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Beltrami dials it down

Billion-Dollar Composer: Marco Beltrami

Marco Beltrami’s resume continues to diversify. Once known for his suspense and horror scores, then for his electronically rendered sonic landscapes, he is currently represented by gentler, quieter scores that demand a more intimate approach.

“Trouble With the Curve,” with Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout with a troubled relationship with his daughter (Amy Adams), required careful handling. “It was deceptively simple,” Beltrami reports. “The performances were so strong, the film didn’t need help with any story points.

“The spotting (decisions about where music would go) was extremely delicate. Even though it has a simple Americana feel, it was actually quite a challenging score to write.” The bluesy electric guitar that opens the film suggests the gruff Eastwood, while the warmer acoustic guitar seemed right for Adams’ character, and “we gradually move his theme in that direction,” Beltrami says.

Director Rob Lorenz — knowing that Eastwood usually composes themes for his own films — says he “had a strong desire to distinguish this film from Clint’s. With some pieces, we had to experiment until we found the right notes or instruments.” Eastwood attended one day of recording, which naturally occurred at the Eastwood Scoring Stage on the Warner Bros. lot.

“The Sessions,” about a disabled man and a sex surrogate, required even more musical tiptoeing. Director Ben Lewin had admired Beltrami’s textural score for “The Hurt Locker.” “I wanted music that would be an extension of what the picture was doing to you,” he says. “Finding that delicate in-between (approach) — just enough but not too much — was really fun, just working with those small nuances.”

Beltrami applied a chamber-music sensibility: string quartet, bass, two woodwinds, a piano and one unusual touch: rubbing the edges of crystal bowls, then processing them into “a meditative sound,” the composer says.

Beltrami’s dance card for the months ahead is pretty full: “Warm Bodies,” a zombie comedy, is finished and set for February release. Among the others are two sequels and a remake: “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “The Wolverine” and “Carrie”; and two more post-apocalyptic tales, “World War Z” and “Snowpiercer.”

About “The Wolverine,” director James Mangold says: “We have a big juicy challenge ahead of us,” partly because of the film’s Japanese setting. “One of our first tasks will be to find a sound that reflects that reality but doesn’t turn the movie into a teriyaki restaurant.”

Billion-Dollar Composer: Marco Beltrami
Tapping into the keys of success | Beltrami dials it down | A place to experiment and create

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