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Abby North

Abby North

We’re thrilled to speak with Abby North, a renowned music industry professional who currently runs Unchained Melody Publishing LLC, the publisher of the timeless classic “Unchained Melody;” Dylanna Music, a boutique record label, and North Music Group LLC, a music media company. In addition to controlling the legacy of her father-in-law, Alex North, Abby also works as a music supervisor.

Through Abby’s expertise, previously unheard works by Alex North have finally hit public ears. Intrada Records recently released the Sounder/Decision for Chemistry CD, two of North’s film scores that were previously unreleased. La-la Land Records has also recently released Rat Patrol: Volume 2, including never-before-heard compositions.

We had the opportunity to speak to her about her thriving career and Alex North’s legacy.

What does it mean to you to represent Alex North’s legacy? What can you tell us about him as a person?

Alex died long before I met my husband, his son Dylan. However, I feel as if I know Alex through his music, through his family, and by living in the home he lived in for the last 21 years of his life.

My kids and I recently watched a video of Alex’s acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Academy Award, and I was moved by his elegance, sophistication, grace, and charm. Not only was he one of the most important American composers of our time, he was moral and kind.

To say I’m honored to represent Alex’s legacy is an understatement. I am truly in my dream job.
 
What are your favorite scores of his?

I love “Hey Eula” from The Long, Hot, Summer. It’s lusty, hooky, and completely engaging. As an overall score, I’d have to say Cleopatra or Spartacus. The Love Theme From Spartacus is one of the most beautiful compositions I’ve ever heard, and there are so many incredible covers that successfully approach the piece in varied musical styles. Hearing the LSO last November perform John Mauceri’s arrangement of a Cleopatra Suite commissioned years ago by my mother-in-law was overwhelmingly moving – so much so I had tears during both the dress rehearsal and full performance. Alex’s music oozes emotions, and you’d have to be a brick wall not to feel something during live performances of his music.
 
Unchained Melody Publishing LLC controls the publishing of the timeless favorite. How often does this song get placed? Can you point us in the direction of some great covers?

I love the Al Green cover [left]. My mother-in-law’s favorites were the Al Hibbler and LeAnn Rimes masters. When MPL was still our publisher, we co-commissioned Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals to create a reggae master, which is great. And I think George Kahumoku Jr’s Hawaiian master is a top five for me as well. There are just so many covers of Unchained, and so many brilliant ones.

“Unchained Melody” gets placed constantly, all over the world. Very often, ads will parody the iconic Ghost pottery scene. Recent placements were the Phil Spector biopic on HBO, Two and a Half Men, The Voice, and many others.
 
You’re also a music supervisor. Any favorite projects you’ve worked on? What do you to stay on top of the musical trends?

H2Indo was a particular favorite because it’s a documentary about standup paddling, which is one of my favorite sports. The soundtrack stands up well on its own. Wahlburgers is a great show to work on because the producers and editors are exceptional, and together we’ve created a great sonic statement for the show.

I believe it’s impossible to truly be on top of musical trends, but I do my best. I listen to radio and watch television to hear synchs, read the charts and Soundscan numbers, listen to new music on rdio and spotify, and frequently check out reverbnation and soundcloud for independently released music.
 
Do you also compose music?

I do. I’ve been writing music since I was a kid, and I completed the Film Scoring Certificate program at UCLA Extension. I have done a bit of composing in video games, television, and film, but once I had kids it’s been difficult, as I rarely have more than a 4 hour window to work.
 
We’re excited about the recent releases of the Sounder/Decision for Chemistry CD and Rat Patrol: Volume 2. A lot of music has been coming out of the vault… does Alex North have a lot of more unreleased gems?

We do have a few more that I know of. There is Rebel Jesus, which was never even released as a film, to my knowledge. Additionally, we have serious works that have never been recorded, and some songs as well. We are slowly recording new masters.
 
What other visions do you have for Alex North’s legacy?

We are working with Peter Alexander on building the Alex North brand, and soon Alexander Publishing, the premier source for orchestration on the web, will launch The Alex North Film Scoring Series. The first in the series will be Alex’s unused score to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the engraving of which is almost completed by David O’Rourke.

We are seeking more exposure to young composers, more live concert performances, and more Alex North releases.

And of course, working with Score Revolution is a piece of the puzzle.
 
You run a publishing company, a record label, and a music media company. Can you describe your day-to-day? How do you juggle everything?

I wake up around 6:00 a.m. and immediately read and reply to emails. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, so once they wake up, my husband and I get them fed, dressed, and off to school…except during summer, when all bets are off.

I have a zillion lists floating around my desk with all of my tasks, most of which take way too long to complete. I think of it as triage: I attack the most important ones first.

I tend to keep all windows open on the computer so I don’t forget what needs to get done immediately. And I’m a skillful and experience multitasked.

And finally, I have amazing people working with me, without whom I would be falling flat on my face.

Check out our latest placement! You’ll hear the tracks “Dexterity” from Resident Evil: Extinction and “Darkest Day” from The Collection, both by Charlie Clouser!

Click here to learn more about the documentary.

 

Big news! Two previously unreleased gems by Alex North (one is never-before-heard) are now available! First is the rare documentary soundtrack for Decision For Chemistry, scored by North in 1953, and second is the never-used score for the critically acclaimed 1972 drama Sounder. Visit the Intrada site to purchase. Read on to learn more:

Sounder_600aAlex North had a deep affinity for the music of the American South, and following his landmark 1951 score for A Streetcar Named Desire he’d been given frequent opportunities to harness this love. One such opportunity came in the form of 1972′s Sounder, based on the beloved young adult novel by William H. Armstrong. It takes its name from a hunting dog belonging to an impoverished family of Southern black sharecroppers, telling the story of young David Lee Morgan and his quest to find the chain gang where his father is serving hard labor after stealing food. North’s empathy for the careworn Morgan family is apparent from the score’s opening bars. The main title begins with a haunting, gospel-tinged melody for flute and strings, backed by a soft guitar line. This is followed by a cheerful passage highlighting harmonica, before the piece concludes with an impassioned viola solo— a microcosm of the film’s hardships, joys and sorrows, all masterfully distilled into ninety seconds. Early in the production, producer Robert Radnitz had hired the prominent blues musician Taj Mahal to portray a minor character and perform on screen. Radnitz ultimately became so enamored of Mahal that he insisted the bluesman be commissioned to provide all-new background music, tossing North’s score into obscurity. Until now.

The 1953 corporate short film Decision for Chemistry runs a little under an hour in length and was produced by Monsanto Chemical for screenings at schools and other assemblies across America. Its stated purpose was to intrigue boys and young men with exciting scenes from the world of cutting-edge chemical engineering, in the hope that they would choose chemistry as a career track (or at least gain a greater appreciation for the work of Monsanto). North’s score is robustly American through and through. In its grandest and most inspirational moments, it swells with broad, sweeping melodies that conjure the vast and limitless potential of the spirit of enterprise. This is counterbalanced by more intimate passages that sketch, with bucolic whimsy, the life of typical small-town lads. It is the lengthy industrial montages, however, where North is really able to cut loose, deploying kinetic jazz rhythms and lots of busy overlapping lines. Appropriately, North uses modernist touches for the more scienceoriented scenes. It all adds up to an energetic portrait of an artist in full command of his creative powers.

Both scores, taken from mono sources, premiere here and capture a slice of quintessential Americana.

[Source: Intrada]
 

The cult comic book of the same name comes to life in acclaimed music video director Paul Hunter’s directorial debut. Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat stars in the title role of a Tibetan monk granted supernatural powers as part of his 60-year mission to protect a powerful, magical scroll. Seann William Scott co-stars as a young thief who may or may not be his prophesied successor.

Best known for his collaborations with director Luc Besson, veteran French composer Éric Serra folds traditional Tibetan and Chinese musical motifs into his trademark blend of industrial electronica and acoustic orchestra, yielding a score that feels resolutely tied to both the ancient and the modern. At times rousing and cacophonous (“Priceless,” “It Is About Peace”), elsewhere haunting and suspenseful (“Flying Tattoos,” “Your Idea of a Joke”) while at other times pure, pulsating techno (“Double Chase,” “Blood Tourist”), Serra’s Bulletproof Monk score is as freewheeling and unpredictable as the film itself, a genre-bending, style-splicing exercise in both defying and subverting expectations.

Listen, download, and license tracks from the film score Untraceable composed by Christopher Young. Our sales team is ready to assist you with any licensing inquiries at sales@scorerevolution.com.

 

-Are you in LA this Sunday? Check out the Echo Society’s Solstice: “A night of musical works with a 12 piece orchestra and electronics,” featuring music by Joe Trapanese, Rob Simonsen, Nathan Johnson, Judson Crane and more!

-Steven Price, Bear McCreary, and Dave Porter take ASCAP’s inaugural Composers’ Choice Award!

ascap-awards
-Mychael Danna recieved an honorary degree from the University of Toronto. Watch his acceptance speech!

-Get highlights from Aaron Zigman, Mark Isham, and John Ottman at BMI’s Coffee Talk during the LA Film Fest!

-Alexandre Desplat is the first musician to head the main jury of the Venice Film Festival! Get the details via Variety.

Swedish director Lasse Halström’s 2001 adaptation of E. Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer-winning 1993 novel stars Kevin Spacey as a New York newspaperman and single father who relocates his two young daughters to their ancestral home in Newfoundland – rebuilding their shattered lives while also unveiling dark family secrets. The all-star cast features Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Pete Postelthwaite, Scott Glenn and Judi Dench.

The enormously prolific Christopher Young – typically known more as a genre composer (Hellraiser, Spider-Man 3)– flexes his diversity here, returning to the hymnal resonance of his earlier work like Murder in the First with a powerful yet gently effusive collection of cues that embrace the rich historical and cultural tapestry of Newfoundland. The soaring title track with its dense orchestration, jubilant strings and Gaelic-inflected woodwinds and percussion sets the tone for more subdued tracks like “The Gammy Bird,” “Dutsi Jig,” “Mooncussers” and “Sail On” – a collective musical embrace of a rare, remote place where time truly stands still and passions run as deep as the sea.

Listen, download, and license tracks from the film score Untraceable composed by Christopher Young. Our sales team is ready to assist you with any licensing inquiries at sales@scorerevolution.com.
 

Great week for film music news!

-Congratulations to Ennio Morricone for receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! His name will be immortalized on the famous street in 2015. via Film Music Reporter

-Who’s the greatest film composer of all time? Consequence of sound wants to find out. Cast your votes here… if you can pick just one.

-Leo Burnett’s Senior Music Producer Chris Clark picked his favorite ad/music pairings of all time! via Leo Burnett

-Marco Beltrami goes into depth about his new score for the upcoming Korean film “Snowpiercer.” Interview via Film Music Magazine

-Brian Reitzell first solo album, Auto Music, dropped yesterday! Preview a track below, or purchase the album on iTunes.

-We want to know what the soundtrack to your life is. Take our quiz!
 

Kick-ass music to get you through your Humpday!

Looking to license music? Contact sales@scorerevolution.com

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When an advertising executive innocently swaps tickets with another traveler who ends up dying in a crash, it sets in motion a series of events whereby the executive winds up unexpectedly falling in love with the deceased man’s widow. Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow star in this 2000 drama from writer/director Don Roos’ (The Opposite of Sex).

Enjoining an unorthodox but effective mix of traditional orchestral, light funk and soft jazz arrangements, Oscar-winning Canadian Composer Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) helps fuel Bounce with a vibrant evocation of the varied emotional trajectories of the film’s characters. Gentle strings underline repressed emotions in tracks like “Bed Time,” “Moving Day,” “So Brave” and “Deception” while rhythmic funk-intoned tracks like “Boarding Pass” and “Hangover” evoke outward recklessness. Elsewhere, more specific instrumentation is employed to emotionally accent particular orchestrations: a melancholic piano in “Crash”; exotic use of woodwinds in “Nice to Meet You,” “Testimony” and “You’re Excused” and guitar-inflected soft-jazz in “Now I Am,” “Seven Steps,” “Kiss” and “Can We Try.”

Listen, download, and license tracks from the film score Untraceable composed by Christopher Young. Our sales team is ready to assist you with any licensing inquiries at sales@scorerevolution.com.
 

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