A smattering of musical thoughts…

Ok so I want to blog but I need a break from my usual album review format. And if the usual is boring me then it’s probably boring you too.

The topic of today’s is loosely based on movie scores. I may be a little all over the place with this one but I trust y’all can stick with me. First of all I’d like to say I love them, but even if you disagree with me I still hope you’ll finish reading because you obviously don’t know what you’re missing. 😉 (And yes, I know how unprofessional smiley faces make you look in any form of writing, but if John Keats can become famous with horrific spelling and James Joyce can forgo 90% of standard punctuation then I think I can splurge with an emoticon or two.)

In my opinion the top must know film score composers of today are James Horner, Danny Elfman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Yann Tiersen, Hans Zimmer, Alan Menken, James Newton-Howard, and of course John Williams.

Quick overview: Most people know Danny Elfman for his notorious and quirky works with Tim Burton and like wise James Newton-Howard has done the scores for nearly all of M. Night’s films. John Williams made his mark on musical history with Star Wars and James Horner with Titanic (even though he had several great ones such as Braveheart and An American Tail before that). Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer sound much alike in my opinion and seem to have the corner on the action/adventure movie market currently, but they do it pretty well. Yann Tiersen doesn’t do many American films but his work on Amelie is absolutely incredible. Alan Menken has worked almost exclusively with Disney but that doesn’t mean you should write him off. Because I promise you that The Little Mermaid and Beauty & The Beast wouldn’t be nearly as popular without his contribution.

Have you ever thought about what your favorite movies are and who does the score for each one? Well that’s a pretty good way to figure out who your favorite composer is because I assure you you will likely see the same names cropping up, even if you’ve never really taken much notice of the music! A good score has to be unique enough to lend to the branding of the movie but not so blatant that it would detract from the cinematography.

And while in the conversational vicinity I’d like to observe the lack of great movie scores in childrens movies these days. I suppose some head honcho’s at Disney decided that kids wont notice the difference if they trade in quality scores for mass generated dinky tunes but I think they do. I don’t think that anyone could argue that the depth of  emotion and sacrifice that is going on in Beauty & The Beast could have been effectively communicated if you had taken away “The Beast Let’s Belle Go”. Or the significance of the  moment when Balto embraces his wolfy heritage if you took away James Horner’s “Heart Of A Wolf”. Both would’ve seemed anticlimactic without the right music to back it up. But I’m afraid I’m ranting now…

For me my all time favorite score track may be You Are The Pan from the Hook soundtrack by John Williams never fails to make me slightly emotional. I like many different styles of music but I can’t think of any other genre that can move me quite that way.

I’d also recommend I See Dead People In Boats (who said score’s couldn’t have clever titles?) by Hans Zimmer on the Pirates Of The Caribbean: At Worlds End soundtrack… it may be 10 minutes long but it’s some of his best work.

Ok that’s probably enough from me on this subject but I’d like to end with saying that while I do love the soundtrack trend that the “twilight craze” has triggered with pop artists writing songs for movies it can’t replace the need for a good movie score. It’s just not the same…

You Are The Pan – John Williams

Ice Dance – Danny Elfman

The Beast Let’s Belle Go – Alan Menken


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Categories: Music Review

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One Comment on “A smattering of musical thoughts…”

  1. November 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Love the train of thought. I never put much thought into soundtracks except for Oceans 11 of which David Holmes did some of the primary piece for. Love that one to death.


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