Incidental Music

Incidental Music: def. (noun)- music used in a film as a background to create or enhance a particular atmosphere, otherwise known as a score

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Female Composers (Or Lack Thereof) and November Film Scores

Hi everyone! First of all, HUGE thanks to you who are reading this and following me on Facebook or Tumblr. I'm super excited about starting this blog and writing about something I really love. So thanks for joining me!

Today, I'd like to address a comment I made in my first post: one of the factors that contributes to my low chances of being a film score composer is that "I'm not a man." Why should that make a difference? Well, let's begin with a generic list of the 100 greatest film score composers of all time from (it's a very debatable list, but it's a good illustration of the point I'm making) See that one little red arrow? It's pointing to the ONLY woman on the list.

You might be thinking, "There must be more out there...maybe they just aren't considered 'great'?" Well, let's go even more basic-how about a Wikipedia article?  It's true that there are more female film composers out there in the world...but not many. This page lists at least 500 score composers - 38 are women ( Not only is that an astonishingly low number, but based on further research, very few of them actually compose for movies. Most are just composers of their own independent music. Apparently, it's not just film music that suffers a lack of females. Orchestral music in general needs more estrogen!

I really can't believe there are so few female composers, and I have to wonder...why? Thankfully, there are plenty of answers to this question because I'm not the only one who's noticed this problem. I found many articles discussing this issue, and I've posted the links to my three favorites at the bottom of the paragraph if you'd like to read them. The New York Times article, written by Anthony Tommasini, gives two reasons which I think are valid. First reason?  "Deep-seated male chauvinism" from the 1700s and before claiming that women couldn't compose music as well as men. Second reason? "Until relatively recent times, musicians, ensembles and musical institutions were overwhelmingly male" because women weren't encouraged to play many of the orchestral therefore orchestras were less inclined to play music written by a mere female. Hm.  It seems that writing music is yet another field in which men were perceived better than women, and therefore won out. Now, I'm not a hard core feminist, but this gets me really upset, because I'm sure the world has lost some beautiful music because women were prevented from sharing it. Sigh.

The good news in all this? Well, maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic about my own chances in movie music because it looks like things are slowly changing for women in orchestral music. There are now TONS of female musicians involved in orchestras and musical institutions. According to an 2011 article from Equilibrium, the Undergrad Journal for Economics at U-W Madison, women made up about 10% of the members of large orchestras in the US in 1980, but in 1997, they were up to 25% ( I couldn't find any more recent numbers, but if that kind of progress continued, I imagine orchestras are almost 50/50 now. Now, if that's the case (and as long as that male chauvinism is going away too), I think we can anticipate more female composers on the movie music scene very soon. At least I really hope so! This is an issue I'll be tracking as I write this blog and I'll make sure to let you guys know if a new female composer shows up!

As I was writing this post, I realized that I probably should have written about something much more basic and introductory. I mean, gosh, I haven't even covered the difference between a soundtrack and a score, or the process of scoring, or the many different people involved in taking a score from a melody to the screen, or a hundred other important things about scores! But, the reason I wanted to talk about this now is that this issue has been weighing on me for awhile. I also wanted to explain why there's no women when I start featuring composers in my writing. I'm going to have a composer of the month segment on this blog and also occasionally writing about some composers who've passed away who deserve to be remembered for their awesome work. Sadly, there are only two female composers that I know of who fit these categories, and in the coming months, I will write about them both. One's alive. The other...well...not. But more on that later, let's move on to film scores!

Another thing I will be doing on this blog is giving you all a heads up on new scores coming out in the month. So, it's November now, and here are the scores I'm looking forward to and will be listening to all month. This is a really good month for movie score lovers, that's for sure! (The release date shown is the iTunes release date.)
  • November 6th-The Skyfall score, written by Thomas Newman. YAY NEW BOND MOVIE. I love Daniel Craig.  I'm a little nervous about this score because it's not written by David Arnold, the guy who's scored the last few Bond movies. But, this score preview has gotten me pretty excited, and I can't wait to hear the whole thing when it comes out!
  • November 19- The Breaking Dawn Part Two score, written by Carter Burwell. Yes, I know it's a Twilight movie, but that doesn't mean the music can't be fantastic! I was kinda disappointed in Burwell's score for the last Twilight movie. I mean, some tracks were good, but I just didn't think it was memorable, so I hope he does some wonderful things on this last Twilight outing of his. Here's a sample of his work on Breaking Dawn Part One--
  • November 6-The Lincoln score, written by John Williams. I take back my excitement for the new Bond movie and score, because everything about Lincoln screams greatness. You've got Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln, which guarantees that the real Abraham Lincoln will be alive again onscreen because Lewis's acting is so good. The score...John Williams...the man who basically created all the iconic movie scores ever! Here's a preview of the score...just listen to it and you'll see why I literally can't wait.
  • November 19th-The Life of Pi score, written by Mychael Danna. This movie comes from a great book, and all the trailers for the movie look so visually stunning that I can't imagine it won't be accompanied by a similarly stunning score. Here's the score preview- So far, so good, I think! Nice use of beautiful vocals and unique instruments.
  • November 13(?)-The Anna Karenina score, written by Dario Marianelli. Again, another one that I'm very excited for, because I love the composer. Interesting Fact: He did the scores for Pride and Prejudice and Atonement...both also Keira Knightly movies like Anna Karenina! The score preview definitely gives off the dramatic Imperial Russia vibe of the Tolstoy novel, and I think it's going to be very lovely.
Well, this was a long post! Thanks again for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts about female composers or about these upcoming scores in the comments below. Check back next week for our featured composer of the month and some of my first score reviews! Bye!

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