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Like everything about Avatar, James Horner's Oscar-nominated score is massive. It had to be, not just to keep pace with the movie's spectacular visual effects but to keep faith with its vision of an alien world and an alien culture. The score combines a full orchestra with synthesized and ethnic music to allow Horner, as he puts it, to "create a world that uses a tremendous amount of colour â€“ colours that we haven't heard before'.
It took, says score mixer Simon Rhodes, "months and months'. For Horner that meant setting aside a year and a half during which he lived, breathed and sweated Avatar. Compared with that Rhodes got off lightly: he was in Hollywood (on secondment from his regular berth at Abbey Road Studios) for a mere 11 months. And, as with all the production elements of James Cameron's movie, Avatar's score demanded â€“ and relied on â€“ state of the art technology to deliver the results.
The orchestra was recorded at Fox Studios' superbly equipped Newman Scoring Stage on the Neve 88RS â€“ the ultimate in analogue recording consoles, and the only one that really answers the needs of film scoring. "It's the best analogue desk in the world â€“ absolutely perfect for the job,' says Rhodes, adding that "the automation is a lot better than anything else I've used.'