my favorite composers #8 – Thomas Newman

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND.

Okay, no. I’m kidding about that. Nobody has really asked about this series that I can remember, and it kind of died away after the last favorite composer post I wrote. But now I’m back, with at least two more composers to add to this series. Thomas Newman is first on the list!

One of my great joys in life is being able to recognize who composed a film’s soundtrack without looking it up beforehand. I’m not always right, but with Thomas Newman I’m right pretty much all the time. That’s not to say his work lacks originality–far from it! But there’s just something about his soundtracks (particularly, I think, one or two instruments that he’s fond of) that triggers my brain into recognizing his work.

Except (and this is embarrassing), I only JUST found out (while writing this blog post) that he composed one of my favorite soundtracks of all time: Little Women (1994). (Listening to it now, I can totally hear his trademark.) *facepalm* I don’t know how I missed that.

What has he composed besides Little Women? Finding Nemo and WALL-E! Saving Mr. Banks! Also some other movies I’ve seen, but ones where I don’t remember the soundtrack like Bridge of Spies and Tolkien.

Gotta say that ‘Define Dancing’ is a national treasure though.

If you’re looking for a Newman track that isn’t super well-known, check out this one from Saving Mr. Banks. It’s short and simple and lovely.

I think the thing I most enjoy about Thomas Newman’s soundtracks (the ones I’ve heard anyway) are the gentle, memorable melodies that sometimes have a bit of a quirky flair to them at times. I can’t explain the trademark that helps me recognize a Newman soundtrack when I hear it, but it’s there I promise. OH WAIT. I think I can, actually! Go listen to this track. The ‘trademark’ starts at :05. Then on this track, again starting at :05 you can hear a similar motif in the background of the ‘larger’ melody. Then this track, starting around :40 also has the same instrument/motif/whatever it is in the background. And, finally, at 2:17, this track also showcases the quirk a bit.

If you actually clicked through and compared, I’d love to hear your thoughts. (And I don’t blame you if you didn’t. It’s nerdy and niche.) Maybe you don’t get the whole trademark thing at all, maybe I’m just hearing things. 😀

Do you enjoy any of Thomas Newman’s soundtracks? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

12 thoughts on “my favorite composers #8 – Thomas Newman

  1. The WALL-E soundtrack is among the main reasons that movie works, especially considering there’s barely any dialogue in the first half. With a movie like that, the music and visuals need to carry the entire movie, and carry the movie, Newman’s soundtrack did.

    I don’t remember Saving Mr. Banks’s soundtrack as I’ve only seen the movie once, but Finding Nemo does have a great soundtrack as well.

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  2. I love the Little Women soundtrack. It puts me in such a holiday mood.

    The composer I recognize instantly is James Horner. I know it within five minutes, whether it’s Titanic, Avatar, The Mask of Zorro, etc. He always uses the same instruments and has an overall sound, which IMO, is fairly standard for a composer. There are always recognizable elements to their work — like a personal signature.

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    1. James Horner is such a great composer! One of his more obscure soundtracks that I loooove is the one he did for Fievel Goes West. =) It’s got such a great Old West/nostalgic feel to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes! I’m a big fan of all the Newmans, and I love Thomas Newman’s scores. 1917, Road to Perdition, The Highwaymen, and Skyfall are the ones I listen to most. (Yes, I’m more of an action music girl, LOL). But I adore the score to Wall-E, I just don’t own it, only enjoy it when I watch the movie. I think Fried Green Tomatoes is the first score of his I remember. But yes, his style is quite distinctive, and I can usually recognize it whenever I hear something of his

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    1. “all the Newmans” o.O

      A quick trip to Wikipedia produced some very cool results. 😉 I had no idea he was related to Randy Newman! (Another composer whose music I enjoy.)

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