David Lang Discusses Paolo Sorrentino 'Youth' Film Score & Composing Inspiration

By Ian Holubiak on Dec 10, 2015 02:50 PM EST
The 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival - Day 2 Composer David Lang attends the screening for 'Youth' on Day 2 of the 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival at the Southampton United Artists Theatre on October 9, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo : Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for Hamptons International Film Festival)

The power of music in cinema is hard to determine, but for movies that require a score to be a part of the narrative, David Lang is your man. Having just done the music for the film Youth directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Mr. Lang sat down with Slate to talk about what drove him to scoring and inspired him to compose.

For Mr. Lang, he grew up in Westwood, the area in Los Angeles that surrounds UCLA and worked both at a record store (called Warehouse) and the National movie theater. Later, both of his jobs would ultimately fuse into one, marking him one of the top composers and scorers around today.

He cites his early influences -- finding value in the "remainder" record section, purchasing LPs from Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young and, at the time, a young Philip Glass.

But when he saw The Exorcist premiere at the National, it awoke his inner artist.

Personally in my travels, I have found that in film the first truly terrifying piece of cinema that broke in the U.S. to a mass appeal was The Exorcist. My parents (particularly my 70-year-old father) remember their first time seeing it, recounting how they never envisioned film to ever terrify them to their core.

Granted, there were thrillers before, even Hitchcock's Psycho instilled fear and dread in the person watching, but, as David Lang notes, it was the music that helped unravel the audience, that absorbed them and never let them down--well, at least not easily.

He told Slate:

"As I watched [The Exorcist's] remarkable opening, I thrilled at the way the music-tiny, irregularly pulsing, super-high violins, like fingernails scraping across a blackboard- amplified the excitement and terror already in the theater. But the new-music lover inside me also perked up: Isn't that the middle section of Penderecki's String Quartet? Didn't I just buy that, remaindered, for 25 cents?"

Be sure to read the rest of the article and definitely preview Mr. Lang below (with the wonderful Ms. Shara Worden) before you buy your tickets for Youth, out now.

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TagsDavid Lang, Paolo Sorrentino, The Exorcist, Youth

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