I like film (and TV) scores. Music from studio films is often released in CD or download formats. Many of the great scores of the past were French: Tirez sure le Pianiste (music by Georges Delerue); Cleo de 5 a 7 (Michel Legrand); Jules et Jim (Delerue); Parapluies de Cherbourg (Legrand). In the 1930s and 40s, many composers influenced by Mahler fled to the U.S. and found jobs in Hollywood; a major improvement in Hollywood film music was one result. (If you think that Mahler ‘sounds like movie music’ you’re right, in a way; but it’s the other way ’round.) Recent American (or mostly American) films with superlative music include Kill Bill 1, Collateral, Paycheck, and of course The Mission.
I also like Radio IO (www.radioio.com). If you pay an annual subscription, you get music, and only music, streamed to your computer; you avoid the really annoying ads their no-pay audio channels run. So I’m happy to pay to hear music that no station in this area (Washington, D.C.) would touch — including serious classical music (rather than ‘safe’ classical music), — and an all-soundtracks channel.
What I don’t like are soundtracks presented one cut at a time, five minutes of Star Wars and then three minutes of Dexter and four minutes of Titanic, and so on. I want to hear the composer’s presentation of his music straight through, just as I want to see a film straight through, see a play straight through, and hear a symphony straight through.
I sent this message to Michael Matheny at RadioIO: “Excellent choices. But it’s disconcerting to hear the music jumping from album to album, rather than playing complete scores. Music for a film should be heard as a whole, just as films should be seen as a whole, not jumbled up with scenes from other films.”
I received a response, making the point that some cuts in a soundtrack album are weaker than others. That’s true. But some symphonic movements (the classical third movement in many cases) can be weaker than the other three movements. We don’t skip them just because they’re pretty much a change of pace, a breather before the heavy stuff begins again. There’s a reason the composer wrote these movements, and we need to recognize that. And soundtrack albums aren’t literally what you heard in a theatre; the composer has room to ‘revise and extend his remarks’ as they say in the Senate; to shape an album from the music he composed for a film (some of which may not have made it into the theatrical release); to create an artistic whole. This, also, should be recognized; and respected.
Also, it isn’t the case that RadioIO just skips an inferior cut here and there — their soundtracks channel plays one cut from film ‘A’ and then switches to film ‘B’, and then on to ‘C’. If you wait long enough, you’ll hear the ‘A’ cut you should have heard where it belonged.