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Scoring the middle ages, Clannad.

Scoring the middle ages, Clannad. (photo)

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I’m all for creative license in scoring medieval period pieces, and in fact am a big proponent of re-scoring the Lord of the Rings trilogy using the existing members of Led Zeppelin, perhaps incorporating some of their Tolkien inspired classics, “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Ramble On.” But those are also fantasy pictures and much as Ridley Scott’s forthcoming “Robin Hood” borders that territory, the story is in fact based on real British folklore and has a different aim – that of telling a historical tale, not a fantasy.

[Robin of Loxley meeting some intense forest mage/druid, deep in the wood. From the series, “Robin of Sherwood”]

There’s also an enormous difference between having some brilliant rockers creatively score a film and having a too-clever composer drum up a moderny rock score – especially when it’s for a period piece set a thousand years ago. This travesty is all too common and barring lovable blow outs like “Ladyhawke,” should be avoided (it should have been avoided then too).

If one were to score a Robin Hood film, or any film of a similar Anglo/celtic/saxon setting one would do well to consider using some period instruments and trying to interpret the film through them, providing some great sense of immersion. One should look at the genius mid 80’s series, “Robin of Sherwood” for example, which aired in the US (on Showtime) as “Robin hood” in 1984. Man, we like to keep things simple don’t we?

Aside from being generally well written and steeped in the kind of lore and mystery we just can’t seem to muster here in vanilla land, this series (which was shot on film) struck an original chord with the musical score, using the Irish band Clannad.

Together We by Clannad, from “Robin of Sherwood.”

The effect was nothing short of incredible and although they dispensed with their usual Gaelic singing (as was the case with their “Theme from Harry’s Game“) they transcended the usual role of simply accompanying and accommodating the action. The show had an undeniably authentic feel, heightened by the Celtic harmonizing, chimes, woodwinds, harps, and lyres (and yes some synth keys) of Clannad. The atmosphere was thick, you couldn’t cut it with a longsword, and you just can’t say that about recent imaginings.

Battles by Clannad, from “Robin of Sherwood.”

The songs ranged from ethereal ballads that conjured the secrets of the forest, to pounding, almost Zeppelin like jams with jangly guitars (like the above track used for battle scenes). Some of them may play a bit cheesy to thine ear now, all these years on, but 25 years ago they were potent concoctions of the very old, with just dashes of cutting edge. And they still sound better then what people are making today for films that can only hope to have an ounce of the mood that Clannad gave to this earlier “Robin Hood.”

Darkmere by Clannad, from “Robin of Sherwood.” You’ll have to forgive the fades and constant superimpositions that wank up this fan vid, my Lord/Lady. Yes, those are glimpses of young Ray Winstone as the indispensable Will Scarlet.

You may even hear some similarity to musical bits from “Last of the Mohicans,” which has some of the best film scoring ever done, if you listen close. You’re not hallucinating, I suspect Clannad influenced some of the compositions, and the track “I Will Find You” is all them (written and performed). How do you capture both the authentic and mystic in one film, in one composition? The two seem at first incongruous. Pray you look no further than this inspiration Misters Scott and Streitenfeld… there is yet time to score your film with something less formulaic then what smacks in the trailer.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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