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Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Patrick Doyle

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
James Shearman

Produced by:
Maggie Rodford

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
June 19th, 2012

Also See:
Quest for Camelot
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Audio Clips:
7. Remember to Smile (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. The Witch's Cottage (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. We've Both Changed (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

20. Merida's Home (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.

  The song "Learn Me Right" was nominated for a Grammy Award.

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Buy it... if you adore overflowing Scottish instrumental flavor and Patrick Doyle's ability to express lyrical beauty without fail.

Avoid it... if wild bagpipes make you itch in all the wrong places or, more importantly, you expect Doyle to apply his fantastic themes with enough consistency or supplement them with strong suspense and action passages.

Brave: (Patrick Doyle) Escaping to new territory was Pixar Animation Studios for their 2012 offering, Brave. Not only did the story represent the first fairy tale for the acclaimed studio, but Pixar also used the project to revamp their animation system for its only major overhaul in decades. The movie also placed the first female in the director's chair for Pixar, though Brenda Chapman, who had written the story, was eventually replaced for the dreaded reason of "creative differences." The subject matter of Brave is darker and more adult-oriented than its predecessors, the plot outline criticized for functioning as an odd merging of The Little Mermaid and Brother Bear. A rebellious princess living in a kingdom of the highlands of Scotland in the 10th Century decides to assert her independence and throws society into chaos in the process. Her attitude as stubborn as her hair is orange, Merida disrupts a traditional archery contest and runs away in the consequent controversy. When she enlists the help of a witch to help her mother "change" in order to understand her, the wish actually turns the queen into a bear. Together, princess and bear must fight to break the spell and restore their kingdom. It's derivative, indeed, and there will undoubtedly be critics who roll their eyes at the liberal, feminist undertones of Brave. The new technologies employed for the picture, including an enhanced version of Dolby sound, are a counterweight, and iGadget enthusiasts will appreciate a tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs at the end of the film. Perhaps the least surprising move made by the filmmakers of Brave was the hiring of Scottish composer Patrick Doyle to provide the score and some of the movie's songs. While not a musical in a traditional Disney sense, the movie utilizes two songs as contemporary accompaniment and another two performed by the characters (along with the obligatory end credits song). Doyle was responsible for writing the score and the two contextual songs so that these elements could be melodically coordinated. Alex Mandel wrote the two other songs for use in the story, both performed by Scottish singer Julie Fowlis. The end credits song is a more detached affair, written by the British folk group Mumford & Sons and performed by teenage British sensation Jasmine van den Bogaerde (otherwise known as "Birdy"), though Doyle's crew did record some orchestral backing for this entry.

Doyle's career has experienced a renaissance in the 2010's, striding into a mainstream blockbuster spotlight that had only sporadically illuminated his impressive efforts over the previous two decades. He becomes only the fourth composer to write for a Pixar film (and the first to have a bit acting role on screen as well), and there is no doubt he is qualified for the subject matter of Brave. He has dabbled in Scottish and Irish tones throughout the years, his work for the long forgotten Quest for Camelot in 1998 serving as a clear precursor. A more traditional musical, Quest for Camelot was a project doomed for reasons not relating to its music, Doyle and his associate songwriters overachieving for the wretched film. As always, it would have been preferable to hear Doyle write the totality of songs for Brave, though in an improvement over Quest for Camelot, the composer manages to introduce and nurture five recurring themes in his score, two of which the melodic basis for his own songs. The tone and style of his contribution is what the filmmakers most clearly sought, and without a doubt, Doyle has utilized every Scottish instrumental element available to him to saturate the score with the authenticity sought from his involvement. There will be listeners for whom the specialty instruments will be too obnoxious to tolerate, especially by the time an ensemble of bagpipes lets loose. But aside from the sometimes abrasive bagpipes and uilleann pipes, there are the smoother and often lovely Celtic fiddle, whistles, and harp, joined for rowdy sequences by familiar regional percussion as well, including bodhran. The London Symphony Orchestra contributes the symphonic backing for these performers, Doyle utilizing electronically manipulated dulcimer and cimbalom to represent the scarier portions of the score with tones surprisingly reminiscent of Hans Zimmer's Sherlock Holmes music. There is no choral element to Brave outside of the cast performances of Doyle's two songs, including one reprise in the background mix of the finale's score cue. The overall tone of the music absolutely bleeds Gaelic sensibilities, especially in the earlier portions. There are outbursts of rhythmic enthusiasm and percussive force in several cues that sound like a literal expansion of Doyle's "The Quidditch World Cup" cue from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (minus the chanting). The composer traveled to Scotland to research one of his two songs, a rowdy drinking piece that extends into the score's humorous moments. As the film progresses, its music becomes increasingly softer, focusing on the two themes of lament and character resolution.

One of the interesting aspects of Doyle's approach to Brave, and arguably its greatest detriment, is the period of time that passes before the composer really establishes his main themes. It takes the full length of the picture for listeners to hear these ideas flourish, leaving the opening third a bit unfocused melodically and instead tasked with the duty of simply establishing the overwhelming Scottish flavor. Doyle is extremely proficient at achieving the right tone in the early cues, sometimes to potentially irritating levels, but his most important thematic constructs are largely absent from these expressions of zeal and foreshadowing. In this regard, the initial "Fate and Destiny," although including the drinking song theme, does little to clearly suggest the main theme or family lullaby that dominate the score later. In fact, in its last minute, it meanders through a pretty exploration of melodic lines that are orphaned in the overall work. Likewise, "I am Merida" doesn't introduce the girl's theme at all. To an extent, this choice is understandable, given that both the two main identities accompany her acceptance of her home and relationships at the end and the character obviously has different ideas at the outset, but some maturation of the theme throughout the score could have been expected. The primary theme is hinted (with only its first phrase) at 0:23 into "Remember to Smile" before finally stretching its legs late in "Legends Are Lessons," featuring a lovely trumpet solo of its interlude sequence. A pretty rendition at the start of "In Her Heart" features the fiddle and whistle in their typical beauty, and the melody is translated into an action environment later in "Not Now!" After a sentimental statement at the end of "We've Both Changed," Doyle highlights the entire score with his final, suite-like rendition of the theme in "Merida's Home," 90 seconds of whistle-led bliss featuring an outstanding layering of orchestral elements as the performance progresses. It's a fabulous theme, and to hear it relatively confined to just a handful of statements is a tremendous shame, especially given its role in bringing the fiddle and whistle to the forefront of easily accessible harmonic expressions of affection. Instead defining the picture early on is the drinking melody in "Song of Mor'du," the jovial jig that extends out of that song and tears through the score for the festivities and humor in "Fate and Destiny," "The Games," and "Through the Castle." Fortunately, the role of this song is diminished as the movie moves along, though its performance in the opening track does feature some impressive percussion and plucked string backing that may remind of John Williams' Far and Away. By the time the bagpipes get a hold of the theme in "The Games," though, be ready to skip to the next track.

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The other primary theme in Brave is the lullaby written by Doyle to develop as the girl and her mother bond. Performed over harp and fiddle and in Gaelic words in "Noble Maiden Fair," an opportunity to hear Emma Thompson and Doyle extend their long collaboration, this theme is a lovely tribute to yesteryear in its folksy progressions and unashamed simplicity. Suggested late in "Legends Are Lessons" and in the first half of "Mum Goes Wild," this lullaby's rendition in "Noble Maiden Fair" sounds intriguingly similar to Charlie Mole's "The Willow Song" from his forgotten 1995 score for Othello, in part due to shared descending phrases and the repetition of the structures. After the victorious action translations of the idea in "Get the Key," a ghostly reprise of the song is gloriously performed over increasingly resounding bass strings in "We've Both Changed." Two secondary themes are less obvious in Brave, including the mysterious motif for the witch and her spell. Usually accompanied by a distant wailing effect on a woodwind in its interlude, this idea is first heard at 1:25 into "The Witch's Cottage" and is eventually bloated into a darker, full-blooded action motif in "Not Now!" and "Get the Key." Also frequently present in the latter half of the score is Doyle's "sneaking" motif, perhaps additionally representative of the queen in the form of a bear. This playful identity is expressed at the starts of "Through the Castle" and "Mum Goes Wild" and figures in the middle of "Legends Are Lessons." Outside of these thematic passages, Doyle does span the spectrum of emotions with his action and suspense music. The action material isn't as strong as that which he utilized in Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, nor is it as frequent. An outburst of percussion late in "Mum Goes Wild" is impressive, though, even if it does sound like stock music from a modern outdoors reality show. The suspense cues, "Merida Rides Away" and "Show Us the Way," are clearly the weakest portions of the score, droning without much character. The songs aren't spectacular, either, the two Julie Fowlis ones decent but rather anonymous. The "Learn Me Right" end credits song had great potential, but its really odd mix puts the vocals way too far back (and the banjo/guitars too prominent) in the soundscape. None of these contributions will offend you, but they unfortunately have little to do with the more sentimental tone of the score. Overall, you can't say that Doyle didn't nail this assignment, because he clearly provided the film with the appropriate musical flavor. His own mix of specialty instruments and the orchestra is well handled, the fiddle and whistle especially enunciated with clarity. Still, there is untapped potential in this score, the result of hesitation by Doyle to truly foreshadow his main themes in early passages. Entertaining it remains, though, lyrically beautiful as usual for the composer. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Patrick Doyle reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.81 (in 27 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.38 (in 20,792 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 65:31

• 1. Touch the Sky - performed by Julie Fowlis (2:31)
• 2. Into the Open Air - performed by Julie Fowlis (2:41)
• 3. Learn Me Right - performed by Birdy and Mumford & Sons (3:46)
• 4. Fate and Destiny (4:17)
• 5. The Games (1:53)
• 6. I Am Merida (2:23)
• 7. Remember to Smile (2:18)
• 8. Merida Rides Away (4:07)
• 9. The Witch's Cottage (4:26)
• 10. Song of Mor'du (cast song) (2:18)
• 11. Through the Castle (4:34)
• 12. Legends Are Lessons (4:06)
• 13. Show Us the Way (3:46)
• 14. Mum Goes Wild (3:25)
• 15. In Her Heart (2:36)
• 16. Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal) (cast song) (2:37)
• 17. Not Now (3:34)
• 18. Get the Key (3:15)
• 19. We've Both Changed (5:30)
• 20. Merida's Home (1:32)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes lyrics for each song but no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Brave are Copyright © 2012, Walt Disney Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/14/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.