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The Aeronauts von Steven Price

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“The Aeronauts,” Steven Price

For the mid-19th-century hot-air balloon adventure “The Aeronauts,” composer Steven Price wanted his score to feature “organically wind-generated” sounds.

“These aeronauts were going up above the clouds, and they did not know what they were going to find there,” says the Oscar winner (for “Gravity”). “To me that was justification for the score not sounding conventional. When we were on the ground, more traditional orchestra, strings, play a part.

“But when we rise above, I wanted to feel like all the sounds were from the winds, whether that be brass instruments or woodwinds,” the composer adds. “There are a lot of harmoniums, human voices, pipe organ – all organically wind-generated.”

He began by contacting top London French horn player Richard Watkins. “We recorded loads of noises, blowing through the instrument. It was a musical kind of wind sound that sent me off in all kinds of different directions.” That led to recording an 18-piece brass ensemble “playing incredibly quietly… a really detailed, intimate sound recorded in a very dry room.”

Ultimately Price recorded an estimated 30 different ensembles of different sizes and makeups, with the orchestra totaling 70 musicians at its height, especially during the intense action scenes as daredevil pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) and meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) are descending and finally crashing to Earth.

He also experimented with the use of voices, beginning with a 12-voice choir singing “long, drawn-out breaths to simulate the wind, percussive noises including panting for the action sequences, and swoops from high to low and vice versa to support the on-screen movement of the balloon during the perilous moments.” He later recorded 24 women’s voices at Abbey Road for “an ethereal breathy layer” for butterfly and London-through-the-clouds moments.
It was a seven-month process, Price reports. “For me, the big story was the unknown. There was this incredible idea that you might get to see into the future, the wonder of exploration, and the kind of peril that suggests.”



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