Part One - Edward Meets the World

Although not in chronological order, this section represents Edward's most joyous and/or inquisitive moments.
1. Main Titles - The main titles establish the tone of the film from the first notes played from the glockenspiel and celeste. Elfman wisely decided to incorporate a fantasy element coupled with a seasonal winter motif. The result is a score that creates its own fictional world, while still maintaining the charm, and quasi-reality, of Christmas (indeed, the climax of the film is set against the Christmas season, while major portions of the film deal with winter landscapes created by the main character himself). As the titles literally swing into view, Elfman uses the choir and strings to sway with the credits. The result is less of a typical movie march, and more of well crafted, hauntingly elegant waltz. This Waltz, which is later to be revealed as Edward's first theme, is one of only two major themes in the film (the other being the romantic Ice Dance theme). However, there are really three themes that are associated with Edward. This stems from Elfman's inclusion of two nickname themes that, when placed together, comprise the Ice Dance theme as a whole. The first half of the Ice Dance theme morphs into Edward's second mini-theme. The second half of the Ice Dance theme - five adjoined notes played in ascending order - represents the romantic theme (played only during scenes with his love interest).
Something must also be said of the waltz's connection with Bernard Herrmann. Elfman's use of harps, strings and celeste in this score seem reminiscent of Herrmann's Fahrenheit 451 (and a few choice others). Indeed, there is a similarity in styles, but the connection is, for the most part, only skin deep. Unlike his earlier works, Elfman's similarity to Herrmann, in this score, is only one of style, and not necessarily plagiarism. In addition, several musical signatures and the addition of a choir truly make it clear that this is Elfman's pride and joy. Thus, any similarity to Fahrenheit 451 (or any of Herrmann's other works) should not take away from Elfman's own genius, but merely reiterate that Elfman was more or less influenced by Herrmann.
2. Storytime - As the credits draw to a close, Elfman slows the theme down and allows the celeste/bells to take precedence again. This creates the tone of a lullaby, ensuring the viewer that they are about see a fairy tale unfold. Yet, there is also a homely quality established by the strings, which are played in a semi-country fashion (much like Sommersby). As the view shifts toward the outside, Elfman slowly dilutes this lullaby (very hauntingly through the use of the choir) and dissolves it into the first half of the Ice Dance theme. This theme, which is prevalent in the romantic scenes, also serves as the introduction to the story. It was a clever decision, for the story is introduced with a snowfall outside of Edward's home, and ends with the exact same shot at the end of the film. Consequently, Elfman mimics Burton's technique musically - opening with the Ice Dance theme, and exiting to the Ice Dance theme.
3. Castle on the Hill - The sole purpose of this piece is to heighten the sense of mystery surrounding the castle, and (through the music) reveal that mystery inside. Thus, Elfman uses the choir and orchestra in a totally un-thematic fashion. The music moves and builds (delicately and mysteriously), but purposely lacks the structure of other key moments in the score. Elfman used this technique in Batman during The Bat Cave (Batman 11), and this track maintains that exact same quality (especially at 1:48 - 2:30). In addition, he also introduces the mechanical/industrial motif (which is showcased in Cookie Factory) during a key point where Diane Wiest's character encounters the remnants of the inventor's bizarre machinery. The result is a six minute track that manages to continually build to a crescendo, and then fall back on its diluted self.
4. Beautiful New World/Home Sweet Home - Elfman uses harps, strings, and anything else that can be plucked to create this light hearted romp through Suburbia (the piece is also a direct descendent of Travel Music [2] from Beetlejuice). In addition, the choir interjects with near laughter (joyous) as the brass pumps away. As Edward enters his new home, the relative giddiness of the music gives way to a sentimental reflection. The Ice Dance theme comes into play as Edward first gazes at a picture of Kim (Winona Ryder's character), cleverly hinting at the romance to come.
Early on, Elfman establishes the direction the music is going to take by the tone he uses in this scene. Here, and in most of the scenes involving the town's residents, Suburbia is very rarely scored- This technique was used by Herrmann in Fahrenheit 451. In that score, Herrmann stated - "Since the story takes place in the distant future and involved a society that was politically oppressed from displaying any outward emotion or compassion, I felt that the music score should mirror the most innermost thoughts and feelings of the lead characters." Elfman uses this approach as well: creating a score that reflects the world through Edward's eyes, and very rarely through those of Suburbia. This is why the music takes on such an innocent, joyous tone in the beginning, especially this track. Throughout the entire score, every note is played with Edward in mind (with only a few exceptions).
5. The Cookie Factory - This one of Elfman's brilliant uses of literal music. Here, Tubas, trumpets, bizarre percussion instruments, and anything that can be twisted or screwed convey the workings of a strange machine. The lack of strings and abundance of brass was a technique Bernard Herrmann used to convey the same industrial sound. Elfman's rendition is reminiscent of the pounding of Herrmann's prelude to Jason and the Argonauts, and the animalistic pieces to the giant creations from Mysterious Island. Elfman's piece denotes a mechanical feel, but is also delicate during a dance of cookie cutters. The music explodes as the entire machine is revealed. When the inventor enters, Edward's waltz reappears, thus establishing a musical connection between the creator and the created. When the inventor contemplates creating Edward (beautifully symbolized through a cookie shaped like a heart superimposed over a machine), Elfman ingeniously switches to the second Edward theme (which is the first half of the Ice Dance theme). Thus, Elfman establishes Edward as the creation associated with the inventor (through the main titles waltz), and Edward as the individual (through the first bars from the Ice Dance theme).
6. Ballet De Suburbia - Once again, this is another great use of literal music that seems inspired from the likes of Bernard Herrmann. In this case, Elfman uses the music to establish the countdown to work. The percussion is played in such a way that it sounds like a clock - emanating a constant "tick-tock, tick-tock." The music speeds up to a faster tempo as the inhabitants of Suburbia leave in their cars. Then, Elfman's signature bongo drums enter as the choir adds its quick bursts. This piece, with its clockwork beat, charging strings, and xylophones/harp strums seems reminiscent of Herrmann's Fire Truck from Fahrenheit 451. Both are energetic, fluid, and quirky in their own unique ways.
7. Ice Dance - Arguably Elfman's most harmoniously beautiful piece, this dance will always conjure images of snowfall and endless romance. The first fourth of the piece (which doubles as Edward's second theme) is a beautiful build up for the second portion of the theme, which begins at 0:42, and is preceded by those classic Elfman descending string arpeggios. Ironically, the most amazing aspect of this haunting cue comes from its unbelievable simplicity. The love theme is merely five notes played in ascending order, one after another. A toddler could play this cue with relative ease! It is truly Elfman's writing, Bartek's orchestration, and the direction of the flawless choir that gives this simple theme such a haunting, majestic aura. In addition, the music flows with unparalleled grace as the choir and orchestra meld into one, cohesive sound. Few words can describe the effect, and to be honest, they couldn't do the music justice! Nor could any other composer for that matter.
Nothing illustrates this point better than the treatment this film received during a Fox sponsored Christmas special that first aired a couple years ago. For some reason, Elfman's score for the Ice Dance scene was replaced with another composer's work (which was similar in instrumentation - bells, strings, harp, etc.). The result was disastrous. The scene was ruined thanks to the lack of Elfman's piece. To watch this particular scene without Elfman's score would be akin to watching Janet Leigh's flight from Phoenix (Psycho) without the use of Bernard Herrmann's frenetic strings. In an experiment, this was actually done. A television special on Bernard Herrmann actually removed the score from key scenes in Psycho. The result was astounding - it was as if two entirely different films were being presented. The fact of the matter was, Herrmann's score made the film work. In the case of Edward Scissorhands, Elfman's score works very much the same. Like Hitchcock and Herrmann - Burton and Elfman could not have completed this particular film without each other. The score and the film truly work in a symbiotic relationship. Destroy the score, and it destroys film.
8. Etiquette Lesson - Delicate, reflective, and exquisite; a harp signifies the beginning of the flashback. In addition, the harps and celeste signify a breeze (which blows the pages of a book displaying Edward's blueprint). Edward's waltz is rightfully used here, signifying the connection between the inventor and Edward. The piece is polite, and turns whimsical as the inventor (played by the ever witty Vincent Price) reads a humorous poem. Elfman adds a cute little touch by using the choir to accentuate Edward's laugh - allowing the disembodied voices to giggle with delight near the end of the piece.
9. Edwardo The Barber - An absolutely ingenious use of literal music. The first half of this selection accompanies a scene in which the residents of Suburbia gather their dogs to be groomed by Edward. The music literally pants like a collection of corny canines. This is accomplished by some sort of instrument that emanates a sweeping sound. Elfman also uses the brass (though muffled) and winds to allow the music to actually bark as well! The quirky and light hearted tone is reminiscent of Elfman's earlier work for Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice. Ironically, Elfman would attempt this same use of literal music for cats in the 1992 score for Batman Returns. Unfortunately, that use of literal music would bring great disdain from many of the composer's action fans.
After the quirky barking, Elfman switches to a quick tango motif as the slinky temptress asks Edward to cut her hair. As Edward begins, Elfman writes a frenetic little section that showcases some wild fiddle work. The music cuts with Edward in short, intertwined snippets that resonate with all the speed of delicate scissors. Finally, Elfman returns to the Tango motif, indicating that this is an erotic experience for the patrons. Certainly, the choice to use a Tom Jones approach rather than a romantic approach was a good one. For the women of Suburbia, this is a bizarre, erotic experience that is less romantic, and more adventurous.



Audio Comparison

In the Morning Becomes Eclectic Interview, Danny plays for us a piece that inspired his Edwardo the Barber cue. I've isolated the piece so you don't have to scan the interview to find it. Danny announces the name of the group at the end of the clip. Very Interesting! -G.Y.
Play the piece that inspired Edwardo the Barber.
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