As big budget Hollywood film effects and wizardry have evolved over the years, the music has had to grow along with it. Film scores are no longer purely classical pieces & are increasingly merging genres left, right & centre.
Many of use were brought up with the sound of John Williams ringing in our ears and enhancing films like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His influence on film music is unmistakable & is perhaps in part, some way responsible for the journey that film score has taken over the last few decades. His music accompanies on screen mood and action perfectly, setting the scene time and time again. While his music is epic, it isn’t quite epic music.
As visual effects artists continually strive to make the unbelievable on screen look bigger, better and more awesome than ever before. To help the visuals succeed, the music also needs to be huge. You will now regularly hear a full orchestra, choir, programmed dance style drums, heavy bass synths all mixed together into one enormous sound – this is Epic Music.
Epic music isn’t just film scores or video game music, it is a genre within its own right. One of the biggest names in Epic Music is actually a company, yes a company, called Audiomachine. They create huge scored pieces of music specifically for film makers and game creators to use either for working with, or in some cases for use in a final project. These pieces of music are packaged together in themed albums such as Phenomena, Tree of life and Existance. If you subscribe to a streaming music service like Google Play Music I strongly recommend having a listen – there are some fantastic pieces of music on there!
Another artist that also produces some amazing music is a relatively unknown UK composer, Ronnie Minder. His pieces are grouped together on small EP’s, or Cinematic Episodes, these are also well worth listening to. Given their shorter length, they are also very easy to listen to as well.
Epic music will continue to evolve – a bit like pop music tends to reinvent itself every few years. When you have artists such as Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers creating scores for films – they will without doubt influence other traditional composers and film makers along the way. The Tron soundtrack that Daft Punk created is perhaps the most mainstream example of Epic music. Although their approach was more digital based, they did also use orchestral pieces as well. We will continue to hear gentle nods to this for many years to come.
Having been a fan of both classical music and electronica for as long as I can remember – this blend gives us the best of both worlds. The digital side embraces not only dirty sounding analogue synths, but also distorted drums and big, enhanced bass. An orchestra is capable of producing anything from gentle intimate string pieces right up to huge dynamic full orchestral pieces with rasping brass. Combine these previously alien styles of music gives you an emotional range that can accentuate and enhance any visual experience…surely this is the best of all possible worlds? It is after all Epic Music.