The Theme Tune To ‘Bryant & May: The Series’
No, there’s not a series yet – although the option has been picked up by a TV production company – but in the meantime a very nice chap called Des Burkinshaw has written the theme tune for a Bryant & May TV series. I was just in the middle of writing a piece about theme tunes, so I’ll add that to this. As a fan of Laurie Johnson, Ron Grainer and John Barry I thought the mood was exactly right. See what you think.
My collection of movie scores is insane – I especially like writing to good horror film scores, but there are very few that avoid doing the obvious. Too many Hollywood scarers rely on jumps, stings and bass notes to over-egg any eerie scene and destroy atmosphere. There are exceptions; Phillip Glass’s bombastic score for ‘Candyman’, work by Christopher Young and Shirley Walker’s spirited, doom-laden score for the ‘Final Destination’ films avoid the thuddingly obvious. Some of the best scores and title themes work simply by sounding not quite right. Henry Mancini came up with an oddball, haunting two-note signature (regularly ripped off ever since) for ‘Wait Until Dark’. And of course Bernard Herrmann wrote the catchy whistling score for ‘Twisted Nerve’ years before Tarantino used it.
But the best horror soundtracks – especially for supernatural films – are simply sad, awkward and odd, or deliberately, perversely non-frightening. The score for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ remains a benchmark for this, with its pretty lullaby that manages to be really creepy for no good reason. Elizabeth Lutyens wrote a strange, almost atonal score which was far too high quality for ‘Dr Terror’s House of Horrors’, and Georges Auric’s unsettling hymn for ‘The Innocents’ shares the Englishness of Paul Giovanni’s wonderful folk-driven score for ‘The Wicker Man’, a film which has been described more than once as a pagan musical. Likewise, Paul Ferris’s stunning Greensleeves-like score for ‘Witchfinder General’ perfectly captures the era of the film, and has now been released in full.
The horror film scores of Roque Banos are in a league of their own, and I love the work of other Spanish composers such as Federico Jusid and Joan Valent. Sometimes composers have had to invent musical instruments to find new appropriate sounds. Ron Grainer immersed glass tubes into water to create disturbing tones for ‘The Omega Man’, and Uakti’s score for ‘Blindness’ uses a variety of strange instruments he invented exclusively for the film.
A lot of marvellous scores have never been released as albums, but you can sometimes find them as isolated tracks on YouTube. Meanwhile I’ve got Des’s louche score stuck in my brain for Bryant & May…