289 474 150-2
Total running time: 52'34
In Frida, the approach I took scoring the music is that of melodic intimacy (scoring with melodies or tunes as opposed to motific fragments). To achieve additional intimacy I choose a small ensemble of acoustic instruments: the small Mexican guitar (Vihuela), standard classical guitar, Mexican bass guitar (guitarron), accordion, Mexican harp, marimba, and glass armonica (a Benjamin Franklin invention). I found that the guitars provided the full range of lyricism and percussion I needed.
Mexican music cannot be generalize, it varies greatly from one region to the next, but in its folkloric music there is a certain harmonic fingerprint, the use of consecutive thirds and a proud avoidance of over-complex harmonies. I found that if I adhered to this essential harmonic signature, and stayed very honest with my melodies, the movie invited me in. The few times I tried to reach for more complex harmony and structure, the movie kicked me out with pointy Mexican boots. These ideas remain on my studio floor under a pile of empty Corona bottles.
Another extremely important aspect of the overall score is song. Song is everywhere in Mexico, you are sung to and you are expected to sing. In the fiestas, on the lakes, in the fields, in the back alleys, under lovers' windows, at the graveyards, at weddings, Mexico is singing. These traditional and regional songs seem to live comfortably side-by-side with the latest romantic boleros and experimental pop.
Many indigenous songs in the soundtrack correspond with things that Frida loved and she probably would have listened to them. "La Bruja", for example, was one of Diego's favorites and it was exuberantly sung in the bar room by Salma Hayek. "La Llorona", one of Frida's beloved songs is sung twice in the movie. First by Chavela Vargas and later a Mariachi version by Lila Downs.
Chavela Vargas, the Costa Rican born legend, was sought out by Frida and Diego because of the intense honest, eroticism and authenticity she brought to the music of Mexico and of that region. We were indeed blessed that she sang "La Llorona" live on screen. She prefered not to sing to playback and she gave us 12 incredible takes. It's kind of eerie to see her singing with Salma made up as Frida knowing that Chavela was once Frida's lover. It's a wonderful contrast to hear Chavela's voice as it was recorded 40 yers ago singing "Paloma Negra" for Frida's hair-cutting scene.
Lila Downs sings two other songs on camera. "Alcoba Azul" is a tango that I wrote for her as a pre-record. And "La Borrachita" (or "The Little Drunken Girl") sung at the drunken finale of the wedding, has a tremendous amoung ot political significance that belies its title. The song is about two young lovers who are working at a Hacienda. The Patron, however, has chosen the young girl as his sexual property. When the young girl approaches her lover, drunk and sorrowful, the young man understands the rules and bids her farewell with the bitterest and sweetest humor, calling her "My little drunken girl".
For the end-credits I tried to integrate thematic material woven throughout the film, as well as drawing on the motific material in the scene prior to the end-titles (the burning bed). "Burn It Blue", with lyrics by Julie Taymor, continues the thread of the movie and reflects upon the immolation as well as the romance that was ever present between Firda and Diego. I was especially taken by the lyrics, "Woman so weary, spread your unbroken wings/Fly free as the swallow sings". We were honored that the great Caetano Veloso of Brazil, and indeed of the rest of the world, sang this duet with Lila. This song is also a handshake of thanks to our neighbors in Southern Americas and it's sung in both English and Spanish.
- Elliot Goldenthal, July 2002
'Frida', Original Motion Picture Score © 2002 Miramax Film Corp.
Notes by Elliot Goldenthal from 'Frida' Original Soundtrack album.