Sunday, 30 November 2014

Soundtrack Review: World of WarCraft: Warlords of Draenor

Few franchises have musical history as magnificent as Blizzard’s WarCraft. From the very first WarCraft game, 1994’s Orcs and Humans, the series has been producing a powerful, considered soundtrack. Mostly warlike and always brooding, these early scores from the ‘90s lean heavily on marching drum rhythms and repetitive, borderline groovy melodies - a style slowly been left behind as the series progressed. By WarCraft III (2002), the property’s style had expanded to include hauntingly beautiful, ethereal pieces, and an abundance of operatic choir. Not long after that World of Warcraft launched (in 2004) and the series expanded tenfold. And with WoW the sound became more cinematic than ever; big, orchestral and epic. Five expansions later and we bring this introductory overview to a close because we have reached the main subject of my review: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor by composers Jason Heyes, Glenn Stafford and Tracy Bush.

It seems pointless to wait until the end of this article to say this: Warlords of Draenor is a very good soundtrack. It is truly fantastic. The question is however, how does it stand as a WarCraft soundtrack? Does it contain everything we’ve come to expect from the series, and does it maintain the outstanding musical qualities of past installments? In order to determine these answers, I have devised the five things that I believe make a good WarCraft score a good WarCraft score. I will now tackle each of these in relation to Warlords of Draenor. So without further ado, read on for my five essential elements of a WarCraft score:

Saturday, 22 November 2014

YouTube + 6

My YouTube channel has been very active lately, with six new videos uploaded in the past week. They're all wildly different, from a murder mystery short to a hand drawn animation to a simple conversation with myself. A ton of time and effort from a fair few people went into creating these, and I'm pretty super proud of them.

Take a look by jumping over to Thoroughmas on YouTube.

Now onto the next batch!

Yours platonically,

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Outside The Underappreciated's Studio Episode 4

It's back! This new episode of Bill Lipton's humanitarian radio program does not have any Bill Lipton in it, so get ready to join crass stand-in host Nico Nguyen. Hopefully Bill will be back next time.

The Outside The Underappreciated's Studio podcast is now available on iTunes too, check it out!

Yours swimmingly,

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top 10 Soundtracks from 2008

Scores of Scores is back after a big weird random unexpected hiatus! Hope you enjoy my favourite film soundtracks from 2008.

Another Way To Die, Quantum Of Solace - Jack White & Alicia Keys
10. EVE, WALL-E - Thomas Newman
9. Watergate, Frost/Nixon - Hans Zimmer
8. Favela Escape, The Incredible Hulk - Craig Armstrong
7. Oil Fields, Quantum Of Solace - David Arnold
5. The Adventures Of Mutt, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - John Williams
4. Bella's Lullaby, Twilight - Carter Burwell
3. Return of the Lion, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - Harry Gregson-Williams
2. Harvey Two-Face, The Dark Knight - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
1. Hero, Kung Fu Panda - Hans Zimmer & John Powell
Raider's March, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - John Williams

Yours dancingly,

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Little Interview

Yesterday I had a little interview featuring myself posted over on this blog over here, check it out! In it a talk a little bit about some of my short films and more.

Well, this was a brief post.
Yours briefly,

Friday, 7 November 2014

Brief Analysis of Reunion Scene from The Truman Show (1998)

In his piece on the effects of music in film, "Corporeality, Musical Heartbeats and Cinematic Emotion", Ben Winters explains that music can illicit emotion in the audience by replicating sounds we recognise our own bodies make. For example, heartbeat sounds are used to create tension and fear in Alien. The following scene from The Truman Show has a soundtrack by Phillip Glass which features slow, drawn string notes which effectively emulate weeping or moping sounds - bringing about a subconscious physiological memory in the audience.

Another thing Winters writes about is the diegisis of the music - where it is thought to be coming from. Sometimes it emanates from a character, like the heartbeat score emanating from the alien itself in Alien. Most often soundtracks are intra-diegetic, which means we imagine the music is coming from a kind of omniscient narrator. But in this scene from The Truman Show we literally see where the music is originating. They're playing it right there in front of us in order to manipulate us, and yet still it works. Even the characters in the studio in this scene, the ones creating the drama, they're clearly getting emotionally affected. Therefore I'd argue that this scene demonstrates that the source of music doesn't have to be mysterious to work, and intra-diegesis is somewhat irrelevant

There are two more brief points Winters writes about that I think are confirmed by this scene. First is the the mimetic hypothesis: the idea that we experience emotion by emulating what we see or hear on screen. This kinda goes back to the wailing strings. We hear something like wailing and on some level we understand how that feels, physically. And after Truman hugs his father, just about every other character in this scene starts hugging the closest person to them - mimicking Truman in order to successfully and totally empathise with his emotion.

But then all this emotion that is felt by both us as the audience and the characters watching Truman in this scene is only what Winters calls 'cinematic-emotion'. It's cognitive. You feel it, but you don't believe it. This is confirmed by that fact that, just as in a horror film you can experience very real fear and not get up and call the police, Truman's audience and creators feel his emotions - longing, sadness - but do nothing to help him. They don't believe in him as a real person, even though he is.

These are a few of the ways in which I believe this scene both creates cinematic drama and demonstrates some of the genre's inner-workings.

Winters, Ben. "Corporeality, Musical Heartbeats and Cinematic Emotion". Music, Sound and the Moving Image. Vol2, Issue 1. Spring 2006. p. 3-25.