Take a minute and think of a few of your favorite pieces of orchestral music.
Go ahead. We'll wait.
What did you come up with? Beethoven? Bach? “The Imperial March” from “The Empire Strikes Back?” The theme from “Star Trek,” perhaps?
Most of you probably came up with a centuries old song by one of the great masters such as Mozart, Vivaldi or Beethoven.
But we would also bet many of you thought of one of the modern masters of film scores: John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri.
Often, especially for fans of popular music, a person's biggest exposure to orchestral music is through film scores.
“Anything by Ennio Morricone does something to my insides,” said Omahan Molly Welsh when asked for her favorite. “His film scores enhance the movie watching experience, but when you listen to them on their own they have their own life that can be put into any context.”
Morricone is perhaps best known for his work on the classic 1966 western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” starring Clint Eastwood. But his resume extends into present day cinema.
Welsh enjoys listening to Morricone's originals and even covers of his music. A Yo-Yo Ma album where he plays Morricone music is a favorite, she said.
She also listed the Chemical Brothers' score of “Hanna,” Carter Burwell's “Where the Wild Things Are” and the soundtrack to the HBO show “Carnivale,” which was scored by Jeff Beal.
Other readers named scores such as “Conan the Barbarian” by Basil Polidorous, “Field of Dreams” by James Horner, “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Alex North, “The Dark Knight” by Zimmer, “Back to the Future” by Silvestri and tons more.
Several mentioned Williams: “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Superman,” “Jurassic Park,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and the Indiana Jones films.
Williams, who the Omaha Symphony will pay tribute to with a concert on Saturday, is among the most popular and highly-regarded composers in film. He's been nominated 47 times for an Academy Award and has three scores on the American Film Institutes top 25 of the last 100 years.
“Star Wars” tops the list while “Jaws” comes in at No. 6 and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” was ranked at No. 14. Williams is the only composer on the list more than twice.
Lately, film scores have taken a different twist. Indie rockers and producers of electronic dance music are being hired to put their nontraditional take on a film's music.
Producing duo Daft Punk's electronic score for “Tron: Legacy” won a lot of admirers, including about a dozen World-Herald readers.
The band's technological sound meshed well with the movie's themes of technology and science. Omahan Joel Henriksen called it “pure magic.”
“They combined modern synth and electronic sounds with classic orchestral resonance. It was a very refreshing album for them, as well as a film score,” Henriksen said.
Other popular music artists have also had success with films. Rocker Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails won an Oscar with Atticus Ross for their score of “The Social Network” and many enjoyed their work on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead has won a lot of praise for his work on “The Master.” His disconcerting score “is as much a character as any of the actors, plays just as vital a role in creating the film's surreal, psychological edge,” said MTV.
Omaha musician Tim Kasher, who performs with bands such as Cursive and The Good Life, is another indie rocker who has tried his hand at scoring a film. “Archie's Final Project,” originally titled “My Suicide,” was released in 2011.
“That got me really energized in another realm of songwriting,” he told The World-Herald. “I was so excited, and I still can't write or read or chart music, so I have to have someone to do that for me. It's so exciting to get a thrill out of writing these arrangements and hearing them performed.”
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