'Life of Pi' Composer Mychael Danna on Joining Short List of Oscar Music Double Nominees
Mychael Danna joins an impressive collection of composers who have received song and score nominations for the same film; Danna is up for best original song and best original score for his work on "Life of Pi." Five others have scored double nominations since 2000 and, in all but one case, the nominated composer has won at least one award.
A.R. Rahman has received double nominations twice - for 2009's "127 Hours" (he lost both) and 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire." Howard Shore was a two-time winner for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and Tan Dun achieved the same feat with 2000's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Randy Newman won song but not score for 2001's "Monsters Inc." and Elliot Goldenthal did the reverse with 2002's "Frida."
"Life of Pi" received 11 nominations Thursday, including best picture, director (Ang Lee) and adapted screenplay (David Magee). On Sunday it is up for Golden Globes in the categories of best drama, director and score.
"The greatest reward of this process is that we worked on a film that pretty much everyone said was unfilmable," Danna told Billboard. "While we were working on it, we wondered if they were right. It was a very difficult film to make work and believe me, there were a lot of times when we wondered if it would work. To go through that difficulty and turbulence and come out the other side and have it so warmly received - it's gratifying in a way that's hard to describe."
Danna spent more than a year working on the music for the film with Lee, at first discussing the philosophical elements of Yann Martel's book. As Danna's score took shape, he worked on capturing those philosophical elements in the music and, once the final score was recorded, found ways to make them subtle elements of the music.
The orchestra was recorded in Los Angeles on the 20th Century Fox lot, while various other elements were recorded around the world. The first composed piece for the film was the song "Pi's Lullaby," which he wrote with the South Indian singer Bombay Jayashri.
"My whole career I have worked with non-Western musicians and different orchestras and ensembles and choirs. I think everything I ever learned about music is in this film," he said. "We knew (Bombay Jayashri) would capture Pi's innocence youth. So that was really where the whole process began. As soon as Ang starting talking about what he wanted to convey, she struck me as the ideal voice of what you would want your mother's voice to sound like if you were a little Indian boy."