Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Academy Awards 2013

Steven Spiel

Photo Credit: preweb.com

Photo Credit: preweb.com

There have been plenty of recaps of this year’s Academy Awards, but I thought I’d give you a Music Composition for the Screen MFA student’s perspective on the recent ceremony.

Like any good group of film musicians, we had a party. Brittany hosted it at her place, and we took guesses on who we thought would win each category. People had a lot of fun, and it was a great show.

Photo Credit: thegoldknight.com

Photo Credit: thegoldknight.com

Obviously, we were most interested in the best score. Nominees were Argo, Life of Pi, Anna Karenina, Lincoln, and Skyfall. We could get into a longer conversation as to why certain scores were/weren’t nominated, but that’s what they had to choose from. And out of those 5, as much as I love Alexandre Desplat and his work with Argo, Life of Pi was an excellent choice. It also won the Golden Globes, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that it won the Academy Awards, too. The music is original, unique, effective, and fits the picture well. If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen. Spotify is a great app for that.

Life of Pi is also special to this program because one of the program’s alumni, Duncan Blickenstaff, worked with Mychael Danna on the score. An excellent win.

Best original song went to Adele for Skyfall, just like in the Golden Globes. I had mentioned before that I thought Les Miserables and the original song “Suddenly” would make a great pick, too. It was one of the nominees, but in the end they went with something more modern.

The truth is, we live in a modern film industry. Your music needs to sound that way. Let me quote Hans Zimmer from the V.I. Forum:

When I had my day job as head of music at Dreamworks, I got flooded by demos of John Williams sound-alikes. I kept wondering that it never occurred to these people that this was Steven Spielberg’s studio and he could just walk down the hall and ask the real John Williams to work on a score… … You are born with your voice. That’s a given. It’s logical. You are not born with John Williams’ voice… Actually, it can be a bit of a bore and you end up trying to get past it. Now go and see what crazy, wild things you can do with it. Shake it up. Orchestral Psychedelic Country and Western Electronica is coming, trust me!

Great points from Hans. Read the entire post here. There are some great points made, and the Academy Awards only solidified his remarks as they went for a more modern, unique sound. As good as the Hobbit was, Howard Shore already wrote that music. John Williams’ style is becoming less relevant. Take a look at who YOU are and write that way. It’s a deep process, but you’ll be grateful (and the directors you work with will love it, too).

Academy Awards 2013

There have been plenty of recaps of this year’s Academy Awards, but I thought I’d give you a Music Composition for the Screen MFA student’s perspective on the recent ceremony. …

Music Composition for the Screen MFA Steven Spiel, steven.spiel@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605