You have composed the music for the upcoming movie The
Hounds - so how would you describe your musical score?
it's my first experience as composer of soundtrack music, but it's also a
great personal achievement after 30
years as session man for the best Italian composers like Morricone,
Piovani (the solo-violin on the Academy Award winner in 1998 Life is Beautiful - it's me), Bacalov, Ortolani,etc.
I was very excited
to get this chance, and after viewing the movie I've started to record
the first musical ideas. The problem was that
the directors (Maurizio and Roberto Del Piccolo) live in Milano and me in
Rome, so we only talked on the phone, and to understand their intentions
about the "soul" of the movie I had to wait for them to be in
Rome. One thing was clear to me: in The
Hounds there were several levels of
interpretation, and I wanted to go deeper, to the psychology of the
characters. The "fear factor" was not my goal, there was enough
on the screen: I have always asked myself "What does the character
feel in this situation?" - and I tried to give answers to my questions
did you get involved in the project in the first place, and what can you
tell us about your collaboration with the directors Roberto and Maurizio
Del Piccolo [Roberto Del
Piccolo interview - click here]?
This story is
very nice: An italian movies producer, to whom I
gave my approval for another project, in november 2010,
phoned me and asked if I was free to compose a soundtrack for the "debut" of two young directors, even without a remuneration,
because it was a low-low-low budget movie. I thought, "Ok,
it's my general rehearsal for the major project;
let's do it!"
It had been a long time that I was looking for my
first experience with soundtrack for cinema. I finally found my chance;
finally I can say to M°Morricone "I'm working on my own
soundtrack", finally the time has arrived.
Would I be able to write music for an horror movie?
Would I be able to create the appropriate
musical tension? Would I be able to give the musical emotions that the
movie, the actors and directors needed?
At beginning Roberto said to me that the
first problem was to find the music for the cauterization scene; I
watched the scene and I identified with the character of Dave, and than
I asked to me: "Which is the music that I felt if I was in his
place?" - the answer was the sound of inner dialogue, the sound of doubt, of query, of misgiving.
So, I wrote a music for solo cello and
strings (stopped on hig notes): the cello plays almost resembling Dave's
answer, almost helping him to do what he has to do. That's all.
I sent the audio demo to Roberto and I
waited. The day after he wrote me an email that read "I feel
like I had said to Leonardo Da Vinci: Come to paint my home's walls"
- related to my emotional participation in that scene. It was the first answer,
and what kind of answer!!!! Sure, it was a very "melodramatic"
phrase (in a very Italian style ...), but for me it meant to have the
approval and the confidence of the director; what else?
The rest is on the screen, and the music has
been acclaimend by the critics.
Note: The producer who proposed me to
write the music didn't like my work, while we are here talking about it; I
haven't heard more from him, but his movie hasn't started yet ...
How do you approach scoring a film like The
Hounds - and since it's a horror film, is that a genre you can at
all identify with, both as a viewer and a composer?
be a question that has
a lot to do with philosophy...
I've found that after a "soft" start, you need to
stay on the screen until the end because you need to understand "who?
what? where? when? why?"
The approach for me is always the same, both
for stage drama and for movies:
need to have an emotion; I
have to find something that
gives me a feeling that I
know, that I tried
it "on my skin", then
I can start to scoring
have to be captured, passionate,
laugh or cry, I need to feel
that there are common
feelings, in short, something
in love... I think that a horror music should not be
"scary", but must suggest the tension
created in us when we do not understand something that is endangering
our safety, a music that puts on alert all
the body through the ears and, why not?, also the chair ...
Honestly my horror expertise is
rather poor: Not too many titles are in my "greatest
hits", but Psycho, Friday the
13th, The Shining and Altered States have certainly
sparked my fears; it's nnot splatter that
creates tension in me, but it's the wisdom in knowing how to
keep the tension that catches me. As a user I cannot distinguish between
being a viewer or a composer: When I enter a cinema it's not like when a surgeon
enters the operating room, I just sit down and I ask the
movie's director "let
me dream"... then of course the music of the shower scene of Psycho is
the ringtone on my mobile phone!
can you tell us about the actual recording of the musical score?
Basically in Italy the mood has changed,
but first it's the cinema that has changed; and
this change is due in part to
the mood and in part to
the economic problems which art must
fight in my country. Nobody (and I underline NOBODY)
wanted to put art as national achievement in the heads of the world,
all the people come to Italy and return home disappointed: Iit was better-looking
on a post-card or on the internet... All this is to say
that (for example) it's impossible to compose a score in "Morricone's
style" because there isn't a movie in a "Tornatore's
style" - no money? A minimal movie; a minimal movie? Minimal music,
where minimal means little, poor, impressionist... a string
orchestra and 7/8 winds? You can record a digital piano and a violin,
after you can choose an accordion (midi) or winds (midi) or strings
(midi); at present the italian
major productions go in Bulgaria or the Czech Republic to record
orchestras to save 2/3 of costs, when
our fees are the same as twenty years ago, thanks to commercial
competition of the European Community that has protected only the
producers and not the workers.
considering The Hounds
in particular and movies in general - what do you draw inspiration from when
composing film scores, and how important is the actual movie at hand for
the outcome as opposed to personal experiences and the like?
thinking, I think I already
answered this question in
the answer number 3; I can only add that, The
being my first opportunity, I had already referred
to my many theatrical experiences, but more than that I had a 30 year long
apprenticeship (it started recording the score for Once Upon a Time in America in 1983),
during which I had the opportunity to learn in studio what to write and
what to change in function of the image; but practice is the best training, so: call me!!
Would you like to talk about some
of the films you have scored besides The
Hounds was my
first work, but after some time RAI TRADE, the national tv broadcast
editions label, released my CD called Storie (Stories,
Tales) which contains ten years of my drama musics; in October 2011, some time after the end of the
Festival del Cinema di Venezia, I learned that some tracks of my
CD are in an Italian movie called Il Mundial Dimenticato (The Forgotten
Mundial) which was at festival; the movie
was out of competition but the critics loved it, and later it gained many
prizes around the world.
The fact is that
I'm very proud to participate in this movie (in spite of me) simply because
it's a mockcumentary that tells the
story of the Football World Cup 1942 that
was never realized due to the Second World
War, but that was (perhaps) played in
the Argentine Patagonia; the music is very
rhythmic comment for a documentary, but after about half the running time
it starts to get
all of the feelings of the characters and
their plots - then comes my music:
what got me excited is that
they chose my songs to emphasize the
feelings, in some moments of the script when
the mockumentary becomes "cinema"... what
How did you become a musician and
composer to begin with, and what can you tell us about your (formal)
training on the subject?
I never studied composition, but during my training at the Conservatory "S.Cecilia" of Rome
I studied harmony, and as player I always asked myself "Where am I playing?
place is the music that I'm playing?" So, I've been always attracted
to harmony, and playing in orchestras for several years and studying
my scores I learned the "counterpoint" from Monteverdi to Cage.
But I fell in love with soundtrack music, during the last 30 years as
session man, and before I started scoring I was arranging great
soundtracks for my Movies
String Quintet (www.myspace.com/moviesstringquintet).
When in September 1999 my big
friend Eugenio Allegri (actor and director for theatre) asked me to score
the music for a show in the historical jewel Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza
(near Venezia), built in 1583 by A.Palladio, I could not renounce, and I
wrote my first notes. The song called La Commedia (The Comedy) that was the "ouverture" of that show, last
summer became the theme song of a TV show for RAI 3.
I'm sure that apart from
filmscores, you have also written some standalone pieces. So how does
composing those compare to scoring movies, and what do you find more
inspiring/challenging, and why?
am very honored that you ask
me questions as a composer, but
I'd like to point out that
I have never graduated in composition (just in violin) - I'm only someone who
your question: I like to create soundtracks, my passion is
to translate music to another
artistic language: I need a
video, a series of
photos, a story, etc. to
vent my emotions arising
from that input.
Every time I listen to a song written by me I am surprised that it came out
of me and, at the same time, I still feel the same emotion that generated
Only one score I've created without an artistic input: it was an orchestral score
called A Ennio Morricone played in a concert on
the occasion of the eightieth birthday of
the Maestro - http://youtu.be/DtTLRS5kWx0. It was my present to him, but it was really hard to compose
music that tells a person
of such importance, who does this and is at the top.
was a big night, full of composers who
had written for him and I was just his concertino playing during the concert (not my score, I want to listen my
work); He was very happy about that surprise and the day after I was received
at his house to personally deliver the score. Some time late, after he
listened the demo of my CD Storie, he wrote me a beautiful letter
that I consider my Composition Diploma and that I put in the CD itself as a
Related to that, what
got you into composing for movies?
To score for
movies is something like "The Creation": You know that in a
moment, in the theatre, your notes will enter in the ears and you must
decide what kind of emotion the public will receive.
A long time ago,
viewing a documentary, I've reflected on a scene: how important is the music if in this scene where a leopard chases a gazelle
if I either underline
the joy of the leopard to have his lunch or the anguish
of the gazelle trying to
possibility that I have to
give my "sound feeling"
is what I call "creation" - very often it's the music
that particular moment in the
film. Something else?...
Any future projects
(both movie-related and standalone) you'd like to talk about?
I'm scoring to a stage show and I'm waiting for an answer on an Italian
just finished to make music
for a pilot episode of a
TV drama and I'm waiting for the next Del Piccolo/Moviedel masterpiece!!!
would you describe yourself as a composer and musician, and how would you
describe your music?
I would describe
me as an artist, I can't play without thinking about the "vertical" of
music: what is there with me, around me, when I'm playing; and I can't
score without thinking how the notes sound when played, how the player feels
My music? Oh, I
can't describe it, others must answer that; I just ask myself one thing
before go to sleep: "Are you at peace with your work?" and the answer
must always be positive.
Composers and musicians who inspire
who has written beautiful music, 'cause for me
there is only good or bad music, no styles
or genres or countries.
Some of your favourite filmscores (other than your
own of course)?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
All Morricone's music, but also
J.Williams, N.Rota, B.Herrmann, R.Ortolani, H.Mancini, H.Zimmer, F.Lai,
J.Goldsmith, D.Shostakovic, M.Nyman, Lloyd Webber, etc.
At same time I
cannot stop being moved when listening N.Piovani's Life is Beautiful or L.Bacalov's
Postman ... when the simplicity wins ...
you think of any filmscores you really disliked, you thought were utterly
out of place - and why?
I don't remember movies like this, but I just don't like the musical
"trends", and when somebody tries to lift soundtracks from
Your website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
you like to come to work in USA?" - Oh yeah, I've my luggage ready!!!
Thanks for the interview!