On Air Now
Smooth Classics with Margherita Taylor 10pm - 1am
It's the sci-fi movie of the year, and it's got an involving, engrossing and innovative score courtesy of Steven Price. Find out more about it and see pictures of the stars, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, with our guide.
The grandness of space in Hollywood film is immediately debunked by Steve Price's soundtrack. A huge, throbbing swell is suddenly silenced - leaving only a tiny orchestral cue to fill the void. This is anti-blockbuster music from the outset, and all the more interesting for it.
Minimal strings and the occasional synthesiser are joined by one of the very few uses of actual percussion on the whole score. Price consulted with the film's director Alfonso Cuáron, and the two decided that the score would not compete with explosions, focusing on mood and minimalism.
The drones continue, with spooky industrial sounds throbbing over the top of lower strings.
A ghostly voice is barely audible over the by-now unsettling use of low drones. The plot is a tense and effective affair, something clearly echoed by the score.
The title of this excerpt is a rather portentous sign for Gravity's main characters, Dr Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), but for the first time a little bit of light creeps into Price's soundtrack.
Gentle, intimately-recorded piano lines sit underneath bowed string harmonics, providing an almost Satie-esque level of calm.
The bubble and hiss of electronics permeate this section of the soundtrack, which sees Price returning to Gravity's default mood of ominous atmosphere-setting.
Price's tactic of juxtaposing extreme noise with patches of near-silence is incredibly effective here again, during one of the film's most tense segments.
And then, as if it were the calm after the storm, Parachute takes things down a notch. Well, at least for a few seconds anyway. This middle section of the whole work contains some of Price's most exceptionally effective moments.
Minimalist drones reign supreme once again, with only the gentle throb of an electronic bass line to give it motion.
The gentle piano returns, this time with the faint hint of a Star Trek-esque electronic bleep in the background, softly forming the track's pulse. Price's piano work here, as with elsewhere on the soundtrack, is simple but deliberate.
The title of this sequence refers to a short companion film of the same name, directed by Alfonso Cuarón's son, Jonás. It's every bit as intense as the rest of the score, accompanying a key scene when Sandra Bullock's character manages to contact someone back on Earth.
Gravity has been described as taking influence from elements of 'shipwreck' themes in fiction, despite being set in outer space. The loneliness of the astronaut is perfectly summed up in the score's more reflective moments.
As the film runs into its final act, all that portentous music really begins to ramp up and become something truly unsettling. The fact that so much of the score relies on quiet, or even silence, is reflected by director Alfonso Cuarón: "We knew we needed to express silence. We didn't want the score to be descriptive, but psychological and emotional. We composed a score which is expressive of surroundings."
Percussion, albeit electronic, makes an unexpected return near the film's climax, giving a last burst of energy before the movie ends.
And then, the movie's title track wrong foots you once again - it's back to confusing, bleak and haunting near-silence for the most part. Perhaps the fact that the soundtrack ends in this way is indicative of the movie's tone, a bold and dark reworking of science fiction conventions that stretches all the way to the music.