ralstone's sample is unusual - up to 40 seconds in and I think 'Sweet' (the comment, not the demon!), then that guitar solo (the less said the better) and finally the third part has me looking around for Arnie in T2. If Ralston could have kept that great start going, it would have been an impressive piece!
Really Big Name Composers at the moment are Williams, Zimmer & Elfman. Used to be Goldsmith as well, but sadly no more. Shore's stuff aside from Lord of the Rings is very low key and Horner has been fading for some years. Debney certaily made his mark with Passion, and Randy Newman could also produce an interesting score for Serenity. In fact Randy might even be the best match, since he's done some lovely American stuff for things like Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, and could pull of the western part easily.

Yes, Greg Edmonson's score was good on the show, but there's not too much you could pick out as a memorable except for that tune at the end of the Message.

Most of the big composers could pull off something great (and Edmonson could too). We'll see I guess.
I am interested now, because I am musically challenged (err tone deaf) and incredibly naïve – but technically what’s the difference between scoring for TV and for cinema film? I mean it’s music for stuff that moves on the screen, isn’t it?

Is this ‘we must have a big film named composer thingy’ because there is a significant difference in skill and approach between the two?

Or is this a name recognition thing? And for whom? The average cinema goer can hardly remember who the director is, let alone the composer (and I include myself in that group. Sorry composers, no disrespect, just being realistic.)

Music doesn’t travel in space anyway.
Actually it does, but at such high speed that we can’t hear it. Dogs can. And aliens with pointy ears. Like dogs. There is a logical explanation for everything.
well, most tv music sucks. Joss Tv(excluding buffy season 5 and 6, why did they keep reusing that moody old score!) and J.J Abrams tv are some of the only recent shows where they actually have a good composer. Alias and Lost's Michael Giacchino is a genious, he scored The Incredibles too.

movie music (especially on a action film) must be epic and set the tone. Films like Star Wars and Superman, Back To The Future and Indiana Jones just wouldn't be the same without their trademark scores.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-02-01 18:11 ]
Well, I chose to look at this in an optimistic manner. Universal wants a big name composer, which indicates to me that they are behind this film all the way. I know there's been speculation lately that they aren't because they moved the release date but this is an indication to me that they want to give this movie every chance to succeed.
Personally, I really love the idea of Randy Newman, as I'm a big fan of Randy, and I have this wild and wacky idea of Joss bringing Newman's "failed" musical of "Faust" to the big screen. (Joss knows something about reviving brilliant failures -- if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Randy's great "Faust" album from a few years back.) Randy would probably even respect the original theme and could bring in other aspects of Americana and maybe China-cana or whatever you would call it.

Howard Shore would be great. Please, no Horner or Zimmer. Elfman, I fear, tends toward the slightly tongue in cheek, so I'm not sure he's right for this.
I love Elfman's work, from his early Boingo days to his fantastic composer work for countless films, but if he was picked for Serenity I'd actually ..well I'd go see the movie anyway but I might bring cotton with me for my ears. Bobster's right. Elfman's uhm, overqualified for this film. That's a nice way of putting it.

Randy Newman's a stroke of genius. He'd bring something to the table that would be unique. I'd enjoy Serenity with him conducting and composing the symphony, but again I fear he's 'overqualified.' It'd be a great soundtrack. Perhaps he could even grok the eastern and western influences pushed into the future and capture that sound in a way that was never captured on the tv show, but that's just it. His work would threaten to detract from the actual show itself. I'd love it, but it wouldn't be Firefly..

Then again, that might be precisely what Whedon and Universal would want. If they're trying to be greater than the tv show and all that, Newman would be an ideal choice.
There's a lot of good -- nay, great -- people who could score the film. I'm sure Joss is trying to pick the right one.

Any person you've described above -- particularly the ones in the "superstar" category -- have done wonderful work, and so-so work (often within the same score). Not to mention factoring for subjective * personal reactions to the music.

BTW: Difference between movie scoring and TV scoring? Amount of time to compose the music. Like everything else in TV, it must all be done yesterday.
From here:

I just want people to understand what that demo cue is and what it is not. It is a montage cue cut together at the request of my agent (rather quickly I might add) from music I have done in my past and was submitted 9 months ago to demonstrate different styles of music I can do and how they can relate to one another in a sequence. It is NOT any indication of what the music on Serenity will be like. I have nothing to do with Serenity. I have never spoken to "Serenity people" or Joss about music for their film. It is simply a 2 minute montage from a demo CD intended to show off very different styles of music in a short period of time.

It is just very easy for people on the internet to get the wrong idea about something and I want to make sure ASAP that people do not get the wrong idea about anything I have said re: Serenity or about my music demo that is posted on my site.

The beauty of film composing is that ability to write in ANY style of music and not be bound by certain classical "rules" or even musical genres. Film composers usually pride themselves on being able to write in any style the film requires and look at it as a challenge, especially if they have never done something in a particular style before. Hence, demo cues like the one people are talking about. It is not really representative of the only thing I can do ... rather ... it is meant to diversify my demo reel in hopes of expanding the amount of work and projects that may be offered to me in the future. A Heavy metal guitar solo really isn't me ... that is for sure. I live more in a James Horner/Thomas Newman/John Barry world, but one never knows what a studio is looking for.

I am sure once something official is announced about the Serenity composer, everyone will understand that the film will be in good hands. I have never met Greg Edmonson, but I enjoy his work.

Regards,
Brian W. Ralston


An enlightening and eminently reasonable message from Mr. Ralston. Thanks for posting that, Airawyn.
Yeah I got an email about this from a Firefly fan, nice of Brian to take the time out to respond.
I'd vote for Randy Newman too. Still think of him of a solo artist rather than a composer - but yeah, that would be a great match.

Thanks for the explanation, Brian - that was enlightening.
We seem to be building a Randy Newman consensus here.
No. Not Randy Newman. Please, not Randy Newman for this score. Not a consensus.
Okay, it's a Randy Newman consensus with one strong dissenter!

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