A friend just e-mailed me to ask me about a comment he heard me make at the last New Attitude Conference. I mentioned that I frequently listen to soundtracks when I’m studying, reading, or writing, and he was wondering which ones I have. I enjoy soundtracks because they don’t have words and if I haven’t seen the movie (which is often) I can make my own associations. They also enable me to thank God for the gift of common grace which enables unbelievers to write music that expresses in some small degree the beauty and creativity of God.
As I’m in the process of writing my book, I’m listening to music a lot these days. Since Christmas is approaching, I thought I might make some recommendations for potential gifts or for your own Christmas list.
First a disclaimer, or maybe an explanation. "Soundtracks" is a broad genre. People like soundtracks for different reasons. So, before I make my recommendations, here are some of the features I don’t enjoy in soundtracks:
1. incessant variety so there’s no sense of coherency to the score
2. an entire score with no song longer than 90 seconds
3. primarily dark or moody music (I thought Lord of the Rings fell into this category)
4. too much music composed for fight or chase scenes, tense moments, chaotic situations, or otherwise wild and crazy scenes in the film
5. vocals with words
6. no clear melodies
On the other hand, here are some elements I look for:
1. beautiful melodies
2. creative arrangements
3. variety in instrumentation
4. beautiful melodies (worth saying twice)
Here are ten of my favorites, in no particular order:
Flyboys (Trevor Rabin) – beautiful, grand and majestic. Lush orchestrations.
Tuck Everlasting (William Ross) – folksy at times, more organic. One of the most peaceful songs I’ve ever heard is "Winnie and Tuck"
Amistad (John Williams) – dark at times, contains some choral stuff, but it’s in another language and wonderfully joyful. "The Long Road to Justice" contains one of the most hauntingly beautiful trumpet solos I’ve heard.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Thomas Newman) – great variety, creative string arrangements combined with synthesizer sequencing. "The Letter that Never Came" is simple, beautiful, and moving.
Rudy (Jerry Goldsmith) – a little short, a little repetitious, but stunningly beautiful melodies.
Cinderella Man (Thomas Newman) – Newman is very gifted with strings and moving melodies. This CD contains a number of jazz tunes from the 30’s. I leave them off my I-tunes. This is a movie I’ve seen and recommend, especially for the example of marital commitment between Jim Braddock and his wife.
Dreamer (John Debney) – The main theme is repeated throughout, but again, it’s beautiful and worth hearing a number of times. A Bethany Dillon song is included at the end.
Little Women (Thomas Newman) – Vintage Thomas Newman. Very enjoyable soundtrack.
Pride and Prejudice (Dario Marianelli) – classically influenced, piano and strings throughout, nice variety. "The Secret Life of Daydreams" is beautiful.
Searching for Bobby Fisher (James Horner) – This is one of my favorite family movies (for kids 11 and older) and the music is excellent.
Well, I have more, but I trust that’s enough to get you started. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section.