Thirteen years after the film's release, a limited edition 2-CD set of Horner’s epic score for Troy is now available from Intrada.
In 2004, when Horner was announced as the composer of Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy, another composer was working for more than a year on its music. But once two test-screening audiences found Gabriel Yared’s score too ‘old-fashioned’, producers turned to James Horner, who previously scored Petersen’s The Perfect Storm (2000), to write a replacement score for the picture.
The challenge was daunting, as Horner only had ten days to write and record the music for the film. With more than two hours of music in the film, some artistic choices had to be made to deliver the score on time, like keeping the contribution of a Bulgarian women’s choir, featuring Macedonian solist Tanja Tzarovska (Passion of The Christ). Also, Horner and his team had to select which cues would benefit from a full orchestral development and which could do without and instead rely on electronics.
Horner composed a large-scale score, with sweeping moments, putting emphasis on the fate of Achilles while also trying with his music not to choose between the opposing Greeks and Trojans. Horner built his score around few main themes, the most evident being the beautiful and tragic love theme for Achilles and Briseis, certainly one of the highlights of the score, and used through the End Title’s song, Remember Me, featuring Josh Groban and Tanja Tzarovska, with lyrics by Cynthia Weil (An American Tail). There is also Achilles’ heroic Theme, fully developed in the tragic finale cues. And there’s a fanfare-like theme for the city of Troy itself. Other motifs appear in the score, like a triplet motif underscoring war scenes, the trademark “danger motif” as a pacesetter and time-filler, and there are the female voices conveying the sound of an ancient chorus, a very smart and effective choice.
In an unpublished Troy interview in English that we will publish following this article, James Horner says:
"There is always a form of excess in opinions, expectations and results. Including myself. Troy is adventure, muscle and love."
True, the context of composition and the nature of the film did not allow Troy to become over its entire duration a score reaching the level of Braveheart, the depth of Enemy At The Gates or the subtlety of The Four Feathers, but its beautiful passages and colors demonstrate a unique character: the generosity of brass instruments propels us on the battlefield, the fire incantations of Tanja Tzarovska make us feel the harshness and tragedy of the conflict, the chorus adds a touch of mythology … In short, despite its limitations Troy possesses the colors of blood, the sun, the sand and the era of ancient Greece and for that alone it is a fine exploit.
The original soundtrack album, from Warner Sunset/Reprise Records, mainly presented the orchestral highlights from the score, delivering a generous and powerful listening experience, which is still very effective today.
For the first time, the new Expanded Edition released today by Intrada Records features nearly two hours of music from the two-track digital session masters, covering the original CD tracks (minus two cues, unavailable for licensing) in addition to extended versions and previously unreleased cues. The presentation is beautiful, with a great essay on the score by John Takis in place of the usual track descriptions, which we will attempt here. Full of evocative photos and ancient Greek scripture in the artwork, Troy is given a fantastic package inside and out, with the score presented evenly on two discs, each with 14 tracks.
In revisiting the film once more in addition to revisiting the original album, the missing music comes in the form of track 2 from the original album, Troy, though the film offers an extended version of this cue. In revisiting the original 2004 cut of the film, the woodwind solo that opens Troy on the original album actually transitions to a soft synth string passage. That cue is not on this new album. The 2007 'Director's Cut' of the film completely re-arranged the score and replaced much of it with outside sources, even replacing the end credit song Remember, and in its place is the full, complete extended version of Troy play over the end credits in this Director's Cut. As the liner notes do not offer an explanation about why the cue was not available for licensing, it could be because the cue borrows heavily from the Dies Irae from War Requiem, composed by Benjamin Britten.
About the mixing of the score on this new edition, the overall sound of the score appears to have a more increased dynamic range, as this was presented from the two-track digital "print takes" from the film. The original album had a more aggressive sound but nothing close to the usual compression found on commercial music today. This new release has a greater sense of the stage the music was recorded in, more of an open, warmer sound. The fact that so many cues were done on synth strings and brass, highlighted with synth percussion reveals how James Horner was able to accomplish finishing this replacement score in such a short period of time, saving the live orchestra for the more epic moments of grandeur and action. It's an effective time saver and the synth actually works well to create the sense of unease and tension between the moments of bombast and scope.
Here is exclusive JHFM cue description of Intrada’s new edition of Troy
1. “Armies Approach” (the original album track “3200 Years Ago” is taken from this cue) opening with more pounding percussion and Tanja Tzarovska's solo vocals as this is more of an extended version.
2. “Call for Achilles” opens with rhythmic percussion used as on-screen weapon strikes as the crowd chants for Achilles to appear. Very synth heavy, mixed with the chorus. Here the first three notes of the Achilles theme lay the groundwork for the theme to be unleashed when the time is right.
3. “Feast Source” is exactly as it sounds, with veteran Horner musician Eric Rigler on pipes in a very simple repeating melodic dance rhythm from an ancient era.
4. “Brothers At War” opens with the infamous four notes on synth strings. Good evidence that Horner used a lot of synth strings to cut down on the time needed to record a live orchestra with such a short schedule.
5. “Never Hesitate” is the first fully orchestral cue of the score, a marvelous introduction to the complete Achilles 'hero' theme as he spars with his cousin Patroclus while friend Odysseus arrives to discuss the impending war.
6. “Dawn Alarm” is the opening vocal line from the original album edit of "The Temple of Poseidon".
7. “The Myrmidons” has an entirely new opening of synth strings, percussion and choir along with an ominous church bell effect. It's a very chaotic sound full of tension. The album cue "Achilles Leads The Myrmidons" as we know it doesn't begin until approximately 2 minutes in and plays out the same as it did on the original album. And from 5:26 to 5:51 the choir is slightly out of phase with the orchestra, something not present on the original album track.
8. “The Temple Fight” starts with big chaotic percussion which leads into an extended version of the album cue “The Temple of Poseidon.” The extension is in the quieter synth choral lines and brass which are drawn out before the cue's massive finale.
9. “Briseis Taken” offers pounding drums and a brief appearance of the love theme entirely on synth strings and brass.
10. “There Won't Be a War” continues the synth strings for a quieter but tense passage. Tony Hinnigan's woodwind solos also add to the proceedings.
11. “River Styx and the Gates of Troy” features the same synth strings and choir of the opening cue “Armies Approach”, this time without the pounding percussion.
12. “The Greeks Invade” takes the opening tension build of the orignial album cue "The Greek Army and its Defeat" and leads into the album cue "The Night Before". Of course this is the cue as originally written versus the revisions of the original 2004 album.
13. “A Trojan Victory” is largely comprised of the second half of the album cue "The Greek Army and its Defeat" but with an entirely different opening sequence underscoring the initial banter between Hector and Agamemnon, and subsequent fight between Hector and Menelaus. This added opening features darker synth strings and percussion, rising in tension until they fall to the choir. When the lower strings fade out, the cue transitions to the music as we know it from the album cue, but with a dissonant, forceful blast of the four note motif.
14. “Achilles saves Briseis” is an extended version of the album cue "Achilles and Briseis", featuring an exciting brass fanfare with pounding drums as its brief new opening scoring Achilles' rescue of the captured Briseis who was facing an assault at the hands of Agamemnon's guards. This cue brings Disc 1 to a close.
1. “Trojan Council” is higher than the usual synth strings, joined by Tony Hinnigan's woodwind solo of the love theme established in “Achilles saves Briseis”. Up until this point the usage of synth strings was to provide a much more tense, ominous feel.
2. “Mistaken Identity” (Trojans Attack) is the same exact cue from the original album titled "The Trojans Attack", a powerhouse of brass fanfares scoring the fight between Hector and Patroclus, who was disguised as Achilles.
3. “Hector Instructs Wife” begins with trembling synth strings before becoming more broad in their tones, joined by synth brass and choir.
4. “Hector Suits Up” is made up of dark synth strings, percussion and solo vocals.
5. “Hector's Farewells” is a quiet synth string performance.
6. “Single Combat” is an extended version of the album cue "Hector's Death", a battery of synth and real percussion scoring the final duel between Hector and the real Achilles, who seeks revenge for the death of his cousin (“Mistaken Identity”). Tanja Tzarovska begins to sing when Achilles delivers the final death blow to Hector, and drags his body out on display to the devastated Trojans. Here her vocals act as a sort of weep of the Trojans who are forced to see their prince treated with such dishonor.
7. “Priam Pleads” continues the synth strings heard previously in “Hector's Farewells” this time joined by the vocal solo.
8. “Priam Takes Briseis” is a soft, synth string performance of the love theme joined by Tony Hinnigan's woodwind taking up the melody.
9. “Hector's Funeral” is the choral beginning to "The Wooden Horse and The Sacking Of Troy" from the original album cue, but is now presented separately.
10. The remainder of the cue in slightly extended form continues in “The Wooden Horse”. At three minutes into the cue, a brief trumpet figure underscores an ambush of a Trojan lookout who witnessed the deception behind the Wooden Horse's origin, not included on the original album.
11. “The Sacking of Troy and End Credits” is a re-title of the album cue "Through The Fires, Achilles…and Immortality", the film's massive finale of full orchestra, choir, woodwind and vocal solos as each main theme is given a final send-off.
12. “Remember” This film version has an extended Tanja Tzarovska vocal solo introduction which was cut down on the final track of the original album.
13. “Armies Approach” This film version removes the large choir from the opening cue, retaining the vocal solos and the pounding percussion.
Like the WarnerSunset/Reprise records album, the new expanded Intrada release finishes with the same version of Josh Groban’s song, “Remember” as the final track 14.
Remember / I will still be here / As long as you hold me / In your memory
Remember / When you dreams have ended / Time can be transcended /
I’ll live forever / Remember me / Remember me / Remember me…
Horner’s work lives forever. We still vividly remember James Horner.
Article by Olivier Soudé, Nick Martin and Jean-Baptiste Martin
Special thanks to Roger Feigelson (Intrada)
Photo credit: © Warner Bros Pictures