John Carpenter – Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

One of the film’s distinctive features is its score, written in three days by John Carpenter and performed by Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace. Carpenter, assisted by Dan Wyman, had several banks of synthesizers that would each have to be reset when another sound had to be created, taking a great deal of time. “When I did my original themes for [Assault] … it was done with very old technology,” replied Carpenter. “It was very difficult to get the sounds, and it took very long to get something simple.” Carpenter made roughly three to five separate pieces of music and edited them to the film as appropriate. The main title theme, partially inspired by both Lalo Schifrin’s score to Dirty Harry and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, is composed of a pop synthesizer riff with a drum machine underneath that “builds only in texture, but not thematically,” according to David Burnand and Miguel Mera. A held, high synthesizer note, with no other changes except inner frequency modulations, becomes the musical motif of the gang members, and reoccurs during certain violent acts in the film. In the film, synthesizers and drum machines represent the city and the gang.




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