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I was recently asked to do some orchestrations of Vangelis’ soundtrack to ‘Bladerunner’. It was for the Heritage orchestra in their concert at the Royal festival hall as part of Massive Attack’s meltdown festival. All the original music, recorded and produced at the famed Nemo studios in London on synthesisers and such like, had meant that there are no scores. Consequently I had to transcribe the tracks I was doing and then write the music down into a short score and go from there.

And what an interesting process this has been!

The music is very improvisatory (and evocative of the dark futuristic world that the film inhabits) which proved a challenge to notate in strict tempo. However on closer inspection it also appeared very motivic with lots of ‘musical ‘events’ often mirrored elsewhere in the score. The notes are surprisingly tightly composed considering how free and improvised it sounds.

It interests me how it may work the other way round and how a fully notated composition may sound ‘improvised’. It also makes me wonder whether or not I may want my short scores to sometimes look a little more like Vangelis’. Well, Ridley Scott liked it, didn’t he?

February 2020
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