Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Music Research Seminar: Ian Sapiro

Seminar Title: Simple, Medium, and Shebang’: Trevor Jones and the Film-Music Toolkit



Lecture Theatre 1, School of Music

The speaker is Ian Sapiro (University of Leeds)


With a career spanning over thirty years, Trevor Jones is regarded as one of the film industry’s most distinguished composers. In the late 1980s Jones developed what he terms “toolkits”, collections of bespoke musical sounds used to augment the sonic palette of a screen score, and to suggest particular soundscapes and atmospheres. These toolkits occupied a unique position in the production process, straddling the stages of composition and orchestration, and somewhat blurring the boundary between musical score and sound effects. Jones utilised toolkits in a series of films released between 1987 and 1993, including Angel Heart (1987), Mississippi Burning (1988), Sea of Love (1989), Freejack (1992), and In the Name of the Father (1993). He continued to develop and refine the toolkit concept across this period, during which there is a notable shift in its application from directorial resource to creative compositional tool.

Materials in the Trevor Jones Archive enable close consideration of this innovative scoring approach, offering insight into the initial inspiration for toolkits and a means of investigating Jones’s application of the technique across a number of film and television scores. Track sheets, multi-track recordings, sketches and full scores offer significant insights into the use of toolkits in the composition and orchestration of Jones’s screen music from the late 1980s and early ’90s, allowing a thorough evaluation of their evolving role and function over a six-year period.

This paper draws on materials digitised and research carried out as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project The Professional Career and Output of Trevor Jones (grant number AH/K003828/1)

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