Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Immersed in Movies: Composer Patrick Doyle Talks Pixar's 'Brave'

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood November 30, 2012 at 2:25PM

Patrick Doyle isn't new to animation but his first taste of working with Pixar on "Brave" brought him even closer to his Scottish roots. Doyle, in fact, was in Scotland when he was first approached to compose the quintessentially ethnic score accentuated by the Highland bagpipes.
0
Brave_Patrick_Doyle

Patrick Doyle isn't new to animation but his first taste of working with Pixar on "Brave" brought him even closer to his Scottish roots. Doyle, in fact, was in Scotland when he was first approached to compose the quintessentially ethnic score accentuated by Highland bagpipes.

That was three and a half years ago when Brenda Chapman was still at the helm (she was subsequently replaced by Mark Andrews during the last 18 months of production). But much of the film was in already in place: Merida's conflict with her mother, Queen Elinor, the magic and monstrous Mor' Du, and the flavor of medieval Scotland.

"I wrote 'Song of Mor'Du' fairly early on and that was a main constant," Doyle recalls. "And how much of it was used was entirely up to the story. I made many trips to Pixar and saw evolutions of the drawings and these revolutionary costumes."

Chapman described the central familial tripartite of the father, mother, and daughter to the composer. "He was impetuous and strong and powerful," Doyle explains. "The mother was very strict and insistent that the rules and traditions be followed to keep the kingdom from falling apart. And Merida is her mother's daughter. These were ding-dongs that could actually look in the mirror at each other."

Pixar's "Brave"
Pixar's "Brave"

Doyle was particularly struck by the fluidity of movement and great depth in the animation. But, of course, when he glimpsed the rich colors, skies, and seasons of Scotland -- the way the sun peaks out after lunch and the fluffy white clouds roll in -- it just kindled all the Celtic connections in him. Doyle was inspired to write basic ideas for a lullaby, a lament, and a duet for Elinor and Merida, which continued to evolve organically.

"But I said to them there was a lot of moss everywhere," Doyle continues. "Is there that much moss in Scotland? And they said, 'Yeah.' I didn't think so but when I went back to Scotland, I went, 'Oh, my god, it's everywhere!' I live in London and I'd forgotten. So I came back and told them how proud I was of how well they captured this. And there's a great evolution in the story between the mother and the daughter -- it's a wonderful narrative, a real crucible. And each of these characters has a life of their own."

The marathon-like schedule for animation provided a lot more time to ruminate. Doyle had eight months to hone the score: weaving in ancient sounds with the indigenous bagpipes and flute. He drew inspiration from the musical culture that he grew up within his home. His father was a folk singer and everyone was made to sing in his family. At the same time, the composer added a slight contemporary vibe with homemade drums by Jim Sullivan, who additionally whacked pieces of deer hide with a mallet. Doyle also tempered the use of orchestration, preferring to rely on alternate small groups recorded with close mics with additional larger groups recorded with other mics to provide an intimate chamber sound.

The bagpipes were especially fun to work with. "It's an incredible instrument that's been around for 2,000 years and you could hear it for miles. For me Medieval meant using open fifth and third; they had pentatonic scales. It's standard for those songs and laments and jigs. The early pipe is chromatic so they could do more symphonic coloration with the orchestra. Sometimes I wanted a gentle bagpipe played quietly near you. These were the things you had to consider."

Of course, it all revolves around Pixar's first female heroine, the feisty red-head, Merida. Doyle wanted to evoke an arrow running through the air with her music. And even though there's a dark undercurrent in "Brave" in terms of the rift between Merida and Elinor and the resulting curse that turns the Queen into a bear, Doyle didn't want to make his laments too lamentable. "When the danger came, I wanted to make its mark by not having us go too thick unnecessarily. For me, I wanted the beautifully detailed imagery to come through. I wanted to be delicate and careful not to overwhelm what was wonderful about it."

This article is related to: Brave, Animation, Awards, Immersed In Movies, Interviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.