Friday, 4 July 2008

Unsung Heroes

Ever noticed how there are composers and composers? On the one hand there are those that call themselves composers who may knock out the odd song or two every few years. These tend to be well known pop stars who sell vast numbers of copies of their one or two songs to earn worldwide celebrity.

Then there are composers like Christophe Beck. Who? Well, exactly. Christophe once had a day job which was to write the orchestral incidental music for episodes of the TV show, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ for seasons 3 to 5. I have just ripped my copy of the Buffy musical episode CD, ‘Once More With Feeling’ to MP3 so that I can play it on my computer. To make up the playing length of the CD, Beck’s score to accompany the last three minutes of the Season 5 finale – ‘The Gift’ is included. Thus I have reacquainted myself with what in musical terms is possibly Buffy’s finest moment.

I have a problem with this piece of music. It makes me cry. Every time. The screen action that this piece covers (Spoilers Alert!) is Buffy’s fatal swan dive into a dimensional portal to save the world (again), her friends’ discovery of her broken body and the final shot of her gravestone in Sunnydale cemetery. Obviously, knowing this lends a certain frisson to the music but nevertheless, it is impossibly beautiful and massively emotionally charged. Yet it is just a piece of commissioned music for a 45 minute TV programme that would be broadcast and then forgotten. At the time of its broadcast, Christophe would’ve put it behind him and be thinking anxiously about his deadline for the next episode.

There is a similar piece of score included on the Radio Sunnydale CD (a compilation of bands showcased at the show’s fictional nightclub, ‘The Bronze’) by Robert Duncan which was used during the final conflict with the First Evil’s Ubervamps in the show’s last ever episode, ‘Chosen’. This too, is fabulous. Its stirring, slightly Celtic flavoured theme is perfect for the final showdown, from which not all would emerge unscathed.

This is real musicianship. This is being technically adept and creative to order yet still coming up with something fresh and new on a regular basis, against the clock. In Beck’s case a throwaway few minutes of score has shown itself to be a masterwork. Compare that with the song-every-few-years brigade and you begin to wonder who the real musician is and just who is the celebrity?


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I've been teary eyed listening to music tonight too. Never head of this guy before, thanks for introducing him.

musicobsessive said...

Barb - That's what music does to those that love it. It has the power to move. Those that shun it don't know what they're missing.