Early in his career, Harry Gregson-Williams held a position in the 1980s as a music teacher to pupils at the Amesbury School in Hindhead, Surrey, England (his brother Rupert, also a film composer, also taught at Amesbury School during this period).
He later taught music at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he had been a pupil, and also for a short period in both Egypt and Africa.
In addition to scoring a number of motion pictures including The Rock (1996), Spy Game (2001), Phone Booth (2002), Man on Fire (2004), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Shrek, Chicken Run, Antz, and Team America: World Police, Harry has also worked on the video games Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty & Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. His arrangement of the original Metal Gear Solid Main Theme was one of many works he created for the Metal Gear Solid productions that involved both orchestral and electronic textures.
In his score to the Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven (2005), he introduced a mix of operatic and Middle Eastern themes. One track, Ibelin, was reprised as the closing credits theme with singer Natacha Atlas performing Arabic lyrics.
He scored The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he has a contract for the next in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) as well as the next film in the X-Men film series, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
• His latest works are:
Harry's work area at Wavecrest — featuring no fewer than five Yamaha 02R mixers
Harry's studio is Wavecrest Music in L.A Venice beach, California.
There, the aforementioned great power he employs runs along the lines of Cubase SX 3.1 on a Dual Xeon and behemoth mirrored SATA drives. They run MIDI over LAN to Gigas, and use Emagic Unitor 8 and AMT8 for synths and Ableton Live 5. After sequencing, they move audio to Pro Tools, running on two systems — one for adding FX to Gigastudio, one for recording and printing — each with one analog interface, seven digital. They use custom and commercial sound libraries, about 20 different hardware synths, and for recording: an Avalon 727, Eventide DSP4000, Lexicon PCM 80 and 90, and a Manley Massive Passive.
Harry working on his main sequencing tool, Cubase SX
Costas Kotselas is his Music Tech Engineer at Wavecrest. “I think that the stuff Harry does is quite electronic and modern,” Costas says, referring specifically to the scores for Phone Booth (2002) and Man on Fire (2004). “I think Harry is definitely more into audio editing and plug-ins and effects [than other composers]. VST instruments-wise, he probably uses more of them.”
As resident gear guru, Costas helps guide the process from frenetic beginning to frantic end, fixing bugs and rebuilding the studio between film projects. He mentions Reaktor — for both synth and effects — because “nothing else sounds like it. But at the same time, Harry uses all the standard classic synths: Virus, Nord, Supernova. A lot of times, software versions don’t quite sound like the originals.”
And the studio uses “Native Instruments, Steinberg, Spectrasonics [Atmosphere, Trilogy, Stylus RMX] - all the big commercial plug-ins. But we also download weird, wacky plug-ins. Some guy makes a set of filters or distortions that’s 35 bucks? We buy them. Or ones you could download for free.”
But essentially it comes down to Cubase for all the creative editing. “Whether it’s a real audio part going through a bunch of effects, or a VST instrument, whether it’s going to be something mangled, effected, treated, or processed to sound like something else — or something that doesn’t exist — Harry’s creative tool is Cubase SX with all the audio tracks, the plug-ins, effects, the VST instruments. That’s really the center of everything. Gigas serve as an orchestra. And Pro Tools serves as a mixer with playback.”
Harry comes from the great "School" of Hans Zimmer, he was a member of Hans's Remote Control Productions (formerly known as Media Ventures) along with John Powell, Klaus Badelt, and Mark Mancina.