This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Scoring the middle ages, Clannad.

Scoring the middle ages, Clannad. (photo)

Posted by on

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.

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

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.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

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

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More