Television Nostalgia – Music & The X-Files – My favourite Mark Snow music from the series

4105

I’ve very much been in a nostalgic mood recently and no finer example of this is my revisiting of my favourite television series, returning with six new episodes in January 2016. I’ve already discussed on this blog why I loved the show so much and my favourite episodes, as well as talking about my most memorable moments between, in my opinion, the greatest TV partnership. Something else that has been very obvious during my recent viewings of the series is the power and importance of the musical score of The X-Files.

Written throughout the series and the two films by composer Mark Snow, it has a very distinct sound, which became ingrained in the fabric of the series and also a vital part of its atmosphere, tone and mood. The series was always meant to be a little out there and needed to have music which matched its various tones – whether myth arc conspiracies, creepy monsters of the week or more emotional, personal stories centring on the lives of the characters we had grown to know so well. Mark Snow scores all of this brilliantly.

Marksnow
Mark Snow

Recently his music has been able to be appreciated all over again by X-Philes with the release of two volumes (4 CDs in each) of his wonderful music from the series by La La Records, each selling out very quickly (although you can still locate copies on the web if you keep looking). A re-release of the score to the first film is however still available (see the link at the end to buy). It’s been fantastic to listen to the music on its own and realise just how much certain moments in the series are linked to the music that accompanied them.

Fans are already chatting about what music they’d like to see in a further third volume (come on La La Records, you know you want to!) and it’s made me consider which musical score moments from 202 episodes and 2 films have stood out for me. So, as we await those new stories and new music from Mark to accompany them, here are my favourite pieces of Mark Snow’s X-Files score. I’d love to hear what other fans have on their lists and what they would love to hear on a third CD volume if we are lucky enough to get one.

1. Ending from Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (series 3)

Jose_Chung's_'From_Outer_Space'

This is a fairly surreal episode by fan favourite Darin Morgan (hard to believe he only actually wrote four episodes!), but more than anything I love the music written for the final few minutes. It’s a genuinely beautiful piece of music, which is able to be both melancholy and hopeful at the same time. This is a very distinctive musical piece from the series and it’s no surprise it was included on the first volume of music released.

2. Scully remembers her sister in Piper Maru (series 3)

c8fcd9aa5935

This is only a short music cue from Piper Maru, but it’s always been one that I’ve remembered and I was thrilled to see it included on volume 1 (within the track “Back In The Hood”). As Scully returns to the naval base she grew up on, we see her remember happy childhood times playing hopscotch with her sister. With Melissa’s death still very recent, this moment is very touching and this cue from Mark Snow truly adds to the emotional depth of the scene.

3. Dark revelations in Grotesque (series 3)

Grotesque

Grotesque is one of the series’s most chilling episodes and required a darker, more disturbing musical background to enhance the atmosphere we were seeing on screen. Mark’s loud, intense score, heavy on the piano and its relentless pounding is absolutely perfect to depict the frightening events of the story as the viewers start to worry that Mulder may have truly fallen over the edge of sanity.

4. Home Again (I Want To Believe)

people_xfiles

Although it disappointed me in many ways, the music for the second film I Want To Believe was not one of them and Mark Snow proved that years later he was still perfect at capturing the magic of Mulder and Scully (and indeed David and Gillian) on screen. The stand out piece for me has to be what is effectively their love theme from the film, captured in “Home Again.” It’s a beautiful piece of music, full of love and emotion and marks this deeper connection now shared between them.

5. On a bridge between life and death for Scully in One Breath (series 2)

xfiles-onebreath5

One Breath was bound to be in here somewhere as it’s my favourite episode and it’s another which highlights the variety of music needed over the course of the series. Unlike darker, moodier music such as for Grotesque, the music for One Breath needed to be more delicate, in order to reflect Scully’s fragile life and how close she was to death. Mark Snow’s score is very touching and feels, in parts, rather spiritual and I particularly love the music chosen for scenes in which Scully sits in her boat, which at any point could be set adrift. Thankfully volume 1 of the CD collection has captured this score in both “Reanimation” and “Guardian Angel”.

6. Unwavering love and friendship in Momento Mori (series 4)

x-files-season-4-14-memento-mori

Momento Mori is one of those episodes that always manages to bring a tear to my eye and remains, for me, one of the finest hours of the series. It’s certainly some of Gillian Anderson’s best work (in the year she deservedly won an Emmy) and this scene at the end of the episode, in which she deals with Penny’s death by resolving to come back to work as she has things to finish, is truly wonderful and contains one of the series’s most emotional and heartbreaking pieces of music. The fact this has yet to be released on the CDs surely means a 3rd volume is a necessity?!

7. Sweeping conspiracies in Gethsemane and emotional depths in Redux (series 4 & 5)

3332648-redux1

The music of the fourth series finale and indeed the start of series 5 has always stayed fresh in my head and for me is one of the most memorable sections of score written for the show. These episodes were quite epic in story, both on a myth-arc level, as Mulder searches to prove the ultimate proof of a governmental deception and on a personal level, as Scully’s cancer seems to finally be too strong for her. Mark’s music is very impressive, with grand, sweeping sections, moving seamlessly through to the more fragile moments. Although most of the music from Gethsemane and Redux has been captured on volume 2, I was sad that the beautiful short cue from Redux II, played as Mulder visits a sleeping Scully was left out. Surely this is another must-add piece for a third volume?!

8. Beware Eugene Victor Tooms! (series 1)

tooms1

Tooms remains one of the most memorable and indeed terrifying characters of the series and the music written by Mark in his two episodes was fantastic. With brilliant use of plucked strings and synth, he truly conveys an eeriness that was essential to the effect the episodes were designed to have on the audience. The creepy music from the beginning of Tooms, when we are within the Druid Hill, stands out for me as being some of the most frightening music on film or television (captured on volume 2’s release). It’s a perfect example of how crucial music is to something – no matter how well written and acted, I think Squeeze and Tooms would not have had the same impact without Mark’s score.

9. Maybe there’s Hope in The Truth Part 2 (series 9)

thetruth

It was a sad day when The X-Files came to an end and the final scene of the series was a lovely way to end the show. It left Mulder and Scully with hope for the future, one that saw them reunited and stronger together. Mark Snow’s delicate music, with echoes of the main theme within it was a lovely way to say goodbye to our favourite FBI agents and no doubt brought a tear to the eye of many fans when they first watched it.

10. At the crossroads (Fight The Future)

screenshot171

The release of the first feature film was an exciting event and Mark Snow created a grand score to accompany this big screen outing. I could have picked a number of pieces, but I’ve always loved the piece of score that accompanied the scene in which Mulder and Scully drive across country after the tanker trucks and instead of going left or right, drive straight ahead in to the barren wasteland.

11. The influence of the Navejo (Anasazi trilogy, series 2 and 3)

cap144

In what for me is the strongest mythology multi-part story of the whole series, there is the strong influence of the Indian tribe and their ancient traditions. Mark Snow did a great job of creating a score for the episodes that managed to capture this within the sound, giving the episodes a fresh and distinct sound. It’s such an intrinsic part of this story that you can see the moments in your mind as you listen to it.

12. Little Box of Sand (Emily, series 5)

hqdefault

The season five two-parter which revealed the existence of little Emily as Scully’s daughter is one of the most poignant stories. You had a sense that this could never have a happy ending. The score is delicate, haunting and filled with a tragic sadness and this piece from the soundtrack, brings this beautiful music together. It’s one of the best examples of Mark Snow creating an emotional depth in his music to enhance the power of the storylines on the show.

13. The End – Closure (The End, series 5)

X-Files_Office_incinerated

As the show’s time in Vancouver drew to a close the creators gave us a finale that brought certain answers, while also setting the course for the show’s new path. It felt like an ending of sorts and the music was epic and with a sweeping grandeur to match the occasion. I especially love the score that accompanies the last few moments as Mulder finds his office and life’s work has literally gone up in smoke.

14. Cloning and the alien bounty hunter (Colony/End Game, series 2)

evil-mulder

Colony and End Game marked a shift in the stakes of the mythology of the show, introducing the concept of clones, a deeper mystery surrounding Mulder’s sister and the frightening Alien Bounty Hunter. The music throughout is suitably atmospheric and eerie, giving the story an added other-worldly element, which was able to ratchet up the tension once Scully realises the person before her is not her partner at the cliffhanger end to the first episode. It was gripping television and Mark’s score certainly added to that.

15. and of course…..the now iconic theme! 

Opening Credits 12

Although this list is more focussed on music from the episodes themselves, it seemed wrong to not include the brilliant theme of the series. Looking back at the show now, I can’t imagine The X-Files without this haunting, otherworldly music cue, which set the tone for Mark Snow’s music for the entire duration of the series. It’s instantly recognisable and one of the best television themes created.

*************

So those are my favourite pieces from the series to date. No one else would be able to capture the unique mood and atmosphere of the world of Mulder and Scully and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what musical score Mark Snow will create for the new episodes airing next January (I can’t believe how close we are now!). I’d love to hear which musical tracks you love and which you are hoping to see on any future compilation CD.

The official soundtrack releases for The X-Files were released by La La Records. The collection for the first film Fight The Future is still available here. Keep an eye on their website for news of any future releases (fingers crossed). 

Advertisements

Music that makes a film – My favourite film scores.

Chambalis-Upcoming-OST2-1038x576

(Photo above taken from Cinemanero.com)

As my theatregoing is on hold at the moment due to a broken foot, I’ve been thinking more about films recently and one thing that has always been clear to me is how crucial a movie’s score is to the connection you have with the film. In fact there are some films where I love the music more than the film! Deciding on my favourite film scores has been a lot harder than I expected and this list could have been much longer. It’s already longer than my usual lists, being a top 20! For each film I’ve chosen a specific piece from the score that I especially love, although there are some entries where the whole album from start to finish could have been listed. Feel free to let me know your choices in the comments.

1. “Honor Him / Now We Are Free” – Hans Zimmer (Gladiator)

Gladiatorsoundtrack

The soundtrack from Gladiator remains one of my all time favourites and these specific two pieces from it, which have such a powerful, emotional impact at the film’s end is still my top choice for any piece of movie music. I cannot fail but be moved whenever I hear it and it was particularly incredible to experience it live at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year (see my earlier post on that event).

2. “The Breaking of the Fellowship” – Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

250px-The_Lord_of_the_Rings_-_The_Fellowship_of_the_Ring_-_Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack

Probably my favourite film score from beginning to end is that from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Each film in the trilogy has a wonderful score by Howard Shore, with moments that still leave me in awe of his talent, but as my favourite of the films and the first time this music was brought to life, The Fellowship wins. It was tough choosing a specific track but if I have to it would definitely be this one, during which the Fellowship separates in to the strands that will continue for the rest of the story. It’s hard to believe over a decade on that there was ever a time when these now instantly recognisable pieces of gorgeous music didn’t exist!

3. “That Next Place” – Thomas Newman (Meet Joe Black)

Meet_Joe_Black_Uni53229

Some people love Meet Joe Black and others can’t stand it, but I still think it has a beautiful score by Thomas Newman. It is subtle, understated and works wonderfully for the movie and never more so than the lovely That Next Place, which underpins the film’s bittersweet and emotional ending. Give it another listen if you can’t remember it. You may even shed a tear.

4. “August’s Rhapsody” – Mark Mancina (August Rush)

augustrush

August Rush is such a sweet little film about a boy in search of his real parents and his love of the music that is all around us. The film builds to this gorgeous suite of various instruments, which together are so wonderful. One of the clearest examples of the power of music and film together.

5. Main Title – Marc Shaiman (The American President)

alb_92729_big2

Before the glorious television triumph that is The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin wrote another story about the White House for film. This was The American President with Michael Douglas as the charming but firm President Shepherd. It’s a wonderful film and Marc Shaiman’s beautifully romantic score is the perfect accompaniment and is one album I never tire of listening to.

6. “Vesper” – David Arnold (Casino Royale)

David_Arnold_-_Casino_Royale_OST_album_cover

David Arnold took on quite a responsibility when scoring the new Bond film in 2006. Arguably John Barry is as intrinsically linked to Bond as the actor in the title role. The score for Casino Royale did a fantastic job in rebooting the franchise and yet still giving a nod to the past. My favourite piece though is Vesper’s theme. It’s such a delicate piece of music, which seems quite new for a Bond movie, focusing on the romance rather than the action.

7. “The End” – Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises)

the-dark-knight-rises-soundtrack-artwork

Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is the pinnacle of comic book films for me. Why we are getting another Batman so soon is beyond me. A huge part of the style and atmosphere of the trilogy is the score and the themes that run through them all. For me, these all build up to an impressive climax with The End from the final movie, which plays over the last few minutes of this brilliant film. I can’t imagine the movies without the score, which highlights how pivotal it is.

8. “Home Again” – Mark Snow (The X-Files: I Want To Believe)

12574_696796

As a lifelong X-Files fan, the return of my favourite characters in 2008 was very exciting. Admittedly though this second big screen adventure did not live up to the past and this choice is an example of a piece of movie music I love more than the film that created it! Mark Snow will always be a special part of Mulder and Scully’s world and this lovely piece from their tender final scene together is perfect.

9. “So Was Red” – Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption)

Shawshank_redemption_EPC478332

The Shawshank Redemption is my favourite film and so it was inevitable Thomas Newman’s score would appear in this list. I can listen to it all quite easily, with all its light and shadow. However if I have to pick only one piece to draw out, it would be this one, as Red makes his final journey. Just thinking about it makes me want to watch the film again!

10. “An Ocean Of Memories” – James Horner (Titanic)

4fb49df659779.preview-620

I am not ashamed to admit to liking Titanic. Maybe I was the right age group when it was released, but I was captivated by the stunning sets, the costumes (especially Kate’s first outfit) and beautiful music from James Horner. The soundtrack is one of the first film scores that I noticed doing well commercially, which can only ever be a good thing for interest in classical music. James Horner successfully translates the power of the ship, the romance of the story and the emotional tragedy of the sinking perfectly. I could have picked so much of this score but An Ocean of Memories is one that includes all the elements that, for me, show what a brilliant score it is.

11. “The Launch” – James Horner (Apollo 13)

Apollo_13_MCD11358

Another superb film is Apollo 13 and another entry for James Horner in this list. The score adds to the patriotic, heroic themes running through the film, as we learn the incredible story of three astronauts whose unsuccessful mission to the Moon almost cost them their lives and the brave individuals who worked tirelessly to get them home safely. This track in particular, The Launch, is classic James Horner – it is bold, soaring and feels epic in scope. As he does with his Titanic score he is able to use music to bring to life such incredible feats of human achievement while still capturing the emotional humanity of the story.

12. “Gabriel’s Oboe” – Ennio Morricone (The Mission)

6F7FNsY

This is such a classic piece of movie music, but is another example of me being more familiar with the music than the film itself! Ennio Morricone has created some wonderful music for film, but for me Gabriel’s Oboe is at the top. It is a beautifully emotive, delicate piece, that is far to short for my liking, but perhaps that’s one of the reasons it works so well. It leaves you wishing it would go on forever!

13. “Theme From Schindler’s List” – John Williams (Schindler’s List)

sl

Schindler’s List is one of the most powerful and important films made and is something I strongly believe everyone should watch to ensure such a terrible time in history is never forgotten. As Steven Spielberg’s long term collaborator John Williams creates something stunning with the music for the film. It doesn’t distract from the film, but blends with it to convey the power of the events on the screen and the theme from the film remains one of the most powerfully, emotional movie themes I’ve ever heard. It makes me cry every time I hear it with the sole violin played with such love by Itzhak Perlman.

14. “Theme from Jurassic Park” – John Williams (Jurassic Park)

Jurassicpark-1-

I still remember seeing Jurassic Park for the first time at the cinema as a kid and being in awe of what I was seeing. Dinosaurs really were real. They had to be! Yet again the partnership of Williams and Spielberg worked to create another memorable soundtrack and one that remains near the top of most movie music polls.

15. “Portuguese Love Theme” – Craig Armstrong (Love Actually)

51HscZsHYWL._SS500_

The next choice for this list is Craig Armstrong’s Portuguese Love Theme from Richard Curtis’s festive film. You often hear all of his love themes together in one suite, but if I had to choose one it would be the romantic music underpinning the love that grows between Colin Firth’s Jamie and his Portuguese maid Aurelia. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

16. “End Title/You Are Karen” – John Barry (Out Of Africa)

Out_of_Africa_6158

John Barry’s beautiful score to Out of Africa had to be included in this list as it is remains to me one of the most romantic and emotional pieces of music from any film score. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling moved when they hear it.

17. “Solomon” – Hans Zimmer (12 Years A Slave)

12_Years_a_Slave_Soundtrack

12 Years A Slave became one of the most incredible films I’d ever seen immediately. Its sheer power, emotional depth and heartbreaking story moved me to tears. The music is a great balance for the film, with metallic chain-like effects adding to the horror and suffering seen on screen. However for me it is the track Solomon which captures all the emotions the film stirs up and it had to be included in this list. If you have yet to watch this film I can’t recommend it enough.

18. “The John Dunbar Theme” – John Barry (Dances With Wolves)

Dances_With_Wolves_Epic4675912

Another John Barry classic from a wonderful film. It’s a superb soundtrack, but I especially love the John Dunbar Theme, which captures all the wonder of the film brilliantly in the way John Barry does best.

19. Main Title – Somewhere In My Memory – John Williams (Home Alone)

Home_Alone_(Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack)

One of my favourite childhood films and a Christmas tradition, Home Alone’s score by John Williams is the perfect festive soundtrack. It captures all the heart, beauty and fun of this classic family film and yet again shows what a special composer John Williams is.

20. “Chevaliers de Sangreal” – Hans Zimmer (The Da Vinci Code)

Davincicodesoundtrack

It may have been a controversial book and film on release, but Hans Zimmer does a great job with the score, particularly for the film’s end, as Robert Langdon realises the answer to the riddle he’s been trying to solve throughout the story.

21. “Rue’s Farewell” – James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games)

image

After recently watching the final film in The Hunger Games franchise I was reminded of just how powerful its score is and I had to add it to this list. Picking just one theme is hard but it would have to be Rue’s theme, first heard in the tragic, yet beautiful scene in which Katniss honours her fallen friend. The music lifts the emotion of this moment to something very special and it brought a lump to my throat.

…………

So those are my top choices. There are so many other wonderful scores I could have included, but especially Pirates of the Caribbean (Hans Zimmer) and Hook (John Williams). Composers play such an important part in the creation of special films and it’s wonderful that the soundtracks are as accessible as they are these days. I’m excited to see what the next film will be that will captivate me through what I hear as well as what I see on the screen.

For anyone looking for a good compilation of movie music, I highly recommend the Classic FM at the Movies sets, which contain some of the ones I’ve mentioned as well as other classic film scores.