Friday, October 4, 2013

Scoring the Hunt

by Travis Elder

The excellence of hunting cues must be an immutable law of musical scoring.  I thought this as I recently listened for the first time to Geoff Zanelli's excellent Hunting the Buffalo and started recalling several other impressive hunting cues.  Whether its the magnificent landscapes, the furious chase, or the power of the animal, hunts often inspire the composer's best.  Here are five amazing pieces highlighting the excitement and adrenaline rush of the hunt.

Hunting the Buffalo by Geoff Zanelli from Into the West.  This piece begins with slow, low strings joined by restrained, tapping percussion that sort of lurks and stalks belying the orchestral tempest about to be unleashed.  The percussion pauses and then ramps up in intensity until like a herd of buffalo the orchestra launches into an exhilarating and rousing stampede with drums pounding in tandem.  Mystical and dreamlike, woodwind flutes rising like spirits in the wind to provide a dreamy, spiritual epilogue.  Amazon | iTunes

Elk Hunt by Trevor Jones from The Last of the Mohicans.  A pulsing, but not overbearing beat launches the flight of the elk and continues in low, rumbling propulsion throughout.  The orchestra strings play the noble theme of the Mohican with a string counterpoint dancing in and out of trees, bounding over rocks, and flying lightning fast through the air. This legendary cue awaits discovery by a new generation.  Amazon | iTunes

The Buffalo Hunt (Film Version) by John Barry from Dances With Wolves.  The hunt begins with the slow beating, clarion call of the war drums.  A noble brass fanfare announces the majesticness of the countryside.  Enchanting voices urge onward.  The brass again retorts its anthem with strings spurring them on.  A rollicking celebration of the American West begins and continues with alternating string and brass fanfares each fighting for glorious ascendency.  The hunt never sounded more excitingly glorious.  Amazon | iTunes

Foxhunt by John Corigliano from Revolution.  Set during Revolutionary War America, this piece is the most philosophical of the bunch.  Rather than a real fox hunt, this cue follows two men forced to run for their lives from British soldiers with dogs in tow.  Brass, strings, and percussion playfully and energetically bandy about one another like a classical ballet.  This lighthearted orchestral chase continues until at 3:40 the strings begin playing a mournful lament that soon overtakes the sportive-toned pursuit with the dark tones of indignity.  Amazon | iTunes

The Hunt by John Williams from The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  Of the five cues this one is the most intense.  Of course, the prey here is a herd of several thousand pound dinosaurs and the take down weapon a tranquilizer cannon.  Williams brings to bear a no holds barred jungle percussion extravaganza with hurtling brass blasts and frenetic orchestra.  By the conclusion of such boisterous playing you can imagine a pall of smoke rising from the players instruments.  Simply outstanding, uproarious fun!  Amazon | iTunes

Related Articles on the Web
The Thrill of the Hunt by John Lochner

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