Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jay's Playlist: End Credit themes

Welcome to my playlist, where I discuss the music which is currently entertaining me. Below you will find a video, press play to begin the song and then read my feelings on the album.

Today's music is end credits themes

I am an avid fan of soundtracks, and more often than not the best track of a score is the one which features a medley of all the themes in the movie: the end credits track. Often times the themes used in the score are truncated due to the action on screen. Soon after a motif establishes itself the entire piece has to shift to a new tone due to a change in the onscreen action (you can hear this especially at the end of one of my previous playlists). But with the end credits the composer is given 6-10 minutes to fill with as many themes as he wishes which allows him to fully flesh out the melodies without needless interruptions.

Of course, this post could easily turn into "my favorite movie" themes, which it sort of is, but I've picked out a few end credits themes from movies you may have forgotten the themes to (or maybe only remember the main theme and not the secondary melodies).

And I would be remiss if I at least didn't mention the king of end credits themes: John Williams. Nearly all of his major films end with bombastic triumphant theme music (Star Wars series, Indiana Jones series, Superman series, Jurassic Park series, Harry Potter series, etc) and it has become cliche to the point that hearing first 5 notes of any motif reminds me of the beginning of the credits ("Directed by Steven Spielberg/George Lucas") rather than the movie itself.

Sometimes the end credits allow composers to add familiar themes that are tied to the franchise but were not in the movie. This happens most often in sequels with soundtracks not composed by the original artists. The new artists want to add their own style to the film but know if they don't include the original theme the fans will turn against them, so they wait until the end of the movie:

Um... yada, yada, yada, Costner isn't British.

Even the "end credits" track title has become so cliche that composers will spoof it if given the opportunity...

And sometimes, the end credits are the only time music is played. In the case of Cloverfield (a largely silent film musically since it was presented as "found footage") the only time music plays is over the credits, which is as close to "theme" as the movie will ever have.

Finally, movies are not the only media with end credits. One of my favorite pieces is from the game Vagrant Story which is the only time the theme appears in an orchestral form:

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