#Writing #Music: Alexandre Desplat


I know you’re staring at that album image. Hear me out.

I read the Twilight series upon the recommendations of a few friends and countless students, and yes, I saw the movies, too. For all the…debates about this series, I’ll say, I do want to touch on something done right and well by an artist entangled in the franchise: Alexandre Desplat.

I did not know his name before New Moon‘s release, but one look at his IMDB page and you can see this composer’s built an amazing resume of work over the past thirty years. And honestly, if not for Desplat’s score, much of this movie would fall flat.

Like Steve Jablonsky’s scores for the Transformer films, Desplat brings gravitas and power to a story that…well, it wasn’t written for me.

Just take a listen to his theme for the second film. It’s got a hint of melodrama, yes, but that befits the ages of these characters. Desplat uses the simple elegance of the piano a good deal throughout the score, creating a sense of gentle frailty. The strings follow the piano’s lead, heightening the tension. Whenever the oboe plays a faint bitterness comes into the song, befitting New Moon’s premise.

A quick recap: in the first story, a girl falls in love with a sparkly vampire.

In New Moon, the vampire breaks up with the girl in order to protect her from his kind.

Break ups: every romantic arc seems to have one, doesn’t it? Not to mention we’re dealing with a teenage girl. Love is here, now, not twenty years from now. The world is in this moment. To lose what makes this moment bright is to lose the world.

Lord knows such a moment can collapse into a syrupy mess in book and film alike. But of all places, this is where Desplat truly shines in his score. The piano begins with a gentle meeting with the strings; there is a sweetness to the melody, but a sadness, too. When the basses and cellos get involved, the atmosphere itself grows weighted and difficult. You know something’s coming.

And just before the 3:00 minute mark, it comes: heightened strings and trilling winds. A lone trumpet in a minor key with the strings to emphasize the shattering of harmony.

Nothing is as sweet as before. The harmonies are harsh, the rare percussion pounding the finality.

The characters are broken.

And thanks to the music, you know the sound and weight of that heartbreak.

Just because the romantic break-up is a common device doesn’t mean your story has to be common about it. These characters matter to you. Their feelings matter to you. If the plot breaks them apart, your readers must see and know that shattering inside and out. Let Desplat’s music be the device that gently pushes the moment over the edge to fall, to break, and to start again.

43 thoughts on “#Writing #Music: Alexandre Desplat

  1. I was sure you were reading my mind when I read the first few few sentences…haha.
    Seriously, I have playlists of writing music so I don’t have to fiddle with it mid-think and I never considered going to movie theme music. These are great

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I know. I might write about the series some day–genuine curiosities, in fact. πŸ™‚ I used to spend ages building my play lists, but now I just tend to compile albums I know have good things and fiddle as I write. Whatever works, you know? πŸ™‚


  2. I have not read this series or seen the movies, but the music has come up on my Pandora writing station a lot and I’ve liked every one (The original score, and music from the movie.) The source material aside, whether you like it or not, I think the music creates a great mood for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What gorgeous music! I’m afraid I didn’t notice it when I was watching the film because of…you know. Everything else. Thanks for highlighting it- you have an ear for the music that really moves and emotes. Melodramatic, yes, but lovely πŸ™‚
    Flu bug gone?

    Liked by 1 person

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