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Atli Orvarsson talks music moments to listen for in ‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’

Magnus Party still

Composer Atli Orvarsson talked with The Hollywood Reporter about seven music moments to listen for in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which is now in theaters in select countries.

Check out the list below and let us know what your favorite was! (Warning: Spoilers from the film below!)

Angelic Power Rune

The Mortal Cup: “The Mortal Cup theme sounds like ancient music … The first time you really hear it in its purest form, it’s played on an old, old instrument, the predecessor of the modern string orchestra, called a viol. I found a gentleman who plays with an early music ensemble and they play this instrument. It’s a very metal-sounding violin, and it’s usually played without vibrato, so it’s got a very piecing, pure tone.”

The City of Bones: “What’s happening when you see the City of Bones is there’s two melodies playing at once — it’s Clary’s theme and the Mortal Cup theme. It’s the legend of the Shadowhunters and their history and all that, and we’re trying to depict or convey Clary’s awe, the experience of seeing this magnificent city that we don’t really see. The beginning of that piece, when they’re walking into that underground bunker, that has its own rhythmic thing, and it all has its big crescendo when the Silent Brothers are able to rekindle her memory.”

Clary and Jace’s love theme: “There’s a simple piano version, and then there’s a big string arrangement, and there’s a major and a minor key version. There is a scene where Jace and Clary and Simon encounter and kill a demon who is disguised as Madame Dorothea, and [Clary] has to choose between who she hugs and finds comfort with, and she goes with Simon, and the camera goes to Jace. I play the love theme in a minor key, the unattainable, lost-love version of it.”

The greenhouse: “I used a love theme there, through Jace’s story, and I think they found a really graceful way to segue into the song that Diane Warren wrote for it [‘Heart by Heart,’ sung by Demi Lovato] … It’s more piano and bells and sort of atmospheric. It’s a very sparse version of the love theme.”

Valentine’s theme: “I always felt that he needed to have sort of a Darth Vader theme … The Valentine theme is like a bolero, a bass line that keeps building and building. I used that when he comes out of the portal and he and Hodge are plotting and talking. While we were recording, our engineer had a great idea. He said, ‘let’s rent out a Minimoog synthesizer, and you should play his bass on this old synthesizer.’ It’s got this old, fast bass sound.”

Clary’s reunion with her mother: “I played the love theme there, which obviously most of the time is reserved for Clary and Jace. But because of what has transpired in the film, with Valentine putting the idea in their heads that they’re brother and sister, Clary sort of puts the question to her mom … It was one of those happy accidents where I decided to try it and see how my sketch of that theme worked over that scene, and it did.”

Jace: “Jace doesn’t really have a theme — he has sort of an action motif, because he tends to come and save the day.”

About Alyssa Barbieri (2800 Articles)
Alyssa is the Managing Editor for Bears Wire. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter @AlyssaBarbieri

4 Comments on Atli Orvarsson talks music moments to listen for in ‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES’

  1. Fascinating, I’ll be sure to look for that when i see it again at some point

  2. The score is amazing. I have this and the soundtrack. Love both.

    Heart By Heart by Demi Lovato is the best ♥♥
    This kiss must win an award at the MTV Movie Awards

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