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THE TEMPEST

Another Dream - Scoring Collaboration
In composing the score for "The Tempest,” Elliot Goldenthal, the composer, was faced with three challenges. The first was to find an overall sonority for the island setting, in which fantastical and psychological forces are locked in a dance of retribution and forgiveness. Goldenthal's plan was to use amplified guitars in various ranges and alternative tunings, along with a symphonic string orchestra to create a sense of timeless presentness.

With this sonic palette, he could then meet the second challenge, which was to paint more specific distinctions between the individual sets of characters by using additional instrumental colors, such as glass armonica and non-Western flutes for Ariel, steel cello for the somber sorrows of the court or Prospera's introspective moments, and a wide range of percussion and didgeridoo for Caliban and his coconspirators. The third challenge was to set a number of on-camera songs (that Shakespeare indicated in the play) for Stephano, Caliban and Ariel as well as two additional non-indicated songs, one for Ferdinand and another for Prospera's final speech.

The composer calls this final song "Coda,” and the speech is one of Shakespeare's most famous, as it is widely believed to represent the Bard's farewell to the world as an artist. Taymor explains, "Normally in theater performances, it is delivered with the house lights on, all artifice removed, and is directed to the audience. I had originally cut it from the film script, because I felt that Prospera speaking directly to the camera for this last moment of the film was one speech too many and in no way could equal the effect it has in the live theater. The film's last image of Prospera on the ocean cliff, her back to the camera, tossing her magic staff to the dark rocks below, and the staff's subsequent shattering, is the ending. But when all was cut and timed and scored and mixed, the rhythm of the end of the film felt truncated, incomplete. I asked Elliot to take those last great words and set them to music for the seven-minute-long end-title sequence. And to that haunting female vocal, sung by Beth Gibbons, the credits rolled, and we drowned the books of Prospera in the deep, dark sea.”

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