Composer Horowitz Scores for Sundance Film

Mar 19, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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Composer Steve Horowitz, created the original music score for the Sundance hit, Super Size Me—capping off a productive four-year relationship with Director Morgan Spurlock, that began with the popular MTV reality show, "I Bet You Will." The film, which has been picked up by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn and will be released in theatres across the U.S. this spring, follows Spurlock for 30 days as he drives himself to near physical ruin by eating only McDonald's fast food. "It was decided right from the start, because Super Size Me was made for the big screen, we'd have to raise the bar on the music from the TV show "I Bet You Will," regardless of the film's small budget," says Mr. Horowitz. This posed a significant challenge for the composer because, he'd have to score the movie almost entirely on his home studio desktop, without the luxury of replacing desktop sketches with hundreds of live cues, as he did with "I Bet You Will." To compensate and maintain the authentic edge needed to support Spurlock's grass roots documentary, he drew from his experience as a Grammy award-winning engineer.

"When I go to score a film like Morgan's, I want to have a palette that no one else can touch, something beyond switches and knobs." For the voiceover, informational sections of the film, examining the mentality of fast food culture, Horowitz says: "We tried a lot of different music, but what seemed to work best was a folksy down home sound." The meat and potatoes of these "folksy" tracks are live drum parts, pulled from his vast custom library, compiled from nearly 20 years of recording music. "I don't use two-bar loops, I try and take as big a chunk as possible so it sounds more natural," says the composer. With the addition of a sampled Horowitz on bass and a live guitar track, provided by Andy Barbera, the "down-home tracks" were complete.

For the "happy" eating theme that juxtaposes the increasing seriousness of Spurlock's dilemma, Mr. Horowitz put together a virtual re-creation of his own band, the Code International, by digitally speeding up and slowly down samples to create a new composition. These techniques were instrumental in giving the film "a live feel" that it otherwise would not have had. Horowitz states: "The challenge for the new generation of composer, increasingly faced with projects where they're called upon to engineer as well as compose, is to harness the power of today's desktop in support of their unique voice and keep it from getting lost in a sea of presets and factory samples."

Director Morgan Spurlock comments that, "the beauty and miracle of independent film making is the resourcefulness of the personalities of the people involved, like Steve, who have the guts, determination and skill to pull it off, regardless of the obstacles they face in the process. Steve's music is what the picture needed."

Steve Horowitz has also written original songs for "Joe" (from the hit children's TV series "Blues Clues") as well as "Dora the Explorer" (another children's TV classic). He won his Grammy Award for production work on the compact disc True Life Blues, the Songs of Bill Monroe, winner of Best Bluegrass album 1996 and a Webby in 2003 for music and sound design with Nickelodeon Online. Steve Horowitz's Website is

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