Inspired by the historic and cultural richness of the world's great masterpieces, Seattle composer, Tom McGurk, has scored a brilliant original music soundtrack to enhance the Treasures of the World television series.
You can now
order the CD for $14.95
Following is a sampling of cuts from the soundtrack and a few words from Tom McGurk about his process of composing for the series. To enjoy these cuts, you'll need to download the free RealAudio plug-in.
When Producers Barry Stoner and Suzanne Duroux approached me to score the Treasures of the World series, I jumped at the chance. Here was an opportunity to incorporate a variety of musical styles within the framework of a single television series. I was given a lot of creative freedom - which was both exhilarating and intimidating! - as I expanded my knowledge of the various styles through research and the resources and inspiration provided by the production team. The result is really a collaborative effort.
Mona Lisa - Because this show is both amusing and serious, and has such a large cast of characters, the challenge was to develop several themes without making the score seem too cluttered. The painting has its own theme, which runs throughout the episode, modified with varying instrumentation and tempo based on the progression of the story. I borrowed inspiration from the Pink Panther to accompany the theft, and listened to music from the 1931 silent film, Der Raub Der Mona Lisa, for the archive film segment. For Perugia, the thief, I chose a somewhat comical theme, because of his simple nature. I also decided to enrich the music with "flavors" of France and Italy, including music from the Renaissance to reflect Leonardo's life and times.
Guernica - I love this show, especially because I got to buy a new guitar for the music! The main theme comes from classical Spanish guitar, but incorporates elements of sound design into the music (as suggested by Kent Beeson, our editor.) I listened to Stravinsky for inspiration for the bombing sequences, then added the banging and crashing of garbage cans, as well as push-pull dissonances to heighten the tumult of the scene and give musical voice to the horror of the images. Picasso's theme develops as the painting progresses, incorporating Spanish guitar and instruments and rhythms to reflect his emotional turmoil.
Fabergé Eggs - Traditional Russian styles of this period are favorites of mine, and I was able to experiment with the rich orchestrations and textures to reflect the opulence of the Romanov era. The Nicholas II theme evolves over time with the major events of his life. And each of the featured eggs has a different treatment and character: some are delicate and childlike; others are very elegant; and several are military in style.
Hope Diamond - I started this episode by developing independent themes for the two main characters, Evelyn Walsh McLean and the Hope Diamond. Then Suzanne suggested merging them as their paths cross. Their separate themes grow, then come together in the scene where Evalyn puts the diamond around her neck for the first time. I had the most fun with the underscore for Cartier's sales pitch where I was encouraged to "loosen up and get silly."
Taj Mahal - For this episode we were able to incorporate music recorded on location into the underscore at various points. We tried to stay true to each period of Mughal history when selecting instrumentation for the ensembles. And just for Barry, I was even able to work in a bagpipe or two (in the British Raj segment.)
Borobudur - Thanks to the Javanese gamelan music provided by Barry and Suzanne, an obscure book I found on gamelan and the help of various members of the Seattle music community, this episode came together much better than I expected. The musical themes are more about sound and rhythm than actual melody, which can sometimes seem inharmonious to Western ears. We also worked closely to have the music enhance the images as well as the sense of spiritual journey represented by the temple.
As I finished up the final CD's for delivery to the mixer at the end of the project, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a great friend. The music - and working with the production team - was a part of my daily life for that whole year. The producers pushed me farther than I have ever been in musical terms, and I feel I really grew because of it. In the end, they were right, as you can see and hear from the results.
I consider myself truly fortunate to have worked on this series, with this great team of people. It was hard while we were at it, but the end result is far beyond what I had ever dreamed. I am very proud of what we achieved.
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