Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 June 13 • Monday

Here's another favorite Bernard Herrmann score. I love underwater music and this is one of the ultimate underwater soundtracks. Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is the 169th Soundtrack of the Week.

The movie itself is not very good, though it has a certain nostalgic quality, being a Technicolor, CinemaScope adventure film from the 1950s.

Herrmann provides the necessary energy to this idealized Hollywood take on Americana in such cues as "The Sea", "The Homecoming", "Flirtation" and the "Finale".

Some of his most lyrical and sensitive work can be found here as well, in "The Glades", "The Quiet Sea", "Elegy", "The Lagoon" and "The Grave".

Herrmann the master of action, suspense and violence is also present, in cues such as "The Conch Boat/The Harbor", "The Search", "The Fire", "Sorrow/The Dock/Escape" and "The Hookboat/The Fight".

But it's the music for the underwater scenes that make this one of my favorite soundtracks. "The Undersea/The Boat", "The Reef", "The Undersea Forest" and the magnificent "The Octopus".

Herrmann often had a conceptual approach to a score that matched the music to subject of the movie somehow.

The score for Psycho is famously "black and white" since it uses only string instruments. (The strings also suggest nerves. Herrmann's music for this film was also the inspiration for the strings in The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby".)

For Journey to the Center of the Earth Herrmann eschewed strings entirely, using a metal and earth palette of brass, percussion and pipe organ.

For Beneath the 12-Mile Reef he used nine harps, a shocking number, for profoundly aquatic orchestral color.