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Playing with machines

Making music for the movies with John Powell

Molly Wood May 7, 2014
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Playing with machines

Making music for the movies with John Powell

Molly Wood May 7, 2014
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Having scored over 50 films, John Powell knows what a film should sound like. With his latest project, Rio 2, creating the original soundtrack involved a lot of unique sounds; like the swoosh of bird feathers, for example.

It’s all part of his meticulous process of recording isolated sound effects and instrumental lines, then putting them together in a final mix. This kind of technological control is huge for Powell.

In fact, he says he wouldn’t be the composer he is now without computers. 

Starting with the Atari ST 1080 — Yes, that Atari ST 1080 — computers have become an integral part of Powell’s composition process.

Yet, in spite of having some of the most advanced recording technology at his disposal, Powell says the most important technological advancement in his process has been having instant access to different kinds of music from around the world: 

“Ultimately it comes down to whether or not you can write a tune. And that really is just about the music you’ve experienced.”


Listen to a Spotify playlist built by Ben Johnson featuring artists from our Playing With Machines series, and others: 

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