Ravel, An Inspiration to Joel McNeely

Not everyone is familiar with the installment of the Star Wars franchise titled Shadows of the Empire, but that’s mostly because it was a media event that never made it to the big screen. Nonetheless, the video game it spawned deserves some recognition among video games for its use of a fully orchestrated, studio recorded, original soundtrack composed by film and TV composer Joel McNeely. Continue reading “Ravel, An Inspiration to Joel McNeely”

The Magical Raised Fifth (or Flat Six)

There’s something special about the fifth scale degree of the tonic (major) key when raised a half-step.   Granted, there’s something special about every non-key pitch in a tonal system, but what really captivates me about the flat six is its affective power in a Romantic context.  Take a minute to listen to this excerpt: what do you feel when you hear the horn make its solo entrance above the sustained bassoon and strings? Continue reading “The Magical Raised Fifth (or Flat Six)”

James Horner and the Lydian Mode

It’s a curious thing how an artist who has reached a certain level of creative maturity becomes somewhat of a prisoner to idiosyncrasy. Many composers, to take music as an example, have some kind of musical trademark. Some exhibit their signature flourishes subtly or almost imperceptibly, while others do us the convenience of posting a big, blinking, neon sign in the sky. Continue reading “James Horner and the Lydian Mode”