Yesterday's kings of soundtracks were the composers of iconic themes for cash cow franchises. These were people whose work drew just as much attention as the films they scored, like John Williams on Star Wars
or Danny Elfman on Batman
. While they're still around today, composing for films every year, it seems that the most acclaimed, attention-grabbing scores go to a different set of composer and producer. Not necessarily younger, but the mass media eye has shifted to people whose work we'll look back on the way we look at the Jaws
You Know Him From: The Lion King, The Thin Red Line, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Inception
Hans Zimmer is one of the most prolific and award-winning composers working today, whose place as an icon in the film scoring industry has been cemented for a few years now. Despite this, his impact and accolades aren't slowing. Because of Inception
, he has been single-handedly responsible for the current trend of dramatic tuba hits that is currently sweeping movie trailers. It showed that an iconic theme doesn't always have to be a rousing, beautiful climax. Sometimes you just need a repeated, harrowing bass note.
You Know Him From: Requiem for a Dream, Moon, The Fountain
Like the aforementioned tuba trend, a mark of a popular composer is when others borrow from him. In the case of Clint Mansell, people decided it would be easiest to just buy out the use of his theme from Requiem for a Dream
and use it over and over again. The epic Lux Aeterna
has been reused, remixed and redone for everything from Lord of the Rings to soccer games. While Mansell isn't as prolific as the others on his list, his work has built a fan base. He's been working on challenging himself as he works on his first video game soundtrack for Mass Effect 3
, which requires him to compose pieces that can react and change on the fly.
You Know Him From: Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Heart Huckabees, Step Brothers
Brion is more of a jack of all trades, who functions as a musician, songwriter and producer of songs by the likes of Fiona Apple, Of Montreal and Aimee Mann. But the majority of his work, and some of his best, comes from the quirky, pop film scores he creates for quirky, pop films. While many composers will go to big, epic orchestras, Brion works well on smaller and more intimiate scales. His work has been so admired that he even has soundtrack commentary on the Step Brothers
DVD, and his score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
has been sampled by rapper Jay Electronica and dream-pop duo Memoryhouse.
There's something about the experience of listening to film scores that brings you back to not just the scene it complemented, but the emotion the story evokes. For VSQ renditions of some of the most famous and evocative soundtrack work, see the compilations below:
Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Star Wars
Available at iTunes and Amazon
Blood-Curdling Strings! VSQ Pays Tribute To Horror Classics
Available at iTunes and Amazon