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Interview: Emmy-nominated composer Michael Price on scoring ‘Sherlock’

POZNAN, POLAND- Michael Price gets around. The British composer leaves Poznan today after being one of the featured speakers at the Transatlantyk Festival, a week-long event dedicated to film, music, and cuisine,  to head straight to Los Angeles for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday (16).

Price is nominated for the first time for Outstanding music composition for a miniseries, movie or a special (original dramatic score) for “Sherlock,” the BBC  series he composes music for with David Arnold.  Price apprenticed with a number of composers, but he also worked as a music editor for years, on such films as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Love Actually,” and “Nanny McPhee.”

I hopped in a car with Price to interview him on our way to Transatlantyk”s closing gala.

You started as an assistant for the late composer Michael Kamen (“Brazil,””Band Of Brothers,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Mr. Holland's Opus”), who was a very passionate and emotional composer. What was the biggest thing you learned from him?

Michael was the ultimate tunes guy. He was about melody and it was quite in a way that sometimes the films weren”t big enough to contain what he wanted to say with them and the music that he wanted to write. Sometimes I would take sort of small detailed view of a scene and he would step back from it and try to write a theme that would play out right over the top of it and I don”t think I got that when I was his assistant. I was just like ‘C”mon, that”s where it stops.”  And he said, “No, it will be great.” And the older I get and the  further away I get from[my days with him], the more I”m in awe really of that melodic sense, and that sense of the glorious theme. And now I think in my own work, I do less, I just try to simply play the best tune I could make.

So what he taught you was to play up to your strengths?

Absolutely. And just to believe in the power of the melody. He worked with that sense of not a mechanical way to writing for films, but a glorious, open hearted way of doing it.

After Michael, you went to work with Craig Armstrong (“Love Actually,” “Romeo + Juliet,” “The Incredible Hulk”), another very melodic composer. What did you learn from him?

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