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American Beauty: Original Motion Picture Score

1 rating: 5.0
Soundtracks album by Thomas Newman

We knew Thomas Newman was versatile (he's created gripping soundtracks for everything fromThe Shawshank RedemptiontoDesperately Seeking Susan), but his score forAmerican Beautyis simply gorgeous and one of his best. Filled with inventive instrumentation--tablas, … see full wiki

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1 review about American Beauty: Original Motion Picture...

Dancing About Architecture

  • Jan 14, 2004
Musician Frank Zappa is credited with saying that "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." In other words, trying to express the feelings music can convey in words is a pointless (perhaps ridiculous) exercise. While Zappa's words are not always true -- much modern music is simplistic and trite enough that writing about it is actually quite easy -- Thomas Newman's music for the score of "American Beauty" certainly proves Zappa's point.

Newman's score for "American Beauty," simply put, is indescribably beautiful, highly original and completely unexpected. It's difficult, to say the least, to put into words what makes it so.

In some ways, the music is characteristic of Newman's excellent body of work. Some of the pieces are carried by a simple, quiet piano theme, while others make complex use of modern, ambient sound. For many films, this mixture of styles would sound disjointed and confused, but Newman makes it all work brilliantly and elegantly. This combination makes the music stand out as Newman's most original and most skilled work.

The music is filled with subtle emotion that sneaks up on the listener. Just as the film does, it encourages the listener to "look closer," to go beyond the catchy upbeat tones of the early music and open oneself up to the deeper, more complex themes. And, just as in the film, taking a closer look is an eminently rewarding experience. The more one listens to this music, the better it gets.

Frank Zappa was right in this case: these words are definitely inadequate to get the feeling of the music across. I hope that they have at least convinced you to try it for yourself. It is music that is certainly worth that closer look, and as its name suggests, it represents beauty itself.

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American Beauty: Original Motion Picture Score
Label: Dreamworks
Artist: Thomas Newman
Release Date: January 11, 2000

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