In addition to the mini film score reviews, you will find some of my technical reviews of products for film composers and sound designers. In the pipeline is a series on using Apple Logic for film music and sound design and interviews with some of today's top film composers. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Film Music Mini-Reviews

The Descendents
The Lovely Bones
The Host
New World
Teen Wolf

Music Product Reviews

ProjectSAM True Strike 1 & 2
Vienna Symphonic Library - Appassionata Strings
Quantum Leap Storm Drum 2
Flying Hand Percussion
Vienna Instruments - Special Edition
Eastwest/Quantum Leap Symphonic Choirs
HALion Symphonic Orchestra

Sunday, August 9, 2009


James Horner has been involved with some of the biggest films ever. Most notably, Titanic, The Wrath of Khan and Braveheart.

For Mel Gibson's, Apocalypto, he draws on ethnic instruments, including the panpipe and drums. The panpipe idea seems to have sprung up in many parts of the world, including Asia, the Mediterranean and pre-Columbian South America. It's use for a movie about the Maya may not be 100% appropriate geographically, but it evokes the aboriginal Americas, so it's close enough.

In one scene below, we see Jaguar Paw fighting for his forest while his wife and young son try to escape from a deep hole. As you watch the film, notice how the long notes of the panpipe when JP climbs out of the bog are similar to the long notes when his wife tries to climb.

The melodic held notes become a motif for JP and his family, their struggles and "re-birth." The music reminds us of the connection between the characters and the similarity of their situation. Something that would be difficult without music or sound.

Notice that the panpipe is also used for the fighters but only with short (staccato) notes. The pounding drums and whooshes clearly support the running and fighting scenes. What's interesting is how Horner combines the melodic pipes with the drums to keep us in the frame of mind of the struggle and the central characters.

Later, Jaguar Paw confronts a warrior. Notice how the meditative chant works when the two are facing each other across the clearing. The droning voice supports the slow-motion picture and takes us into the mind of JP as he plans his tactical move. Warning for those who are squeamish, this is a violent scene.

Apocalypto on IMDB

(c) 2009 Carlos Garza

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