Collaborative Processes Between Directors and Composers
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How much does a long-term collaborative process between composer and director influence the establishment of the former as an author? Give examples as appropriate.
In this essay I am going to explore the unique collaboration between director and composer and how much a long-term collaborative process between the two can influence the establishment of the former as an author. An author, in this case, stands for an authority actively shaping the film’s story and message but at the same can be understood as an author of music, I will try to consider both factors. In this process I want to begin with filmmaker’s general relationship to music, then while answering the main question I will give examples of the European collaboration of Theo Angelopoulos and Eleni Karaindrou, focusing on their approach of using music in new ways, as well as examples from the more known collaborations between Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann and David Cronenberg’s collaboration with Howard Shore. Furthermore, I am going to include conclusions from my personal experience I have had with my friend and director Nuno Miguel Wong. Concurrently this Essay is not an analysis of the music in the films of the above-mentioned collaborations, but rather focuses on their distinct working relationship and how it might have affected their musical approach and productivity.
To fully understand the relationship between a filmmaker and a composer, it is helpful to take a closer look at the filmmaker’s position towards music in film in general; these can of course differ substantially from one director to another. It seems, one must think, that the complete narrative and emotive potential of film music is not yet fully recognized and appreciated in many film produc...
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...tion, we can try new forms of creating art, while questioning and expanding the very nature of collaboration itself.
Finally, as the mentioned examples show us: composers becoming immersed with a filmmaker at an early stage of their careers can end up to be one of the most natural, harmonic and fruitful artistic relationships for both of them. Hopefully in future more composers can become a more active part in the storytelling as a co-author of the film, while remaining a versatile and original author of music, in other words a great composer.
M. Mera and D. Burnard, European Film Music (London, 2006)
R.S. Brown, Overtones and Undertones: Reading Film Music (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1994)
N.J. Schneider, Handbuch Filmmusik II. Musik im dokumentarischen Film (Munich, 1989)
M. Schelle, The Score: Interviews with Film Composers (Los Angeles 1999)