It is not as unusual as one might hope that scores are replaced after they've been written and recorded. So far this is the only completed score of mine which was thrown out, but it is always a possibility. Needless to say, it doesn't help while one is filling a score with love, to remember that your work may never make it to the altar with the film.
As it so happens, I really liked this score, and that's one reason why it's posted here (otherwise it would go unheard [unless I found another film to put it in] ). While the film takes place somewhere in the American South, I wanted to its location to be more mysterious and unsettling. It features David Torn on guitar, both electric and National acoustic, and Matt Darriau on Balkan flute. The score is fairly polyrhythmic, and obscuring the meter I felt helped the mystery of the story.
I think most of the things I liked about the score were the things that doomed it. While the director always professed enthusiasm for what I wrote, I'm told the first reaction of the studio (Paramount) was "Where are we? Tibet? Transylvania?"
They hired Mark Isham to write a new score. I have nothing but respect for Mark's work but I've never been able to bring myself to watch the finished film so I don't know what he wrote.
This situation raises an interesting question, which I'll quote from Jeff Rona's "Reel World" column in Keyboard magazine. We did this interview back in 2000.
JR: Over the years that you've been scoring films, has your process or approach changed? What have you learned on the job?
CB: Well, this is actually very much like the question of education we discussed earlier, and my feeling about it is very similar. I think it's terribly important for me to be aware of what I don't want to learn on the job. It's easily as important as the things I do learn, because there are a lot of aspects of this business and this work which defeat imagination, innovation and experimentation. These are just not qualities that are valued in a biggest business like this where the budgets can grow so large. The costs of many feature films demand a certain conservatism from the people making them. "Demand" maybe isn't the right word, but they certainly create a conservative, and sometimes fearful environment.
JR: And I'm sure you've scared a certain number of people over the years?
CB: I sure have! And they scare me back! I think it's very important if you work on a film and you have a disaster, like someone throwing your music out, or firing you half way through and rewriting your music, or taking your music and cutting it up and completely rearranging it (all these things have happened to me by the way, though fortunately not often). These are all obviously disasters, and they hurt a lot. To know what lessons should and shouldn't be learned from them is very valuable. You could easily take away the lesson that one must always listen to the directors and producers and always do what they tell you to do. But that would be the wrong lesson. You must try really hard to not learn that because, after all, what's the real point in trying to do what we try to do as composers?