Year of the Dog

Director: Mike White

Score soundtrack released 2007.10 Lakeshore Records (LKS 339162)


The puppy gets it.

No, honestly, I haven't seen this one yet so cannot comment.


[Film not viewed by Bluntinstrument, so review based on music and plot synopsis placed under "The CD"]


If The Seeker was this year's thumping orchestral effort, Year of the Dog is Chris Beck's personable number. Scored for an ensemble whose string ensemble is almost outnumbered by percussion players, the music's soundworld is very much in the chamber idiom; the marimba sweet, the piano touching, accordian rustic, strings varying between rustic and viol-like mellow, the bells (sounding like handbell size) odd, acoustic guitar pleasant. While some of Beck's scores are incredibly economical in terms of thematic material but generous in orchestration, Dog reverses the trend: the themes noted below are portrayed simply and directly, unashamedly melodic. They are occasionally varied and interwoven, but the clarity of line is never sacrificed or cheapened. Each little cue is a miniature gem, normally starting softly, building and relaxing. There are returning rhythms and figurations, and the over-all 6/8 beat has your head swaying in time. It can occasionally sound a little too episodic, but the edges are never rough, and with each cue a new spell is cast on the listener. It is there to be hummed.

01. Year of the dog [clip - inc. ex.1,3,4]
02. Pencil's theme
03. Tee-Tee
04. Death of a Pencil
05. Veganism [clip - inc.ex.2]
06. Cupcakes
07. The bookstore
08. Leaving Newt [clip - inc. ex.4,6]
09. Forgery
10. Road trip
11. Paradise farm
12. Welcome back
13. Looking for Valentine
14. Fifteen dogs, one car
15. Crowded house
16. Snail Bait
17. To be hunted
18. Peggy's goodbye

[Not by Beck:]
19. 'Music for a found harmonium' - Penguin Café Orchestra (by Simon Jeffes)
20. 'Steady state' - Penguin Café Orchestra (by Simon Jeffes)
21. 'Lose yourself in nature and find peace' - The Naysayer (by Anna Padgett)


Ex.1. Pencil's theme. Principal theme of the score. Used in tracks: 'Year of the dog', 'Pencil's theme', 'Fifteen dogs, one car', 'Peggy's goodbye' (varied)

Ex.2. An extension of bars 7-8 of ex.1. Scored in 'Veganism' for marimba with guitar figuration providing the harmonies noted here.

Ex.3. An example of Beck's bouncy 6/8 rhythms. These vary from cue to cue, but the original is present in the first and last ('Year of the dog' and 'Peggy's goodbye').

Ex.4. Interesting theme in parallel 6ths which can be scored in major key or minor. The latteris most effective for vibrato-less string solos as heard in 'Leaving Newt' and 'Snail bait'. Also for marimba(s) in 'Tee-Tee'; majorish key for 'Road trip'; major key for 'Year of the dog', 'Welcome back'; and 'Peggy's goodbye'.

Ex.5. Theme performed by marimba in 'The bookstore'. Also 'Paradise Farm'.

Ex.6. Descending figuration which is normally used as a touching accompaniment to other themes, even as the top melody picked out in a more complicated line - both are the case with 'Leaving Newt', 'Snail bait', and 'To be hunted' (the tune accompanied is ex.4). Also used in 'Looking for Valentine'.

Degress of Beck:

Nice to see Chris Bleth is still working with Chris Beck. The infinitely adaptable wind player has been linked to the composer since the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where his "live" instrument input helped maintain the illusion of an epic-but-human music score. Bleth is now regularly credited among contracted musicians for various film scores.

Full music credits

[not noted from film as yet]

Music credits on CD

Score composed and produced by Christophe Beck
Published by Para-Sac Music (SESAC)
Recorded and mixed by Casey Stone
Additional mixing by Larry Maw
Conducted by Mike Nowak
Orchestrations: Kevin Kliesch
Score coordinator: Adam Blau
Music recorded at Signet Sound
Music supervisor: Linda Cowen

Performers listed: Roger Wilkie, Julie Gigante, Alyssa Park (violins), Victoria Muskolczy (viola), Andrew Shulman (cello), Michael Valerio (double bass), Chris Bleth (oboe), Wade Culbreath, Gregory Goodall, Daniel Greco Donald J. Williams (percussion), Adam Blau, Robert Edward Theis (piano), Michael Watts (accordian), George Doering (guitar)


"Music for a found harmonium"
Written by Simon Jeffes
Performed byPenguin Café Orchestra
Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd.
"Steady state"
Written by Simon Jeffes
Performed byPenguin Café Orchestra
Courtesy of Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd.
"Lose yourself in nature and find peace"
Written by Anna Padgett
Performed byThe Naysayer
Courtesy of Red Panda Records