Brian LaGuardia - Composer, Orchestrator, Arranger

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James Horner

by Brian


Two days ago, we lost an incredible film composer. I grew up with this guy’s film scores, along with other giants of the time. In fact I am so intimate with his work that I poked fun at it a little here. But the truth is…I wouldn’t be so knowledgeable about his work if I didn’t like it. There are several of his scores that still hold a special place in my heart. I’d like to take the opportunity to briefly go through two of those.

The Rocketeer is a fantastic tongue-and-cheek adventure film set in the 1930’s. It’s kind of the quintessential period piece for that era. In fact, those of you watching Agent Carter will notice several nods to this movie in its first season.

The main theme of this movie perfectly showcases Horner’s gift for melody. This cue is over the opening scene, in which the protagonist takes off in a custom-built plane in hopes of taking it to the national races.

He also wrote – for my money – one of the most moving pieces of underscore in film history: the death and funeral of Spock in Star Trek II. I still can’t watch this scene without shedding a tear or two. Even the buildup to the death scene is brilliant; it’s a montage of the birth of Genesis and Kirk racing to the engine room to try (in vain) to save his friend. It’s scored with a desperate beauty that perfectly describes the inevitability and duality of life and death.

Rest in piece. Your works will not be forgotten.

Warner Brothers Studios

by Brian

Only a few short weeks ago, I completed the SMPTV (Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television) program. I can’t adequately explain what a sleepless thrill ride it was.

The culmination project of the year was the most exciting day of all: each student (of which there were twenty) got fifteen minutes to record their 1-2.5 minute cue for any scene from a movie of their choice. And we got to do this with a 65-piece orchestra on the Warner Brother’s Scoring Stage.


The SMPTV gang gathered under my reel. Trying not to be an egoist here. 😛

It was incredible to be surrounded by so much history…not to mention such an awe-inspiring, state-of-the-art room filled with some of the best studio musicians in the world. And after each student’s cue was completed, I was reminded just how much musical talent exists in our generation, contrary to what some naysayers complain about.

I had the honor of going last. At first, I was afraid that the players would be too tired out when they got to me…but they of course lived up to their reputation as tireless professionals. They sounded amazing. My scene was the Star Trek reboot from 2009, when Kirk first sees the Enterprise. I tried very hard to meld the old school Star Trek wonder with the new school excitement the series wants to exude. Sadly there is no dialog or sound effects, but you can tell that I made a concerted effort to stay out of the way. You can also find the music track by itself on my demo reel/soundcloud page.

Of course another highlight of the year was when one of my still-living musical heroes, Bear McCreary, came in to critique one of our weekly assignments. The insight he offered all of us on our own respective scenes was absolutely jaw-dropping.


One of my heroes is smiling at me! 😀

I will never forget this incredible year. I’ve met so many amazing people, including all of my professors. They were all legitimately invested in our success and cared a great deal. It was one of the most motivating and inspiring faculties I’ve ever been exposed to. And my colleagues were equally inspiring! Every last one was a talented professional and a joy to talk to at 3AM when a tight deadline loomed.

It is of course bittersweet for me now that the program is over. But new adventures await! And the great thing about this city is…there is no shortage of them!