Among New York composers, Joel Diamond’s resume is broader than most: music for Off Broadway productions, ballet scores, chamber music pieces, session work, pop production and even cartoon tunes.
His film work, which includes producing the music for “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” has received little notice to date, but that’s changing now that word is out about “The Believer,” Henry Bean’s searing drama about an angry young Jewish man who joins the neo-Nazi movement.
Diamond, 49, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family and was deeply influenced by the liturgical music he heard as a youngster. The “Believer” score is distinguished by his use of wordless vocals throughout.
“I wanted to mirror the idea of the Torah, using vowel sounds,” he says, adding, “the character of Danny was very confused. I wanted to emulate the little sounds that he heard in his head, the voices, mumbling. Not any specific words, just a surrealist idea that would come across.”
Diamond says the buzz about “Believer,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is opening doors for more movie work.
Asked to describe his musical style, he laughs and says, “It’s like a cross between Charles Ives and whoever wrote the ‘Mighty Mouse’ theme.”