Friday, 3 May 2013

Under-rated Epic Composer, Basil Poledouris

With voting now open for the Music in the Movies countdown I figure it’s time to look at some composers. I won’t worry about John Williams, his genius is well known and widely discussed.

Who I will worry about and start with is Basil Poledouris. He was conspicuously absent from the initial list but I was happy to see he’d been added before I made my additions. Poledouris was a Greek-American composer highly regarded for his epic scores and intimate themes.

My first two samples for you should show that, the opening of Conan the Barbarian and the closest thing Conan gets to a love theme, known on the soundtrack as Wifeing. I will point out the love theme is very gentle and a sweeping romantic variation on a theme, with gorgeous instrumentation. If you're thinking 'it's for a mindless action film it can't be any good' listen to this and you'll soon change your tune, but not this one.

Conan the Barbarian is probably his best known work and it will be getting one of my votes for sure. But he did more than that of course. His other major works were The Hunt for Red October, which has some awesomely moody Russian-style music (like this) and Robocop, which sees the epic grandeur of Conan given a modern kick. Here's the main theme.

In the interest of discovering new music I’ve looked into some of his other soundtracks care of YouTube. I hadn't realised he did the score to Starship Troopers, giving it more drama than it probably deserved but living up to his name. This piece is called Klendathu Drop and it has the militaristic themes matched with heroism and a tinge of humanity and sadness - not an easy mix.

In a completely different mood, here's a suite from his score for The Blue Lagoon. It has what I'm starting to see as characteristic strings and brass, but here they are soft and welcoming, although it shifts easily into threatening mode for the dangerous parts. I've not seen the movie so I don't know what. There's also a charming piano piece partway through.

I think there's much more great music to find by Poledouris, including from many films that probably aren't worth worrying about so it's a bit more of an effort but well worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment