Adrian Johnston

Becoming Jane

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Adrian Johnston's score for the film Becoming Jane starts out with intentions similar to scores for hundreds of other costume dramas, that of simulating and/or re-creating music of the era. Johnston consulted music books that belonged to the Austens to choose melodies that he quotes in some of the tracks. "The Basingstoke Assembly" and "Laverton Fair" are small ensembles -- including horns and a drum -- playing Johnston's lively arrangements of tunes from those books. His construction of "Bond Street Airs" is similar to an early Romantic, good-natured piano concerto, say by Hummel or Cramer, but with a lusher, fuller orchestral sound that blends with the more English Pastoral sound of some of the surrounding tracks. By the second half of the score, where the heart of the film's story comes out, Johnston's writing becomes even more orchestral and more like so many other dramatic film scores of the early twenty-first century: unremarkable. It fulfills its purpose of underscoring the emotion of the story by being moody and slow to change melodically and harmonically, and by using many pregnant pauses and minimalist-leaning repetitive figures. Heard by itself, the latter half could be accompanying this fictionalized story about Jane Austen or a documentary about a year in the life of grazing sheep. There is nothing in it to draw attention away from the film, which to some directors and producers is how a score should be, but it is unfair to a composer. If Johnston had at least been allowed to be more stylistically consistent throughout the score, it might have been easier for him to make it more distinctive and able to stand on its own while still satisfying its duty as one of the aural components of the film.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Becoming Jane, film score
1 2:25 Amazon
2 0:40 Amazon
3 1:48 Amazon
4 2:03 Amazon
5 2:47 Amazon
6 2:29 Amazon
7 2:10 Amazon
8 1:06 Amazon
9 0:58 Amazon
10 3:17 Amazon
11 2:31 Amazon
12 2:24 Amazon
13 1:48 Amazon
14 2:57 Amazon
15 1:22 Amazon
16 1:21 Amazon
17 2:01 Amazon
18 1:50 Amazon
19 1:05 Amazon
20 2:33 Amazon
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492
21 3:25 Amazon
Becoming Jane, film score
22 1:21 Amazon
23 2:39 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick