Daily Illuminator

April 20, 2024: Sounds From Elsewhere: Fun And Famous Movie Soundtracks

Some of the most iconic film scores come from fantasy and science fiction films. From the soaring bombast of John Williams to the experimental sounds of Hans Zimmer, there are many movies where the music makes a huge impact. Here are some of our favorites:
1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has one of the most fantastical scores ever composed, one that is beloved by film fans and classical music aficionados alike. (It was voted the best soundtrack of all time by Classic FM readers six years in a row.) We can thank Howard Shore for creating these evocative melodies that brought Middle Earth to life. Two of the scores most famous tracks are "Concerning Hobbits" from The Fellowship of the Ring and "Helm's Deep" from The Two Towers
2. Did you know that Hans Zimmer, perhaps best known for his work on the Academy Award-winning films The Lion King and The Pirates of the Caribbean, composed the score for Denis Villeneuve's latest epic? Based on the sci-fi classic by Frank Herbert, Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides, a young nobleman with mysterious powers, as he meets a nomadic people known as the Fremen and seeks revenge against the Harkonnens, his family's sworn enemies. Check out the "Main Theme (Suite)"! Perhaps the coolest part is how Zimmer created sounds we have never heard before by using newly-made instruments and existing instruments in new ways.
3. "What's this, what's this?" Jack Skellington asks in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Disney cult classic. Danny Elfman composed the soundtracks for Beetlejuice, The Simpsons, Edward Scissorhands, Batman (1989 version), and dozens more. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, he created haunting melodies and songs for many characters, including "Jack's Lament" and "Sally's Song." (Fun fact: Elfman not only wrote the music, but he was also the singing voice of Jack! Chris Sarandon provided Jack's speaking voice.) 
4. Michael Giacchino is a prolific film composer. His Disney scores include The Incredibles, UP, Inside Out, Ratatouille, and several others. Another of his notable works in the soundtrack for the 2009 J. J. Abrams movie Star Trek, along with the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. The epic and exciting music, especially the "Original Theme," brings this cinematic adventure to life, while "Spock Goes Spelunking" brings a feeling of terror to the audience. 
5. This list would not be complete without Star Wars. Composed mostly by John Williams, these scores have some of the most recognizable music in pop culture. The "Main Theme" is so recognizable that many people can recognize it from the first note. What makes it extra special is how Williams introduced a new practice in the film genre: leitmotif. The concept of leitmotif was popularized by the classical opera composer Richard Wagner in the 1800s. Fragments of music such as rhythms, melodies, or simple chords identify characters throughout the work, even when they are not on-screen. Examples in Star Wars include "Princess Leia's Theme" (A New Hope), the sublime "Rey's Theme" (The Force Awakens), and of course, "The Imperial March," which was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back to indicate the presence of Darth Vader and the Empire.
We hope you'll get to enjoy these scores and more through Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, vinyl, or even a CD!

-- Michelle Richardson

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