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'Score': Soundtracks take us on an emotional ride

Composer Randy Newman performs at 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year

Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com

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'Score': Soundtracks take us on an emotional ride

How films are continuing to explore the reinvention of music and sounds that have the potential to lift and transport audiences

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2017 - 04:35 am

"Music has tremendous driving power within the narrative of any film," says critic Leonard Maltin in Score: A Film Music Documentary, which opens in theaters June 16.

GRAMMY-winning scores by John Williams for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind or Thomas Newman for American Beauty, for example, have certainly lived up to Maltin's claim. From Williams' interplanetary motif to Newman's experimental soundscape, Billboard interviewed the filmmakers about some of the historic scores that "changed the way we hear movies."

Beyond the handful of classic scores featured in the article, the documentary's other interviewed composers — GRAMMY winners Danny Elfman, Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor, and Hans Zimmer, among others — explain how each score seeks to radically reinvent the role of music in film to take us on a unique emotional ride.

These aren't the only GRAMMY winners taking their musical talents to the big screen. Randy Newman, Thomas' cousin, won one of his six GRAMMYs for "Our Town," the theme from Cars. Tomorrow, his soundtrack for Cars 3 arrives in theaters.

While the soundtrack remains central to any film, there is more to the driving power of audio cinema than music playing our emotions. Cars voice actor Owen Wilson describes bringing the mechanical character Lightning McQueen to life for audiences: "What surprises me is how much you can care for these characters that are just cars," Wilson told IMDB. "But they feel very human."

Fellow voice star Armie Hammer explains tapping into emotions to create the personalities of their racing cars, describing how his villainous car Jackson Storm has an inner conflict between his immature social emotions and his advanced state-of-the-art technology.

Like the characters they sometimes represent, movie soundtracks have often pushed the envelope with technology. Sounds of machines and metal parts coming into contact rhythmically have a power of their own, whether subwoofer vibes or treble transients, each with unique powers to excite.

Sound vibrations play a unique role in our world and in our emotions. New methods of encoding and compression to bring higher resolution sounds with a greater sense of immersion and directionality are under development by audio engineers to improve what we hear in film houses, what we can install in home theaters, and hear on our headphones with expanded dimensions of sonic expressiveness.

As the GRAMMY winners featured in Score: A Film Music Documentary demonstrate, and as technologies necessary to construct the broadcast infrastructure necessary for hi-res audio continue to develop, we can all look forward to hearing what is ahead as the artists we let drive our feelings to new places use the evolving tech behind a soundtrack's driving power.

Randy Newman set to pay tribute to GRAMMY music legends in New York

Universal language: Why humans need music

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Universal language: Why humans need music

Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution

GRAMMYs/Jul 3, 2017 - 11:51 pm

There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.

But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?

A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.

In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.

"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."

Need a playlist? Check out our favorite songs of summer 2017 

Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Mixcloud Signs Warner Music For Subscriptions Remix

Tiesto

Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

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Mixcloud Signs Warner Music For Subscriptions Remix

There is more to the Mixcloud difference than just electronic dance music, and now the listening service has signed its first major label deal

GRAMMYs/Oct 10, 2017 - 04:49 am

Among the 1 million curators who have helped build British-based listening service Mixcloud into a destination visited by 17 million listeners each month are GRAMMY winners Erykah Badu, David Byrne, and Tiësto. Limited to streaming-only since its founding in 2008, Mixcloud announced a direct licensing agreement with Warner Music Group this morning, opening the door to offering downloads and new kinds of subscriptions.

Perhaps the standout statistic that describes the Mixcloud difference is that the average length of its user-uploaded programs is 45 minutes. Within the service's general emphasis on DJing, EDM and remix culture, the tendency to drill down and explore narrower listening topics in depth distinguishes the service from competitors such as Spotify or SoundCloud.

Warner Music Group Executive VP for Business Development & Chief Digital Officer Ole Obermann said, "Mixcloud's success is driven by the curiosity and passion of its community, as they engage with new music and rediscover timeless older songs."

Being able to listen to downloads offline seems a natural follow-up to direct licensing deals, but the service hints there's more in store. Mixcloud still hopes to sign indies and the other majors, as its fans have speculated. And with its own proprietary Content ID in place and established relationships with royalty collecting societies, the company has the tech infrastructure to explore new monetization strategies, paying artists and curators in new ways. Launching a new business model for its upcoming approach to paid content and subscriptions is a remix many are anticipating. Not knowing what to expect is part of the excitement.

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