“I'm a big collector of vinyl - I have a record room in my house - and I've always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I'm writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.” - Quentin Tarantino
Film and TV soundtracks are either original scores or collections of previously released tracks licensed for the production. The soundtrack to the 1937 Walt Disney animated film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was the first commercially issued film soundtrack, released on multiple 78 RPM discs. Bebe and Louis Barron’s original soundtrack to the 1956 sci-fi film ‘Forbidden Planet’ was the first to use an entirely electronic musical score. While Miles Davis’ improvised original soundtrack for Louis Malle’s 1958 noir thriller ‘Ascenseur pour l'échafaud’ (‘Lift to the Scaffold’) was ground-breaking as it was the first time relationships between music, image, and emotion had been created.
Soundtracks on Vinyl and CD
Ennio Morricone is a good example of an artist who exclusively created film soundtracks, with a vast catalogue of over 400 films from the 1950’s right up to 2015. The hip soundtrack for Antonioni’s 1966 ‘Blow-Up’ was provided by a young Herbie Hancock, with the bassline from the track "Bring Down the Birds"; sampled by Deee-Lite for their 1990 single "Groove is in the Heart" Antonioni went on the provide another very cool soundtrack with his 1970 film ‘Zabriskie Point’ that included three original songs by Pink Floyd. The soundtrack to Mike Nichols’ 1967 film, ‘The Graduate’ was the first film with a soundtrack created entirely by licensing songs that had nothing to do with the film itself, a technique that rapidly caught on with ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and the famous soundtrack to ‘Easy Rider’ coming soon after. Since then, soundtrack licensing has become a potent avenue for artists to gain exposure. The recent worldwide number one hit for Kate Bush with ‘Running Up That Hill’ almost 40 years on from it’s initial release after being used in the TV show ‘Stranger Things’ being a great example.
There exists an incredible range of soundtracks available, with those that have endured being the ones that go beyond the film to encapsulate the spirit of a time or place. One local example is the 1997 NZ film ‘Topless Women Talk About Their Lives’ with a soundtrack exclusively drawn from the Flying Nun catalogue. Other notable examples are ‘Purple Rain’,‘A Hard Day’s Night’,‘The Harder They Come’,‘Saturday Night Fever’,‘Trainspotting’,‘Wings of Desire’, ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Black Panther’,‘Do the Right Thing’, ‘Lost In Translation’, ‘Hi-Fidelity’,‘O, Brother, Where Art Though’,‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Velvet Goldmine’ – any of which would be worthy of a full page review.