Michael Small

Michael Small
Michael Small (b. 1939-2003)

Why the film composer Michael Small did not receive more acclaim in his lifetime, I don't know. His music is discreet, but like a martial artist, using the minimum of means, he knew the pressure points to produce a modern soundtrack with devastating effect. So thrilling was his music for conspiracy thrillers that he was dubbed in one magazine article 'The Prince of Paranoia'.

Scores of his which have been most influential on me are The Parallax View (1974) directed by Alan Pakula (check out the boat sequence!) and Marathon Man (1976). I love the way in which he sometimes draws what seem to be electronic sounds from acoustic (mechanical) instruments.

From Michael Small I learned that less can be more. Even in films such as Jaws: the Revenge (1987), the way he balances between film sound and soundtrack (shark transmitter and score) is clever.