If you are one of my followers on Twitter than you’ve obviously heard me talk about this score many times and for those of you who know how crazy I get about soundtracks will think I keep bringing it up. All of it is for good reason because I’ve stated it once before and several times after; this is one of the most beautiful compositions in soundtrack history. I’ll go further to say that it’s one of the best soundtrack cues from the past 10 years. In case you don’t know by now I am referring to John Murphy’s ‘Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor).’ I know it's not horror but it's something that I feel the need to bring up because of how brilliant it is. Since its debut during Sunshine it has been used in countless other places both in film and television and for movie folk… it is regarded as one of the more famous scores in movie trailer history.
Speaking of history, ‘Adagio in D Minor’ was actually composed by both John Murphy and the British electric band Underworld for Sunshine. The term Adagio is derived from the Italian term agio, which is a tempo indication that the music should be played softly and ‘with ease.’ It makes sense because this part of the Sunshine score starts off slowly and progresses to a more tense climax, however it still remains it’s slow sound. It’s easy to hear both John Murphy and Underworld’s influence because the score borrows elements from both cinematic and rock soundscapes. The hard-sounding piano and near the end of the cue, you’ll begin to hear electric drums beating which then ultimately caps off with a grand finale of drums, piano, synthesizers and string instruments.
In Murphy’s other rendition of the same cue called ‘Kanada’s Death Part II (Adagio in D Minor),’ the same sounds are heard only now a heavy industrial guitar solo is thrown into the mix. This sound transitions to total chaos as the guitar, once beautifully played, is played with extravagant force and distortion. It fits well with the techno sounding atmosphere of the film. It seems as though both ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Kanada’s Death Part II’ are the same thing only ‘Kanada’s Death Part II’ is more along the lines of rock ‘n roll. Either way, they are both beautifully composed tracks.
Now, I might be bias when it comes to judging this track because the first time I heard it was during a Cloverfield trailer entitled “Robert.” The trailer utilized the track to make the film seem less about the monster and more about the people that have to fight to survive. It gave it this humanly but grim tone to the film. I was so taken aback by the track they used that I sought out to find it. When I finally found it, I gave it a listen and chills ran down my spine. It’s funny that I heard the track before seeing Sunshine yet I fell in love with it right away. Since I am a huge Cloverfield fan, this track stuck out to me and as strange as it may be… I’ve always associated this track with Cloverfield.
But to prove how this one cue, which its many renditions, took off and changed things… I want to provide some evidence. Below are some trailers and a scene in which this cue is used. It goes to show that it’s considered to be one of the greatest trailer scores that was not made specifically for a trailer. One of the prime examples of this would be Hans Zimmer’s ‘Burn It All’ track from Backdraft. Like that one, I’m sure Adagio in D Minor will take off in no time.
The original clip from Sunshine. Keep in mind, this is 'Kanada's Death Part II.'
Here is the Cloverfield trailer that did it for me:
The trailer for Adjustment Bureau also used the track although they used ‘Sunshine’ and not ‘Kanada’s Death Part II.’ It’s easy to mix the two up.
John Murphy, while composing Kick-Ass, remade his signature score and many people remember it from when Hit Girl tries to save Big Daddy. It is probably one of the sadder scenes in the film. Also, Murphy used the same note during other scenes in the movie so there different renditions of ‘Sunshine’ throughout the film. In this scene, the track is renamed to 'Strobe (Adagio in D Minor).'
There are other places that the track has been used such as the season finale of “Fringe” and “V” but also it was heard, and I saw the coverage but can’t find it online, during one of the interviews of Apolo Ohno at Vancouver. What it boils down to is that this track isn’t just another soundtrack but a brilliant piece of music as well.