How ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Score Pays Tribute to the Franchise’s Late Composer James Horner

Thirteen years ago, composer Simon Franglen worked with James Cameron and composer James Horner on “Avatar.”

But Horner’s 2015 death left a big hole for the music team to fill for the upcoming sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

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“In the gaping absence that Horner left, we kept the core of his ‘Avatar’ music team together, completing James’ work on Dis- ney’s Pandora — The World of Avatar [themed area Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom] and so, I was more than ready in late 2017 when Jim [Cameron] asked me to read the scripts for the sequels,” Franglen says.

Bringing the composer into the production early allowed the score to evolve with the films. “One of the unexpected delights was being able to design unique Pandoran musical instruments for the film, then having the prop department bring them into reality,” he says.

Family is very much the heart of the movie and the heart of the score. “Avatar: The Way of Water” introduces additional characters and environments to audiences.

“I’ve been tasked with bringing new textures, voices and elements to the score. The sea is integral to many of the themes and motifs in my score; the scintillation of light, the ebb and flow of waves, and the connection of the Na’Vi [characters in the movie] with the water were all inspirations,” Franglen says.

The film’s score was as grand as the film’s themes and imagery. Franglen, who held recording sessions in L.A., adds: “I’ve been able to feature a great diversity of singers and featured musicians from across the world, all bringing their unique textures to the score, such as the wonderful choir Tenebrae from London, and a chorus from the Pacific islands.”

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