Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Walker on Walker Part Ten: Her Final Scores

Composer Shirley Walker died November 26, 2006 of a brain aneurysm. The next month her final movie, the remake of the horror film Black Christmas, came out, from her Space: Above and Beyond/Final Destination collaborators Glen Morgan and James Wong. In the end credits, when Morgan and Wong's producer credit appeared on screen, so did a message: "Goodbye, Shirley."

I'll paraphrase Peter David's note from Imzadi: The time we have on this planet to do what we want to do is always limited, no matter how much we like to pretend otherwise.

Before her death, Walker kept working. In this tenth and final edition of Walker on Walker, she discusses two particular Morgan-and-Wong projects: the TV series The Others and the disturbingly-detuned-accordians score she wrote for their clever remake of Willard:
We wanted to have some kind of nerd element in the music that was reflecting the social ineptitude of Willard. But I've always been fascinated by the accordion as a reed instrument and I've always wanted to have one in the reed section of the orchestra; we seated them right there so that the two sections were really together. It has all those sounds that the clarinet and bassoons and double-reeds, especially, have. You heard the music going along with him, and it's pretty present in the first couple of cues; it's just this weird sound you hear. I don't know that anyone listening would say, "Oh, is that an accordion?" But they're out of tune -- accordions are difficult to tune -- and to have six of them playing together, you get this wonderful spread of intonations. That combined with the woodwinds is just a very rich color.
And she also knew an important part of film scoring is knowing when not to have music:
There's a wonderful scene after Willard's mother dies where [Crispin Glover as Willard and Laura Harring as Katherine] are at the funeral home together and she hugs him, and you see him actually unable to touch her -- you see his hand quivering behind her -- and he wants to touch her but can't bring himself to. I never touched their relationship musically other than her turning away from him.
This is what I wrote just about a year ago when I heard of Walker's death. It has a nice Shirley moment worth sharing.

Always limited. But she worked well, and lived well, during her limited time.
Tags: music

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