Film released by Twentieth Century Fox (2004)
Tagline: "Looks can kill."
[Sounds might deafen?]
Soundtrack available, not to be confused with the pop album.
Varèse Sarabande: VSD 6633
Clip1 from track
1, 0'28" (549Kb)
[Elektra's theme (noble brass)]
Clip2 from track 5, 1'08" (1.4Mb)
[Baddy theme for trombones, presto, great brass writing]
Clip3 from track 13, 0'24" (481Kb)
[Orchestral upward slide, like hearing
a Buffy cliffhanger in painful slow motion!
Excellent brass writing]
here to see a brief notated example of the Elektra theme (from BD10)
Click here to hear it on midi
1. Main title, 2. MeMarco's end, 3. Ferry crossing, 4. Insomnia, 5. Ninjas, 6. The hand, 7. Gnarly gongs, 8. Stick, 9. Just sit quietly, 10. The kiss, 11. Escape from McCabe's*, 12. Tattoo, 13. The forest, 14. Wolf run, 15. Typhoid, 16. Just a gril, 17. Homecoming, 18. Candle trick, 19. Kirigi, 20. Hedge maze brawl, 21. Elektra's second life (45'54")
Music composed by Christophe Beck
BD11 co-composed with Kevin Kliesch
Conducted by Mike Nowak
Orchestrated by Kevin Kliesch
Additional orchestrations by Richard Bronskill
Sample design and programming by Mark Killian and Bryan Carrigan
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony
Musicians listed as violins (42), violas (20), cellos (19), double basses (12), flutes (5), clarinets (5), oboes (3), bassoons (2), horns (9), trumpets (11), tuba, percussion (9 performers), keyboard, harps (2)
Score recorded at The Newman Scoring Stage, Twentieth Century Fox, United States
N.B. Chris Bleth's website credits him as playing cor anglais, oboe and duduk
This score is best viewed in context, both of the film and of Beck's recent scoring. For the film Beck's choice appears to be to support the serious and dangerous aspects of the movie's style, while pinpointing the small lights of emotion in its muse: brass for heroism and piano for introspection or tenderness. In this the score is one of his most successful. In context of his recent scores, Elektra is shown as part of a wild and extravagant variety, with Beck seeming intent to show his breadth, from bleak experimentalism (Elektra), to wild adventure (Without a Paddle), to smoothe comforting underscore (Little Black Book), to modern fairytale romance (A Cinderella Story), to cartoon antics (Garfield). Elektra marks a milestone in this development: a score credited with enough influence to merit its own commercial release on the ubiquitous Varèse label.
As a CD, though, Beck's soundtrack lacks much of the approachability the casual listener would require to gain enjoyment from this three-quarter hour experience. Although there are moments of melody and pathos (e.g. a theme reminiscent of the heroic brass line in Angel 1.01), there is much here that is mostly themeless percussion and sample manipulation (although there seems to be a stress on the 'minor third' interval from time to time). In order to achieve the soundworld he required, the composer first recorded 20 minutes of orchestral music before manipulating the result and mixing it with another 'live' orchestra (he likens this to hip-hop 're-contextualizing'). This is a luxury not bestowed on many film composers, and Beck's four month's grace sounds like a once-in-a-career opportunity. The orchestration is certainly both atmospheric and varied (although apart from the percussion section, including Taiko drums and gongs, only a brief glimpse of the Armenian duduk can be heard as alien to the conventional orchestra), allowing the film to maintain its identity (by turns moody, violent and cool) whilst never stagnating: Beck employs an array of samples, orchestral effects and manipulations which are often strikingly original, but when the film requires it, he is able to switch to a melodic mode (e.g. the BD10 example above) which ironically strikes he listener as alien. Unsurprisingly, Bluntinstrument found the most fascinating parts of the score to be the few places where the two worlds meet: thematicism and experimentation [e.g. BD5,11,17,20..], generally bound in a kinetic forcefield of percussive momentum. Some of the more solely experimental sections, though (such as the first half of BD15), sound cold on disc, no matter how important they may be to the film, which makes the return of melody (e.g. in the middle section of BD15) all the more welcome, but often too brief to hold interest.
This might not be typical of Beck's recent scoring but may turn out to be his most high profile unless Pink Panther steals its thunder later in the year. Whatever the failure of the film to light up the box office, Elektra may be content in its role in taking a chance on a composer relatevely untested in the genre. Whilst his work with Shawn Levy has given him the scope that the teen rom com of recent years has stolen, it is a film like Elektra that can prove the making of a composer's reputation.
For an example of the composer's previous forray into sample manipulation, perhaps the closest is the more mainstream pop of Ape Quartet's CD 'Please where do we live?', performed with Mark Kilian; but it is worth noting that a certain amount of this element has been a part of his scoring technique since his early career. Buffy the vampire slayer's score might aspire to imitating live orchestral sound but the composer wasn't above some atmospheric experimentation.
Despite the four month's gace from Fox, it appears the typical strain on film composers' scheduling still told on Elektra: "The hardest part was just the amount of changes in the picture at the last minute. It made my head spin." (Noted from comicon.com)
Bluntinstrument will add the credits details below as soon as
they are available.
Film music credits