Oscar Nominees 2013: Thomas Newman’s Score for Skyfall — 8 Comments

  1. Wonderful analysis (and I love your blog!). I’m curious if you have any thoughts on the quiet, brass-chorale style theme in Skyfall that I vaguely recall accompanying scenes of contemplation or mourning. Had a nice chromatic zing to it, typically Tom Newman-esque to my ears.

    Keep up the great work!


  2. Thanks, Frank! Yes, this was a striking passage – you can hear it at the opening of the soundtrack cue “Voluntary Retirement”. There are two phrases, both repeated, and all the chords are third-related. The first phrase goes AbM – Abdim/Gb – EM, but when it’s repeated, the second chord becomes Abdim/F, lending the phrase a tinge of tragedy with the diminished seventh chord. The second phrase is only two chords, again third-related: C#M – EM, the repetition being the same this time. Interesting that third-related chords like these continue to have fresh sound even in the twenty-first century.

    • I also found the cue ‘Voluntary Retirement’ really interesting during the film. The movement of a third from the AbM (bypassing the Abdim/Gb as a passing chord) to the EM has maybe a parallel to the same chord movement in the main title from Goldfinger? An appropriation of existing Bond musical material?

  3. I really admire your passionate and intricate attitude towards film scores. I please to forgive me my erroneous and untrained english. I can not speak about technical details of this score, but I would like to say something about Zimmer’s influences.

    In my perspective all the references to the Zimmer’s Batman are not an intentional homage, it’s just a pathetic result of a “temp-track thinking”. I’m sure that such a inventive composer as Thomas Newman, is truly embarassed that those “rip-offs” are part of his score. I remember while watching the movie, just when “She’s mine” plays, I was thinking: “What exactly movie is that?! The Dark Knight or what?” then I burst out laughing… this is how the producers destroy a movie experience.

  4. @jackjack – Yes, you’re right, the Zimmer reference could be a case of being forced to adhere to a temp track. If so, then I suppose someone else (probably the director) wanted to pay homage instead. It might not have been Newman’s idea. Good point!

    And yes, I share the same feeling that it spoils some of the movie’s atmosphere in this case. I laughed too!

  5. I’d have to say the Zimmer nod in Track 7 is intentional. Sam Mendes said that Nolan’s Batman trilogy was a heavy influence on Skyfall and the 007 does borrow a rather high number of plot points and devices from that superhero series. It *could* be a temp track thing but it is more than likely just one more bit of cross-pollination given that very little about the film is original unto its self.

  6. Phenomenal site!! Really enjoying going through your analysis and learning quite a bit. Please keep up the fantastic work.

    On the musical graphic below the text –

    “The Bond sound, however, is worked into the “Skyfall” song in a more fundamental way. After the add-9 chord, we hear a repeated three-chord progression in C minor: i-VI-iv(7).”

    – I think you may mean an A natural in the final chord, making the F7.

    Thanks again for this insightful site!
    Regards –
    dan miller

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