As far back as I can remember, music has been influencing the way I grew up and the things I liked. Even from a young age, I'd go see a movie at the theater and stay to watch the credits just to see who the composer was. And here I am today doing what I always dreamed about doing. Naturally, there were many inspirations for me to follow this path. These are in no particular order, as I believe that each inspired me in a different way, and affected a certain part of my life and my career.
1. Doctor Who (Murray Gold)
Doctor Who was a huge part of my teenage years (and it still is now). One of the strangest yet longest running television series all of time, this sci-fi classic holds a special place in my heart partly due to its music. Murray Gold composed the music for the revived series from 2005 to 2017 for 10 seasons. Some of my first arrangements for concert band (although I'm not too proud of them now) were from Doctor Who such as Words Win Wars from Series 5.
So many of the episodes in this series were extremely emotional, and Gold managed to take an already gripping scene and rip your heart out in an even more painful, yet satisfying way. His music just fit what was going on, and it made you care more about the characters.
2. How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
Some of the most underrated film music out there, How To Train Your Dragon has an absolutely beautiful score (as does its sequel). I have very vivid memories of playing an arrangement of the music from this movie for concert band in high school. Not a lot of people enjoyed playing in band in high school, but a majority of the members absolutely loved playing this. John Powell's style is quick, cool, and emotional -- sometimes all at the same time.
3. The Star Wars Saga (John Williams)
I couldn't narrow it down to just one Star Wars movie, so I decided to lump all the John Williams Star Wars scores into one. What can I say about Star Wars that hasn't already been said? It is the definitive movie music, and it redefined orchestral film scores in the 1970s. John Williams created a new standard.
When I was six, I saw the movies for the first time. We got them from the library as we didn't own them yet. We did however own the original trilogy soundtracks. I remember saying to my parents, "That's okay. I don't need to watch the movies. I can just listen to the music and see it in my head." It's timeless, and one of the original inspirations for me when I decided I wanted to pursue music as a career.
4. The Legend Of Zelda (Koji Kondo)
I got into Zelda a lot later than most. The first ones I played were Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, and I loved them. After that, I decided to go back and play a lot of the other ones. Ocarina of Time blew me away, and so did its music. In fact, back in 2011 when I first downloaded Finale Notepad, the first thing I attempted to arrange (but never finish) was a brass choir arrangement of Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time. After that, I made so many Zelda arrangements, and it really taught me a lot about how to use the program, as well as how to write decent counterpoint.
5. The Lord Of The Rings (Howard Shore)
I was also a pretty late bloomer with Lord of the Rings as well. I first read the book when I was 17, and then watched the movies shortly afterward. Howard Shore didn't disappoint. As I said with Doctor Who, Howard Shore managed to create a masterpiece of a score that felt as though it belonged there. The different themes between Rohan, Mordor, Isengard, the Ring, and the Shire really shined through, and it made the music speak as much for the story as the actual story did. Sometimes, I try to emulate what Howard Shore did and come up with themes that evoke certain thoughts about a character or faction.
6. The Elder Scrolls (Jeremy Soule)
Although I never played Skyrim like a lot of people I know, I grew up playing Morrowind on the original Xbox. If there's anything Soule knows how to do, it's ambient music. The game's music is so calming, and it weirdly makes the already-big game feel way more open and big than it actually is. The theme from Morrowind was my first ever completed arrangement, and it was written for four trumpets. Later on, I would arrange the theme from Skyrim for concert band. Soule knows what music to use in what situations more than a lot of other composers know, and it is in that way that I strive to be more and more like him.
7. Star Trek (Michael Giacchino)
There are many reasons why I love Michael Giacchino's music. Rogue One and The Incredibles both were fantastic. Normally I don't consider myself much of a Star Trek fan. But his music for these movies is phenomenal. What I've taken from him is his ability to create new, fresh music, but also do nostalgia when he needs to. I think that's such an important skill: analyzing how to use just the right amount of nostalgia in your music to really make a difference in terms of the audience perspective.
8. Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (Mark Griskey)
I know Star Wars is already on the list, but trust me when I say that KOTOR 2 is completely different than the movies. Jeremy Soule did the music for the first KOTOR. I also love that soundtrack, but it never quite hit home like Griskey's KOTOR 2. KOTOR 2 was a dark game, and the music reflected it accurately. From the beautiful brass to the downright creepy strings.
This game was a turning point for me. For once I was hearing Star Wars music that I loved that wasn't John Williams. The music still gives me chills, and playing the game with that soundtrack just gives me goosebumps. If you haven't played this amazing piece of Star Wars history, you really should do so.
And there you have it! Who are some of your favorite composers?