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23 MAY 2015

Improvisational style of Birdman's percussion-centred soundtrack

"The soundtrack to the 2014 Alejandro González Iñárritu-directed black comedy Birdman features an innovative, percussion-based score from Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez. Also included on the soundtrack are various classical pieces used in the film including compositions by Gustav Mahler, Maurice Ravel, and Sergei Rachmaninov. While Sanchez is primarily known as a jazz musician, he took a more free-form, avant-garde approach for Birdman. Rather than composing pieces for the film, at Iñárritu's request, Sanchez improvised to a rough cut of the film and then re-recorded his improvisations yet again once the film was completed. Hoping to match the gritty, live aesthetic of the film, Sanchez altered his traditional percussion set-up, employing instead the use of different drum heads modified at times with tape to deaden the sound and even attached items to his cymbals to achieve a less pristine, more broken quality. Iñárritu even went so far as to have percussionist (and Sanchez' friend) Nate Smith appear in the film playing along to Sanchez' soundtrack, which was recorded to sound like it was being played in the actual scene. The result is a highly creative, sonically varied soundtrack that matches the quirky, conceptual nature and dramatic tension of Iñárritu's film."

(Matt Collar,



2014 • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu • Amy Ryan • Andrea Riseborough • Antonio Sanchez • Batman (1989) • Birdman (2014) • black comedy • BLT Communications • broken quality • cymbalsdramatic tension • Edward Norton • Emma Stone • faded glory • formalist design aesthetics • free-form approach • Gustav Mahler • improvisational musical style • jazz drummer • live aesthetic • Maurice Ravel • Michael Keaton • motion typeNaomi Watts • opening credits • opening titlespercussionPierrot le Fou (1965) • Raymond Carver • score • Sergei Rachmaninov • single shot style • soundtracktitle sequence designtypography • Zach Galifianakis


Simon Perkins

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