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Film Music of the East

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Top Ten Trackdown
August 2001

Film Music featuring the elaborate and distinctive touch of the Far East has thrilled music fans for years. In recent years, some of the best scores featuring the distinctive sound of the Orient have been produced.  Western composers such as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Hans Zimmer, among others, have tried their hands at this type of film music and many times with unforgettable results!

With all due respect to the likes of some of the Far East's own talented composers: Zhao Jiping, Wong Fei-hung and Joe Haiashi, Tracksounds takes on the task of "tracking down" the top ten, Far East-Flavored soundtracks from the West (from 1990 to 2001).
Let the countdown begin...
 

10

 

Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story by Randy Edelman Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story by Randy Edelman
Released by MCA
1993

While the majority of the score proved to be thin, the main theme is one of Randy Edelman's best and most recognizable themes. 
This theme has been used countless times in film trailers since its release in 1993...and with good reason.  This poignant theme brings Edelman's effort for Dragon in at #10. 

Read the Full Review

Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story by Randy Edelman

9  
The Soong Sisters by Kitaro 

The Soong Sisters by Kitaro 
Released by Domo Records  1999

New Age composer, Kitaro makes his return to the film music genre with his compelling work for The Soong Sisters.  The score does not quite measure up to his Grammy Award winning effort for Heaven and Earth, but is easily one of the finer Eastern scores of the last ten years.

Read the Full Review

The Soong Sisters by Kitaro 

8  
Return to Paradise by Mark Mancina Return to Paradise by Mark Mancina
Released by Varese Sarabande 1998

One of decades most mesmerizing themes is found in Mark Mancina's score to Return to Paradise.  The title theme, which the majority of the score is based upon, was voted by some as 1998's single best theme.  A nice departure from Mark Mancina's propensity towards the action/adventure realm, Return to Paradise is a solid score start to finish.

Read the Full Review

Return to Paradise by Mark Mancina

7  
Brokedown Palace by David Newman Brokedown Palace by David Newman
Release by Supertracks
 1999

An unexpected gem from David Newman is Brokedown Palace.  Only a few pieces reached the official soundtrack release, but Supertracks promo release provides a much fuller sampling of Newman's score. With a style not generally associated with David Newman, Brokedown Palace takes a page from Return to Paradise, but takes it up a notch with contemporary Graeme Revell-like loops and rhythms.

Read the Full Review

 

6  
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun
Released by Sony Classical Records 2000

Tan Dun's score for the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon caused quite a stir.  It took home and Oscar...and with good reason.  As one of the scores featured here that relies least upon Western influences, Dun's score has surprisingly become very popular even in the West.

Read the Full Review

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun

5  

Beyond Rangoon by Hans Zimmer
Released by Milan Records 1995


One of Zim's most poweful scores.  His synthesized brilliance shines through in every track.  This score seldom gets the recognition it deserves and full reviews are a rarity on the internet.  Evenso, this mesmerizing score is deserving of a top 5 ranking.

Read the Full Review

Beyond Rangoon by Hans Zimmer

4  
Pavilion of Women by Conrad Pope

Pavilion of Women by Conrad Pope
Released by Varese Sarabande 2001
 

As Conrad Pope is making a name for himself as a composer, his work for Pavilion of Women may be THE score that catapults him toward the forefront of film music appreciation.  This operatic score features one of the most satisfying fusions of Eastern and Western instruments and style.

Read the Full Review

Pavilion of Women by Conrad Pope

3  
Snow Falls on Cedars by James Newton Howard

Snow Falls on Cedars by James Newton Howard
Released by Decca Records 1999

Simply James Newton Howard's most evocative score to date!  Matching the mesmerizing photography of the film, Howard's use of wood flutes in conjunction with powerful strings, helps this score to stand out from anything else he has done.

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Snow Falls on Cedars by James Newton Howard

2  
Heaven and Earth by Kitaro

Heaven and Earth by Kitaro
Released by Geffen Records 1995

Known for his New Age compositions, Kitaro burst onto the film music scene with his powerful work for Heaven & Earth.  While the score dives deeply into expressing the Vietnamese element of the film throughout the bulk of the score in a way that might not be that palettable for Westerners, Kitaro's main theme is a haunting treat that can easily become an addiction.

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Heaven and Earth by Kitaro

1  
Anna and the King by George Fenton

Anna and the King by George Fenton
Released by LaFace Records 1999

Simply stunning!  Fenton hits a bullseye with this effort.  Matching the incredibly high standard set by the use of Kitaro's Heaven and Earth in the trailers, Fenton makes his own brand of magic in this East meets West story.  


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Anna and the King by George Fenton


 

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