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The art of Randy Thom

 Sound designer (FW35)

Musical (Super)Visions
Gustavo Costantini continues his journey into the world of the film soundtrack.
Barry (Jack Black): Let’s make a list of the best Side 1/ Track 1 song from a Rock album. 
Rob (John Cusack): (…) I choose Janie Jones from The Clash by The Clash, Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nevermind by Nirvana…
Barry: Couldn’t be more obvious? Why don’t you choose Side 1/ Track 1 of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? (High Fidelity)
Inspired by clearance or inspired by the film?
The art of the musical supervisor is somewhat underrated and overrated at the same time. When the job is done just for making the infamous CD soundtracks containing a commercially effective selection of songs (“from and inspired by the film”), there is not much food for thought regarding film aesthetics. However, when musical pieces are fully integrated into the production of meaning, supporting and reinforcing some of the film’s ideas, Musical Supervision could be truly a Musical Super Vision.
For aesthetical purposes, who does the job of the Musical Supervision is irrelevant. There are directors that are very sensitive and wise regarding music; others need the collaboration of a professional. This does not necessarily imply that the first kind of directors will do a better job or the other way round. In the end, a good director will take the right decisions for the film, no matter if he or she is doing the job of musical supervision or it’s a differ such as Bernard Rose’s Immortal Beloved – about the life of Beethoven – or Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity –based on the novel by Nick Hornby – we are talking about a serious task of Musical Supervision, despite the results. That kind of films should be very demanding in this regard; otherwise, we will be hearing the obvious pieces of music that any fan of the musical style or composer could have selected. Maybe that is the case with Immortal Beloved, which opens with the first motif of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and the first piano sonata we hear is the Pathetique. The case of High Fidelity is very different: not only the translation from London to Chicago was successful but also the relation between the characters and the songs was the most appropriated for the script.
Musical Supervision paradise
There are hundreds of fims in which the Musical Supervisor’s job counts for a lot. Milos Forman’s Amadeus wouldn’t be the sort of out-of-the-ordinary film it is if the musical selection had been more popular and obvious. The opening movement of Symphony No 40 would have been an obvious and popular choice to start the film with, but first movement of the more obscure, though powerful and effective, Symphony No 23, which is used, is a far better choice. The aggressive G minor beginning gives the film an exact approach to what we are about to see, and it is more suggestive because of the lack of popularity. The film has plenty of great Musical Supervision ideas. From the excellent selection of Don Giovanni – a very black moment from a funny opera- to the Second Movement from the Piano Concerto N20 that is used in the end credits sequence, Amadeus is a very good example of subtleness and effectiveness. Nevertheless, the most outstanding moment in the film regarding Musical Supervision is found in the last sequences.