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Pharrell on Oscars composing: ‘I hadn’t seen sheet music in 20 years’

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Music fans tuning into Sunday’s Oscar telecast will sadly be deprived of a live rendition of ‘Man or Muppet,’ because the two numbers up for the original song prize aren’t being performed. What they will hear, though, are scads of new compositions and arrangments from an unexpected duo of arrangers -- lauded hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams and film composer Hans Zimmer.

The two have been holed up in Capitol Records’ recording studios rehearsing pieces they wrote and arranged as interstitial music for the telecast. The two are longtime admirers of each other’s work (having first collaborated on 2010’s ‘Despicable Me’), and though Pharrell has dozens of avant-garde rap and pop hits on his resume, television scoring was a daunting new task.

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‘I hadn’t seen sheet music in 20 years. When I sat down at a piano and had to sight-read, I felt like I was back in high school,’ he said in a joint interview with Zimmer in Friday’s Calendar section. But he proved a quick study -- ‘But they let me learn on the job and walk around and ask questions. The only thing I know how to do is feel, and a composer has to know what sound will elicit that feeling.’

Read the whole joint interview here.

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-- August Brown


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