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Comments about the soundtrack for The Da Vinci Code (Hans Zimmer)

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Hans Zimmer, The Catholic Church, Ritual Sacrifice, and my general opinion
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• Posted by: Amuro
• Date: Thursday, May 18, 2006, at 11:46 a.m.
• IP Address:

Yet again we are met with dissapointment! A film comes to us, which has the potential for a ROUSING, imaginative, and PHENOMINAL orchestral score of biblical proportions and who does Director RON HOWARD choose?! HANS ZIMMER?! Honestly, I've got to admit that this has been the worst let down in recent years. I try to stay away from choosing favorites and blasting composers, but I have a special place in my heart for Zimmer... as my LEAST favorite film composer.

I expected Horner - obviously. He and Howard have worked together so many times, and always with a grand end result (Apollo 13 for example)... so to find out that Zimmer was the composer of choice was upsetting. I haven't heard anything Zimmer has written (and I do mean ANYTHING) that has been particularly memorable, interesting, or enjoyable. His instrumentation never varies, a ballsy brass section which is in severe underuse because of his damnded synthesizers which, by the way, ruin EVERYTHING. Some of his individual cues have been mildly enjoyable such as "The Battle" from Gladiatior, but I've got to say, real instrumetns would make it better. How about "Patricide" from that same score... I would say phenominal, but I recognize that almost any other composer, if given the same thematic motive, could have orchestrated it a lot better, and written far more interesting counterpoint.

Yet another thing - Zimmer's counterpoint. At many times, almost non-existant... he throws the melody so far in your face that you can't even begin to focus on whats behind it (which in the writing of composers such as Stravinsky can be even MORE interesting... but more on him later)... and then you realize... there is NOTHING behind it. A block chord... if that! Furthermore, its always the SAME orchestration on top... blasting french horns. Don't get me wrong... I love the french horn, and my writing is rich with it... but what about something else? The oboe is pretty!

In band class we played "This Land" from the lion king, and the orchestration BLEW ME AWAY. I thought "How could ZIMMER have done something so A) musically interesting and B) lush in its orchestration because obviously the band arrangement reflects the film arrangement." Several things then came to my mind... it was probably ghost written, he probably didn't orchestrate it in the first place, and the arranger of the Disney medley probably changed it anyway.

I had a chat with my composition teacher about Zimmer once... and he said (and I agree) that Zimmer doesn't know what he's doing anymore... he's afraid to take chances and to be interesting. Its completely true... everytime a Zimmer fanboy listens to a score, I guess its like hearing "The Rite of Spring" for the first time or something - but everytime I hear something by Zimmer, its like listening to the same thing I heard from ZImmer last time...

I guess someone could argue "if it aint broken... don't fix it!" But there lies another problem... it was broken to begin with... harmonically uninteresting, rhythmically dull, and emotionally sour... I favor James Horner over Zimmer mainly because despite his rehash, it was good to begin with. I'm all in favor of enjoying music because it speaks to your heart... this does NOT speak to my heart... but I recognize it might speak to others.

But the bottomline is this:

Zimmer fanboys... get over yourselves, you try to argue that which is not arguable... Zimmer does copy himself... Zimmer does excercise a knowledge of music theory comparable to a second grader... and most of all he does do it shamelessly.


* the catholic church is only mentioned via "The Da Vinci Code" rant at the top..
** Ritual Scrifice refers to "The Rite of Spring"

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