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The Music
Go West
A Singular Sonic Score

All franchises, from Star Wars to Jurassic Park to Despicable Me have their signature musical themes. The music of the film is immediately recognizable and synonymous with the franchise itself. Glass may be the third part of a trilogy, but it's unlike any franchise ever made, and that presented Shyamalan and his composer West Dylan Thordson with an opportunity to create a score unlike any ever made, too.

"The music for Glass was a unique challenge, because we're making a sequel to two movies from two different generations, and one of the concomitant issues of that is that you're talking musical styles from two different generations," Shyamalan says. "Unbreakable was kind of an old-school Hollywood score. It's very unusual and has a great percussion kind of movement to it. It was cutting-edge at that time, but it's played by a 100-piece orchestra. The way we approached Split was sonically, with almost a Nine Inch Nails-y vibe. We were taking a cello sound and turning it and twisting it and bending it, and that was very cutting edge for now. So how do you bring these two approaches to one film?"

The solution was for Thordson to take the themes from Unbreakable, composed by James Newton Howard, and revise them in his own style and musicality. "It came out more minimalized, very, very, simple and stripped down with kind of the tones of West," Shyamalan says. They then used the musical themes from Split that Thordson had composed for that film. He also composed new themes specific to Glass. Finally, for flashback scenes from Unbreakable, they used the original score from that film.

"It was an evolution," Shyamalan says. "West was on the movie for a good eleven months, I think. This was a really big commitment. He moved to Philadelphia, set up his stuff at our offices and at his home in Philadelphia, and just went for it. And he has a really unusual way of approaching it." For one experiment, which wasn't ultimately used in the film, he recorded sounds at the Allentown State Hospital where the Raven Hill scenes were shot. "He would do incredible things with percussion," Shyamalan says. "He would go in and record all night after we finished shooting. At 4 a.m. he would be hitting drums and having a violinist come in and play, and it would echo in the auditorium and in the hallways and he would record it. Those sonic and intellectual and ineffable things make you feel that something in a scene is resonant."

Through the process of Split and Glass, Thordson and Shyamalan found that they are creative kindred spirits, in a way. "Authenticity is our main objective as filmmakers, and everything you hear in the movie is practically done by West," Shyamalan says. "It's created by him, synthesized and moved by him in some way. It's one man's tastes helping me tell my story, so you're getting these very strong, bold moves."


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