Max Richter is a German composer recognized for his minimalist style, inspired by the classical composers of the early 60s, but with electronic influences and use of synthesizers. Beyond the seven albums he has released solo, his music has been used repeatedly in the cinema industry, and this is how Richter jumped to start composing incidental music. “My history is of classical music. I write on paper, I play on the piano, I also have computers and I try electronic aspects”, Richter explains in an interview published on the Native Instruments website.
“Music became an obsession, in the sense of a passion, but also as something that takes control of your whole life,” Richter said in the same interview. This allows us to know how sentimental this artist is. He is not governed so much by technique, but by the emotional and the experimental side of him.
Miss Sloane is the first thriller in which this musician works. That is why it is interesting to know how he developed his skills in this type of story, and after listening to his work, it seems Ritcher has succeeded. The influence of electronics appears at the beginning of the movie with the theme “Wheels within wheels”, a piece that seems to fit perfectly into an action scene. The retro style is also recognized in “Momentum”. In both cases, the synthesizers have been fundamental. These two themes demonstrate how this composer considers the use of electronics as a set of tools that complement classical music, giving it some new colour.
The contribution of classical music may be distinguished in themes such as “She’s standing right there”, which seeks a more emotional climate, with the use of string instruments that increase their volume as the melody progresses. This effect emphasizes some moments in the story, for example: when this theme begins the protagonist is in the middle of a debate about the use of weapons in the United States, and when she refers to one of the victims of a shooting, the music reaches its climax, which takes the viewer deep in the atmosphere created.
The orchestra also predominates in songs such as “Only Believe” and “Miss Sloane Solo”, which are more moving, according to what happens in the film. With the first composition, Miss Sloane reveals her last resort to win the game and makes corruption known to many members of justice and business. The second theme closes the film, with a more serene melody, but which, with the images, embodies the triumphant attitude of the protagonist.
There are slower and quieter songs, such as “Questions and answers,” which also has orchestral instruments and sustains the dramatic tone typical of many of Richter´s albums. The work of this artist generates a sense of risk and greatness that is consistent with the plot of the film. The only theme that perhaps separates from that general vibe of the soundtrack is “Stalking”, which has a more playful and lighter mood than the rest of the compositions.
When analyzing all these, it is clear that Richter goes to the synthesizers to appeal to the movement and adrenaline, while using the orchestra for the most exciting and intimate scenes. Perhaps in all this extradiegetic music what’s absent is that Richter’s depth, which leads listeners to immerse themselves in their emotions, as is the case of the song “On the Nature of Daylight”. But what it is not missing is the combination of sounds that have a tragic or memorable effect, and that gives the scenes of this film immense impact.
What makes the identity of this soundtrack is the mix between electronic pulses, synthesizers, melodic music accompanied by fast motifs and, in between, the piano, which is Richter’s main instrument. All this generates the leitmotif that is repeated throughout the story, sometimes more dynamically and at other times with a slowed pace. This set allows viewers to get involved with the plot and enter the possible world proposed by the film’s director, John Madden.
Author: Daniela Minotti