by Dan Goldwasser
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest became the most successful movie of 2006. Composer Hans Zimmer, who had written themes for the first Pirates film, took over the scoring duties and delivered a score that resulted in a smash soundtrack success, selling over 220,000 copies worldwide. Expanding on the original score, Zimmer created new themes for the villains (Davy Jones, Beckett and the East India Trading Company, The Kraken), as well as giving Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow a few new themes of his own.
Now Zimmer returns for the next film in the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and he's bringing a whole boatload of new themes to add to the ever-growing pile of thematic booty. He's also bringing along the musical sensibilities that he had in his critically acclaimed score to The Da Vinci Code, with a more orchestral concert sound at times, and even an oboe solo - probably a first for a Bruckheimer film!
Where the first film brought us the often-played "He's a Pirate" theme, this third film brings in a whole new melody - a song called "Hoist the Colours". Originally written for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, this new pirate shanty is heard throughout the score, uniting all the pirates together under one melody. We're also taken to Singapore, where Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat) gets his own Asian theme, as well as to the ends of the earth where not only do Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) get a new love theme, but it's a super-theme that also encompasses Davy Jones' lost love and is versatile enough to work as a new Jack Sparrow theme as well.
Hans Zimmer's score album to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End will hit stores on May 22, 2007, and the film opens three days later on May 25th. SoundtrackNet hasn't seen the finished film - so we're not entirely sure what's happening during all of the music cues, and it's possible (even likely!) that what follows could be incorrect in some aspects. But we're excited to kick off our Summer 2007 coverage for you with an exclusive track-by-track "first listen", with sound clips, of Walt Disney Records' Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
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1. Hoist the Colours (1:31)
Snare drum rolls swell with a lonely chime tolling at the peak as the track begins. A boy starts to sing the A-Theme of "Hoist the Colours", a melodic pirate shanty. He is uncertain and his voice wavering at first, but then a rabble gang of pirates take over with the B-Theme, singing the lyrics: "Yo ho, all together, Hoist the Colours high / Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!" It ends with a triumphant snare hit, and a chain rattle.
2. Singapore (3:40)
A low gong softly starts the track as ethnic Asian woodwinds flit and dance, and then Sao Feng's theme is heard on the erhu. Backed by low toned strings, a fiddle adds some color, as well as some rhythmic pipe bursts and percussion softly underscoring the melody as it builds. It rolls into a determined and rhythmic ostinato of Beckett's Theme (aka the East India Trading Company Theme) on harpsichord and orchestra, as an action cue takes hold. Strong brass works around Beckett's Theme as fast Asian patterns and rhythmic ostinatos keep the momentum moving forward. It all dies down finally, leaving us with a short statement of the "Foghorn Theme" from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The erhu and a cymbalon softly play Sao Feng's Theme again, and then a snare drum heralds in the heroic Jack Sparrow Theme from the first film, with a regal edge, including a large choir. It ends, leaving us with the new playful Jack Sparrow Theme from the second film on the cello before the track comes to a close.
3. At Wit's End (8:05)
The first part of the new love theme (Love Theme A) is heard here, softly on the strings as airy atmosphere encompasses the soundscape. Tremolo strings slowly play the countermelody as hints of a music box can be heard deep in the background. Now a darkened version of the secondary section of the Love Theme is played (Love Theme B) on the low strings, and things fade down as new short-string ostinatos slowly start working towards the front. Love Theme A is now heard more heroically on the French horns (showcasing it's diversity for usage in different areas), and choir gently and ethereally takes over, with a dream-like siren quality to it, kind of like portions of The Da Vinci Code. Strings quickly swirl upwards to the main version of Love Theme B - high strings sing out while a darker and slower version of the love theme played beneath. It all ascends to a crescendo, then drops away leaving us with a snare roll and chime tolling coming in quick bursts.
Now a music box plays the Davy Jones theme as an organ plays a new countermelody on top of it. The organ slowly fades away, leaving just the music box, and then strings come in tenderly with Love Theme A as the music box changes hands and provides the backing texture. The orchestra rises back up, with a dramatic statement of the Davy Jones theme with triumphant hits and choir subtly beneath. It builds and heralds in a new action sequence.
Rhythmic ostinato in the low strings keep the pace going as French horns and brass build upwards, climaxing in a burst of choir. Dissonant strings swirl around as choir chants, and now the strings continue their ostinato as a new descending brass motif is heard ascending through the musical range (for the sake of consistency, we'll refer to this as the "World's Edge Theme"). It carries over into the strings as the choir builds, the tension is ratcheted up and everything comes to a crashing conclusion.
4. Multiple Jacks (3:51)
We recover from the frenetic nature of the last track with a very odd and off-kilter cue. Ambient tones and springy-sounding bass elements with sparse percussion start to come together slowly. A low guitar tone is heard, wavering deep. Now the new quirky Jack Sparrow Theme from Dead Man's Chest is heard on harpsichord and plucked strings (along with some other weird instruments), and a bit of percussion kicks in, with off tune twangy guitars, cymbalom and other plucked instruments including a banjo. The backing chords are "off" as well, giving the music an out-of-tune, stumbling quality. Now Jack's Heroic Theme from the first film is heard, in the same weird orchestration, accentuated with an accordion. Low ambient atmospheric toned are heard as low pipes softly call out, and a new rhythm starts up with electronic pulses, percussion and some other odd sounds. It's a very modern sound, and includes pulses of grungy static modulated in the background. It slowly gains speed, and then kicks in hard for a few seconds before the track comes to an end.
5. Up is Down (2:42)
Another playful track, this one starts with a brass chord that swells into a rhythmic ostinato on the strings, with a fun sliding bass line. Now fiddles come in with a playful version of what is actually Love Theme B disguised (talk about versatility!) as a complex ostinato, and then a piccolo comes in, and the brass belt out the countermelody of the B-Theme as the primary theme (we'll call it the Noble Jack Variation for clarity), and then the whole orchestra joins in as the playful nature gets larger, and now the love theme is used as a triumphant and heroic melody. The playful ostinato is back now, trading off from piccolo to oboe to bassoon, before upward rising statements of the Noble Jack Variation are heard. Once a new key has been attained, Love Theme A is back in full splendor, with big orchestra, and then the World's Edge Theme is heard briefly before the track crashes to a finale.
6. I See Dead People in Boats (7:09)
Love Theme A is heard on solo oboe backed by tender strings. It's soft and romantic and takes its time to play out in full. When it finishes, a bit of foreboding ethereal choir is heard faintly and then a brief statement of the DMC Jack's Theme bass line. Now swells of orchestral chords with gently hits push out, and Jack's Heroic Theme is slowly heard on strings, which crescendo and then pull back down, leaving us with distant ethereal choir. Lush elegiac strings work through some soft variations of thematic material, in a very classical sounding way, before some the rhythm starts to kick back in with a string ostinato. As it builds, we hear a bit of Love Theme C (yes, another part to the Love Theme), and then with a flourish, it increases in energy, with a quick statement of Love Theme B in the bass that builds into an emotional and driving version of the World's Edge Theme, stated with choir the second time. The track ends with a two strong yet tender string chords, and then an organ holds down a chord and fades out.
7. The Brethren Court (2:21)
The quirky off-kilter Jack Theme is back, and while it starts out sounding like the "Multiple Jacks" track, it quickly moves into a regal and stately version of the "Hoist the Colours" C-Theme, which is kind of like a variation on "Hoist the Colours" mutated with "He's a Pirate", melodically. Yes, it's complicated, and performed with solo brass, backing strings and choir. It then goes into a quirky accordion and mandolin/dulcimer based version of the Hoist the Colours B-Theme which has a drunken quality to it. It's repeated again with a pipe (or recorder) playing the melody before ending.
8. Parlay (2:10)
This track is clearly an ode to the maestro, Ennio Morricone. A variation on Beckett's Theme starts an ostinato accentuated by dramatic brass chords, low choir and tense strings. It swells, and then reduces back to the ostinato, before erupting into a Once Upon a Time in the West-inspired mélange of wailing guitar, short strings, dramatic percussion and retro grungy guitar playing out a minor version of Love Theme A.
9. Calypso (3:02)
Starting off soft, with tender strings, there's suddenly a bit of choir and drama, with a taste of the vocals from Tia Dalma's Theme. The strings evoke a bit of Prince of Egypt mixed with The Da Vinci Code and the climactic scene from the end of DMC with the confrontation between Elizabeth and Jack. Now things build up to an emotional frenzy as the orchestra builds up to some intense choir chanting, and it holds then fades out. Mournful pipes hint again at Tia Dalma material, and the track actually ends with a ghostly vocal statement of her theme as wind softly whistles around us and a dulcimer faintly plays rhythmically to close the track.
10. What Shall We Die For (2:02)
Low soft booming percussion brings in a slowly building rendition of the "Hoist the Colours" C-Theme, starting out with just strings and brass. Then short strings start to add a bit of momentum to the piece, and soon strings join in the melody, followed by percussion. Suddenly it bursts into a rousing version of the theme, very heroic and excited. It jumps up a key, and now the choir comes in, with the lyrics for "Hoist the Colours" fitting over the C-Theme quite nicely, building to a big dramatic ending, and taking us right into the next track.
11. I Don't Think Now is the Best Time (10:45)
This is the big track of the album, so be prepared to lash yourself to the mast and weather the musical storm about to hit! The track starts out with a low but driving rhythm with fast short strings pushing an ostinato through the mix. Brass call out a very militaristic version of the Davy Jones Theme that you might miss if you didn't realize what it was, and a choir works its way into the background as dramatic staccato hits burst over us. Pulled back a bit, now the orchestra slowly ascends with choir, which starts chanting and breaks into a very powerful statement of the Black Pearl Theme with full orchestra and choir. Now it's back to that militaristic brass Davy Jones theme and then darker rising choir and heralding brass. Now we're treated to a very King Arthur-esque sequence that uses a rather dramatic melody (not a recurring theme, however), using string ostinatos backing strong brass and emotional choir. A blast of taiko, and now we have soft ethereal female choir ending the section.
Now the Jack Sparrow Theme from DMC playfully comes in, and builds to the dramatic Jack's Action Theme from the same suite (4:15 on "Jack Sparrow" from the CD). From there it moves nicely into a statement of the Hoist the Colours B-Theme, followed by the C-Theme, and then the Black Pearl Theme, followed by the World's End Theme. But the action doesn't stop there, and as the rhythm continues, suddenly tender strings call out Love Theme A, only to be answered by the brass as the theme continues. Short strings keep the energy going as action and romanticism trade off each other with stylistic hints of The Da Vinci Code. Love Theme A continues, moving into a spirited rendition of "He's a Pirate", and then after things build up, we move into a lyrical romantic rendition of the Hoist the Colours A-Theme, followed by a sweeping brass laden version of Love Theme A, with blasting French horns adding a royal edge to it. From there it goes back into "He's a Pirate" and then finally consummates an emotionally large version of Love Theme C. Now it moves into lots more action, with the same type of build up heard in "Wheel of Fortune" from DMC, as well as the swordfighting music from the first Pirates film, in all of it's swashbuckling glory. After a bit of fighting, the track finally calms down with with a French statement that ends the cue.
12. One Day (4:01)
Slowly ascending chords (like the end of the previous film), start up the track with a subtle string ostinato of Love Theme B (like the one heard in "Up is Down") building into a strong slow and regal version of Jack's Heroic Theme. There's a definite touch of King Arthur, as the choir builds up in the background, climaxing to bring the theme to an end. We're left with a soft string ostinato, and now French horns come in with Love Theme A, and then the strings join in, creating a tender heartfelt moment as we move through Love Theme B into a solid statement of Love Theme C, and then finish out with a small statement on flute ending the track.
13. Drink Up Me Hearties (4:31)
Jack's Heroic Theme is heard on accordion, with the orchestra providing the quirky background. Now strings build an ostinato into a hesitant statement of "He's a Pirate" as though Jack were contemplating something. Now his Jack's Heroic Theme is back with rhythm slowly gaining speed and then suddenly we get the big triumphant theme, with choir as it builds into the end credits with "He's a Pirate". It's similar to the arrangement as the end titles of the last film (not on the album for DMC however), but slightly different in that it breaks away into the triumphant version of Love Theme A instead. Now we hear Love Theme B, with the "Up is Down" rhythmic ostinato subtly behind it, and then it moves into Love Theme C, performed strongly in an epic manner. It comes to a close with final orchestral swell, and the album comes to an end.
The soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End runs a solid 56-minutes, with no suites, and no remixes. What we have here is all score, and it tells a story that lives quite happily in the musical world established from the previous two films, but with surprisingly minimal use of the previously written themes. They show up, for sure, but with a multiple part Love Theme that is versatile enough to work both as tender romance and strong heroic action, along with "Hoist the Colours", Hans Zimmer has created a multi-layered work that is strongly thematic, and varied in its presentation.
Special thanks to Maria Kleinman, Jamiellin Kelsey, Monica Zierhut, Hans Zimmer, Mark Wherry, Andrew Zack, Tom Gire, Ashley Olauson, Mike Brennan and Matt Scheller.