Revisiting Vangelis: Sonic citation and narration in the score for Blade Runner 2049

Thumbnail Image
Revisiting_Vangelis.pdf(991.6 KB)
Published version
McGlynn, James Denis
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Goldsmiths Press
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
In August 2016, it was announced that Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was to compose the score for Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). However, just weeks in advance of the film’s worldwide premiere, it became apparent that Jóhannsson’s involvement in the project had been terminated, making way for an apparent takeover by composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The popular narrative that developed to explicate this seemingly sudden shift was that Jóhannsson’s music didn’t adequately cite Vangelis’ original score for the 1982 Blade Runner. This article explores the extratextual musical citation present in Zimmer and Wallfisch’s score for Blade Runner 2049. While only one cue from the original Blade Runner is directly cited in the film, I propose that the composers adopt Vangelis’ 1982 soundtrack as a primary compositional referent for their whole score and that his source material permeates the entire film: melodically, harmonically, and sonorously. By separately addressing the film’s (i) sonorous and (ii) motivic citation of Vangelis’ original material for Blade Runner, I hope to highlight the diverse array of narrational, structural and musical functions that musical citation can facilitate in scoring practice, even without audience identification of the source context.
Film music , Film score , Blade Runner , Vangelis , Jóhann Jóhannsson
McGlynn, J. D. (2020) 'Revisiting Vangelis: Sonic Citation and Narration in the Score for Blade Runner 2049', Sonic Scope, 1 (34 pp). doi: 10.21428/66f840a4.9dead577