Retrospective: The Musical Legacy of Shirley Walker

What do Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman have in common besides creative genius and widespread popularity? They were either mentored or collaborated with an overlooked heroine of female representation in film, composer Shirley Walker. She is perhaps best known for creating the theme for the horror film series, “Final Destination” but achieved so much more. She truly deserves greater appreciation and recognition for her leadership as a woman in a field dominated by men as well as for her prolific body of work. Walker was so gifted as a pianist that she played with the San Francisco Symphony while still a teenager. Not content to be just an accompanist, she branched out into conducting and composing. It cannot be stressed enough how radical and trailblazing her ambition was for a woman in the 1960’s. Even today, women conductors are rare and women composers equally, if not more so. Her first screen credit came when her skills with a keyboard landed her a job playing with Carmine Coppola in “Apocalypse Now” (1979).

Spotlight: Hildur Guðnadóttir

Regardless of whether you're a fan or not of Todd Phillips' "Joker", I think we can all agree that Hildur Guðnadóttir's score is phenomenal. A classically trained cellist from Iceland, she has played and recorded with various bands such as Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Múm, and Stórsveit Nix Noltes. She experiments with sound and musical instruments, using cello, warped samples, and nuclear reactor metal as her tools to compose her music. And, the end result is stunning. Her music has a way of invading your mind, the score for "Joker" has a rawness to it, full of menace and a foreboding sense of dread. The score for "Joker" is so far from the epic orchestral scores we usually associate with comic book adaptations, and as she explained in an interview with Film Music Mag this was a deliberate decision, "we went as far in the other direction with this score as possible.

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