How They Scored Steve Jobs as Three-Part Symphony

In keeping with Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle’s vision for Steve Jobs as a trio of product launches (the Macintosh in ’84, the NeXT in ’88 and the iMac in ’98), composer Daniel Pemberton wrote three different pieces that underscore the story arc and complement the distinct visual styles of director of photography Alwin H. Küchler. In fact, it became a very personal journey for the surprise Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Score, who exclusively composes on the Mac. (Watch an exclusive featurette on the making of the score below, and listen to it on SoundCloud, via USA Today.)

“Danny Boyle described the three acts as ‘Vision,’ ‘Revenge,’ and ‘Wisdom’,” Pemberton recalled. “For the first act, I wanted to embrace the optimism of the future that’s promised with technology and computing, and I wanted to do something of the period to encapsulate that. So I used synthesizers, which, for me, at the time, sounded very similar to computers. I was only using equipment from 1984 and before, and that equipment had its limitations, which was interesting for someone now in 2015 to go back into the past and try and score the future in the past.”

Pemberton (who also composed the score for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) used, among others, the CS-80, which was Vangelis’ synthesizer of choice. “The limitations [playing one note at a time] forced me to write differently, and, in a way, helped me write as if I was in 1984,” he added. “As an emotional beat, it also helped because you are trying to write music that is technological.

“In the second act, the whole thing is based on this Shakespearean tragedy, which is very theatrical. I wanted to reflect not only the amazing setting of the San Francisco Opera House but also Steve Jobs as the conductor and the ringmaster. We basically went to the oldest computer of all time—the orchestra—and wrote something very different, very dramatic, unashamed orchestral music: opera, big symphony. We even did stuff with the tuning-up sequence of an orchestra and rewrote that so we could turn that into an actual piece that reflects what’s happening in the script.”

And, by the third act, Pemberton fully embraced the digital age by designing sounds exclusively within the computer, “because, by 1998, the iMac had become what Steve Jobs intended it to be, which is a tool that would allow people to express themselves artistically while it’s doing more mundane things, like databases.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Music

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