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Comments about the soundtrack for My Dog Skip (William Ross)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
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• Posted by: Mike Dougherty   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, July 7, 2008, at 8:07 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Mike Dougherty was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in July, 2008)

My Dog Skip: (William Ross) Here's a talented composer who has suffered through a career of scoring obscure, box-office duds (except for Tin Cup). Consequently, most film score fans aren't familiar with the works of William Ross, and probably don't expect much surprise out of his My Dog Skip score. On the contrary, Skip is a fine little score -- a sort of musical walk in the park.

It's an impossibility to listen to Skip and not think of Alan Silvestri's music to Forrest Gump and Contact, both orchestrated by Ross. Strings, piano, and oboe similarly play the big roles in Ross' score, and nearly every track opens with one of these three arrangements. This makes it easy for one track to sound very similar to the next. Ross' light-hearted music rarely shifts moods or orchestrations, its sound remaining steady throughout. The score's mono-tonality can be a complaint for some listeners. For others, the score's thorough pleasantness will simply be a good reason to listen.

The different sounds Ross does explore are welcome amidst this delicate score. Ross plays with an upbeat circus motif in track four, and humorous mock-horror music two tracks later. Trumpet performances in track eight offer a sense of somber militarism, and the brass section makes a surprising fanfare in track 11. This track also features a brief guitar solo, one arrangement that is strangley absent throughout the rest of the score. It's too bad, because this seems the type of score that occasions more frequent solos by the guitar or perhaps a harmonica (keeping in mind the film's Southern setting and it's focus on one boy's childhood).

Still, Ross exceeds most expectations by offering a traditionally orchestral score. The size and performance of his ensemble are excellent, not a common situation for a small, family film. Skip's theme appears frequently and in different variations, making the score coherent. Skip's theme opens with a simple piano performance, then the strings erupt with their performance of the theme, then switching the theme back and forth between the piano, woodwinds, and the string section. Though it's hardly the classic that Gump's "feather theme" is, Skip's theme has orchestral simplicity and beauty, and it's opening performance in track one brings Jerry Goldsmith's Rudy to mind.

Hopefully, the film's success will bring Ross greater attention as a composer, as well as a chance to break out of his shell of mediocre scoring projects (Cops and Robbersons, Black Sheep, and A Smile Like Yours were hardly Oscar-worthy motion pictures). Overall, Skip is a pleasant listening experience -- 37 minutes of quiet, therapeutic music for the mind. ***

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