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Music Pick – Bell Canada 2010 Commercial by Darren Fung

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Music Picks

This commercial played in the 2010 Winter Olympics. One thing you’ll notice about my music picks is that I’m a sucker for brass and bells. This one has both, along with some stirring opening strings. Factoid: I remember reading an interview in which the composer Darren Fung said that he disliked the chimes at the end but was told by Bell Canada to put some “sparkle and magic” in the finale.

Music Pick: The Island – My Name is Lincoln

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Music Picks


This song starts out with some eerie pads and strings but employs choral elements for the melody. Flowing guitar arpeggios interlude, but the song ends up being an epic piece where brass and drums aggressively complement the vocal melody.  I often studied and conducted research to this music, and now I prepare lesson plans to it. It never really gets old. My wife says it makes her want to fly. I have  heard this piece in the trailers of Avatar and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, so we’re not the only ones who think it is epic.

Steve Jablonsky surprised me in 2005, coming out of relative obscurity to compose the soundtrack for Michael Bay’s sci-fi thriller The Island. Since then, this Hans Zimmer protégé has become a go-to composer for Michael Bay, scoring all three Transformer movies as well as a handful of television series and a number video games. I’m particularly fond of tracks like the grand Arrival to Earth from Transformers and the militant Heroic Assault from the game Gears of War 2.

Music Pick: Loreena McKennitt – Kecharitomene

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Music Picks


This instrumental is performed by the consummate musician Loreena McKennitt and features the wonderfully melodic sound of a hurdy gurdy accompanied by a drum-line like rhythm. McKennitt’s music often has a Mediterranean / Middle Eastern / Indian flavor to it. This particular piece, Karcharitome, was written by McKennitt and is meant to evoke the joy that Mary must have felt when Gabriel said to her, “Chaire, kecharitomene !” [Hail, highly favored by His grace!] The song can be found on her album, An Ancient Muse, and should be available in your preferred format / ecosystem.

Music Pick – Unbreakable

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Music Picks


The soundtrack for Unbreakable, scored by James Newton Howard, is as understated and underrated as the movie. In particular, I love the 12th track – The Orange Man. It starts with a mellow brass fanfare flavored with a Lawrence of Arabia vibe (it actually sounds a little Jerry Goldsmith’s Mummy score, though with less crisp urgency). After a brief crescendo that segues into the main theme, a dozen seconds of tension form an interlude.  Then, with a roll of kettle drums, the score quickly resolves into a full reprisal of the theme.

Now comes the best part, and the reason I picked this track. I am an absolute sucker for what I call “the silver trumpet.” This is the punctuation of a score with the strong melodic line of a single brass instrument. I’ll post more of these later. In this case, the silver trumpet sounds at 1:13 mark, and gradually blends into the strong finale. It is glorious. The track ends with a few thoughtful piano chords.

You can purchase the track or the album at

Music Pick – Luca Stricagnoli’s “Braveheart” Instrumental

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Music Picks

I’m not going to say much about this one. Just watch and listen and be amazed at the talent this one-man-band displays.

You can find more of his work and purchase his music at

Music Pick: Song for Bob

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Music Picks


From the “I don’t know how in the world it didn’t win a Oscar” category, it’s Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ soundtrack to the lengthily named movie, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. This particular track, Song for Bob, is a six minute opus of strings, piano, and bass. The track has near-perfect timing, adding new layers moments before the previous ones become repetitive, keeping an ambient feel while leaving you humming a tune.

A Song for Bob starts with a sequence of piano chords, then drops them for a layer of rich strings that maintain the chord progession. After about 1:30, a single violin begins to assert itself with hints of a melody. Just when it seems like it’s going to fade, the piano returns to strengthen the tune. After a few measures the violin revives, and the two duet to the emerging melody. Finally, a strong bass rhythm joins in, working towards a crescendo as the strings build. Finally, the song peaks and the heavy chords fade, and the trio of piano, bass, and violin coast to a halt.

While this is the most successful piece on the soundtrack, the entire album is fantastic. Get it.