Of all of the artists that have influenced me, none have loomed larger than Vangelis, the passing of my musical inspiration. I just learned of his passing today, at 79 years old. I am absolutely gutted.
Vangelis meant the world to me and has so incredibly influenced my music and the soundtrack/compositional style that I use today, that I will forever be saddened by him leaving us.
I still remember the time, before I really started to believe that composition and music was something for me and something that I would pursue that I first heard the soundtrack for Chariot Of Fire .
The opening bars of that piece of music blew my musical experience wide open. I could not believe the sounds I was hearing. I could not believe that an orchestral could sound like that. I was completely floored when I discovered that it was done all by one person, Vangelis
From that moment on, everything that he wrote, everything he put out, I bought. Like a ravenous beast, thirsty for any piece of information, I read everything I could get my hands on. If I could achieve that same reaction in others listening to my music, would that not be an amazing gift to share with the world?
Following that, I saw probably the most influential film ever in my personal experience, Blade Runner, and from the opening titles, I saw his name, Vangelis, appear on the screen, every frame of that film resonated with me. Ridley Scott the director, was quoted as saying:
Vangelis describes his approach to composing for film as spontaneous and instinctive. Preferring to let his spontaneity react to the images and not letting his thoughts interfere with his inspiration, he acts as a participant in the film by letting his instincts react to the scene and letting his music be driven by his first impression of the images. For Vangelis, the music in Blade Runner was an integral and inseparable part of the film, as the film testifies to the power of the music. Sonic-wise the soundtrack makes up for a dark melodic combination of classic compositions and futuristic synthesizers that fully flesh out the noir, retro0futuristic atmosphere that Ridley Scott had envisioned. A masterpiece of contemporary music, a combination of synthesizers and elusive sounds from Japanese pieces, orchestras from Cairo, retro 40’s songs, bells, voices from a domain outside time and space send shivers down your spine.
Complemented by the film dialog and the ambience of the dystopian future city, it’s in a league of its own. This is why it remains fresh-sounding and sublime 30 years after and it stands for an inspiration for a whole generation of musicians, some of which still unborn at the time it was being created by Vangelis. It also stands for a landmark in soundtrack making for another reason as well: until that moment, the exclusive use of synthesizers in the creation of film scores was quite misunderstood and was mostly found in b-movies.
Vangelis, for me did not stop with Blade Runner as it didn’t for many others. Another career highlight would be his Mythodea, music for the NASA Mission.
How many living composers would ever be able to say that their music went into Space as a demonstration of the great achievements of man? It Boggles the mind.
I am by no means finished with my love of Vangelis and his work, but I will leave you with this. Like all towering talents and great artists, he remained, humble, warm and gracious about his gifts and for myself and generations that were and generations to come, left an indelible mark on electronic music, composition and the world itself.