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Thomas Newman: A bridesmaid’s London calling

Eye on the Oscars: Music

Composer Thomas Newman, frequent Oscar bridesmaid (10 noms including Pixar favorites “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E”), has two films in contention: the Indian-flavored “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and the 23rd James Bond film “Skyfall.”

Both were recorded in London, and in the case of “Skyfall,” he spent more than three months there writing the score. Director Sam Mendes, with whom he collaborated on four films including “American Beauty,” insisted on Newman as the new 007 composer.

“It was a huge movie with all these built-in expectations,” says Newman, who adds that along the way he learned “a lot of big lessons about scoring action and the physicality of your sound.”

“Best Exotic Marigold,” about aging Brits finding a new home in India, demanded that the music be “from the point of view of those characters, but with the musical flavors of this new culture,” says Newman.

It was his second film for director John Madden, after last year’s “The Debt.”

“There was not a lot of time to immerse myself in Indian musical culture,” says Newman, who employed Indian vocalists, bansuri (flute), electric sitar, tabla and an Indian violinist to the traditional orchestra.

“It really had to be an eclectic, almost Bollywood approach,” he adds. “The music is about those (characters) being immersed in a foreign culture.”

Eye on the Oscars: Music
Soundtracks fuel narrative drive | Elfman’s full deck | Phantasmagoric ‘Pi’ filling | Catastrophic yet sensitive | A ‘Green’ approach to acoustics | Adele’s brush with Bond | Middle-Earth maestro | A bridesmaid’s London calling | Toon tunesmith | Song: In their own words

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