The Power and the Glory:  The Original Music and Voices (soundtrack) by Sam Spence, John Facenda, Tom Hedden, David Robidoux

 

 

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Composer David Robidoux
The Picture, The Music, & The Story

The Themes of Fall: The Music of Football and Film  - Tracksounds Special Feature


Graduated from Berklee College of Music

From Reading, PA. Resides in Lumberton, NJ.

7 Emmy Awards

3 International Monitor Awards

SESAC Television Composer of the Year (1992, 1995)
 

Composition Credits

America's Game - The Super Bowl Champions

Big Game America -
The Super Bowl at 30

Lombardi Trophy Theme

Six Days to Sunday

Big Game America

Football America

Who Wants It More?

Total Access (NFL)

NFL Films Presents (NFL)

Thursday/Saturday Night Football (NFL)

NFL Gameday (NFL)

Game of the Week (NFL)

Favre 4-Ever
(Fox Special)

Emmitt Smith:
Run With History (ESPN)

NFL Century - In Their
Own Words (ESPN)

Unitas (HBO)

75 Seasons:  The Story
of the National Football League

Blood from a Stone (Documentary)

Hard Knocks (HBO)

Under the Helmet (FOX)

Seven Days to Monday Night (ABC)

 

Other Projects for

NASCAR (Theme)

EA Sports (NASCAR 2005)

Reebok

Hasbro

Comcast

Harley Davidson

Staples

 

Sound clips
AUTUMN THUNDER
 

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderPony Soldiers

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderJazz Undercurrents

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn Thunder

Round-Up

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn Thunder75 Seasons Suite

Listen to this soundclip of Autumn ThunderHeroes of War
 

 

 

Sound clips
Provided by
David Robidoux

Listen to this soundclip NFL Films Original MusicRoad to the Super Bowl - Title Run

Listen to this soundclip of NFL Films Original MusicNFL Netowrk - Run to the Playoffs

Listen to this soundclip of NFL Films Original MusicFavre 4-Ever - The Last Gunslinger

 

 

 

Autumn Thunder: 40 Years of NFL Films Music by Sam Spence, Tom Hedden, and David Robidoux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Robidoux

"There are certain cornerstones that a part of NFL Films' music. There are always big melodies. It's always dramatic. We always follow along with what is dramatic and what is going on in Hollywood now."

David Robidoux (NFL Films)


  The Interview

A couple of months prior to the 2007/2008 NFL football season kicking off, Tracksounds speaks with composer DAVID ROBIDOUX about being a part of the musical legacy of NFL FILMS.  He shares about the foundation laid by composer Sam Spence and Steve Sabol, about the new era of music at NFL Films and the new NFL NETWORK.


CC: Now you came to NFL Films as a music editor and not a composer.  Correct?


DAVID ROBIDOUX: Well I graduated from Berklee as film scoring major and so that is what I always wanted to do. To get in the door at NFL FILMS, I came into their audio department as an music editor, but what I'm doing now was my main goal.

CC: So from day-one, you wanted to compose music for NFL Films?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Even when we came in and were mixing some of the shows we started doing some composing. Before we had the orchestral stuff, we produced lots and lots of contemporary tracks for NFL FILMS. We could produce that sort of music for very little money, so actually I was writing from day-one. Doing that and mixing got to be too much, so we just moved to composing full-time.

CC: Despite the clear impact that the music used in NFL Films' productions has made over the decades, there isn't a ton of information out there on you, Tom Hedden and Sam Spence. Why is that?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: As far as the web goes, there isn't a bunch out there on us because we are really staff composers...a part of the machine. So in that regard, it doesn't really give us a chance to stand out, but "standing out" isn't our main goal.  Years and years ago we used to regularly put out fan albums, but until recently with the box set, there hasn't been much released. There was a long, long gap until NFL FILMS came out...and while we were involved with that release, it wasn't an NFL FILMS release.

CC: Now when you say, "box set" you are referring to AUTUMN THUNDER?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yes. That's what we called it for the year-and-a-half that we were putting it together! We didn't really have the name AUTUMN THUNDER until Steve (Sabol) came up with the name.

CC: Let me ask you about SAM SPENCE and the legacy he has laid down for the music of NFL FILMS. His music is simply inseparable now from certain images of NFL history. How much does his legacy play a part in your approach to writing music for NFL films today?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Sam (Spence) and Steve (Sabol) had a special relationship from the beginning. Sam was over in Germany and Steve here in the States, so they didn't have what you might call a normal, day-to-day, working relationship, but they communicated really well over the phone. Sam just seemed to hit the tone for NFL FILMS that Steve wanted. Obviously, Sam Spence laid the groundwork for what people consider NFL Films music. Even beyond that, what people think of as "sports music" is based on what Sam and Steve came up with. Now Sam certainly gets credit for writing the music and coming up with the "sound," but Steve also has been a huge influence in the direction of the music...almost like a movie producer. He has a great musical ear. He can communicate to the composers very effectively without using the musical terminologies. Steve can vividly describe a scene or piece and, without actually seeing it, the composer is able to write a piece of music for it.
 

Steve Sabol and David Robidoux

Steve Sabol and David Robidoux



CC: Now some of what you produce today for NFL Films is quite contemporary.

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yes.  And some fans feel that some of what we do has gone away from what NFL FILMS has been. Actually, if you look at what NFL FILMS was trying to do, it was trying to bring football into that "Hollywood world." So what Sam was doing at the time was what his contemporaries were doing: like Elmer Bernstein and so on. Sam's music was reflective of what was going on in the film world at that time. So in moving forward, myself and TOM (HEDDEN) sort of picked up on that idea. That said, there are certain cornerstones that remain a part of NFL Films' music. There are always big melodies. It's always dramatic. We always follow along with what is dramatic and what is going on in Hollywood now. I think that is why the sound sort of evolved to the point it is now. If we had strictly stayed in the Sam-Spence-mode, it would sound a little out of place today.

CC: So how are you personally influenced in what you compose by Sam Spence?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Well, I rely heavily on percussion which is a huge thing that Sam established. There are points where the entire orchestra is playing just one melody along with the percussion. The drama is in the melody but the percussion is just "football." The two just go together so well. We owe a lot to Sam. When people think of NFL FILMS music, they think of his stuff. When I hear it now, it still takes me back to when I used to sit in front of the TV watching football.  Sam really stood out in his time and there is a lot of history there, but I believe we are still holding true to what NFL FILMS is about. It's not always exactly Sam's sound, but it still get across the same emotion and what Steve Sabol wants.


Composer Sam Spence

Composer Sam Spence


CC: Do you think not having the voice-talent of John Facenda affects people's perceptions of your projects now?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Steve Sabol has always said that there were three parts to the NFL FILMS recipe: the picture, the music and the story. You could almost substitute "the voice" with "the story" because it had always been John Facenda's voice telling the story. I think we still keep those three things, but it might not be as identifiable as when John's voice was the story. It has been hard to do something different or find someone different that can do what John's voice did. It was just amazing and everything just came together. Still, Steve makes sure those things are in every production we do.

CC: Back in 1994, what you did for the award winning documentary, 75 SEASONS was somewhat of a revival for NFL Films and it's music. Was there any intention on trying to bring such a musical revival?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: For us it was 75 SEASONS, SIX DAYS TO SUNDAY, and BIG GAME AMERICA, as they all came out one after than another. To us at NFL Films, these three projects are, in a way, all the same. 75 SEASONS was big melodies, SIX DAYS TO SUNDAY had the big percussion and helped to launch our more modern/cutting-edge sound. So I don't think it was much of a conscious effort to do that. I think by the time we got to FOOTBALL AMERICA, everyone was behind it and the whole wave started all over again, so we just wanted to keep moving forward.

CC: Now when Sam Spence was scoring for NFL Films, he said that he would actually write the music and then the editors would cut their piece to his music. Is that process still employed today with you and Tom Hedden?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: I'd say that happens maybe 60% of the time now. SIX DAYS TO SUNDAY was all written to picture and post-scored. However with TV production its a little more difficult than film production. Even as fast as things happen in film production, say a composer only has 14 days to write a film score, sometimes we'd only have one and a half hours to write! So a lot of times we do pre-produce the music. Again though, Steve Sabol would come down and tell us exactly what they wanted. It's almost as if the film is already cut and so when you go to write the music they describe the scene like...

" It's the '58 Championship and its going to be a tight shot of Unitas' face and we are going to pull back. From there we are going to go into a slow-mo shot of them crossing the goal line and so that is where the music has to get huge. Before that moment the music just need to be filled with tension. "

So in that case, it's almost like we are post-scoring.  We produce a lot of films each year, but we also produce over 40 hours of programming a week. If you try to post-score everything that presents a big problem. Sometimes there may be a new show that can't afford it, so we re-edit our music for use there.

CC: Now that the NFL NETWORK is around, how has that affected your workload?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Actually, believe it or not, we look forward to getting into the season! Things become a lot more rigid during the season which actually makes things easier. In the off-season there's just a ton of things going on. Right now, I'm in a huge score for an HBO series HARD KNOCKS, which will start on August 8th. It's five, one-hour episodes. I actually branded the whole NFL NETWORK with it's theme and all of its shows and that only happens in the off-season. So the coming of the NFL NETWORK has probably more than doubled our workload!

CC: And is it primarily just the two of you (Hedden and Robidoux) handling all of these projects?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yes...just the two us. There were some 12 shows, last year, that came on the network between August and October and so I had to come up with the theme packages for all of those between the end of June and August. Those are really the hardest to write, too. After that, I went into writing the themes for the games. We had a lot of games on the network last year. Then after that we had a big show for FOX, ROAD TO THE SUPERBOWL. So there was one thing after another and it got pretty crazy.

Composer Tom Hedden

Composer Tom Hedden


CC: Now NBC has John Williams' theme for Sunday Night Football, CBS has its football theme from E.S. Posthumus, and FOX has its distinctive title music, since you had to musically brand the NFL Network, talk about your thought process in giving the new network a distinctive sound.

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Oh yes. Well, it was tough. The NFL NETWORK is fairly broad based in the sense that there are entertainment shows, drama and news. Now each of the shows has its own distinctive music, but the theme for the whole network we pull and use for many of the shows. TOTAL ACCESS is the main show and that's based on the NFL Network theme. We also have GAMEDAY which is hosted by Deion Sanders and so they want something a little hipper there. So the NFL Network wants to be a little more modern, but they don't want to get away from the fact that everything on the network is being done by the NFL. This is "the official network" so we have to always keep that in mind and Steve always makes sure that we maintain some connection to that NFL-film-music tradition. We try to do that with use of strings, or french horns, or perhaps the melody is a little more upfront.

Since we shoot the games a little differently then say NBC, they wanted to make sure the music definitely had an NFL-Films-sound. And that sound is definitely different from the others. FOX is a little more "modern," while NBC is more "olympic" sounding. I'm pretty pleased with how we were able to capture that modern-NFL-films-sound.

One difference is that we only have 8 games in a season and so compared to NBC, by week 10, you are humming their football theme. We've only been on one year, but in a couple more years people should start recognizing our themes a little more. We just have to get the NFL NETWORK in everyone's household.

CC: Obviously NFL Films keeps you very busy, but do you ever entertain the idea of going into feature films?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: We'd love to do that, but schedule is obviously a huge thing. We are there to service NFL FILMS, but occasionally we do things outside of that. I did the theme for NASCAR. I did the 2005 or 2006 score for EA Games NASCAR. We occasionally do TV spots or things for the History Channel. We tend to do things that are more TV oriented, just because we can fit it into the schedule easier.

CC: There is a quote the liner notes of AUTUMN THUNDER that says, "Restraint is often times a sign of power." How do you apply that to what you do?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Well, you know the sound of a giant orchestra playing loudly. In every film there is "a moment" and in every piece of music there is "a moment"...and we try to musically build to those moments of emotional power. That moment becomes that much more powerful because you've exercised restraint prior to it. We hold back a little bit until we get "there." I think we do that quite a bit. I try to do that in every piece of music at some point. Especially when we are pre-scoring something, it's vital to build those moments. That is what films are about and that is what gets people emotionally. The orchestra allows you to do just that. The power is always there, but its holding that back until just the right time.

CC: Now NFL teams are starting to get interested in having their own "themes."  Is that right?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yes. We are starting to do themes for teams now. NFL teams are starting to want music to brand them. It's actually an idea we have thrown around for a long time. Now a few teams are starting to buy into it. The Dallas Cowboys are interested in something. The Raiders already have a theme.

CC: I assume this Raiders theme is the piece Sam Spence wrote long ago called, "The Raider."

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yep...that's the one. He just wrote a piece of music which he would call something like "NFL 0253" and then when it came into the building the producers would name it. When that piece came in, someone said it had sort of a "pirate sound"  and so it should be used with the Raiders. Later the Raiders heard it and loved it, so we started using it over Raiders' film. Since we are a part of the NFL, we make sure that gets used for The Raiders. It's sort of an unspoken thing. It wasn't really written for them, but its just never been used for anything other than them.

CC: So is that how you are going to handle these new themes?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: I think so, but it's all bit up in the air right now. If these themes actually happen and there is, say, a Cowboys theme, then we will only use it for them. It would be great for them. We would do their coaches' show theme and the music when the players run out into the stadium. We might have a big orchestral version that we can use in their highlights and just really help brand that team musically. We did something similar for the Super Bowl with the Lombardi Trophy theme. It's one thing to write the theme, but then we have to make sure it gets played every time it should be played - sort of the same idea as the Olympic theme.

CC: With FOOTBALL AMERICA you were able to go London and record at Abbey Road Studios. What was that experience like?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Well, Steve Sabol was just ecstatic.  It was absolutely incredible. We had recorded in all different places and tried a lot of different things, but finally we were able to go. We would have long ago, but it costs a lot of money. As soon as we got the budget to do it, we went over there. Sitting out in the room while the orchestra is playing is just...well, its hard to explain. It's something special whenever you can hear a live orchestra playing, but then when you are hearing a live orchestra playing something you've written, you hear it come to life. It's just amazing.

CC: And today you also have your own studio facilities right there at NFL Films.

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Yes. We have this brand new facility and ultimately this is perfect for us. They chose to build in the ability for us to record an orchestra here. As a kid I used to go the the Philadelphia Orchestra all the time and so I knew the level of musicians that were around here. I used to say to Tom (Hedden) and the vice president at the time, that I know we could do it here. So they had faith and built the place and now we work with some amazing musicians.


NFL Films Recording Studio

NFL Films Recording Studio


CC: How often do you contract musicians and record?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Sometimes we have them in there several times a month. We get the same musicians over and over and so they really know our stuff. We can get an assignment on Monday and by Wednesday we can have a full orchestra in and recording!

CC: Who are some of the composers that influence you?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Well, from the orchestral side, since I studied at the Berklee College of Music, I really listened to ALAN SILVESTRI a lot and just feel I connect with him in some way. His sense of rhythm is just amazing. He had such a unique sound that that I connected to which helped shape what I do. He has probably had the greatest influence on me, especially right after finishing college. As far as other modern day composers go, I think JAMES NEWTON HOWARDS' work just "plays" so well when performed by an orchestra. Even scores like TREASURE PLANET just has such an unbelievable sound. I think he'd make a great NFL Films composer, that's for sure! (laughs).

Of course, you can't help but be influenced by the Zimmers and the Elfmans, especially in regards to production technique. They just have a great sound that works with football.

I also write other, more contemporary things, influenced by other sources.  We really don't consider it NFL Films-type material, but when there is a specific need for such a piece we use it. We are very careful now to not veer to far away from the classic, NFL-Films-sound. It's our orchestral music that drives everything.

CC: So is that NFL Films' commitment now...to the orchestral side. There may be some contemporary elements, but there will always be that through-line of the orchestral in the work that you all produce that will keep the music timeless?

DAVID ROBIDOUX: Exactly. You said the right word there. I think from many stand points it makes the most sense to do just that. We can pull out orchestral music we wrote ten years ago and it will still hold up in a film because it just emotion really. When you hear an orchestra, it's not so much about production, as much as it is simply getting some sort of emotional response out of it. You can take some pop piece and it may have some emotional impact, but its very fleeting. After 10 or 15 seconds you have to cut to something else. An orchestral piece can evolve and have more subtleties. I think our music will continue evolve, just as it has since Sam (Spence) but I don't think that those core elements will ever go away.

CC: Talk about that and what else is upcoming for you with the new football season at hand.

DAVID ROBIDOUX: The big project right now is HARD KNOCKS. This is sort of a reality-based show, where we are following the Kansas City Chiefs through their training camp to their first game. This time they are wanting it to be a bit more dramatic. They'll be using slow motion and so on to make it different than your average reality show. As a result I'm trying a few different things musically. We're approaching it a little bit more as a film score. After that, we have all of the music for the TV shows.

CC: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk today.

DAVID ROBIDOUX:  I love talking about what we are doing and appreciate you covering it.

* Photos courtesy and property of NFL Films

 

More Interviews

   

Jeff Russo (2014)
Neil S. Bulk (2014)
Sean Callery (2014)
Trevor Morris (2014)
Oscar Araujo (2014)
Tom Salta (2013)

Jesper Kyd (2012)
Kim Planert (2012)
Robert Duncan (2012)
Sam Hulick (2011)
Alan Menken (2010)

Mark Griskey (2010)
Tom Hajdu (Tomandandy) (2010)
Doug Adams (2010)
Sean Williams(2010)

Jamie Christopherson (2010)
Tomoya Kishi & Marika Suzuki (2010)

Clinton Shorter (2009)
Brian Tyler (2009)
Ed Lima and Duncan Watt (2009)
Sean Murray (2008)

John Ottman (2008)
Inon Zur/ Stuart Chatwood (2008)
Jesse Harlin (2008)
Jeff Beal (2008)


 

Miho Nomura (2008)
Mark Griskey (2008)
Harry Gregson-Williams (2008)
Jeff Rona (2008)
Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (2008)
Ramin Djawadi (2008)
E.S. Posthumus (2008)
Tyler Bates(2008)
David Buckley (2008)
Christopher Lennertz (2006)
Harry Gregson-Williams (2005)
Kaveh Cohen & Michael Nielsen (2008)
Christopher Lennertz (2008)
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco (2007)
James Dooley (2007)
Jesper Kyd (2007)
Garry Schyman (2007)
David Robidoux (2007)
Scott Glasgow (2007)
Tyler Bates (2007)
Jamie Christopherson (2007)
Mychael Danna (2007)
 
Howard Shore (2006)
Trevor Rabin  (2006)
John Debney
Greg Edmonson
Christopher Lennertz (2003)
Erik Lundborg
Ron Jones
Edward Shearmur
Christopher Lennertz (2002)
Thad Spencer
Don Davis (2001)
Hans Zimmer
Conrad Pope
Michael Giacchino
Don Davis (1999)
Jeff Rona (1999)

 

   


   

 

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