How to write a movie score

Remembering Maurice Jarre last week we looked at his working partnership with David Lean. But of course there are many long composer-director relationships, sometimes spanning whole careers. Steven Spielberg, for example, has been working with John Williams since Sugarland Express in 1974, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman (with a couple of exceptions) since Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985 and the Coen Brothers with Carter Burwell since Blood Simple in 1984. At their best these lasting partnerships create an extraordinary shared aesthetic, in which images and music become absolutely fused. When you think of Tim Burton, for example, I bet you have something like this sound in your head:

Or when you think of Hitchcock, the sound of Bernard Herrmann:

One of the best known of these collaborations is between David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, whose work on Blue Velvet and perhaps most of all Twin Peaks helped cement Lynch’s lush, romantic paranoia in the public consciousness. Here’s a fascinating (and ever so slightly disturbing) clip in which Badalamenti explains how he and Lynch worked together to create Laura Palmer’s theme:

And here’s an interview with John Williams about creating the music for Indiana Jones:

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