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Children of Dune by Hans Zimmer

"Dune's Third Child"
Review by Steve Townsley

 

Children of Dune by Hans Zimmer

Children of Dune
8/10


Composer 
Brian Tyler


 

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Category    Score

Originality 6
Music Selection 8
Composition 7
CD Length 8
Track Order 8
Performance 9
Final Score 8/10
 


 

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"Not quite a knockout, Children of Dune is a successful mission with casualties. If you're on the fence about this one, because Zimmer is the key player, you might dig this reflective and often attractive score.
ly enjoyable."
***.5

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic Reviews
Children of Dune

 

 

 

Music composed by Brian Tyler- except where noted:
“Yeleni” written by Heitor Pereira & Lebo M, “Mia’s Lullabye”
written by Lisa Gerrard & Steve Jablonsky, “Kopano” written by Brian Tyler
& Lebo M, “Under the Forest Calm written by Andreas Vollenwider
& Heitor Pereira, “Cry in Silence” written by Martin Tillmann
& Jim Dooley, “Jablonsky Variations” written by Brian Tyler & Steve Jablonsky, “Cameroon Border Post” written by Brian Tyler & Lebo M.
Orchestrated and Conducted by Bruce Fowler
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony
Released by Varese Sarabande on March 18th, 2003

The musical tapestry of Dune is nearly as varied as the characters in Frank Herbert’s brilliant source material. First came Toto, with their electronically charged score to David Lynch’s (a.k.a. Allen Smithee’s) flawed, yet intriguing 1984 adaptation. Many felt Lynch’s film did not capture the essence of Herbert’s work. When John Harrison’s well-executed TV miniseries made its debut on the Sci-Fi Channel, reactions were positive, with some reservations. The series remained faithful to the source, but its DP, Vittorio Storaro, took visual and stylistic liberties that many found distracting (myself not included). The score, by Graeme Revell, was an underrated work that combined orchestral, electronic, and ethnic elements--a detail that Toto left in the dust. The success of the first mini-series has paved the way for its sequel, Children of Dune, the script of which adapts portions of two later Herbert novels: Dune Messiah and Children of Dune.

This new series has produced yet another chapter in the music of Dune. Bryan Tyler, fresh from his newfound success with scores for Frailty and Darkness Falls, brings a new approach to the series. For Children of Dune, Tyler has turned to the tradition of epic, lush, orchestral scores, capturing the grand canvas of Arrakis, and the political/spiritual disturbances within. Paul Atreides, or Muad'Dib, and the Fremen continue their struggle against the politically driven Empire, and all those who seek to control the spice. Finally, we have a score for Dune that captures the grand, epic scale of Herbert’s storytelling. All the elements that make traditional film scores great are here: Grand, full orchestrations, vocals, and Revell’s ethnic trademarks. There are several well defined themes, some of which are assigned to particular characters. The score also features a plethora of intense action cues, the orchestrations of which rival the best material from today’s most famous film composers. Tyler scored the mini series in a mere six weeks--a miracle considering the amount of material composed. The recording sessions were divided between Seattle, and the Czech Republic, where the series was filmed. Considering the speed of his work, Children of Dune boasts a level of musical quality rarely heard for film, let alone a TV mini-series.

I must address an issue that will immediately appear for avid fans of film music: Tyler’s themes and style are very similar to the work of Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator, right down to some of the vocal passages, which evoke the distinctive, popular style of Lisa Gerrard. Many chord progressions follow Zimmer’s favorite pattern, shifting between C major, F major, G major and A minor (in varying order). Themes, such as the driving strings in Track 3, will immediately remind the listener of Zimmer’s Roman traveling music. Also, “Summon The Worms” begins with strains that are nearly identical to the opening bars of Zimmer’s Pearl Harbor. There are certainly remarkable echoes of Zimmer’s work throughout that cannot be overlooked. Some will also be able to pull out similarities to Goldsmith’s early work, Arnold’s Stargate, and even Shore’s Fellowship of the Ring. However, the material presented here is so strong, I cannot honestly say this is a major fault. In fact, the grand, epic style of Gladiator, which was inspired in turn by Holst’s The Planets, lends itself quite well to the epic canvas that is Dune. Tyler’s rendition, though not the most original (but what truly is these days?), succeeds admirably. I would simply be a fool not to recommend this excellent work.

With that out of the way, we can move on to dissecting some of the score’s superb cues. With a running time of 77:22, Varese Sarabande’s album is packed to the brim. The label sold out of its initial pressing, making Children of Dune one of their most successful albums ever. It is certainly no mystery why--the album is very consistent in quality. Most tracks are quite short, providing the listener with a wide sampling of material from the entire 6 hour mini-series. Let’s take a look at a some select tracks, and assemble a snapshot of Tyler’s orchestral talent:

The first three tracks of the album summarize quite well the scope of Tyler’s score. “Summon the Worms” briskly introduces one of the main, dramatic themes, underscored by driving strings which remind me of Kamen’s Main Title for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. “Dune Messiah” offers a gentler, more ethnically centered rendition of the same theme, reinforced by a lone female vocal. This is a superb theme, ascending and descending effortlessly between major and minor keys. “Main Title (House Atreides)” offers yet another epic theme, evoking a regal, royal sound that captures the Imperial side of Herbert’s work.

Track 8, “Inama Nushif (Montage)” will certainly draw comparisons to the work of Lisa Gerrard in Gladiator’s End Titles. However, there is enough originality in theme to clearly differentiate the two works, including an engaging two part harmony in the latter half.

Personally, the highlights of this album are not excluded to the grand, epic themes (which are fantastic in their own right). It is the way Tyler is able to balance Western orchestral philosophy/film scoring with ethnically centered motifs. Listen to how the low, bass strings and ethnic instruments create a palpable sense of foreboding through minor key shifts in “Battle of Naraj.” This is effective integration, folks--the kind that makes a score come alive.

The well executed action music kicks at various points throughout the score. Track 11, “Rya Wolves,” characterizes Tyler’s style quite well. Much like Michael Giacchino’s approach to many cues in his outstanding Medal of Honor scores, Tyler forms a driving, engaging motif, and creates a series of variations. Unlike Giacchino, Tyler’s motifs are occasionally too repetitive, but remain effective. See “War Begins” for an example.

A heavy, brassy rendition of the theme introduced in the first track returns in “The Jihad.” Brass clusters rumble beneath the surface, and plunge above it, making room for the syncopated strings to make themselves known toward the end.

The album’s midsection features some of the score’s heavier use of ethnic instruments and percussion, capturing the other-worldly nature of Arrakis, the land of spice. Some tracks, such as “Trap the Worm” and “Exiles” are entirely performed on Middle-Eastern instruments to great effect. Motifs are still present among the intense percussion.

Later portions turn to the subdued and dramatic, showcasing Tyler’s gentler musical sensibilities. Some tracks even border on ethereal. Tracks such as “The Desert Journey” and “The Ghola Dunca” create a musical environment that captures the alien locales featured in the series.

The album continues in a similar fashion. Intense action cues give way to majestic themes, while ethnic elements intermingle, and sometimes overpower when necessary. Vocals also intercede at various points, gently reinforcing the underscore. Occasionally subdued, dramatic cues are also present (especially toward the end), and are orchestrated with great care. This is a balanced, cohesive score that flows well. It is somewhat difficult to rank the tracks of this album, due to their similar, seamless quality. Few tracks will blow you away, simply because the quality is so consistent--when every dune is large, it is hard for many to stand out among the sands.

I am looking forward to the DVD release of Children of Dune in May, so I can see Tyler’s impressive work in context. This is truly one of the most satisfying film score experiences in a while, evoking the grand spiritual, political, and technological continuum that is Frank Herbert’s Dune. Tyler’s work succeeds in creating an epic sense of adventure, action, royalty, and mystery through a series of strong themes, intense orchestrations, and unique blending of ethnic instruments and percussion. Despite some similarities to Zimmer’s work throughout the score, Tyler’s Children of Dune has become one of the highlights of 2003, deserving a place on any film score fan’s shelf.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

 Rating

1 Yekeleni Part I/Mia’s Lullaby Track 1 2:35  ***
2 Heart of Darkness 2:01  ***
3 Small Piece for Doumber and Strings/Kopano Part 1 8:55  ***
4 Under the Forest CalmTrack 4 1:07  **
5 Yekeleni Part II/Carnage 7:55  ****
6 Kopano Part II 2:25  ***
7 Night 2:54  **
8 Cry in Silence 2:04  ***
9 The Jablonsky Variation On A By HZ/Cameroon Border Post Track 9 8:42  ****
10 The Journey/Kopano Part III Track 10 8:17  ****
 

Total Running Time

46:36  

Children of Dune by Hans Zimmer

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
  Congo

 

 

 


All artwork from Children of Dune  is exclusive property of Varese Sarabande Records (c) 2003. 
 Its appearance is for informational purposes only. Review format version 5.8