About Movie Music UK

Jonathan Broxton
Editor, Movie Music UK, 10 October 2010

I’ve always been interested in film music, for as long as I can remember. I remember when I was a child, I couldn’t have been much more than seven or eight years old, and my aunt was the first person in my family to own a VCR, and I used lie on a big sheepskin rug in her lounge watching Star Wars over and over, and being entranced by the music. At that age I don’t think I was ever aware that there was actually a guy who was writing the music – I suppose I just assumed that it was just “there”, that it just organically sprang from the movie – but as I got older I started noticing it more and more, and realizing that there were real people behind the scenes, creating all these wonderful sounds. I never actually went to the cinema a great deal when I was a kid – once or twice a year maybe with my mom – but I watched movies endlessly on TV, until around 1992 or 1993, when I started going to see movies more regularly in theaters.

The strange thing about it is that I’m not especially musical myself. I can’t sing to save my life, I was never able to read or write notation, and I tried and failed miserably at playing various musical instruments in high school, so I did the next best thing, the last refuge of the failed musician, and started writing instead. I’ve always loved language and writing, and initially I amused myself by writing reviews of the films I saw, just as a fun creative outlet for myself, and it sort of got my creative juices flowing, and also got me thinking more deeply about cinema as an art form, thinking about cinematography and editing, and of course music.

The turning point in terms of my love of film music for me came in April 1995, when I went to see Legends of the Fall at my local cinema. I thought the movie was pretty awful, but the music just blew me away, and I went out and bought the soundtrack CD afterwards, and played the thing to death. A couple of months later, I saw Braveheart, and the same thing happened; and then the very next week I saw Apollo 13, and I started making the connection between all this amazing music, and realized that James Horner had written it all. So, it’s really through Horner that my interest in the genre was cemented. It was only much later that I realized that many of my favorite films growing up – Star Trek II, Cocoon, Krull, Battle Beyond the Stars, Willow – had all been scored by Horner, so I guess I must have always had this subconscious emotional connection to his music. And from there, it just led me to exploring other composers. Horner led me to John Williams, who of course I already knew through Star Wars and Indiana Jones and things like that. Williams led me to Jerry Goldsmith, who led me to Danny Elfman, who led me to Alan Silvestri and Basil Poledouris and John Barry and all the others, and I was pretty much hooked from that point on.

I was working for the university in my hometown, in Sheffield in England, at the time and one of the staff perks was that you were allotted some space on the University’s web server to have a personal homepage, so I started learning HTML coding and putting some of my film reviews on the University’s server for my own amusement. I have no idea if anyone ever read them. Eventually I started concentrating more on the music and less on the film reviews, and I decided to create an actual website dedicated to film music reviews. It was called Broxweb’s Soundtracks, a terrible name, and the first review I ever wrote was of Danny Elfman’s score for Batman. I think that review was even more terrible than the name of the site; in fact pretty much every review I wrote before the year 2000 look awful to me now. This was in the summer of 1997, and at the time there were only a few others out there reviewing soundtracks: Christian Clemmensen’s Filmtracks, James Southall’s Movie Wave and Tom Daish’s Soundtrack Express, which had all started a year or so beforehand, were the ones I read regularly. These were the fledgling days of the internet, and I really had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I loved film music and knew I loved writing and I wanted to combine the two.

The site gradually grew; I wrote more and more reviews and started getting more visitors and people telling me that they liked what I was doing. I changed the name to Movie Music UK in 1999, and after that I branched out a little, interviewing composers, writing for Film Score Monthly and Soundtrack magazine, writing liner notes for Luc Van de Ven at Prometheus Records, working for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra writing programs for their concerts and helping out with some orchestra contracting, writing and writing.

Throughout it all, the philosophy of the site has been the same: to sing from the rooftops about the unequalled glory of the orchestral film music soundtrack. Even today, when I tell non-score fans that I collect soundtracks, their initial response is always to assume that I am talking about the commercial song compilations that litter high street record store shelves. This is a common problem – film scores are probably the most neglected, under-appreciated and misunderstood form of music today. Classical music buffs look down on the film score as a lesser form of orchestral music, and “regular” music fans cannot understand the appeal of listening to music that doesn’t have lyrics. But I disagree. Film scores, to me, are the most magical, uplifting beautiful pieces of music, and are written by the most talented composers in the world today, who not only have to deal with low budgets, heartless editing, tight schedules, temp-tracks and uncooperative directors, but also have to make their music emotional, appropriate, and sound good as a CD. They are all geniuses.

On a personal note, I would like to thank (in alphabetical order): Brendan Anderson, Edwin Black, Andy Booth, Vance Brawley, Pete Briggs, Christian Clemmenson, Chris Coleman, Ray Costa, Tom Daish, Jens Dietrich, Marann Fengler, MV Gerhard, Dan Goldwasser, JJ Hinrichs, Tom Hoover, Tom Hudson, Lukas Kendall, Beth Krakower, Christian Kühn, Andy Lindahl, Mike Lyons, Craig Lysy, Roman Martel, Stephenie Mente, Julie Olson, John Schanen, Daniel Schewiger, Peter Simons, James Southall, Ford A. Thaxton, Paul Tonks, Nate Underkuffler, Matt Verboys, Robert Walker and probably lots of other people I’ve forgotten, for their friendship, support and graphics over the years.

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