When Larry Groupé and I first got together to discuss the score for the remake of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, we decided on using film noir films as our musical inspiration. The movie was intended to be big and ballsy, in your face—and part of that was going to be accentuated by a like-minded musical bed. And, sure enough, when we put it in the first pass of our film, it was filled with brass and strings—the music was there.
But then something happened, as it always does with Larry and his music. It became his own. This isn't unusual with great composers, I think. Every director sits with the composer of a film and throws around antecedents for the composer to consider. That's because most of us are not musically oriented. We don't know what we're talking about, so we attest towards what we do know. But then, the great ones, the ones like Larry, ask you to let them do something original—absolutely original. And that's what Larry did.
The score to Straw Dogs is bold. It is ballsy. But it also comes from both the mind and the heart of Larry Groupé. The film has a distinct melody—one that never lulls you but is also impossible to forget. It is filled with strings and brass but in a combination that is, I think, unique. When you listen to it, you'll note that there isn't a phrase in the entire score that isn't memorable. The music not only serves the emotions of the film but also serves as a memory of the film itself.
Larry Groupé's skills as a composer, his ability to grab a movie
by its balls and turn it into an artistic endeavor beyond anything one
could previously have conceived of, is uncontroverted. There are just
a few musical cues in The Contender and they therefore stand out—each
one its own charismatic gem. What Larry is able to do is not only take
a scene and help find its emotional rhythm but also make that one cue
part of the film's overall texture. His work is variegated to the degree
that one cannot pigeonhole the specifics of his musical skill. His versatility,
which I hope is evident in The Contender, is what makes him stand out.
I would not say that he has a specific style—for I suspect that
in Larry Groupé's mind, style amounts to self-plagiarism. The
only thing you can be sure of getting when you hear a Larry Groupé score
is that it will be different from anything you have heard before and
that it will serve the master that is the film.
Larry Groupé's score for The
Search for John Gissing, for me, gets better and better every time I listen to it. Part of this is the waft of memories it brings back of working with Larry on the film and the recording with the Missing Gissing Orchestra. But by and large it's the appreciation of the music: a jazzy, eclectic, Henry Mancini-meets-Dave-Brubeck-high-on-laughing-gas feel that is strongly peppered with original, strong, sharp comedic musical tones. This unique sound not only bolsters the story in the film, but also, while driving in the car or sitting at home, can't help to force out a smile. With a lot of hard work and frustrating experimentation Larry has forged a perfect sound which ultimately lead us to the cadence and timing, heart and soul of the film. Again, in my opinion, a near perfect score and a fantastic piece of work.
Working with Larry Groupé was awesome. Why? Because Larry understands
the function, art and language of film music. He realizes that film music
should be seen as well as heard. He has a subtle but effective sense
of character motivations, story arches and plot points. All this in addition
to his boundless musical talents. So what did I do? I gave Larry my movie
and told him to feel his way through it. Several weeks later what Larry
gave me was the most inspiring, poignant, exciting piece of film music
I've heard in a long time. I remember thinking just after the live recording
session:"We should submit this for Academy Award contention."
I knew I wanted something in the evolution of a classical score that would allow room to experiment with techno. Our process was fairly simple and there was little revision. Basically, he got it! The mix of rap, Christmas and even edgy techno, along with all the live musicians, gave the score its compelling thread. Larry's music brings attention to the movie, not the instruments. And yet, there are still wonderful riffs and sequences which allow the score to explode. There's a rock and roll editorial to a well designed story-score filled with character themes. I've always wanted to work with a musical artist who can bring a richness that is reminiscent of the great composers, but sign it with his own name. Larry's signature is all over it.
Larry's music does exactly what it must: it raises
the level of a movie's game. It doesn't create emotion, but punctuates it. If you think
about the wide array of emotion in the human spectrum, his ability to
capture a precise sense of joy or tragedy, exhilaration or desolation
is a talent that only the greatest in the business have in their arsenal.
Larry Groupé will soon enough officially enter the pantheon of
the finest composers in the world. An Oscar or two lies somewhere in
his future as will the immortality of some of the most profound music
I have ever heard created for the cinema.
Larry Groupé's ambient hymns create a melodic melting pot both
scary and funny, sad and ironic, connecting you directly to the splintered
psychology of "The Thief". As I Woke Up
Early The Day I Died was an invitation to dance for a variety of talented artists, Larry rose
to the occasion under the natural parameters and pressures of independent
filmaking. His dedication and great creativity was truly a gift. Thank
The composition on Deviants was a part of the project we were very concerned
about, as a different style of film, we were unsure of what direction
the score would need to travel in. Larry was able to get a true sense
of what I was attempting visually and relate it to the score. I was surprised
at how he was able to grab onto the feeling of the film from the start;
we had very few score changes from that of what was presented.
Shakin’ All Over
4 Second Delay
Larry was instrumental in pulling the entire movie together through
his gorgeous, sumptuous, dramatic score. He was able, through thematic
ideas, to bring focus to a number of different elements in the movie.
I feel his score is one of the highlights and strong points of the entire
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