Composer, Ivan Palomares.

Goya Award-nominated composer, Ivan Palomares creates the kind of melodious movie scores that leave an indelible impression in the tradition of masters like Goldsmith, Horner and Delerue. We caught up with the composer upon the release of his latest score to the Amazon Prime series, The Vineyard (La Templanza) to discover how the composer achieves music, which not only elevates the pictures, but transcends them.

INDULGE: Who were your musical inspirations?

IVAN: I used to listen to a lot music from a very early age. My mother would even place headphones upon her belly when she was pregnant and feel how I reacted to music. And we would always listen to music at home, any background, any style — Classical, Modern, Folk, Film Music…so every period in my life had a wide selection of amazing composers, arrangers and songwriters to learn from. As far as composing goes, I would rather define a “what” before a “who” inspires me. For concert music, it can be a poem, the structure and composition of a painting, its colors and brushes, a philosophical concept, or even a bird drinking from a pond. When scoring for a picture, my inspiration is always the story. One could score a movie based solely on the images, of course, but if there’s a good story behind it, a narrative that can even work in the background as a subtext, everything becomes much more interesting.

Composer, Ivan Palomares.

INDULGE: What – if any – are the challenges and advantages of composing for film/TV nowadays? To me, it seems a tragedy that so many movies nowadays lack a score that have emotional depth, and increasingly rely on electronic sources versus live musicians and orchestras.

IVAN: The advantages, definitely, are the vast amount of tools we have nowadays for creating music from any imaginable source of sound. Before computers, synthesizers and samplers, composers created music mainly with pen and paper, to be recorded later by great musicians, orchestras, ensembles, etc. with a lot of room for imagination, colors and creativity, but a traditional way of writing nonetheless. Today, we can obviously do the same, but also manipulate and transform these recorded sounds into almost anything we can imagine and bind them to tell a story through technology.

The challenges are, obviously, the deadlines and creative space. With improved technology in filmmaking, there are also shorter windows of delivery time for composers. When producing a score, one has to be able to understand what is being asked and expected from you — by the director, but sometimes also from the producers and/or the network — and to deliver this within the timeframe and the allocated budget while still staying fresh, creative and unique. 

INDULGE: How did you approach composing the score for The Vineyard (La Templanza)?

IVAN: I was blessed from the beginning with a vast amount of creative freedom and confidence from the producers and directors. No temp tracks were used, because everybody was looking at a fresh approach while staying close to the real story we wanted to tell. Although it has been marketed as a romantic costume drama, it is ultimately a story about survival and overcoming the harshness of life. We enjoyed a lot of experimentation before setting up the blend of tones and themes that would properly tell the story.

INDULGE: What projects are you currently working on?

IVAN: I’m currently working on the Crystal Girls, a Netflix Original feature film produced by Madrid, Paris and LA-based Federation Entertainment. It’s a unique psychological drama set against the world of classical ballet starring Maria Pedraza (Money Heist, Elite). In addition to being the composer, I’m also the musical director and conductor for adapting the ballet, Giselle, around which the story dwells. It’s a beautifully written story, an atypical project that I’m delighted to be working on.

— Ghalib Dhalla

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