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Music Credit Not Necessary

August 30, 1997

John Anderson's review of "Picture Perfect" (" 'Picture Perfect': Life, Love and the Ad Game," Aug. 1) comments, "Carter Burwell, composer, shouldn't have scored the movie's emotional climax with James Newton Howard's music from 'Dave.' " It might interest your readers and educate any would-be composers among them to know about the creative process that led to the piece of scoring described.

Sketches of each of my compositions, performed on synthesizers, were played for Glenn Caron, the director, and Robert Kraft, from Fox, prior to recording. After detailed discussions, the final versions of the pieces were arranged for orchestra and recorded in February with the aforementioned principals of the film and the studio present.

Three months later, long after I assumed the film had been completed, the director sheepishly called me and told me that Fox had replaced two of my pieces with music by James Newton Howard, licensed from other films. He offered the consolation that Howard would not be credited, and the glory would thus accrue to me.

Anyone who works in this business becomes inured to its vagaries, and we comfort ourselves that insult generally outweighs injury. However, cobbling new films out of the uncredited parts of old ones is new to me. It would seem to establish a new standard in the fight to free filmmaking from the risks of creativity. Surely no composer wants the work of another to be taken as his own, or vice versa.

I hope the music in the climax of "Picture Perfect" works, but I also hope Anderson and your readers will not credit me with it. It is the result of a creative process from which the creators are absent.

CARTER BURWELL, New York

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