Monday, July 03, 2006

What the POTC: Dead Man's Chest soundtrack SHOULD have been:

When people talk about pirates, you think swashbuckling fighters twirling pistols and cutlasses. It's imagery that goes hand in hand with the word pirate. So when you go about scoring the musical backdrop to these types of moving pictures, you have a duty to uphold a certain standard. The first Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack was bashed for being unoriginal and
crazed, heavy on the artificial instrumentation without any real orchestral accompaniment. More than propping up a set of pictures though, soundtracks are about giving their respective films REAL life. They create something; they have a hand in the images, not just a backstage accompaniment.

The first Pirates soundtrack literally defied the swashbuckling style that had been known for intense orchestral pieces supported by soaring melodies and powerful rythyms. A man born in the 1800s was the true father of what became REAL pirate music. His name was Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and his middle-of-the-20th-century musical scores for such films as Captain Blood [famous theme clip!], The Sea Wolf [clip] and (Academy Award winner) The Adventures of Robin Hood [clip] set the tone for the symphonic swashbuckling sound.

Fast forward to the 90s when composers such as John Williams and John Debney (both grizzled musical veterans) constructed pirate soundtracks of their own; both to massive critical applause. Williams' contribution was the Peter Pan flick Hook, while Debney's was the heroic soundtrack installment Cutthroat Island.

John Williams' themes for the film were good (primarily the Flight to Neverland [clip] theme) and capitalized on the massive London Symphony Orchestra, but Debney's work for Cutthroat Island remains one of the most celebrated action scores in the last couple decades, and certainly sets the bar for Pirate movie soundtracks.

Listen to the entire main theme (first track) of John Debney's Cutthroat Island and be amazed: LISTEN. Stay tuned for the entire 3 1/2 minutes as the final half is absolutely, jaw-dropping gorgeous!! One of the most sweeping themes ever!

After listening to the above clips you should be able to hear the evolution of pirate/swashbuckling music. At least the good soundtracks that defined the genre. We had Korngold's original, inventive work, and then it was worked into modern musical effects, but still given the quality of sound it deserved (primarily an orchestral precense).

Hans Zimmer completely failed in creating anything remotely like a true Pirate soundtrack. Instead he gave in to the young pop culture fanatics who only want a mass of crazed rock music smattered with untamed melodies and bizzare themes. Or....do they just want to ge their hands on anything and everything associated with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.......and Johnny Depp? Ah yes......maybe that's it!

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