Death of an Oscar-winning composer, 72

You may not have heard of Ron Grant.

The Oscar he won in 1986 was for inventing a piece of software, the Auricle Time Processor – ‘a computer system that enables a music composer to score a program with speed and accuracy previously unattainable’.

The music he wrote was mostly for TV series and animation.

Ron Grant died in Santa Monica at the weekend. Obit here.

ron-grant-oscar

His was the first Oscar ever to be awarded for an app. Put that in your fact-checker.

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  • Scoring music for TV series and animation will certainly be helped if speeded-up; for serious music, an app would be welcome which does the opposite so that the window frame of reflection can be widened. According to the results, many composers today need such app. A composer like Debussy who was a master scorer, and who could reflect on a chord for weeks on end before he found the right colour, struggled for years to get the orchestration of his ‘Nocturnes’ right, and it is one of the most brilliant scores ever written. Even old sonicists of half a century ago took very much time to get their colours right.

  • The Auricle Time Processor aids in the task of matching and synchronizing metered music with the unmetered visual events of a film, a problem quite apart from traditional challenges and I suspect that gives them more time for traditional composition tasks.

    But I’m not sure many modern composers of concert works would be helped by taking more time. More time pursuing the wrong direction just makes things worse.

  • Dr Monika Retter likened the work of matching music to film to the Greek myth of “the bed of Procrustes.” If someone was too short for his bed, he’d stetch them, and if his guests were too long for his bed, he’d cut them down to size – usually with fatal consequences. At the other, positive extreme, Mr Spielberg seems to have encouraged John Williams to record the final quarter of an hour of the “ET” filmscore with the film projector turned off, later re-aligning the final cut of the film to match the music. Seldom comest thou, spirit of delight …

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