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Jam! Showbiz: The Truth is Out There for Mark Snow

"It's coming out soon enough and the truth will be revealed," teases New York's Mark Snow, composer of the film score for the big screen The X-Files: Fight The Future, which opens June 19. The album is already in stores.

Snow, who wrote the music for the hit television series - starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as paranormal hunting FBI agents - including its memorable theme song, says of the plot, "I was sworn to secrecy and it's so complicated that I don't even get it, so I'm no risk to them anyway."

The titles to some of the tracks on The X-Files: The Score do reveal a tad about the movie. "Corn Copters" and "Pod Monster Suite" pretty much guarantee they'll be helicopters in corn fields and pod monsters (whatever they are) somewhere in the film.

The other reason the Julliard-trained musician may not be a risk to reveal the story line -- which reportedly resolves this season's cliffhanger and paves the way for the '98-'99 season -- is he received the movie in bits and pieces and in no particular order.

"There's 15 reels of this thing and I would get one reel at a time or two or three reels sometimes," Snow explains. "I'd start working it and then they would be constantly re-edited and changed and shortened and lengthened.

"Over a space of about six months, it was very frustrating because just when people would say, 'It's locked; it's done,' someone else would say, 'Oh, we had another idea.' So that was the difficult part, making all the changes, right up until the last moment which was last week. Actually, writing the music wasn't so hard," he laughs.

So as scenes were cut altogether or the entire dramatic circumstances altered, Snow would tone down the music or heighten it accordingly. Watching the clips, Snow used an 85-piece orchestra in combination with synthetic sounds to complement the story.

"I'd say 90 to 95 percent of it has the orchestra in it and the rest is from my electronic studio," says Snow, who also manipulated human voices, his and anyone else's who walked into the room. "(I'd say), 'Go ahhhh,' and they'd do it and then I'd screw around with it with my sampler."

In fact, the X-Files TV theme with the infamous whistle isn't a whistle at all, he admits. "No, that's from a sampler.

"I had the melody but I played it on piano first and I was looking for something really neat interesting that you haven't heard in a long time," explains Snow. "I mean, the last time I can remember hearing a whistle was in The Andy Griffith Show."

Snow actually studied under Earl Hagen, composer of The Andy Griffith Show theme, and says he totally legitimized television music. It was from him that he learned the basics of writing a TV theme.

"It should be very distinctive, have a real personality and within two or three seconds, everyone should know what it is. It should be very simple and have anywhere from four to six notes -- and this one has six notes -- it's sort of a formula."

Although Snow says that writing one of the most popular themes in television history is "one of the greatest experiences that ever happened to me in my life," he doesn't want to get pegged as the disturbing music-maker.

He has been approached to do other television themes but mainly science fiction which he feels would be a mistake to accept. "It would take away from The X-Files and diminish my worth on the show."

Besides working on the music for next television season's X-Files, he is writing the score for a MGM/UA movie called Disturbing Behavior, starring Katie Holmes (from Dawson's Creek). "It's a teenage movie but a real thoughtful one. It's a dark tale -- I don't want to reveal that either -- where in this town in the northwest things on the surface seem okay but there's some weird carrying's on."

That sounds pretty dark. "To a degree," says Snow, "but my agents are trying to show people the other side of me too so I won't be pegged as this dark music composer for the rest of my career and if that happens it wouldn't be so bad either."

Source: Karen Bliss; Jam! Showbiz [www.sunmedia.ca] June 18, 1998.

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