On July 22, 2004 I did a phone interview with composer Gabriel Yared. It was 10:30 in the morning here and 4:30 London time where he was.
The interview was somewhat hindered by fact that I had one blank 60min tape to record it on and one 250min calling card, which, with overseas cost being higher, came to 83mins As a result, I could not let him speak as long as he wanted to and could not ask all questions.
Yared had final edit on the interview, so here is the edited version of said interview:
JUSTIN: My questions are going to be, ah, well there not going to be as thought provoking as I said, so here I go:
In 1997 you recorded a score for the movie, "Wings Of The Dove" which was rejected. ("Right," Yared) Do you know why?
YARED: Yes, in 1997 I got an Oscar for "The English Patient" and the distributor of "The English Patient" was so impressed by my score that he proposed my name to the director of "Wings of The Dove", Iain Softley, to replace the composer already on board, who had composed almost the whole score. The producer felt that the film needed more emotional themes ... so I met with the director, I listened to the music already recorded by Ed Shearmur and I found it very interesting and I said to the director, "Listen, this music is good, what more do you want me to do?" he told me then that this was neither his wish, nor his choice. So I was in a very awkward situation. I have never ever and I will never ever replace anybody. This was my only and first and last experience in replacing a composer. I found it very difficult, very unethical actually to replace a score that I believe is good -- jump on a project at the last minute and replace a good composer, but yet, I didn't know a lot about the Hollywood business; I had only composed for French and European films. So I accepted to do this job and I did my best to compose the music.
In the end the director went back to his previous composer and I was so relieved and happy that he got in the end what he wanted since the beginning, because, in a way it's completely insane to try to replace a composer, especially if he already had a long and good relationship with the director. You know, a director spends time with a composer, he spots his film, he explains to him how he wants things to go and he is happy with his composer; what's the point of replacing him? So this was my only, first and last experience in replacing anybody's work and, in the end, my score was replaced by Ed Shearmur's score. I was just like -- happy. Relieved and happy. My first and last experience in replacing, but not in being rejected. Actually I can say that the score Ed Shearmur did for "Wings Of The Dove" was excellent. I did my job and although I had composed, I think, a good score, I was really happy. Deep in my heart, happy and relieved to know that the previous composer was again onboard.
JUSTIN: Sounds nice, I do recall that Goldsmith had just been rejected from "Timeline" and he had worked with that director several times (mistake on my part) and people still couldn't understand why he was replaced and even though he didn't have time, but you know, that's what music editors and people, additional composers that could have come in helped with -- yet they still chose to reject him. I can understand why ... you know they shouldn't replace the composer if he does a good job, but...
YARED: Justin , Like it happened to me on "Troy". After a year of work, collaboration and friendship with the director, in twenty-four hours I heard that I was replaced! If there was not anyone to jump on this opportunity and say, "Okay, there is no problem, I will replace this score", this would not carry on for ever. It's also an issue of ethic and confraternity among colleagues. Yet , if it was a young and unknown composer, I probably would have understood more and accepted it better because this could have been a fantastic chance for a new composer to seize an opportunity like this one ... yet it is so difficult and risky to compose and record a score of more than 90 minutes in just 3 weeks work...
JUSTIN: I would just like to make one small comment before I go back to "Wings Of The Dove". I would like to ask, ah (stumbles with words), you did an excellent score for "Troy" and the first big epic score you've done. I would like to wonder, if you were offered the opportunity to do another epic score, would you do that?
YARED: Of course yes. I would take any opportunity just to get me out of this label put on me. I have been trapped since "The English Patient" and proposed only romantic films, and even sometimes soapy films.
JUSTIN: I... (Don't get a chance to talk ;-)
YARED: "The English Patient" was a wonderful and powerful film, a masterpiece, but since I got an Oscar in 1997 for this score, people said, "Okay, he's good for that", which meant in a way "only for that". So I have been like, typecasted for these kinds of movies, but my god, I need to BREATH and I don't breath all the same way, I need to explore all the fields of my inspiration and there are a lot ... I am not only a romantic composer, I am also an epic composer, I am also a comedy composer, I am also a funky composer. I don't want to be trapped in one kind of film and topics. I was really thrilled to get an Oscar, but it has been putting me in a pigeonhole. I only scored films like "The English Patient" certainly not as much interesting ... and oddly enough every character in those films dies in the end. "City Of Angels", Meg Ryan dies in the end; "Message In A Bottle", Kevin Costner dies in the end...
JUSTIN: (Laughs pretty hard)
YARED: "Autumn In New York", Winona Ryder dies in the end. It's surreal and almost funny. Preposterous. I came to film music to find and to provide people with all my skills and my eclectic inspiration and I find myself trapped in these kind of films ... so this is one explanation of what happened to me after the Oscar. There is one person who really understands me, he is my soulmate, Anthony Minghella. After "The English Patient" I did with him, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and Ripley is a very different score. It's a thriller. Finally, after three years, I was offered a chance to express something different, thanks to my friend Anthony, again. But there is something in the industry that when people hear something interesting from a composer, they don't imagine or forecast what this composer could be inhabited with, or capable of; sometimes very different from what he has expressed so far. If you listen to my scores when I was in France, there was "Betty Blue", "The English Patient" or "Camille Claude". One and all these scores are very different in their expressions, but the films I have been proposed after "The English Patient" don't take into account the variety of scores I had composed previously, nor my ability to score something different.
JUSTIN: Um-hum. Well, to interject, I will be asking sort of similar questions later, but I would like to continue back to "Wings of the Dove", cause I have weird questions. I always like to know weird information, like ... do you happen to remember how much you recorded for the film?
YARED: I think I recorded about 70 minutes of music. And, oddly enough, this music, which has been replaced in the end (happily for me) by Ed's score, has been used A LOT as temporary music. You know the system of using temp music?
YARED: With the music editors. My music has been used a lot as temp music and I found myself on a film without even knowing, a film called "Chocolat" beautifully scored by Rachel Portman, that some bits of this score (a very small part I guess) were taken from my music for "Wings Of The Dove".
JUSTIN: (Has another hardy laugh) I guess that brings me to my next question, for all of us that will never heard, cause it will never be released for what ever reason, re-use fees, what was the score like? The overall tone and feel; what kind of instruments did you use?
YARED: I was using a kind of small chamber orchestra. A lot of ethnic instruments, Chinese and Vietnamese instruments, percussions and ... I forget now. I do remember the themes: there was an ostinato for strings -- you know, kind of repetitive cells? And other beautiful tunes with nice harmonies ... difficult to describe.
JUSTIN: Nothing wrong with that. (Smiling to myself)
YARED: I remember having worked and researched a lot. This music was quite melodic and very luscious in it's harmonies. And there were parts of it that was very much Eastern-Oriental, Chinese and percussive, rhythmic.
JUSTIN: Any chance it may see the light of day on CD one day?
YARED: I don't know since it has been used as Temp Music, but this is not in my hands, I don't own my music, only the producers could make this decision. Someday.
JUSTIN: That's not fair. Ah...
YARED: I mean, this is the contractual system in Hollywood and one has to accept it. Where in France, the composer is the owner of his music. When he gets paid, he is still the owner of his music. Of course, the fees in France are much lower.
JUSTIN: (After fumbling with some words) I am going to skip over to the next one, ah next score that was rejected. "Les Miserables" which was, ah (Laughs cause I can't pronounce it)
YARED: Let's wait -- Les Miserables (Pronounces it's correctly)
JUSTIN: I think that was Basil, ah, I can't pronounce his last name Poledouris.
YARED: You can of course -- Les Miserables.
JUSTIN: (I smile and laugh as he tries to get me to pronounce it correctly :-)
YARED: Oh come on, Les Miserables. It's a Victor Hugo novel, taking place in the 19th century.
So let me talk to you about this.
JUSTIN: All right.
YARED: Immediately after I got the Oscar, I remember it was probably in the same night I had been awarded, I got a very nice fax at the hotel where I was staying for the Oscars night. It was The Four Seasons in Los Angeles. I got a nice fax from Billie August saying, "Congratulations, I am very happy we are working to date on "Les Miserables"." I am a composer who cares a lot about having a deep relationship with the director I am working with. I am not a movie-goer; I know very few things about cinema really and for me, working on a film is first of all working for a director. So I put this really at the top - how to have a good relationship with the director, how to listen to his "internal" voice, and then when I have a good relationship with a director, I read his script and I start composing before he starts shooting. Images don't talk enough to my imagination. I need something before that. I need the "fog", the words, talking with a director -- all these things which stir my imagination. I don't want to be involved in a film at the last minute and have only twelve weeks to compose and provide with a score, so I have always said since 1980, please invest me -- involve me in the process since the beginning don't put me there at the last minute, because I'm unable to react only to images. I need time to be wrong. I need time to explore, to dig. So Billie August called me just after the Oscar's night and said, "We are starting to shoot in Prague, come to see us on the set", so I came to Prague and I looked at some images in the editing room. I went to see the editor and went to see the actors because this is what I like, also -- to go on the set, to meet the actors, the actresses, visit the editor and starting to "smell the flavor" of the film before it gets to be finished. And I started composing and slowly I discovered that this director had not a real interest in music -- he was probably not sensitive to music. He was anchored in his musical habits and his habits were not my cup of tea. He didn't know a lot about the affect of music on a picture and what he was expecting from me was just to be kind of like wallpaper. So, when I started composing and I found out I had no deep relationship with him on this musical level, I started to wonder how this is going to end up and I remembered being in Abbey Road Studios in London, with a huge, large orchestra of a hundred pieces and the director saying not a word about the music, not having any reaction, any feedback, any comment and I understood while I was recording that, well, this was an insane relationship. It was like, ehhh ... like a doomed relationship. So, when I learned that I was fired, I was not at all surprised, I knew it -- I understood -- working with a director is a kind of marriage. This marriage was doomed. We were not able to share anything. Let's say there was nothing between him, probably, and music. So what he was expecting from me was just to, you know, paint here and there some colors and specially not to be personal -- specially not to be empathic or lyrical. He just wanted drones and basses playing along one single note and holding it forever and I remember my last chance was when I had two or three sessions with a large orchestra and he told me, "Just play one note" so I would tell the orchestra to play "F" all the double basses, all the celli, all the horns and he said, "I am happy with that" I said, "Okay" well ... let's hope that this will stop somewhere" and it stopped -- I was fired and I was really happy to be fired. Happy.
JUSTIN: Oh, that's terrible.
YARED: Yeah, it's terrible, but it's true! When it goes this way, when it looks useless, what can you do? I tried and tried to stick with him, tried to explain -- to widen his range of interests, but if there is no more communication, well the best thing is to split and go. And I was happy when he said, "Okay, I am moving to another composer". Actually, the reason he came to me, was probably wrong, some reason related to the success of "The English Patient", but he didn't come to me for artistic reasons, for my music.
JUSTIN: Hummm ... well, what was that score like? You said a hundred piece...
YARED: Very interesting. It was a very interesting score. I had, you know, this very large orchestra and it was big, epic. Very much in Victor Hugo's kind of style - transcribed into music. This was an epic one by the way, but none of you will get to hear it. I still have some tapes here and there, but again -- they are not mine. But this was an interesting score. And there was really big music and very deep, lyrical music. And all of it with a large orchestra and sometimes I had a choir, but I can't tell you how it was because for me it was like ages ago and anyway it didn't work with the director.
JUSTIN: So how much did you record for this movie?
YARED: Probably two hours of music
JUSTIN: I guess I am going to go to "Troy" (Trust me, this is better then the stuff I tried to pass for a broken sentence ;-). Can you tell why the producers had you take your clips down from your site? And why your letter about your experience on "Troy" was also removed about the same time?
YARED: I can probably tell you why: cause usually a composer gets paid contractually and moves on to some other project. He has no right whatsoever to his music, nor the right to use it or play it and I did that genuinely; ignoring that I did not have the right. I am really sincere and did not want at all to make any profit on my music. Also I am probably the only composer who decided to speak out , although I had been (very well) paid. And my first letter, I don't know if you read it.
JUSTIN: Ah, yes, I read it. I made sure to keep very up update with everything that was happening. After I heard this (Referring to Troy rejected).
YARED: Have you noticed there is nothing aggressive in that letter? I was just telling a story.
YARED: I was just describing how long my relationship with the director was. I started with him in February 2003 and I went with him till end March 2004. And that was all about this letter. I was just describing. You know - when a composer like me (who doesn't do five films a year, I do one film a year), spends all of his time, his energy, puts all his soul in a film and when all of the sudden he gets fired ... my sense of liberty, my soul - everything, my heart gets like ... like hurt. I couldn't stop from feeling devastated, cause I got really hurt. When I learned through my agent in one night on the 13th of March that I was fired, after a year of collaboration with the director, who was there all of the time in the studio, listening to my music, who had all my demos from five months which he commented (and I had conformed my demos to all his comments), who was praising my music and all of the sudden in one night I got fired. Well, if you are an artist, if you are just a human being, you are devastated. So, I put that letter on my website cause I needed this explanation for ... for my own sake. And then I decided to put some extracts of my score for all my fans -- I don't like this word, but let's say for all of the people who love my music and who sent me letters saying, "Why? What happened? Why are you fired?" and I said, "Listen, here are 32 minutes of my score. I put some extracts here and there and listen to my music" and I got so many e-mails Justin, you can't believe! How many people who wrote to me said, "This music is really great, it's amazing" and I responded to each e-mail.
And then I got an official letter from the producer's saying that I had to remove these extracts from my website because it was a copyright infringement. And I didn't know anything about that although I should have read my contract more attentively. So I removed it (He says sadly) and then, after a while, instead of removing it completely from my system, the guy who is in charge of my website (he is not a professional) had left it inside the system; it was no longer visible on my website though. Then a hacker, a film music guy, entered into my system and discovered these extracts were still available inside my system and I was absolutely not aware of that. So, he spread the word in the film music community and the producers found out the extracts were still on my website, but not visible -- they were inside the system ... I have been damaged. Deep in my faith, deep in my sensitivity because I had written one of my best scores that nobody has heard and that isn't in the film.
JUSTIN: All right, I am also curious about the letter that was taken down from your site -- your letter that was, last time I checked that was gone about the same time as the clips.
YARED: I have taken everything, I have taken off everthing which is related to Troy.
I was just trying to share my music with other people who love film music... Anyway, my agent asked me to remove everything regarding Troy and I did so on his advice.
JUSTIN: Well, hold on a second while I, ah, switch the side of the tape. I'm just about out on this side. Hold on. (Turns off tape and has wonderful conversation with Yared who says something poetic. I don't recall! Agh!)
JUSTIN: Over the last decade movies have gotten really bad and as a result, some scores have gotten bad. Composers have done bad scores. I don't know if this disease has affected French films, ah, but what is your feeling on the current state of the movie industry?
YARED: Um, of the film music movie industry?
YARED: Of the film music?
JUSTIN: Yes (Who wishes he had phrased it a bit more carefully, but oh well!)
YARED: I cannot really talk about that since I don't know the work of all my colleagues ... I think overall we may be lacking of real composers. The films need people who are able to compose, to build, to develop, to orchestrate, to provide with something a little more consistent than just colours and textures, drones and ethnic instruments...
JUSTIN: Yes. (Agrees whole-heartedly, though loves Revell's 13th Warrior still)
YARED: And more and more film music is becoming very weak, very ah ... how can I say?
YARED: It has no essence...
JUSTIN: I know exactly what you mean.
YARED: I mean, if you listen to Alfred Newman, or to Max Steiner, or to Rozsa, or to Herrmann -- ESPECIALLY Herrmann! These are composers who gave to the film music industry the best of their skills! And they were really true composers. As Stravinsky used to say, for the films, "wallpaper" is the worse danger because music is on a film is of course to fit the film and the images, but it is also there to elevate an audience. And this is what is deeply lacking sometimes.
JUSTIN: (Laughs hard) Oh, yes indeed. When we lose Goldsmith and Williams, two of the biggest...
YARED: You know that Goldsmith has died today?
JUSTIN: That he what???
YARED: He died today.
JUSTIN: Jerry Goldsmith?!
JUSTIN: No! I did not know that! (I had only woken up an hour earlier and not been to the boards.)
YARED: Yeah, he passed today.
JUSTIN: I ... I did not know that. That comes as a shock to me.
YARED: So yeah, I can tell you - hold on, I just received it...
"Hello Gabriel, as you maybe know, the film music legend, Jerry Goldsmith, passed away today."
Yes, he passed away today.
JUSTIN: What -- man. I wonder if that has spread, if everyone knows yet. (What a horrible way to begin a day I must tell you!)
YARED: I know yeah, I just got the information today. People like Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams and Ennio Morricone who are REAL composers; like Elmer Bernstein - they are REAL composers.
JUSTIN: Yeah, when we loose them there won't be anybody good left really.
YARED: I don't know about that, there are very good composers still working in the industry and bringing beauty into films. The problem could also come from the directors approach: a director usually studies at University to learn how to direct a film. Okay. He learns everything about optical lenses, about how to direct a cinematographer, how to direct an actor and actress and how to direct a set, but they are not told about the affects of music on picture, so when it comes to the music, we are dealing with people who have no education in music and sometimes their knowledge is restricted to the last film music of the previous year. "I have listened to this score and I want the same music for my film". And therefore they are easily satisfied. The director should have more knowledge about music. For example: at the end of their courses at University, they have to direct a film; then, I would say, they should invite a composer and the composer should show them what are the affects and impact of music on a pictures; discuss with them and play some classical, or ethnic or whatever type music and explain the interactivity between images and music. I am not saying that a director should read music, or be a composer, but at least have enough knowledge and vocabulary in order to exchange with a composer - to help a composer going beyond his own habits and explore more.
JUSTIN: Do you ever join fellow film scores fans on any of the websites like Movie Music, or Film Score Monthly?
YARED: No - this happened to me after Troy. Where I discovered this network. I didn't know anything about film music reviews and all that. I discovered this after Troy. When many people wrote to me. I am very keen to reply personally to all the e-mails, as you have discovered that, but I replied personally and I didn't know anything about how big the network of film music was in the world. I was not aware of that.
JUSTIN: Oh, it's huge. Are you thinking about joining us?
YARED: I don't know how.
You know, when a young composer wants to be in film and says, "How can I become a film composer?" I say, "Just be a composer. Stop being only focused on film music" What film music is expecting from you is to be a composer, to bring the essence of music and to be a true composer. Somebody who respects the gift he has received from above and just provide with beautiful and intelligent music for images. As a musician, a composer has already the skill of being dramatic, of knowing how to work with a libretto, or with images, or to an opera or what ever, so stop focusing only on film composers - they are not the masters, they are the son of the masters. The masters are Mahler, Strauss, Prokofiev, Bartok, Bach, Ravel, Beethoven, Mozart etc... I have no contempt for film composing, not at all, but I don't know any film composer who's became better through film composing. They come here with their skills and authenticity and their nature and they just provide us with music, but they don't become better. And music is always to go beyond your habits and beyond your skills, to evaluate, and sometimes film music doesn't allow you to do so, or probably the directors don't push you to exceed their expectations...
JUSTIN: Well, I got a list of shorter questions here. Without saying who you were, I posted on a few websites that I would be doing an interview and that I would like to get people's opinions on what they would ask, so I got a list of about 13 short questions. (Yared says something, but the recorder was so far away I don't know what, but I laughed really hard!)
YARED: Let's get on with it. (He says enthusiastically)
JUSTIN: Okay, the first question is, ah, what are your favorite projects that you have worked on?
YARED: I think it's all my collaboration with Anthony Minghella.
JUSTIN: All right.
YARED: Anthony Minghella is my soulmate and, on top of being a poet, a writer and a filmmaker. He is also a wonderful musician. And he always asks me to move from one side of my inspiration to another; something new. He never asks me to repeat myself. So he is really the one who, who, how can I say? Triggers in me, triggers in my permanent renewal.
JUSTIN: Ah, I guess my next question would be -- here it is -- Who are your favorite film music composers? Living or dead? These are just other people's questions.
YARED: Ah ... Bernard Herrmann, I would say, Is my favorite. And also the guys who have been, who have had so much humility, you know? They're so humble -- composers for cartoons. Like Scott Bradley (Tom & Jerry), Milt Franklin (Bugs Bunny), Carl Stalling (Bugs Bunny), Oliver Wallace (IMDb). Those people were SO inventive. And their orchestrations are like fireworks, those people -- I LOVE THEM. Today, I don't know because I am not a movie-goer ... I would love the industry to hire young and creative composers. I would love that.
JUSTIN: If some were just any good.
YARED: A person I love; I like very much the work of, is Alberto Iglesias. I like very much his work. Alberto Iglesias scores for Almodó¶¡² films. I love seeing the process and approach of a guy like Elliot Goldenthal. He is a very good and original composer. I hope just for him that he won&'t get trapped in the habits dictated by the industry you know? It's not his habits, it's not his problem. It&'s the problem of the producer and directors asking him to duplicate himself which could be dangerous, yet so far he is really creative and inventive. I like also James Newton Howard and many others ... Don&'t forget John Williams, Morricone and Bernstein of course... I love just to know there are a new, interesting composers -- it makes me, it excites me to know there is a new composer in town who is interesting. It&'s for me, like the best award to know there are new people who love music and are honest composers. Honest. Who have the skills and are honest and true to music.
JUSTIN: Ah, my next question would be: If at all, would you go back to any of your previous projects and change anything?
YARED: No. No, because I am really somebody who explores a lot, who digs a lot. I spend, you know, contrary to my colleagues who do many films a year, I normally do one film a year, or two films a year. And I spend so much time exploring and digging that I don't have any regrets for any project I have been scoring so far.
JUSTIN: Okay, I got a few more questions, but I only got half a tape left, so hate to (Yared says something, but the mic was too far away to capture it loudly enough) I am going to say this question, but change part of it because I just thought of something. Ah, a person asks: Do you ever feel insulted when rejected from a project? And what I would like to change it to is: What are your true feelings, cause fans tend to put words in your mouth, especially the other day I read something and what's your true feelings on when you get rejected?
YARED: It's just -- just dreadful. It's not an ego point of view, it's when you give all of your self, all of yourself, all of your skills, your soul -- you have given everything honestly, in a film, or in a project, and you get rejected, you have a kind of loss of faith in yourself. A loss of faith in relationships with a director with whom you have been establishing a relationship during a year, or more than that, so it's a great loss, but it's not a loss regarding the ego. Or what ever. It's just that you feel -- where have I been wrong?! What have I done wrong?! I mean, it's very general in me, it's very sincere. It's like to say I have a lack of confidence in me because I have been rejected. Because the more you are honest and you give, and you are just thrown away you say, "Where have I gone wrong?" You don't say, "He's an idiot" you just say, "I have gone wrong". Yeah.
JUSTIN: Ah, I am going to go on to the next question. The same guy...
YARED: You do understand what I am saying?
JUSTIN: Yes, I do understand. I just found it fun the way you phrased it.
YARED: Well, I try to be very, you know, straight forward and honest. I say, "Well, this is what is happening to me!" It just sounds like I have a lack of confidence in everything I have done.
JUSTIN: Yes, I appreciate that. Someone who would want to speak out and give their true feelings; there are so many fake people now these days that don't.
Um, the next question was (How do you like my improper English?), the same guy is asking, what do you do in your free time?
YARED: Every morning I wake up, I read a Bach Cantata, a Mozart Quartet. If it's quartet, I try to reduce it to piano and play the quartet on piano, then I go ... I improvise. As much as I can and I record it on a small cassette recorder. In the afternoon I write down my improvisations and I start expanding them and double up them with all the technical skills I have. Harmony comes upon fugue and all of that and I am just a silly, normal composer who lives for music and breaths with music. So this is my life. I am not waiting for a project to produce music, everyday I compose, everyday I read music a lot. I am really a reader. Music is easier for me to read because since I am young and self-taught, I have read a lot. I reduce for piano, I transcribe for piano and then I improvise and write down and double up and keep fiddling with music from morning to noon to ... to midnight.
JUSTIN: Ah, if you'll pause for a second, I am going to flip the page again. Ah, this is another question from somebody. It's about rejected scores again. Um, yeah. A lot of people love to ask those questions.
YARED: I know, I know...
JUSTIN: Well, he asks: "In a case where your score has been rejected, have you ever looked closely at the alternative score the film makers favoured and assessed if it actually is a better score for the film? Are there cases where you feel the film makers or the replacement composer fundamentally missed opportunities or the point of the film?"
YARED: Listen, I spent -- I think my life experience on "Troy"; I spent a year on "Troy". The composer who replaced me spent probably two months ... I would say. Probably he has a much more commercial sense of what Hollywood is expecting from music. He is much more experienced than me in that way.
JUSTIN: Cause he used to be so big and he...
YARED: Because of this state of "emergency", he probably had to be surrounded by a large team of orchestrates, many assistants, many music editors. I'm not an industrial composer. I am a just a craftsman. Only on "The Wings Of The Dove" I was, I told you that I was happy. I was happy cause I had consideration for the composer who wrote the music prior to me and I was more than happy he replaced me in the end; it was fair, it was justice. Because he was there in the first place. But apart from that I don't have a lot of experiences. I know that Basil Poledouris replaced me on "Les Miserables", but I never heard the score; never watched the movie.
And I know that James Horner replaced me on "Troy" in a very short amount of time for a score of almost two hours of music. I know he ended up doing 70 to 80 minutes of music instead of a hundred-and-twenty, but -- this doesn't change one thing. That it's the time you invest in composing which is the more important thing, because the time you invest in composing is not only for the film, it's also for yourself, it's also for your relationship with the composition. With Music. And you cannot consider any work as a commercial task. Not any. I can't compare my work to any of the people who replaced me. I just say, "Well, probably I have made the best in working so long on a film" and I don't supervise it and who ever have replaced me, bless him. Bless him - he's done his job. I am not doing a job -- I am dealing with something very deep which is my relationship to the gift I have received.
JUSTIN: Ah, I am going to move on to the next question. This one is a bit lengthy, so if you need it repeated, bare with me. Ah, the guy asks: Do you ever at times use your music to comment on how you see the film in a way that is quite different to what the director intended? If you do, can you discuss an example and whether the film maker saw the scene in a new light because of your insight? After hearing your music in it. What you thought.
YARED: Many times in my life, many times in my life. Like on "Mr. Ripley", and I am talking about Anthony Minghella who is a musician. About the end of the film where Matt Damon is threatening Gwyneth Paltrow, who is just leaning on the door and he is wearing a bathrobe and in his bathroabe there was a razor in his hand. And then comes the blood, because he is squeezing the razor so much in is pocket that the blood spots it. Anthony and his fantastic editor, Walter Murch, were asking me for music that would really underscore the scene. And I came up with a different proposal: to have an ostinato starting very softly and building, building through the whole
scene. You know ostinato, what it is? Ostinato is something like repeating all the time and building.
JUSTIN: Yes. (Thinking of a rather recent jwfan.net post...)
YARED: And , in the first place, Anthony wanted something completely different. And when I came up with this idea, he tried this new idea with Walter and in the end they agreed upon it, for they are both so open minded and brilliant . He had an idea of what the score should be for every scene and I came up with something completely different just for this scene. And I was not adamant, never with Anthony my friend, I was confident in what I was proposing and they are clever enough to understand that my proposal was probably different from their approach and they have considered it better. But here we are talking about people who are clever and so musical. You know, only clever people could change their mind. But a stubborn director has no idea what should be the music and would never move from his first idea -- even if they know they are wrong. So the more people have knowledge, the more the directors are educated in music and the more open they are to the composers and to new paths for film music.
JUSTIN: Ah, I am going to move on to the next question. I'm looking at my tape recorder and getting scared.
YARED: Am I answering the questions?
JUSTIN: Yes. Yes you are. The last question here, but I might have a few miscellaneous ones after it, if I have tape room. Ah, the last question a fan asks: How do you feel about occasions where music that is written for a very specific scene is tracked over other parts of the film? Is it an inappropriate use of music that really was about something else?
YARED: In my process of writing for a film, I don't write first to any scene, to any picture shot-by-shot. I am writing for the spirit of the film, for the spirit of the script and for the main spirit of the whole film, so if you take one of my cues and you move it and you put it to another scene, it doesn't matter. Because the music I had been composing was for the main spirit of the film. Whether you put it here, or there is absolutely not important. And I would say this is a fantastic exercise to do -- if you aim to compose music for a scene forget about it and just put it somewhere else and you will see that it may work. Aiming is the worst thing in composing. Aiming and trying to fit and syncronize something, is the less interesting part in composing. I tell you an example: If you take any Mahler, or Prokofiev piece of music and you put it in the film where it was not supposed to be, where -- I mean, this music has been composed just for the grace of god. For, you know, the sake of composing. And you put it on an image and on a scene and all of the sudden it finds it's own synchronization and it fits perfectly in the scene although it has not been made for the scene and it enlightens the scene. So, film music is not about any aiming to fit the scene, it's aiming to fit the spirit of the film, the spirit of the director, the spirit of the whole work based on the script, the shooting and the actors.
JUSTIN: Ah, all right. I just got a few miscellaneous questions. Before I say them, it's been real fun talking to you. You're a very nice person and very approachable and I like how you speak your mind and let your thoughts be known.
YARED: You know, I am just wishing one thing. That more and more real composers come to film music. Then more and more honest people and true artists come to film music because this is what we need to elevate this world. Not only the audiences. Just to elevate this world. Because music is in the end the most beautiful art. Applied to picture as wallpaper it becomes the worse art. It is just given, you know, and used really to bring something into the consciences of people, then it becomes something it is really supposed to be - an art. Whether it goes to film, or what ever. It's not the matter of film music. The matter is -- be ... be ... how do I say ... I don't know how to say -- just be true, be true to the gift you have received, be true to yourself and this takes a huge amount of work. Incessant amount.
JUSTIN: That sounds right.
YARED: Don't betray it. Don't betray the gift you have received. Don't betray the sense of music. It is very important.
JUSTIN: (Echo) Ah, I got a few miscellaneous questions and then I am going to say good-bye. I've got not a lot of room left on the tape and I am starting to worry. Um, my first short question is: Sometimes scenes in a film get tracked over with a song, I can think of an example in "Austin Powers" where George Clinton's big action piece to the fight scene in the end was tracked over with a song, "Secret Agent Man". How do you feel about that? Has that ever happened to you? Do you...
YARED: Of course. I don't mind at all about that. I mean, we are talking about a more commercial approach. It's that people just want to have songs on the soundtrack, so they try to fit as many songs as they can on a soundtrack and film, because they know they will sell more with songs and this is a phenomena which started like ten years ago, where you find sometimes that a score from a composer fitting only two, or three tracks on the soundtrack film and CD and all the rest is made with songs. But this is just -- we are talking about a commercial approach. It's not an artistic approach. I understand it. I do understand it, but I don't support that, because, unless the song is really composed for the picture -- I've done a lullaby in the beginning of "Mr. Ripley". I composed this with Anthony Minghella, but the lullaby in the beginning of the film was already suggesting all the main themes which would come after in the score. Then it makes scense to have a song, but just putting a song of who ever is trendy, it's just a commercial approach. Bless them - they want to do that, they want to sell. And this is perfectly understandable nowadays and I have benefited a lot from City of Angels soundtrack sellings; I had 4 tracks on it and I have never made as much money in my life, thanks to this process. So I don't want to blame it.
JUSTIN: Ah, I guess my last questions (How many times have I used "Ah,") -- no, I got one more tiny question, but I don't think I will have room for it on the tape. Ah, I might have to scribble it down. As I contacted you regarding my rejected score site, I got another rejected question, but this time it's not about any of your work. Have you ever heard any rejected scores? Some have been released, some have ... well ... not officially been released. Have you ever heard any and are there any that your particularly enjoy? Or you thought were really good?
YARED: No, Justin, I am not aware of all of that. I am like, I live like a monk, you know, I live surrounded by my scores -- not my scores, but Bach scores, Mozart and all that, and I am not aware of what is going on in this industry. I am not really aware. So, I am sorry for that; I am sure there are really wonderful rejected scores, I am sure, I'm sure there are, but basically I am not aware of them and it's not my fault if I am not a movie-goer, or a film music listener.
JUSTIN: Whose work has inspired you the most?
YARED: All the classical composer's works'.
JUSTIN: Do you have a favorite letter, or e-mail you have received?
YARED: So many -- difficult to tell. Each one has its own "flavour".
JUSTIN: Are any cues from any of your rejected scores featured on any promotional CDs?
YARED: No, nothing.
JUSTIN: What made you want to go into the world of film music?
YARED: Just a "coincidence" -- if what we call destiny, or guiding Angel is a "coincidence"...
JUSTIN: All right. Um, I'm just going to cap off the interview with this. I have a few questions I would like to ask you afterwards, but the tape is about out, so I would just like to say, ah, thank you very much for the interview for the tape here so I can transcribe it for people. Thank you very much and I appreciate your time and...
YARED: It was a pleasure for me. As long as I could be sincere and true in the things I am saying, I'll keep going on.
JUSTIN: All right, let me stop the tape, it's about out.
(We continued for a bit and I had a wonderful time speaking with him. He is a good man.)