The Hi-Lo Country

The Hi-Lo Country

The Hi-Lo Country

Carter's Notes

The Hi-Lo Country is a "late Western," taking place after World War II in New Mexico. Sam Peckinpah had wanted to make a film of the book but never managed to. When Stephen Frears (director) and Martin Scorcese (producer) decided to make the film, I was excited to score it.

There were particular challenges to the score that I'm not sure I completely solved. One was how to play classic Western elements, like gunplay and cattle drives, without relying on Dmitri Tiomkin tropes from classic Westerns. Both Frears and Scorcese have encylopedic knowledge of film history and the question of how the score would reference that history was unavoidable. The characters in the story also consciously reference the Old West. Still, I think the score never quite found its own voice due to the weight of all those references.

Penelope Cruz
Earth Logo
Billy Crudup and Woody Harrelson

Film Info

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Max Evans (book), Walon Green
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Martin Scorcese, Barbara De Fina

Composed and Conducted by Carter Burwell
Orchestrated by Sonny Kompanek
Music Editor: Adam Smalley
Music Scoring Mixer: Mike Farrow
Contractor: Isobel Griffiths
Recorded at Air Studios Lyndhurst Hall, London, England
Mixed at Manhattan Center Studios, New York City

Starring Billy Crudup, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Arquette, Penelope Cruz, Cole Hauser, Sam Elliott

U.S. Release December, 1998

Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup

Music Production Notes

In addition to those above, the following people were very important to the recording:

Gavyn Wright: concertmaster
David Torn, Mitch Dalton: guitars
Julian Jackson: harmonica
John Bell: additional orchestrations
Vic Fraser: copyist
Penelope Cruz and Billy Crudup


"... Carter Burwell's score uncharacteristically becomes a bit overbearing at times." - Todd McCarthy, Variety, Dec. 24, 1998.