The Surprising Sound Clint Mansell Used To Craft Requiem For A Dream’s Score

Before launching his career as a Golden Globe and Grammy-nominated film composer, Clint Mansell was the lead singer and multi-instrumentalist of the English alt-rock band Pop Will Eat Itself, a group he formed when he was only 19. He sang vocals and supplied bass, guitars, keyboards, programming, samples, turntables, and drums. To say Mansell is a badass is obviously an understatement. Mansell’s score for “Requiem for a Dream” is probably his most known work to date, with the progression of the music audibly conveying the literal highs and lows of addiction. The intro song “Summer Overture” utilizes strings from the Kronos Quartet to relay a sense of hope and excitement. As the songs and film progress, the thrill of getting high grows increasingly more chaotic and dangerous. And so does the music.

In an interview with IndieWire, Aronofsky detailed some of the unique behind-the-scenes approaches Mansell took in order to emotionally strike audiences. He stated: 

“It’s a great score, actually, some of Clint’s beats, for instance, are samples from Bruce Lee punches, stolen from movies and basically, turned into beats. For the third act, for that driving music which climaxes the film, we sampled from the greatest Requiems of all time, Mozart, Verdi, and put them into a drum machine and programmed them and gave that to the Kronos Quartet and they played over it.” 

Utilizing samples from Bruce Lee’s punches is brilliantly apt. Mansell’s “Requiem” score is a myriad of musical elements with strings, viola, cello, hip-hop beats, and a splash of techno. This mix of musical genres is reminiscent of Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts philosophy that’s been credited for paving the way for mixed martial arts (MMA). By combining various styles, a creative sound is produced in order to capture the multi-faceted monster that addiction truly is. 

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