One of the most eagerly anticipated films this summer is the action flick World War Z, which revolves around the international struggle against a zombie pandemic. And for the film's score, Marco Beltrami -- the composer responsible for the music of The Hurt Locker, 3:10 to Yuma, as well as several zombie movies -- developed a novel way of setting an eerie tone.
Drawing on the theme of zombie bites, Beltrami used teeth from the skulls of feral pigs as percussion instruments. The result is a creepy musical backdrop for equally unsettling images of zombie attacks.
Marco Beltrami, on writing music for zombie movies:
I started out coming from more of a concert music background. It just turns out that 20th century music techniques lend themselves to scary movies and horror movies. But I have to admit that I really don’t care for horror movies all that much. I think mainly just because I’m a cheap scare.
On using teeth as a percussive instrument for the score:
I was very conscious of the story point that the zombies perpetuate themselves through biting and through their teeth. So I was thinking it might be neat to have a percussive element that’s actually derived from teeth. I was speaking with a friend of mine who was making a movie -- Tommy Lee Jones -- and he said, “Well you know, in Texas, where I’m from, we have these wild feral pigs called javelinas, and they actually communicate with their jaws.” So Buck [Sanders], who’s my partner at the studio, ordered some javelina skulls and we started doing experiments with them.
On finding inspiration in the Emergency Broadcast system for the score:
When I first screened the movie, they showed me the beginning — this scene that takes place in Philadelphia. It cuts to just an Emergency Broadcast Signal. I was thinking that might be a great way to find a motive or something that could develop into the harmonic and melodic language of the film…. We just ordered some tuning forks that are tuned a major second apart, which is what the Emergency Broadcast Signal is. From there, we worked on processing that. I would say most it derives from this very simple interval.
Watch the trailer for World War Z below. The film hits theaters this Friday, June 21.