Cinematic scores stand among the greatest musical compositions of our time. I love listening to film scores. Without a single visual, they tell the story of our favorite movies – it’s as if you can hear the plot unfolding.
Which is why I was waiting for the release of James Newton Howard’s Catching Fire film score with great anticipation. I rushed over to iTunes to make a download, and quickly realized that this particular score wasn’t quite as “explosive” as the title suggests.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some wonderful musical moments. But there are also several tracks that leave much to be desired (such as one track that literally lasts for 26 seconds). And paying regular price for a few seconds worth of music, well, sounds like something President Snow himself could have dreamed up.
There was one delightful surprise, however, in Track 6: “The Tour.” Clocking at nearly six minutes in length, this orchestration provides the musical backdrop to Katniss and Peeta’s “victory tour” through the districts of Panem.
The composition’s hollow, minor sound reflects the pain, the hunger, and the deep sorrow of the poverty-stricken districts. Midway through the piece, a lone female voice soars to a high pitch, standing out against the instrumental background, until her piercing cry gradually dies out. But as soon as her voice starts to fade, the melody is picked up by a French Horn (or Hunting Horn) and then by a trumpet, sounding the call to battle. The drums begin a military march, which carries through to the end of the piece. It’s as if the entire orchestra is rising up to take up the call of this lone female voice – a beautiful portrayal of the uprising that takes place in Panem in honor of their Mockingjay.
Whether or not you’re an enduring fan of The Hunger Games, the artistry of this particular composition cannot be denied. If you’d like to capture the gut-wrenching angst and inspirational stand for justice found in these films in a single musical track – then you need to “hop off the fence” and hunt this track down.