You know the formula: blasting broad-sides, billowing sails, rolling ocean swells, and a supersized full orchestra delivering row after row of brass triplets. It’s a seagoing tradition as old as the Warner Bros. fanfare, and it initially looked to be a big part of Gore Verbinski’s mammoth adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Alan Silvestri prepared a score that by all rights looked to rival his gargantuan effort for The Mummy Returns. But one factor wasn't taken into account: the “Jerry Bruckheimer Sound."
The man responsible for tackling the bulk of the scoring duties and fulfilling this mandate was Klaus Badelt, who'd already made a splash with big scores for The Time Machine and K-19. Badelt himself insists he's mystified by his reputation as the new poster boy for rich orchestral scores, since his background is entirely in record production. But with work on Gladiator and Pearl Harbor, plus scores like Equilibrium and The Recruit, Badelt earned the chance to work directly under the auspices of Bruckheimer. “Jerry is the most feared person, which is very interesting,” Badelt says. “People have told me, ‘Oh my gosh, you're going to work with him? Good luck—it's going to be the worst nightmare of your life! One time | worked with Werner Herzog and people told me he was going to slaughter me. But he was a wonderful person, and he really understood the process. He was open and amazing. It was similar with Jerry —it’s true that no matter who's working on a score to one of his movies, it will always sound like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, or you don't get to finish it. But if you try to keep some integrity, you can still do that and get the kind of sound he likes. He has a very specific idea of the sound even though he's not very musical in his terms. But in a way he knows exactly what he's talking about, and he’s very honest about it and very precise. | love that. | respect people who have a certain vision and you can't bullshit them or trick them—they know what you're doing, and Jerry's one of them."