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Comments about the soundtrack for Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Kevin Kiner)
I agree 100%

Jeremy
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  Responses to this Comment:
KLS
Grr Absolonious
Rickard
I agree 100%   Friday, August 15, 2008 (12:35 a.m.) 

This score was a missed opportunity. Thanks to John Williams's 30 years of magic, wannabe composers like me dream of getting the chance to score a Star Wars movie, but I'm sure that desire comes from wanting to write a fully-orchestral, heavily motivic score like Williams's or McNeely's, not some electronically-enhanced market candy like Kiner's.

What makes even less sense is that the Prague Philharmonic was used for less than 50% of the music production, with some orchestral cues being entirely synthesized. I don't know if producers were forcing Kiner's hand, but what we get here sounds like a mistake. Some tracks sound like the demos a composer would mock up on his computer before they are orchestrated for live performance.

At the very least this score could have been a lot better, and I'm sure that's something everyone can agree on.

Orchestral parts = 3/5
Synth parts = 0/5


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KLS
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  In Response to:
Jeremy
Re: I agree 100%   Friday, August 15, 2008 (6:03 a.m.) 

I haven't heard it yet - however, if there are as many synth elements and guitar riffs and whatnot in it, I'll probably not be too thrilled either.
However, if there are a lot of ethnic instruments in it, Kiner can't be critizised for that, since he was explicitly told to make it sound a lot more ethnic than Williams' scores.



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Grr Absolonious
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  In Response to:
Jeremy

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TheTelmarine
Re: I agree 100%   Friday, August 15, 2008 (10:45 a.m.) 

Well they are basically making a tv-series, not a full blown movie so the money used for orchestrating is a lot smaller.

> I don't know if producers were forcing Kiner's hand,
> but what we get here sounds like a mistake. Some tracks sound like the
> demos a composer would mock up on his computer before they are
> orchestrated for live performance.



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TheTelmarine
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Grr Absolonious

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Grr Absolonious
Re: I agree 100%   Saturday, August 16, 2008 (8:03 a.m.) 

It's true that a television series is being made, but this is a MOVIE soundtrack. I even read somewhere that for the movie, Kiner was given a larger number of musicians than he is being given for the TV series. They didn't mean this to come out sounding like it's for TV. Why else would they give him more resources, if not in hopes of the score sounding better?

> Well they are basically making a tv-series, not a full blown movie so the
> money used for orchestrating is a lot smaller.



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Grr Absolonious
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TheTelmarine

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TheTelmarine
Re: I agree 100%   Saturday, August 16, 2008 (2:46 p.m.) 

They still utilised a relatively small orchestra. The same orchestra will be used for the tv-series.

> Why else would
> they give him more resources, if not in hopes of the score sounding
> better?



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TheTelmarine
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Grr Absolonious
Re: I agree 100%   Saturday, August 16, 2008 (4:53 p.m.) 

In an interview with Kiner, he says the TV show utilizes a much smaller amount of players in the orchestra.

> They still utilised a relatively small orchestra. The same orchestra will
> be used for the tv-series.



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Rickard
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  In Response to:
Jeremy

  Responses to this Comment:
Jeremy
Re: I don't agree...   Sunday, August 17, 2008 (7:58 a.m.) 

I don't agree. It's not a disregard of Williams legacy at any kind.

I certainly agree it's too bad that modern composers use the computer too much and this is no exception (but it still sounds much more symphonic than Zimmer will ever do!), and the electric guitar might not have been the best idea but a composer must have some creative freedom and not having to follow his predecessors in every single step! And it isn't totally out of place I think.

In many cases I think Clone Wars is quite close to what Williams has done earlier, but with a slight modern twist. Especially the harmonies and in some cases the melodies resembles Williams works, and the orchestration is very similar. "Admiral Yularen" is an example, sounds very much like Williams.

And the decision to alternate the beginning of the Star Wars theme to 5/4 time signature is purely genius. Who could have thought of that?



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Jeremy
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  In Response to:
Rickard

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Rickard
Re: I don't agree...   Sunday, August 17, 2008 (11:49 a.m.) 

> In many cases I think Clone Wars is quite close to what Williams has done
> earlier, but with a slight modern twist. Especially the harmonies and in
> some cases the melodies resembles Williams works, and the orchestration is
> very similar.

I'm familiar with most things Williams has written, and I don't see any similarity in styles. For one, Williams is more aware of the capabilities of the orchestra and utilizes strings and winds more effectively, whereas Kiner is heavily focused on just brass and percussion. This might be because he doesn't have the size orchestra that would be required to make strings and winds equal forces, but aside from the obvious Williams imitations, there's not much new. It's mainly just a series of ostinato chains, less like Star Wars, more like Indiana Jones.

As for melodies and harmonies, well, I don't hear any resemblance. Kiner doesn't seem to carry the same brand of polytonality that Williams does, and the melodies, if they exist, are just too buried for my liking.

> "Admiral Yularen" is an example, sounds very much
> like Williams.

It's as much Williams as Giacchino's Medal of Honor games in that it's an obvious imitation. I think it owes a lot to the Cloud City theme as well.

> And the decision to alternate the beginning of the Star Wars theme to 5/4
> time signature is purely genius. Who could have thought of that?

It reminds me of Doyle's reworking of Williams's Harry Potter theme and reeks of desperation to be original in attempting to remain true to tradition. I don't see why Kiner didn't use more thematic continuity. It seems he drew the line at dropping a few obvious references.


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Rickard
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  In Response to:
Jeremy

  Responses to this Comment:
Jeremy
Re: I don't agree...   Sunday, August 17, 2008 (12:13 p.m.) 

> I'm familiar with most things Williams has written, and I don't see any
> similarity in styles. For one, Williams is more aware of the capabilities
> of the orchestra and utilizes strings and winds more effectively, whereas
> Kiner is heavily focused on just brass and percussion. This might be
> because he doesn't have the size orchestra that would be required to make
> strings and winds equal forces, but aside from the obvious Williams
> imitations, there's not much new. It's mainly just a series of ostinato
> chains, less like Star Wars, more like Indiana Jones.

Of course the styles aren't alike, they're two different composers, and that is very important to remember. There's no idea to try and compete with what Williams have done earlier, but I do think that Kiner has found a good sound for this type of movie and I can't really understand why some people bash him for it. Is the music really that bad that it's not worthy as "Star Wars" music?

And Kiners use of instruments I think is mostly because of the movie. It is a movie based on battles, so I think the extensive use of brass and percussion is called for. I think Williams would have thought somewhat similar. Kiner indeed uses much more percussion, but that seems to be the worlds of film music today (somewhat sadly I must agree, the world of film music has lost much originality lately).

> As for melodies and harmonies, well, I don't hear any resemblance. Kiner
> doesn't seem to carry the same brand of polytonality that Williams does,
> and the melodies, if they exist, are just too buried for my liking.

> It's as much Williams as Giacchino's Medal of Honor games in that it's an
> obvious imitation. I think it owes a lot to the Cloud City theme as well.

Not many film composers have Williams ability of tonality (but then Williams ripped of all the great classical composers, so he's not more unique than someone ripping of him). Don't think it's fair to dismiss Kiners work solely on the basis of Williams. As I said, they're two different composers.

> It reminds me of Doyle's reworking of Williams's Harry Potter theme and
> reeks of desperation to be original in attempting to remain true to
> tradition. I don't see why Kiner didn't use more thematic continuity. It
> seems he drew the line at dropping a few obvious references.

I think Kiner did the right choice not to use Williams themes all over. We've heard them to death, and references is enough to get us into the right spirit, at least me. And I don't think it reeks desperation one bit that he's reworked the theme, cause this one does certainly not feel like it. It feels like a logical progression of the theme that works extremely well. Desperated reworks never works and it shows, this on the other hand is a great arrangement!



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Jeremy
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  In Response to:
Rickard

  Responses to this Comment:
Rickard
Re: I don't agree...   Sunday, August 17, 2008 (12:44 p.m.) 

> Of course the styles aren't alike, they're two different composers, and
> that is very important to remember. There's no idea to try and compete
> with what Williams have done earlier, but I do think that Kiner has found
> a good sound for this type of movie and I can't really understand why some
> people bash him for it. Is the music really that bad that it's not worthy
> as "Star Wars" music?

It might be a good sound for this movie, but for Star Wars it's a whole different story. I don't like when the score only works within the context of a film. To me it doesn't work as "Star Wars" in the same way that if I wrote a continuation of Wagner's Ring cycle without the motives it wouldn't work either. It's music based on thematic development, not ostinato after ostinato of percussive battle music.

> And Kiners use of instruments I think is mostly because of the movie. It
> is a movie based on battles, so I think the extensive use of brass and
> percussion is called for. I think Williams would have thought somewhat
> similar. Kiner indeed uses much more percussion, but that seems to be the
> worlds of film music today (somewhat sadly I must agree, the world of film
> music has lost much originality lately).

The great thing about Williams's frenetic action style, especially when compared to the action styles of Media Ventures or Kiner or most video game scores, is that there's more to it than just the pulsing background rhythm keeping it going. I feel if Kiner spent more time on the music with a better understanding of orchestration and scherzo-like flourishes, he could have written more exciting cues. To me it sounds like he got caught up in looping samples on his PC which will always sound electronic and phony. The only times it didn't sound phony was when he was imitating Williams.

> Not many film composers have Williams ability of tonality (but then
> Williams ripped of all the great classical composers, so he's not more
> unique than someone ripping of him). Don't think it's fair to dismiss
> Kiners work solely on the basis of Williams. As I said, they're two
> different composers.

Williams has actually ripped off very few composers, and outside of the two Holst and one Stravinsky references in A New Hope, the rest of the Star Wars saga is very original. If you want to hear classical rip offs listen to Joel McNeely's Shadows of the Empire. There is probably not a single original note in that score, but he does well to hide his sources.

> I think Kiner did the right choice not to use Williams themes all over.
> We've heard them to death, and references is enough to get us into the
> right spirit, at least me. And I don't think it reeks desperation one bit
> that he's reworked the theme, cause this one does certainly not feel like
> it. It feels like a logical progression of the theme that works extremely
> well. Desperated reworks never works and it shows, this on the other hand
> is a great arrangement!

It's not that we've heard them to death, but that a good arranger can make them work beyond simple quoting (unlike Kiner or McNeely.) To use Wagner's Ring cycle as an example again, by the end we're similarly tired of the same motives over and over, but he still finds new ways to arrange them within the context of the drama so they sound fresh. You'd think with 60 to 90 minutes of score, whether or not it's all included on the album, he'd be able to have some thematic development whether it's original or not.


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Rickard
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  In Response to:
Jeremy

  Responses to this Comment:
Jeremy
Re: I don't agree...   Monday, August 18, 2008 (6:22 a.m.) 

You have very sensible opinions, and it feels like this all comes down a simple matter of taste.

> It might be a good sound for this movie, but for Star Wars it's a whole
> different story. I don't like when the score only works within the context
> of a film. To me it doesn't work as "Star Wars" in the same way
> that if I wrote a continuation of Wagner's Ring cycle without the motives
> it wouldn't work either. It's music based on thematic development, not
> ostinato after ostinato of percussive battle music.

I don't think the music works solely within the movie, instead I gladly put it in the stereo at home. I can agree that it lacks thematic development, but on the other hand I can really enjoy percussive battle music and therefor it becomes an easy-listened album.

> The great thing about Williams's frenetic action style, especially when
> compared to the action styles of Media Ventures or Kiner or most video
> game scores, is that there's more to it than just the pulsing background
> rhythm keeping it going. I feel if Kiner spent more time on the music with
> a better understanding of orchestration and scherzo-like flourishes, he
> could have written more exciting cues. To me it sounds like he got caught
> up in looping samples on his PC which will always sound electronic and
> phony. The only times it didn't sound phony was when he was imitating
> Williams.

It sounds phony in terms of symphonic music, and the disappointment of this music has mostly to do with expectations. Star Wars has its known sound and of course it might feel awkward for a fan. But why don't enjoy it anyway? Is it so strange to like it on its own terms?
Even though I dislike what Media Ventures has done to film music of today (gradually eliminating more and more of the symphony orchestra), I can enjoy the music. It's easy listened. As easy listened as Williams, but a whole other sound. If I want "real" music I'll turn to Mahler or Stravinsky or Bruckner. Williams is easy listened in terms of melodies and harmonies, Media Ventures is easy listened in terms of rhythm and energy. I do still prefer Williams style, but that doesn't exclude the other.

> Williams has actually ripped off very few composers, and outside of the
> two Holst and one Stravinsky references in A New Hope, the rest of the
> Star Wars saga is very original. If you want to hear classical rip offs
> listen to Joel McNeely's Shadows of the Empire. There is probably not a
> single original note in that score, but he does well to hide his sources.

Perhaps Williams doesn't rip off composers, but in terms of the classical world he's hardly original. His whole sound owes a lot to composers like Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler.

> It's not that we've heard them to death, but that a good arranger can make
> them work beyond simple quoting (unlike Kiner or McNeely.) To use Wagner's
> Ring cycle as an example again, by the end we're similarly tired of the
> same motives over and over, but he still finds new ways to arrange them
> within the context of the drama so they sound fresh. You'd think with 60
> to 90 minutes of score, whether or not it's all included on the album,
> he'd be able to have some thematic development whether it's original or
> not.

But Kiner hasn't done any "simple quoting" in this movie. That's what he hasn't done, there's very few of the original themes in Clone Wars. And again this is a matter of taste, but the arrengement of the Star Wars theme I would say sounds fresh.



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Jeremy
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Rickard
Re: I don't agree...   Tuesday, August 19, 2008 (5:01 p.m.) 

> You have very sensible opinions, and it feels like this all comes down a
> simple matter of taste.

Thank you. It just might.

> If I want "real" music I'll turn to Mahler or
> Stravinsky or Bruckner. Williams is easy listened in terms of melodies and
> harmonies, Media Ventures is easy listened in terms of rhythm and energy.
> I do still prefer Williams style, but that doesn't exclude the other.

This is probably where we disagree most. You can see if the tables were turned I could just as easily say "if I wanted pulsing rhythmic action music, I'd turn to Media Ventures scores." Star Wars is actually one of the few places I'd turn in film music to hear classical-inspired, Star Wars-ian music. I've heard everything by Mahler, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, etc. and believe film music is the one place where their tradition is continued, case in point, Star Wars.

There's plenty of room for Media Ventures-styled music in summer blockbusters like Transformers and Pirate of the Caribbean. Of course it seems The Clone Wars is neither going to be a blockbuster or a good Star Wars film for that matter, so meh.

> Perhaps Williams doesn't rip off composers, but in terms of the classical
> world he's hardly original. His whole sound owes a lot to composers like
> Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler.

It depends on what you mean by "original." No, he doesn't turn to the avant-garde all that often and like most film composers he sounds very tonal because of it, but I don't see what's so Viennese about his music other than the trademark marches or fanfares. I've heard people say that his action music is like Shostakovich, his melodies are like Hanson, and his orchestration is like Korngold's, but similarly you can trace EVERY composer's style to several sources. Beethoven was like Haydn. Bruckner was like Wagner. Mahler was like Beethoven and Wagner and Bruckner and Rimsky-Korsakov and Schubert etc. etc.

> But Kiner hasn't done any "simple quoting" in this movie. That's
> what he hasn't done, there's very few of the original themes in Clone
> Wars. And again this is a matter of taste, but the arrengement of the Star
> Wars theme I would say sounds fresh.

The reason it's so simple is because it's so short as if to say "here's your Star Wars theme, now enough of that." Doyle and whatshisface did that with Williams's Harry Potter theme and to me those short instances of arrangement were the best parts of their respective soundtracks. I'm all about continuity, so to me it just needs more.


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