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CSI Files

An archive of CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds and crime drama news

Week of October 25th

By Chris Fullman
Posted at October 31, 2004 - 2:23 PM GMT

Greetings everyone, I'm Chris Fullman, living somewhat-comfortably in Fort Lauderdale, FL, just north of where CSI: Miami is supposed to be ;)

I'll be here to provide news, reviews, interviews, and anything else musically-related to the CSI franchise for everyone to enjoy, as I hear from the others that music is a *very* popular topic with CSI Files visitors.

I'll give you a little background on why I felt qualified as a component of this already strong team of content writers for CSI Files.I come from a multimedia/sound background, both from my mother being involved with music from when she was little, to me growing up with music all around me. I dabble from here to there on my piano, and am currently writing some music of my own, hoping to record it in the next few months, and perhaps even get a music video out under my psuedoname Bryan Andrews.

This past summer, I had the pleasure of speaking with both John M. Keane, the great sole composer of CSI, and a representative from CBS whom I keep in close contact as well. It was with them that I got the proper licensing and permission (which proved very difficult for a person in my position) to include two selections from CSI into my graduation portfolio. If you're familiar with the CSI Soundtrack, the selections were the final segment of Grissom's Overture (featured during the roller coaster ride at the end of the first season's "Friends & Lovers", and the first segment of Investigation Suite.

It was the segment from "Friends & Lovers"/Grissom's Overture that really caught my attention with John M. Keane, and I began to pay a much closer look into his textures and techniques he gives us every episode.

Well, I don't mean to bore you with any more of my background, so lets get on to the weekend review, capping up the previous week's episodes' scores and overall composition.

CSI: Miami -- "Hell Night"

When Graeme Revell mysteriously left CSI: Miami as composer, I had been looking for a standout piece from his apparent replacements: composers Jeff Cardoni & Kevin Kiner. The Halloween-themed episode, which could have been a prime opportunity, instead gave us more of the same. Simple string/pad-based segments with an occasional solo piano accent accompanied the episode well, but didn't give us anything that helped attach the viewer to the emotions in the episode.

One of the most opportune moments for this was at the end when Horatio dealt with Ray Jr., yet nothing remarkable with the score took place with this episode.

CSI: New York -- "Grand Master"

One of the greatest musical feats is to introduce a new and unique theme in an episode and hear it come through via different pieces that stand apart on their own. Bill Brown did a wonderful job with this episode, as there was a common theme throughout the soundtrack. A few of the standout pieces were:

  • Kitchen Search/Corridor Walkthrough: The strongest part of the episode's theme came out in these two segments, featuring a heavy string session that had a similar sound to the Daylight soundtrack, you know, the movie where Stallone saves a bunch of poor unfortunate souls stuck in an enclosed and collapsed tunnel. The driving string session provides a moving theme for these two scenes, and adds a sense of seriousness to a rather standard way of CSI life.

  • Blowfish Blend: There is a driving beat here accompanied by a piano that keeps this process-based scene moving forward, which can tend to become boring if not executed correctly. Bill does execute this correctly, and the music is driving. The beat matches the overall tempo of the filming, and keeps your interest as the music builds in upon itself.

  • Fire Escape Investigation: I did find a very strong influence on this piece from Hans Zimmer's opening theme to Mission: Impossible 2 (which is among one of my favorite soundtracks of all time), as well as Craig Armstrong's Inhaler (used in 2003's World Series broadcast on Fox). The similarities are striking, but there is a good blend between the two textures to make this song unique in itself.

In the final sequence where Mac leaves the murderer to see his reflection, the reoccurring theme introduced during the Kitchen Search is very lightly brought back, with hints of the string accents.

Overall, this episode's musical content was strong, though in certain instances, it's hard to tell where the composer ends and the studio editor begins with their own potential-hack jobs of editing.

One thing that has amazed me about CSI: New York from the start is how they blend in the opening theme with a episode-unique transition from the prologue almost seamlessly. It isn't the same in each episode, and it's remarkable how well it blends together. I have a hard time trying to figure out exactly how they do it, only recognizing the cymbal crash to begin Baba O' Reilly.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- "Swap Meet"

Following a strong score from last week, John M. Keane stands his ground with another powerful score. What impresses me with Keane is that he will create a theme and carry it throughout the episode, and beyond that, sometimes for an entire season.

While this isn't as crucial as season-long arc-based formats like last season's Enterprise (which easily met CSI's overall quality in story telling, acting, music and effects), or 24, he does an excellent job identifying a style, let alone theme, with the characters.

Taking Grissom for instance, his character is identified by pizz strings and bass undertones, while Sara is often identified with higher, more staccato notes.

One of the standout pieces in this episode is when Catherine goes to attack Grissom for something she assumed, and begins to rant, a very long-winded and under breath rant. You can hear the music in the background intensify on the awkwardness around the scene, strengthening the overall composition.

What sets this apart from CSI: Miami's latest foray into music is that though there is the standard collection/investigation suites that stand apart and have their own sound, there is still the underlying theme that is put into the music, whether Mr. Keane wrote it or it was a licensed track, such as the such as the Decomp Autopsy scene with the featured song Pride from Syntax's Meccano Mind. (Excellent work to the crew in Talk CSI for finding the song before I did! I was just about 1 step behind you guys!).

CSI is clearly one of the best produced shows out there, along with its other two counter parts, rivaling the musical direction and quality of Enterprise and Smallville; though CSI has the upper hand; 40 million (averaged) fans can't be wrong.

Next week: New York goes underground and blue paint returns to Las Vegas.

Discuss this reviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Chris Fullman is a regular contributor to CSI Files.

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