One of the most startling developments in the burgeoning field of film-music instruction is the “Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring” online primer now available from San Francisco-based MasterClass (which has recently offered videos of Aaron Sorkin teaching screenwriting, Steve Martin teaching comedy, Kevin Spacey teaching acting, etc.). It’s a series of 31 lessons, totaling over four hours, in which Zimmer discusses how he does his work and offers examples from his most famous scores. The Oscar- and Grammy winner launched it at an event on Wednesday in West Hollywood; he talked about his reasons for doing this and a bit about his own mentor, British composer Stanley Myers, in this new interview.
Upon hearing that Disney was creating a live-action version of its animated Beauty and the Beast musical, my first thought was: What will composer Alan Menken do differently than he has already done in the now-classic 1991 original (which won him Oscars for song and score) or the 1994 Broadway stage version (which earned Tony nominations for best musical and score)? For this story in the current issue of Variety, I interviewed Menken, Disney music executive Mitchell Leib, and music supervisor Matt Sullivan for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s new songs and the somewhat darker, more emotional dramatic score.
One of the unsung (if you will) aspects of the hit NBC series This Is Us is its unusual musical score by Siddhartha Khosla. For a sidebar to this week’s Variety cover story on the show, editors asked me to profile Siddhartha and discuss his acoustic guitar-driven, often subtly emotional music. Khosla, the son of Indian immigrants, has a fascinating background and is the prime moving force behind the band Goldspot. He wrote a song for This Is Us that shot immediately to no. 12 on iTunes, and Universal Music Group is preparing a soundtrack album to be released later this year.
The legendary London recording studio Abbey Road (you know, the one made famous by the Beatles) is moving with the times, adding two new studios, a new mixing stage and a new involvement with music-tech startups. For this story for Variety‘s “U.K. Creative Focus” issue, I interviewed Abbey Road managing director Isabel Garvey, Universal Music UK CEO David Joseph and San Diego-based “smart headphone” maker Jason Riggs of OSSIC, one of the earliest benefactors of the forward-thinking Abbey Road Red program. Abbey Road’s new pop/rock studios are called The Gatehouse and The Front Room, and we suspect they will soon be as busy as the legendary Studios One and Two. (Click on the image at left to read the story, which appeared in print but not on Variety‘s website.)