Sunday, April 03, 2005

"A Desert Drive" Thomas Newman

This piece is one of the many instances of the main music from the movie Pay it Forward. The music is used throughout the movie much like a leitmotiv or idee fixe in that it always accompanies the grand ideal of the movie in action. It also paints a picture of the ideal well - it begins with a simple groove, which could be compared to the first three favors a person does, and becomes more complex as it progresses, which is similar to the protagonist's hopes, that the favors will spread to a vast web of people.

I really enjoy this piece for several reasons. First of all, I like all of Newman's scores, especially those for this movie and American Beauty, as well as Shawshank Redemption. I'm not positive it's what one would call minimalism, but if fits the bill. It's very repetitious and lacks a strong solo melody.

It's also very tonal. Though the harmony is pretty static, it has a clear tonal center and the chords aren't that abstract.

It features a lot of percussion. The marimba has a prominent role, and I believe he uses temple bells as well. In fact, Newman uses percussion as a major resource in several of his works, and this makes me biased towards his music in the first place. Regardless, it's a very effective medium because it's rarely used, and this gives the score a fresh, modern quality to it.

This piece makes me feel optimistic, which is the point of the music - to portray the idealism of the young boy who wants to change the world for the better. I'm not sure what aspect of the music does this, but the major mode helps the music sound happy and the catchy groove makes it enjoyable.

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