Howard Shore is an award-winning composer, who has been working on music for major movies since 1978. From "The Lord of the Rings" to "Hugo," Shore has a vast resume of films he has contributed to. His latest work is on the critically acclaimed film "Spotlight," which tells the story of the "Boston Globe" reporter team that revealed a local Catholic Archdiocese cover-up of several child molestation cases in the Boston area. The story made waves around the world in 2001 and 2002.
When making the music for the film, Shore had to balance the work of the reporters and the dark story they were discovering. Shore spoke to International Business Times about composing the soundtrack for "Spotlight" and why it was such an important story to be told on the big screen.
"It has to do with the power of the church and its attempts to suppress the story and how the city of Boston reacted to the story and eventually how the story became known," Shore shared with IBT. "It was something that once it was overturned it had tremendous repercussions all over the world."
The music for the film was written for a 10-piece orchestra with a heavy piano sound. The piano is very present throughout the movie and Shore said the reason behind that was because he and director Tom McCarthy felt there was "a sense of truthfulness and clarity" with the instrument.
"It was also useful in the black and white aspect of the instrument and how it related to the black and white nature of the newspaper writing." Shore said. "The instrument provided a way into the story in a very intimate sense that you could take the viewer through these compositional ideas played on this instrument with varying degrees of emotions."
"Spotlight" is one of several films over the years that has had a prominent use of piano in it's soundtrack throughout the movie. Movies like "Halloween" and "E.T." are known for having key musical pieces highlighting the piano.
"Piano is an instrument that's relatable. In this particular story when you're dealing with this subject and you're showing journalism on a certain type of procedural. I found the instrument had a voice and a ton and a way of expressing the ideas that were emotional when it wanted to be and could also pull back and be more cool and more differential," he explained.
Throughout his career, Shore has worked on dozens of major movies, including "The Silence of the Lambs," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Gangs of New York," "The Departed," all three "The Hobbit" movies and many more. Shore has taken home three Academy Awards is his career, including two for Best Original Score for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He also won Best Original Song for "Into the West" from "The Return of the King."
The 69-year-old composer said he got into making music for films because it combined two things he had a background in, music and theater. He found that combining both came "very natural" to him.
"I was interested in film and wanted to try some compositional ideas and to mostly access the technology of the time in, which I have been able to over the years. It was a way into the recording studio to be able to work with great musicians and orchestras, that was really always my interest," he said.
When creating the music for "Spotlight," one of the biggest challenges Shore said he faced was trying to capture the time period of 2000 and 2001, in an era where reporters were doing a majority of their research without the internet. Despite challenges, Shore did his research on the film by reading as much as he could, watched the film once, and then began writing the score with ink before using the computer.
"I like to approach it as an audience initially. I'll watch the film once and having read the screenplay, I'll then approach the film once, do my compositional work and when I'm scoring the film and placing the piece in, I then go into great detail for each scene as far as how the music will actually be used in those scenes," Shore said. "The computers and technology sort of enters in later in the process in terms of recording, producing, and editing. It goes from a very analog technology to a very high-tech digital technology."
"Spotlight" was released on Nov. 25 and stars Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Liev Schreiber. You can watch the full "Spotlight" trailer below, which contains some of Shore's music: