How the ‘First Man’ composer created one of the best scores of the year, which was just nominated for a Golden Globe

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“First Man” was nominated for a best score Golden Globe on Thursday.
The movie’s composer, Justin Hurwitz (“La La Land”), spoke to Business Insider about the challenges of making one of the best scores of the year.
Those challenges included Hurwitz composing with electronic instruments for the first time, and the detail that went into the music played during the thrilling moon landing scene.

Coming off two Oscar wins for 2016’s “La La Land,” composer Justin Hurwitz is back in the award season race with his latest collaboration with director Damien Chazelle, “First Man,” as he received a best score Golden Globes nomination on Thursday.

The look at the life of Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), leading up to his legendary trip to the moon on Apollo 11, received mixed reactions when it opened due its slow-burn feel. But the work of Hurwitz has been universally praised. His mixture of percussion and electronic sound is a far cry from the song-and-dance musical feel of “La La Land,” but perfectly accompanies Chazelle’s telling of Armstrong’s intimate story.

To get the sound right, Hurwitz began work composing the score in preproduction and had to get out of his comfort zone by working with instruments he’d never used before.

“Damien asked me to figure out ways for the movie to sound very different from any of the other scores that we’ve done,” Hurwitz told Business Insider on Thursday after the Golden Globes nominations were announced. “He wanted me to learn a lot of electronic. We had never done any kind of electronic music before.”

Hurwitz said Chazelle suggested he get his hands on a Theremin, which in the past has given eerie sounds in movies like the 1951 sci-fi classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.” Hurwitz kept it in his office for months, playing with it constantly, and got so into it that the demos he made with it were used in the movie.

“I thought we would hire the best person who knows how to use it to play it for the movie, but I had laid down cues so many times that by the time we got to the end of the process, Damien just liked the tracks and kept them in,” Hurwitz said.

But that wasn’t the only first for Hurwitz. He also created his own samples for the score. He said he recorded metal sounds, burning fire, and water running and combined them all into a sample that he used throughout the movie.

“I had never done that before, designing musical sounds,” he said. “That was a challenge and exciting to learn.”

Music ideas evolved out of preproduction into the shooting. Hurwitz said there would be weekly friends and family screenings in which the music was scrutinized. Over days, weeks, and months the music would change often, sometimes even the instruments were swapped for others. Hurwitz said that it wasn’t until post production that the harp was found to be the right choice as a main instrument …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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