The Little Mermaid, ie Malá morská víla (Liska, 1976)


     Zdenek Liska had a notable filmography with the avant-garde stop-motion film-maker Jan Švankmajer, but he also wrote a delightful score to Karel Kachyna's Czech adaptation of Han Christian Anderson's "Malá morská víla"- i.e. "The Little Mermaid".


     As in the original story, a Mermaid encounters a human Prince while visiting the surface world.  She rescues him from death, but when he wakes up, he mistakes a newly-arrived human girl for his savior.  Later, in order to be with the Prince, the Mermaid visits a Sea Witch and sacrifices her aquatic form (and voice).  All goes well until the Prince marries the wrong girl.  In the end, the Mermaid tragically chooses to die rather than harm the Prince.


     Liska uses a variety of instruments in the score including some unusual synthesizer (Moog?) textures, treated with reverb to create an "underwater" flavor.  The Sea King's celebrations are accompanied by on-screen musicians who play conch shells, and these are presented in the score with flutes and hand percussion.  The songs sung by the Mermaid are enchanting, but also sophisticated, using some exotic melodic ideas.  Several themes and textures include:

  • Pendant theme: Vibrating organ drone with swelling textures.
  • Mermaid theme: A childlike song which includes some ethnic melodic twists.
  • Sea theme: Sea King's royal theme, opens with 4 rising notes, heard in the Main Title.
  • Announcement themes: Short fanfares used to announce the arrival of the various families and rulers of the sea.
  • Sea Witch theme: Somewhat melancholy song which the Mermaid had overheard being sung by the Sea Witch.
  • Siren theme: Used to lure sailors to their deaths, choral and ethereal, derived from Sea Witch theme.
  • Prince theme: Opens with an accent followed by a 4-note figure (rising and then with a falling tail), somewhat fateful.


     The tracks below are listed in chronological film sequence. A few tracks include the Mermaid's vocal track, and these I put at the end (tracks 4, 11).
Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 4:02 Malá Mořská Víla 0:00: The Sea King throws a sword at the screen.  Cut to waves crashing on rocks, distorted beach camera shot with main titles, credits over waves crashing on a beach.
Pendant theme as organ drones, Sea theme (opening rising 4-note figure), choral glissandi/accents, theme, bridge, theme recap, coda.
3:02: As the camera gradually pans underwater, a voice-over explains that an aquatic race populates the seas.  The scene lands on 2 sisters at the bottom of the sea.
Sea theme coda developed on subdued choir/winds/timpani, underwater pops/Pendant theme organ drones.
5 2:20 The Pendant / The Little Mermaid (Theme) The Mermaid sings a song to her father the Sea King.  Meanwhile the King uses his magic ring to observe a ship on the surface crash and sink (version without vocal).
Pendant theme organ drones, Mermaid theme in strings/bass/guitar/synth, high percussion leads to harpsichord, then brass/percussion/bass, recap percussion/harpsichord coda
3 2:46 Pearls From The Deep 0:00: The various peoples of the sea gather and exchange gifts/food.  The Sea King displays a ship's masthead and other things he has obtained from the humans.  They joke about the humans' misconceptions of underwater people.  The Sea Prince talks to the Mermaid.
Sea theme in flute/hand percussion/synth/bass, crossfaded into electronic pulses/sliding ambient drones.
2:11: The Mermaid's sisters playfully throw pearls at her and the Sea Prince.  The king displays his collection of human weapons.
Metallic percussion/ambient drones, Pendant theme organ drones/underwater pops.
7 3:11 The Sixth Sister 0:00: The Sea Prince tells the Mermaid about her father's magic viewing room.
Pendant theme organ drones/electronic pulses/sliding ambient drone.
0:35: The Sea Prince departs.  All of the mer-people begin to ascend stairs towards the surface. 
Announcement Theme 1 in flutes/bass, tic toc guitar/hand percussion/ambient sounds, joined by strings.
1:48: The Mermaid stays behind in order to explore her father's collection.
Electronic pulses/sliding ambient drones, scuffling sounds.
2:41: The Mermaid enters the forbidden cave.
Mysterious strings dialogue with slow tic toc guitar/perc., underwater pops.
8 1:38 Statue Of Salt 1 The Mermaid comes across a beautiful statue of a woman.  Her father appears and tells her that it is her mother.
Mysterious strings/underwater pops, Pendant theme organ drones with pops developed into a rhythm, pops and ambient accents.
9 1:22 Aquatic Babička (Theme) 0:00: The Sea King's musicians play.  The Mermaid talks about her magic pendant, which glows.
Announcement Theme 2 (Crown Prince of the Sunset Sea) in flutes/bass.
0:22: The Mermaid sings the song of the Sea Witch to her grandmother (no vocal).
Sea Witch theme in harpsichord/strings/cymbals.  Theme developed with accents/swells/wind sounds.
6 1:19 The Song Of The Siren (Theme) The (human) Prince hears the Mermaid's song and tells his ship's crew to pursue it.
Siren theme in gliding choral textures, ambient textures/pops/glass clinking.
19 0:31 Ascension To Fireworks The Sea King tells everyone to ascend to see the fireworks.  The Mermaid is amazed.
Harpsichord/organ accents with tic toc guitar/hand perc./synth accents, ending in strings accent.
10 0:48 In Safe Hands On the shore, the Mermaid cares for the rescued Prince and kisses him.  She sees a rooster.  The Princess and her friends approach on horseback.
Prince theme in harpsichord in 4-note figure (rising-falling), with zigzag falling figure, mysterious string textures becoming darker.
22 0:23 Behind The Rock The Princess finds the Prince lying on the shore, as the Mermaid hides behind a rock.
Poignant strings derived from Mermaid sub-theme.
13 1:05 Statue Of Salt 2 After the Mermaid has disappeared, the Sea King visits the mother's statue, and then leaves.  The Mermaid returns from rescuing the Prince.
Pendant theme organ drones/underwater popping developed into rhythm, joined by echoed ambient sounds/roaring.
12 2:04 The Black Sea The Mermaid sits on ocean rocks and pines for the departed human Prince.  She daydreams about different natural locales on land.
Prince theme in vibraphone/bass/hand perc., joined by flute, clarinet, developed with strings/perc./flute/clarinet/music box/synth.
2 1:28 Witches Firewall The Mermaid carefully ascends a staircase to the Sea Witch's cave while evading flames.
Underwater popping in rhythm, developed with high ambient accents/hissing.
14 1:31 Čarodějnice's Castle 0:00: She asks to become human, but the Witch demands to have her song (voice) in return.
Sound effects/ambient textures, with howling/whirring sounds/accents.
1:05: The Sea Witch prepares a magic drink for the Mermaid.
Pendant theme organ drone joins.
21 1:16 The Voice The Mermaid sacrifices her voice so she can become human.
Sound effects/ambient textures, underwater pops, water sounds, Pendant theme organ drones with halting solo vocal chant.
17 3:25 Games / Echoes The Prince and his retinue playfully duel and flirt.  The Prince hears echoes from the Siren song, drawing him away from the party and towards the beach.
Medieval dance rhythm with winds/lute/percussion intercut with Siren theme in gliding choral textures and clapping, ending with gong cadence.
15 1:10 The Song Of The Siren (Song) The Prince leaves his retinue and is drawn to the beach.  He sees the Mermaid land on the sand, unconscious and transformed.
Siren theme blended with Sea Witch song vocal, clapping, joined by bass flourishes, a gong leads to a scream.
16 0:10 Prince Of The Southern Empire The Prince and the Mermaid (now human) emerge from the palace.
Regal bells texture.
18 2:06 The Kiss 0:00: On the beach, the Prince tells the Mermaid that they will have a great future together.  She kisses him and walks towards the sea and finds a dagger from her father.
Beach sounds/synth swells, strings/harpsichord rhythm, Mermaid theme fragments in strings/guitar/ambient textures leading to climax.
1:53: A ship is seen on the ocean, carrying the Mermaid with the Prince on an expedition.
Creaking sounds.
23 5:57 Sunken Dagger / The Little Mermaid (Song) 0:00: After the Prince gives up the Mermaid for the Princess, the Sea King and his people are seen on the rocks.
Accented and percussive variation of Sea theme.
0:52: The Mermaid is seen on the ship with her dagger among the sleeping crew.  Her father urges her to kill the Prince and Princess before it's too late.  She kisses the Prince instead. 
Mermaid theme fragment in strings, becoming poignant with subtle harpsichord/piano ornaments, swells, male choir/low organ/cymbal, poignant strings becoming sweetened with choir/synth/bass
3:20: The sun rises and the Mermaid is seen drowned in the ocean.
Joined by high winds/synth swells, Pendant theme organ drones.
4:01: The Prince looks for the Mermaid but only sees flowers on the ocean.  The flowers prevent the ship from being destroyed on the rocks.
Mermaid theme with vocal/winds/bass/synth/strings, joined by trumpet ornaments/percussion, sweet strings, Pendant theme organ drones.
24 0:21 The Pendant Final Pendant theme organ drones.
20 0:46 Bird In A Cage Unused: Sound effects/ambient textures. 
4 3:37 King Of The Ocean The mermaid sings a song to her father the Sea King.  Meanwhile the King uses his magic ring to observe a ship on the surface crash and sink.
Ambient textures, underwater popping, Mermaid theme in solo voice, joined by strings/synth, brass/percussion/bass, 2nd verse joined by trumpet ornaments, ending in solo voice/ambient sounds.
11 2:31 Aquatic Babička (Song) 0:00: Source music: the Sea King's musicians play.  The Mermaid talks about her magic pendant, which glows.
Announcement Theme 2 (Crown Prince of the Sunset Sea) in flutes/bass.
0:16:The Mermaid sings the song of the Sea Witch to her grandmother.
Ambient sounds, Sea Witch theme in strings/perc/harpsichord with vocal, wind sounds.


Links
Soundtrack at finderskeepersrecords.com
The Little Mermaid, ie Malá morská víla on YouTube (full film)
Zdenek Liska Wiki

Halloween (Carpenter, 1978)

New picture disc release of Halloween rerecording
     John Carpenter has written almost all of the music for his directed films, and the first "Halloween", his 3rd film, was no exception.  Originally released in an 11-track album consisting of partially alternate mixes (including the Main Title), it got an expanded release for the film's 20th anniversary, but with film dialogue and effects blended into the tracks.  In any case, the Halloween theme is one of Carpenter's most infectious, and comes from a bongo rhythm pattern that he had learned as a child from his father.  Though the film credits the "Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra", the entire score was performed by Carpenter on piano and synthesizer, with technical assistance from Dan Wyman.  Carpenter's first screening without music left the studio unimpressed (not scared), so his mission in scoring the film (inspired by Bernard Herrmann's Psycho and Ennio Morricone's work) was to make it actually scary.  The themes created for Halloween would reverberate in its future sequels as well.


     Carpenter does an amazing job of building varying layers of extreme atmosphere with 5 basic themes and not much else.  It was composed in 3 days and recorded in 2 weeks.  The film itself is obviously a low-budget affair (aren't all slashers?) and the simplistic music fits the tone and pacing very well.
  • Halloween theme: Piano rhythm over percussive electronic pulses in 5/4 (or 10/8), joined by variations of a 3-note rising piano/synth motif (with a shadowing 2-note falling line), with a secondary "bridge" section based on a rising 4-note figure.
  • Michael theme and fanfare: 3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
  • Laurie theme: Modulating 2-note piano ostinato with 4-note rising-falling motif and a slow 2-note falling figure in 2 synths.
  • Evil theme: slow, wide 4-note descending figure passed from piano to synths, often ending in high metallic hits.
  • Stalking theme: 3-accent piano theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers.

Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 2:23 Halloween Theme Main Title, credits, zoom in to lit Halloween pumpkin (also retracked many places, especially whenever Michael stalks from afar).
Piano rhythm over percussive electronic pulses in 5/4, joined by variations of a 3-note rising piano/synth motif (with a shadowing 2-note falling line), then a repeated rising 4-note figure, then back to the 3-note motif in synth, a final 4-note figure statement (dissolves to a children's Halloween chant). 
2 3:13 Halloween 1963 (with film dialogue)
0:00: POV of a stalker outside a house observing young lovers, then entering the house and picking up a carving knife.
3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
1:00: The boy leaves, and the grandfather clock strikes.
Held synth texture, Michael fanfare.
2:00: Michael kills his sister Judith and then runs downstairs and outside.
Low drone accent, Michael theme with added synth layers.
3 4:08 The Evil Is Gone 0:00: Dr. Loomis and a nurse arrives at the hospital in a rainstorm (film dialogue).
2:16: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes.
5/4 Halloween theme on piano/high pulse with rising 3-note motif, various electronic stingers.
4 2:50 Halloween 1978 Laurie walks down the street of a suburb.  She heads towards the Myewr house to drop off a key.
Also: in class, Laurie, sees someone staring at her from across the street, and later, Laurie walks with her friends after encountering a mysterious car.
Laurie theme: Modulating 2-note piano ostinato with 4-note rising-falling motif and a slow 2-note falling figure in 2 synths, repeated twice in lower registers with added oscillating synth tones, ending in low synth drone.
5 0:40 The Boogie Man Is Coming After the school bell rings, kids taunt a boy (dialogue only).
6 1:42 The Shape One of the boys bumps into the escaped Michael (the Shape), who stalks the school grounds on foot and in Loomis' car.
Stinger leads to Halloween theme with developed held synth textures (filtered), ending in piano figure/pulses alone.
7 1:35 The Hedge Laurie sees someone duck behind a hedge.  Her friend Annie taunts her but there is no one there.
Michael theme in piano chord pulses/synth drone joined by 3-note rising-falling piano/falling synth line, descending and joined by lower textures, ending in higher register.
8 2:40 He Came Home 0:00: Loomis and a detective explore the cemetery (dialogue).
0:49: They finds that Judith's tombstone has been dug up and Loomis realizes Michael has returned home (dialogue).
Michael piano pulses with synth, descending.
1:14: Michael stalks Laurie in his car.
Stinger, Halloween theme in piano/synth with 3 and 4 note motifs, ending in electronic pulses. 
9 0:38 Trick Or Treat 0:00: "Trick or Treat!" (dialogue).
0:12: Michael sees Laurie arrive at Tommy's house, as Tommy's parents depart.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note piano/synth figure.
10 1:44 The Haunted House Loomis arrives at the old Myer house.  He and the detective discover a dead dog.
Evil theme: slow, wide 4-note descending figure passed from piano to synths, joined by oscillating synth line.
A man wouldn’t do that.
This isn't a man.
11 1:35 The Devil's Eyes In Judith's old room, something flies in through the window.  They discuss Loomis' history with Michael.  Loomis decides to wait for him to return (dialogue).
Evil theme in piano/synth, ending in high metallic hits.
12 1:27 The Boogie Man Is Outside Tommy interrupts Laurie's phone call with Annie to tell her that he sees the Boogeyman outside (dialogue).  She looks but sees nothing.  Meanwhile Michael approaches Annie's window.  He watches Annie change.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note figure, descending and joined by lower textures, held synth texture/piano pulses.
13 1:34 Damn You For Letting Him Go! 0:00: Loomis teases kids near the Loomis house.  He talks with the detective about Michael (dialogue).
14 0:33 Empty Street Lynda and a boy make out in Annie's living room as Michael watches from the other room.
Michael theme (falling piano pulses/3-note figure).
15 2:22 See Anything You Like? 0:00: Lynda and a boy get intimate in Annie's upstairs room (stinger, dialogue).
0:26: Later, the boy is killed by Michael in the kitchen.
Noisy synth chord stingers.
0:52: He then proceeds to the bedroom under a sheet (dialogue).
1:36: Lynda calls Laurie, but Michael begins strangling her (dialogue).
Stalking theme in low rhythmic piano accents/high electronic pulses.
16 2:52 Lock The Door (alternate) Laurie, concerned, tries calling her back but no one answers.
Evil theme on piano/synth, intercut with high metallic hits and modulating downwards, ending with added oscillating synth.
17 0:55 He's Here (unused) Loomis finds the car which Michael stole sitting in the neighborhood.
Halloween theme with piano/pulses only.
18 2:50 Lights Out Outside, Laurie notices that the lights are out in Annie's house.  She rings the doorbell but no one answers.  She enters the house.
Laurie theme in piano/synth, repeated lower with additional oscillating synth layers (reprise of Halloween 1978).
19 1:18 Cut It Out Laurie goes upstairs (dialogue, score).
Evil theme.
20 1:09 Tombstone Laurie sees Annie's body with Judith's tombstone next to it.  Michael's body swings into view, and Lynda's body turns up.  Michael stabs Laurie and she falls over the railing (with dialogue).
Michael fanfare stinger, held synth tones, noise synth chords, Michael theme with fanfare/stinger.
21 1:33 The Shape Stalks Laurie Michael comes down the stairs.  Laurie tries to escape but finds herself trapped.  She escapes and eventually makes her way back to Tommy's house and locks the door.
Stalking piano theme joined by high keening pulses/held synth, developed with added lower textures.
22 0:33 Turn Around The phone is dead and Laurie cowers.  Michael stabs at her but she stabs him back with a knitting needle.
Michael theme in piano/synth.
23 2:09 Unlock The Door Laurie grabs the knife and sees Michael collapsed.  She drops the knife.  Loomis walks the streets looking for Michael.  Laurie goes upstairs to check on the kids.  Michael appears behind her.
Laurie theme and variations, ending in added oscillating synth.
I killed him.
You can't kill the Boogeyman.
24 3:04 The Hanger The kids lock themselves in and Laurie looks for a hiding place, as Michael approaches.  Michael tries to break into the closet where Laurie is hiding.  Laurie uses a wire hanger to stab Michael.  She grabs the dropped knife and stabs him again.  Michael falls.
Stalking piano theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers, building with added layers/drones.
25 0:25 Call The Police Laurie tells the kids to go outside (dialogue).
26 1:33 Last Assault Michael sits up as the kids get Loomis' attention.  Michael sneaks up on Laurie and then tries to strangle her.  Laurie tears off Michael's mask, just before Loomis shoots Michael.
Stalking theme in piano/keening pulses/synths.
27 0:32 Was It The Boogie Man? Loomis shoots a few more times and Michael falls out the window (dialogue, stinger).
28 3:33 End Credits: Halloween Theme - Reprise Loomis discovers Michael's fallen body has disappeared.  Images of several houses at night pass by in a collage.  End credits.
Halloween theme alt. mix with 3 and 4-note rising motifs.


Original 1983 Release
Trk Dur Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 2:55 Halloween Theme - Main Title Halloween theme alt. "beat" mix with added low downbeat pulse, extended with added synth swells/drones.
2 2:05 Laurie's Theme 0:00: (Halloween 1978 alt mix):
Laurie theme.
1:05: The Haunted House (part 1):
Evil theme.
3 1:42 Shape Escapes The Evil Is Gone: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes.
Halloween theme beat mix with added low downbeat pulse, stingers, 3-note motif.
4 5:35 Meyers' House 0:00: Lock the Door: Laurie, concerned, tries calling Lynda back but no one answers:
Evil theme/metallic hits.
2:55: Unlock the Door (edit):
Michael theme.
3:26: Halloween theme beat mix, noise synth stinger.
3:50: Cut it Out (edit):
Evil theme.
4:16: Noise stinger, Halloween theme beat mix with 3 and 4-note motifs.
5 3:11 Michael Kills Judith Halloween 1963 (alternate):
0:00: POV of a stalker outside a house observing young lovers, then entering the house and picking up a carving knife.
3-note Michael fanfare in high synth, Michael theme in slow piano chord pulses under variations of 3-note rising-falling motif in piano, synth.
1:00: The boy leaves, and the grandfather clock strikes.  Michael stabs his sister.
Held synth texture, synth stinger, Michael theme, held synths.
2:39: After killing Judith, Michael goes outside.
Stinger, Michael theme.
6 3:31 Loomis And Shape's Car Halloween Theme alt beat mix 2 (extended The Evil Is Gone?: Inmates are seen wandering around.  Michael commandeers Loomis' car and escapes).
7 3:33 "The Haunted House" 0:00: Lights Out: Outside, Laurie notices that the lights are out in Annie's house.  She rings the doorbell but no one answers.  She enters the house.
Laurie theme in piano/synth, low drone.
2:58: Turn Around: The phone is dead and Laurie cowers.  Michael stabs at her but she stabs him back with a knitting needle.
Michael theme in piano/synth.
8 1:35 The Shape Lurks The Shape Stalks Laurie: Michael comes down the stairs.  Laurie tries to escape but finds herself trapped.  She escapes and eventually makes her way back to Tommy's house and locks the door.
Stalking piano theme joined by high keening pulses/held synth, developed with added lower textures.
9 3:02 Laurie Knows 0:00: Unlock The Door: Laurie grabs the knife and sees Michael collapsed.  She drops the knife.  Loomis walks the streets looking for Michael.  Laurie goes upstairs to check on the kids.  Michael appears behind her.
Laurie theme and variations, ending in added oscillating synth.
2:08: Halloween Theme beat mix 
10 3:26 Better Check The Kids 0:00: The Boogie Man Is Outside: Laurie looks outside for the "boogieman" but sees nothing.  Meanwhile Michael approaches Annie's window.  He watches Annie change.
Michael theme in piano pulses/3-note figure, descending and joined by lower textures, held synth texture/piano pulses.
1:38: Cut It Out: Laurie goes upstairs looking for her friends.
Evil theme, descending.
11 3:09 The Shape Stalks The Hanger: The kids lock themselves in and Laurie looks for a hiding place, as Michael approaches.  Michael tries to break into the closet where Laurie is hiding.  Laurie uses a wire hanger to stab Michael.  She grabs the dropped knife and stabs him again.  Michael falls.
Stalking piano accents theme, joined by keening pulses and dissonant synth layers, building with added layers/drones.


Links
John Carpenter Site
John Carpenter Wiki Entry
New picture disc single release of Halloween (Carpenter rerecording)
20th Anniversary CD on Amazon

Red Sonja (Morricone, 1985)


     Ennio Morricone's style includes not only spaghetti westerns, crime dramas and euro-thrillers, but sword and sorcery epics as well, as heard in 1985's "Red Sonja".  This film might as well have been titled "Conan 3: The Coming of Red Sonja", as it closely followed on the heels of 1982's "Conan the Barbarian" and 1984's "Conan the Destroyer" (both scored by Basil Poledouris).  The production again features Schwarzenegger's Conan (named "Kalidor" here) as a sidekick prince, and is directed by Richard Fleischer (director of "Conan the Destroyer" and son of famed animator Max Fleischer).


     In this film, Kalidor (actually Conan under a different name) encounters a dying Varna, a priestess sister of Sonja's.  He soon finds Sonja (having just completed her training) and they proceed on a mission to stop the evil Queen Gedren from unleashing a powerful magic talisman in the world.  Along the way they meet the child-king Tarn and his bodyguard, and the foursome battle Gedren's forces in her castle in a final earth-shaking battle.


     Morricone developed 5 major themes for this film, each of which get developed to varying degrees in each of their appearances:
  • Vision theme: ethereal, mystical melody on muted brass.
  • Respect theme: noble, ends with a melody somewhat reminiscent of Poledouris' Conan theme.
  • Kalidor theme: martial, clipped trumpet theme.
  • Talisman theme: mystical theme, somewhat liturgical.
  • Battle theme: action figures with brass and choral chant ("Sonja").  Like Poledouris' Conan battle material, this theme is somewhat derived from the classical "Dies Irae".





     The score was initially released in various forms as a two-suite package (essentially adjacent cues in two groups), but was later separated and and re-sequenced chronologically on a Perseverance Records release.  The rundown below is based on the Perseverance release.  Despite the film's failure at the box office, the score has some rousing and fun moments, and the the scenery has some glorious visuals (as seen in the snapshots here, click to enlarge).


Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
1 1:26 Prologue A ghostly vision visits a dissolute Sonja and reviews (through flashbacks) the terrible deeds Gedren and her men inflicted on Sonja and her family.  Sonja is gifted with power by the ghost.  Main Title.
Vision theme in tremolo strings/slow brass theme, joined by timpani/wordless choir, sweeping strings/choir/harp.
2 2:23 Main Title Kalidor rides his horse under clear skies and through an open landscape (under opening credits).
Rising vibraphone/choir leads to martial Kalidor trumpet theme over string rhythm, Kalidor theme repeated on strings, winds/brass, building and joined by choir, ending in timpani accent.
3 3:15 The Talisman White-robed Hyrkanian priestesses prepare to destroy a dangerous green talisman.
Talisman theme: harp/liturgical choir/held string textures with a few wind accents, followed by repeat of 17: "Entering The Castle" at 1:12.
4 1:40 Temple Raid Queen Gedren's forces raid the temple and battle ensues.
Battle theme: alarmed string figures/brass accents with dark brass fanfares over bass drum accents/rolls, wind ostinato leads to variation of "Dies Irae".
5 1:03 Touch It Gedren has her men lift the talisman out of its pedestal.  After a man is disintegrated, she reveals that only women may touch it.
Talisman theme on harp/slow strings/isolated wind accents.
6 1:49 Sonja And The Sword Master Sonja defeats her opponent in an Asian sword contest.  Her master says she has nothing more to learn.  Sonja recoils at a man's embrace and her master says that not all men are evil.  Sonja is gifted with a sword.
Vision theme in tremolo strings/brass, joined by timpani/wordless choir, sweeping strings/choir/harp.
7 2:00 Varna's Death Kalidor leads Sonja to her dying Hyrkanian sister.  When she arrives, Varna tells her that the talisman has been stolen, and that she must destroy it before it's too late.  Varna dies.
Kalidor theme in trumpet/strings, noble Respect theme in muted brass over harp/string/flute, theme on strings over wordless choir.
8 1:47 The Gate Of Brytag At night, Sonja approaches the Gate Of Brytag.  She calls out Brytag, who invites her up.  Sonja approaches his "throne", surrounded by men.
Also: Queen Gedren arrives at her castle with the talisman.  She places it in a room filled with candles.
Low suspenseful string rhythms joined by brass ornaments and wind accents, leading to low wind ostinati/harp accents/wind chords, end wind flourish cadence. 
9 1:14 Sonja Vs. Brytag Sonja and Brytag duel.  Sonja cuts Brytag's shoulder and he threatens her.  The duel continues.  Sonja kills Brytag.
Also: variation used when Sonja rescues Prince Tarn from brigands.
String accents with high staccato wind rhythm, joined by muted brass ornaments, low winds interlude, string accents/wind rhythm resumes.
10 3:36 Fighting The Soldiers Varna is shot by Queen Gedren's men as she escapes the temple.
Also: Brytag's angry army approaches Sonja from all sides, but Kalidor comes to her aid.  Battle ensues.  Kalidor engages the soldiers to allow Sonja to escape on her horse.
Also: Kalidor fights Queen Gedren's army in the castle dining hall.
Battle theme with choir adding "Sonja" chant over alarmed string figures/brass accents with dark brass fanfares over bass drum accents/rolls, vocal chants and wind ostinato joined by brass/choir variation of "Dies Irae", recaps twice with developed chants, ending in fateful brass figures/fanfares, more accented "Son-ja" chants.
11 2:02 The Chamber Of Lights (unused) Queen Gedren places the talisman in a room filled with candles.
Talisman theme developed as soft wordless choir layers/muted brass accents, building with added winds/choir.
12 0:46 Sorcery When conjuring a helpful vision, Queen  Gedren's wizard accidentally conjures up a naked dancer.
Rhythmic harp/recorder dance theme.
13 1:33 Sonja Teaches Tarn A humbled Prince Tarn asks Sonja to teach him fighting skills.  After a quick lesson, they develop respect for one another.
Respect theme in flute over held strings/harp arpeggios, developed in winds/strings.
14 2:07 Treasure In The Cavern (unused) When Tarn tries to acquire a large pearl, he ends up awakening a robotic snake monster.
Concerned wind/brass figures with strings, joined by trumpet/horns/ethereal strings, ending with a tense brass accent.
15 1:43 Sonja And Kalidor Kalidor flirts with Sonja.  She tells them that they must battle before they can continue.
Respect theme in muted brass over harp/strings, harp ostinati developed, theme on oboe/strings.
16 1:50 A Fair Fight As their duel continues, they begin to slow down from fatigue, and eventually fall down exhausted.
Heroic trumpet fanfares dialogue with Respect theme in oboe over romantic strings/harp, Respect theme in winds/strings, trumpet fanfare end cadence.
17 2:12 Entering The Castle Sonja and Kalidor begin scaling Queen Gedren's castle defenses as the talisman causes earthquakes.
Suspense accents in brass/strings/drums lead to brass/timpani accent rhythms in dialogue with trumpet fanfares and rising string accents, joined by low brass/high winds/string glissandi.
18 1:36 Sonja Defeats The Queen Sonja and Queen Gedren begin their duel.
Timpani roll leads to slow, fateful variation and development of Battle theme with choir ("Sonja")/strings/rhythmic brass fanfares/figures/accents.
19 3:42 End Credits After escaping Queen Gedren's destroyed castle, Sonja and Kalidor have a playful duel before kissing.  End credits.
Bass rhythm joined by soft winds/low strings leading to trumpet fanfares over Respect theme developed on flute/choir, then building on strings/choir/bass/drum rhythm, flute/harp interlude leads to Respect theme on flutes, winds/added violin rhythm/trumpet ornaments, ending in soft winds/choir.


     "Red Sonja" was originally available only as two long tracks (as a "Symphonic Suite for Chorus and Orchestra"), but these can be taken apart based on this handy breakdown from an FSM forum post by DanBeck:

Suite 01
(7) Varna's Death [0'00-2'01]
(2) Main Title [2'01-4'24]
(19) End Credits [4'24-8'04]
(10) Fighting the Soldiers [8'05-11'38]
(6) Sonja and the Sword Master [11'39-13'39]
(1) Prologue [13'40-15'05]
(13) Sonja Teaches Tarn [15'05-16'40]


Suite 02
(12) Sorcery [0'00-0'45]
(4) Temple Raid [0'45-2'24]
(5) Touch It [2'25-3'28]
(16) A Fair Fight [3'29-5'18]
(14) Treasure in the Cavern [5'18-7'23]
(9) Sonja vs. Brytag [7'24-8'38]
(8) The Gate of Brytag [8'38-10'24]
(3) The Talisman [10'25-11'32]
(17) Entering the Castle [11'32-13'40]
(11) The Chamber of Lights [13'41-15'29]
(15) Kalidor and Sonja [15'29-17'12]
(18) Sonja Defeats the Queen [17'12-18'48]

Links
Ennio Morricone Wiki
Red Sonja (Perseverance) iTunes Listing

Dragonslayer (North, 1981)


     In 1981, Alex North (of "Spartacus" fame, and many other classic scores) was tasked with providing music for Disney-Paramount's "Dragonslayer".  The score was orchestrated by composer Henry Brant and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.  The film itself has a somewhat muddles tonal palette, with light, kid-friendly scenes mixed with gory death sequences.  For this reason, North seems to have produced a somewhat awkwardly-balanced (although Oscar-nominated) score, with dark and dissonant "Paramount" colors intercut with some very light and lilting "Disney" textures.  In the final film cut, much of the light material was unused and/or retracked from other more dissonant sections (such as the re-scored Main Title), but the Lala-Land complete score from 2010 uses North's original material.


     I think the score works better as a "classical" tone poem than a film score.  While it may have been distracting in the film for being "too interesting", as a CD listening experience (with the below "libretto" in hand) it works pretty good.  As many reviewers have noted, the craftsmanship of the complex orchestral layers is of an exceptionally highest level, and North frequently uses some exotic instrumental colors.  However, due to the "classical" nature of the writing, the themes employed in the score are admittedly not easily identifiable on a first listen, since they are often somewhat blended in layers of thematic polyphony.

     The 2010 Lala-Land CD includes detailed liner notes by Jeff Bond, and Chris McEneany also has an excellent track-by-track analysis at AV Forums (link at bottom) which discusses the major themes:
  • Vermithrax: lumbering low brass figure, somewhat "Godzilla-ish"
  • Maiden: zig-zag plaintive-but-noble figure
  • Amulet: rhythmically comical, staccato figure
  • Urlanders: somber, lurching theme, resigned and dirge-like
  • Love: sweet, romantic theme
  • Ulrich: rising mystical layers
  • Pastoral: lilting rhythm, derived from Love theme, somewhat impressionistic/Debussy-ish



Trk Dur Title Film Sequence
1  02:46 Main Title 0:00: Titles over black (Vermithrax theme in low brass layers/high winds/log drums). 
0:44: Dissolves to night time travelers with torches (Urlanders' theme in low strings, Maiden theme in strings, horns).  In his house, the wizard Ulrich prepares a brew (trilling flutes/percussion).
2:01: Ulrich uses a bit of magic (chimes).  The Urland travelers approach Ulrich's house (blend of Urlander and Maiden themes in winds/strings).
2  01:47 No Sorcerers - No Dragons! 0:00: Ulrich describes how dragons once populated the land, and talks about the last spiteful dragon, Vermithrax Pejorative.
0:44: Ulrich prepares to help the Urlanders fight the dragon, despite Galen's worries. 
1:32: The arrogant king's henchman, Tyrian, suddenly appears (string accent/winds).
3  03:29 Ulrich's Death And Mourning 0:00: Tyrian stabs Ulrich and Ulrich falls dead.  Tyrian leaves and Ulrich's house magically opens its gates, releasing Galen (Ulrich trumpet fanfare/swirling chimes).
0:50: Galen tends to the dead Ulrich.  His body is set on fire in a pyre (Ulrich's theme as developed rising figures).
The Amulet 2:12: Galen tries to stow a glowing magical amulet in a metal box (Amulet theme in comical winds, developed). Other magical phenomena occur and Galen stares at the reappeared magic amulet (building brass/string figures).
4  01:32 Forest Romp 0:00: Hodge and Galen pursue the now-departed Urlanders through the forest, loaded with supplies (gallop derived from Amulet theme).  They playfully snipe at each other, and Galen taunts Hodge with his magic skills.
5  04:25 Maiden's Sacrifice 0:00: Galen appears to the travelers from Urland and offers his services.
0:09: Meanwhile at Urland, an unwilling virgin is led in a procession to a sacrificial pillar and chained (sinister Urlanders' theme in trumpet intercut with Maiden theme in winds/horns).
1:33: The ground shakes and the village priest makes a hasty retreat.  The girl tries to escape as roaring approaches (brassy Urlander fanfares/wistful Maiden themes developed).
2:53: A giant claw appears out of the ground, followed by the dragon's head.  The girl escapes her chain and runs (Urlander brass developed).  Her escape is halted by the dragon's tail.
6  04:46 Visions And Reflections 0:00:  In a pool of water, Galen is disturbed by a vision where Tyrian aims and fires an arrow.  He runs towards Hodge.
Hodge's Death 1:03: Galen catches up with Hodge, but finds Hodge has been hit with a fatal arrow.  He tells Galen that he has to throw the Master's ashes into a lake of burning water.  Hodge dies, despite Galen's efforts (variation of Love/Maiden themes).
2:40: The troupe sails on a boat with a glum Galen. 
3:04: The boat lands and the group makes its way inland towards Urland (as Tyrian's group secretly watches from afar).
7  04:14 The Lair 0:00: The Urland travelers approach the lair of the dragon.  Galen looks at the sacrifice pillar. 
1:15: Galen enters the lair cave and finds skeletons (organ layer, drum accent).  Moving deeper into the cave, he encounters smoke, and calls the dragon's name.  He then exits the cave.
Landslide 2:45: Galen speaks an incantation towards the mountain but nothing happens.  Eventually (with the help of his amulet) a landslide begins and covers the lair entrance.  
8  02:20 Galen Jailed 0:00: The king is skeptical that the dragon is dead, takes the amulet, and puts Galen in chains.  Meanwhile the dragon's lair stirs ominously (Urlanders' theme).
0:42: In prison, Galen chants to no effect (sardonic Amulet theme in bass clarinet).  
Galen's Escape 1:00: (Alternate) When the ground shakes from a sudden earthquake (caused by the king's abuse of the amulet), the king's daughter Princess Elspeth releases Galen, and he escapes on a horse (after fighting off the king's men in the castle) (Amulet theme developed with snare and playful winds).
9  02:25 Jacopus Blasted 0:00: The villagers are led by a Christian priest (Jacopus) to the dragon's lair.  The priest prays for God's help (6th Century Gregorian chant figures begin).
1:05: The ground begins to swallow up his audience.  Looking over a fiery abyss, the priest comes face to face with the dragon.  He invokes God to help him (liturgical texture).
10  01:10 Burning Village 0:00: Jacopus is incinerated by dragon breath (Amulet theme in brass).  Galen rides his horse towards the village (Pastoral theme).
0:19: (Alternate) Galen arrives to see the dragon flying around and terrorizing the villagers (Urlanders' theme intercut with Pastoral theme variation).  The dragon flies off.
11  04:40 The Lance 0:00: Valerian's father, a blacksmith, draws a lance ("Dragonslayer") out of a waterfall and gives it to Galen.  Galen tells them that he needs his magic amulet back as well (pensive textures).
The Lottery 0:57: (Alternate) Valerian is entered into the virgin sacrifice lottery in a night-time ritual (pizz strings/bells/low winds/muted brass/howling textures).
2:21: Galen hides in the crowd as the ritual proceeds (low Urlander brass/Maiden strings). The crowd chants (gong, winds, etc).
12  01:09 Galen's Search For The Amulet 0:00: Galen searches in the castle for his amulet (martial strings and percussion dialogue, winds).
0:51: The king asks for Tyrian's help (drum rolls).  The king catches Galen looking for the amulet.
13  01:29 Valerian's Dragon Scales 0:00: Valerian gathers dragon scales from burnt village ruins.  She eventually enters the dragon lair cave entrance (organ/synth) and encounters a baby dragon.
14  01:56 Still A Virgin 0:00: Valerian gives Galen a dragon scale shield and flirts with Galen.  They kiss (clarinet solo evolves into Love theme in cor anglais/bassoon/strings, developed on strings, oboe).
15  03:13 Elspeth's Destiny 0:00: The sacrifice pillar is prepared for Elspeth and she is chained to it (tense harpsichord rhythm, Maiden theme in plaintive strings). 
0:36: The ceremony is interrupted when Galen appears.
Tyrian – Galen Fight 0:50: Tyrian and Galen duel (developed Urlanders' theme on bassoon leads to martial percussion/brass/strings).
1:36: During the battle, Galen frees Elspeth, who heads towards the lair entrance (Maiden theme in plaintive strings intercut with percussion solos).
2:25: Galen stabs a distracted Tyrian, who slowly falls to the ground (ending with Amulet motif in brass fanfare).
16  02:38 3 Darling Dragonettes 0:00: Galen finds baby dragons feasting on Princess Elspeth's bloody corpse (Urlander theme in low strings/Maiden theme in brass/violins).  Galen kills the "dragonettes" with his lance and a torch (cymbal accents/rhythmic string accents, Amulet theme in brass/high winds).
Triumphant Dragon 1:12: Galen sees the dragon swimming in a lake of fire and takes out his amulet (vibraphone).  He puts it away and then jumps from rock to rock (Urlander theme in low winds, brass). 
1:48: (partially used) The dragon surfaces behind Galen (piano accents, developed rhythmic accents) and spits fire, but the dragon scale shield protects Galen from harm.
17  03:14 A Slight Skirmish 0:00: Galen runs for cover as the dragon attacks again (Vermithrax theme in low brass, joined by high winds).
1:02: The dragon sees it's dead children and sniffs in sorrow, then howls (melancholy strings, angry accents and rising figures).  Galen hides in a rock behind the dragon (Urlander variation developed).  He jumps onto the dragon's back and stabs it with his lance.  The lance breaks off in the dragon's neck and Galen barely escapes.
18  05:27 Dejection 0:00: The blacksmith is saddened that the lance broke (Maiden theme in solo winds/brass).  Galen and Valerian decide to leave the village (Love theme in strings).
Eclipse 1:18: (unused) While Galen boats away, the sun's reflection causes the lake to burn in a vision.
1:53: Galen and Valerian run back towards the dragon lair with an idea (Amulet theme in electric harpsichord).
2:13: At Urland, the village priest speaks to an audience (Gregorian chant texture).  Galen and Valerian enter the dragon's lair.
Resurrection Of Ulrich 2:55: Valerian sees Elspeth's remains and gets nervous (ambient textures).  Galen scatters Ulrich's ashes into the dragon lair lake of fire.  The fires go out (Ulrich's rising theme in brass begins to surface).
4:06: The amulet begins glowing and a green glow in the lake becomes green fire (organ/synth textures).  A resurrected Ulrich appears (noble Ulrich's theme variation).
19  01:12 Dragon Sore-Ing 0:00: (Alternate) The dragon flies in the sky and lands on a rock promontory (Pastoral theme).
0:19: Valerian sees the dragon and hides in the rocks (Love theme variation).
0:53: Ulrich chants and the dragon flies off (derived from Urlanders' theme).
20  02:46 Destroy That Amulet! 0:00: Ulrich tells Galen that the amulet must be destroyed in order to kill the dragon.  A solar eclipse begins.
0:38: Ulrich appears at the top of the promontory rock and causes shooting stars (Ulrich's theme developed into soaring figures).  He conjures a wind.  Clouds appear, and then lightning as the amulet glows on Galen's chest (keening trills/string clusters/timpani). 
21  04:15 'Tis The Final Conflict 0:00: (Alternate, partially replaced with Main Title) The dragon flies around Ulrich, who stands on the promontory rock (Pastoral theme with brass accents, held strings).
0:43: (Alternate, partially replaced with Galen Jailed)  Ulrich and the dragon battle with lightning, claws and fire (Pastoral theme developed).  Galen and Valerian debate when to destroy the amulet (tense brass/strings/drums).  
1:45: (Alternate) The dragon gracefully soars among the clouds (graceful Pastoral theme). 
2:31: The dragon dives down and then picks up Ulrich (alarmed Urlanders' theme, joined by Ulrich's theme in rising brass/strings). 
3:17: Galen smashes the amulet causing Ulrich and the dragon to explode (accent, held texture).  The dragon crashes into the lake, the water boils, and the eclipse fades (Ulrich theme developed).
22  04:36 Intro To End Credits 0:00: The king poses with a sword to the dead dragon's neck.  Galen and Valerian depart, wishing for a horse (Love theme variation, Amulet theme in vibraphone/harp).
0:34: (Alternate) A white horse suddenly, mysteriously appears (trills, Love theme in strings).
End Credits 1:00: They laugh, mount the horse and ride off together, under end credits (Pastoral theme developed, Amulet theme hinted in strings).
23  02:54 Dance Montage Source music: The villagers celebrate the burial of the dragon's lair.  Galen dances with Valerian.
24  03:24 A Slight Skirmish (Alternate) (Alternate, less percussive take) Galen runs for cover as the dragon attacks again. The dragon sees it's dead children and sniffs in sorrow, then howls.  Galen hides in a rock behind the dragon.  He jumps onto the dragon's back and stabs it with his lance.  The lance breaks off in the dragon's neck and Galen barely escapes.
25  01:21 Main Title (Original) 0:00: Main Title (Original), based on Forest Romp.
0:54: Drums, percussive "dragon sounds".


Links
Alex North
Chris McEneany Analysis-Review at AV Forums
Filmtracks Review
Movie Music UK Review