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Comments about the soundtrack for King Arthur (Hans Zimmer)
The Zimmer Effect

Fraley
(pcp04574789pcs.shklfd01.ar.comcas
t.net)


  Responses to this Comment:
Zimmer_Fan(returned)
Amuro
Some Guy
Amondar Narundithar
Jojo
jonathan
The Zimmer Effect   Wednesday, July 28, 2004 (4:44 p.m.) 

The Zimmer Effect: the ability to polarize the film score community like no one else.

If nothing else, you have to admit no other composer approaches Zimmer's level of controversy. I've written on this before, but it seems people either love his music or hate it, and the passion with which they do so is amazing. Fans proclaim him the greatest composer ever, and detractors don't stop at simply saying they dislike the music, they frequently feel the need to insult the music, the man, and the fans.

I really think there is a misunderstanding between the two camps. Zimmer is by nature a collaborator, and frequently gets the credit (or blame) for something he didn't actually write ("The Rock", for example, on which Nick Glennie-Smith was the primary composer). Most of Zimmer's detractors fail to make the distinction (which, admittedly, can be difficult to do at times). I'm not actually referring to works on which his name actually appears, but scores like "Armageddon", "Pirates of the Carribean", etc, in which Zimmer had either no or very little direct input on. Not everything that comes out of Media Ventures was composed by Hans Zimmer (in fact, lately, nothing has since Zimmer parted ways with MV on bad terms a while back).

Another common point of disagreement is the composition and style of the music. Some claim his music is powerful, others say its simplistic and overly synth-dependent. Zimmer simply seems to approach music from a different perspective than other composers. Williams thoughtfully composes his scores, where there is subtleties hidden in the music. A single instrument playing differently from the rest of the orchestra, or a theme played slightly off kilter may hold significance, a musical forshadowing. You can actually listen to and "study" the better scores by maestros like Williams and Goldsmith. Zimmer typically doesn't have this kind of depth, and his orchestrations (taking that literally to mean arrangement of the orchestra) are not that complex -- you won't usually find the orchestra playing six different parts.

However, that doesn't make Zimmer's music any less valid or interesting. He seems to begin with the idea of "what sounds pleasing to the ear", and then works outward from there, adding sounds, other parts, etc. To Zimmer, the orchestra is simply another instrument in the palet, rather than being the palet itself. This leads to complaints about Zimmer's music being too dependent on synths, but that statement is predicated on the assumption that everything is SUPPOSED to sound like a live orchestra, for example that using synth strings is inherently inferior to live strings. Zimmer takes the position that synths don't sound inferior, simply different, just like a french horn sounds different from a trombone. Why limit yourself only to sounds that can be reproduced by a live instrument? Ultimately, Zimmer's objective is to produce something that simply sounds pleasing and interesting. The complexity in his music isn't in the arrangement of the notes, the actual composition (like Williams or Goldsmith), but in the careful selection of the sounds, the musical palet, and the inclusion of new (to film music, anyway) musical elements frequently pulled from modern influences like rock or techno. And before anyone says "but composers have been using electronic beats or electric guitars for year", remember Zimmer was doing this long before it was popular or even considered acceptable in film music. His big-break score, "Black Rain", was reportedly hated by the producers and music critics of the time.

What all this means, is that many old school or traditional film score fans find Zimmer's music to be offensive, simplistic, and just so much noise. However, many younger film score fans find his music to be cutting edge, exciting stuff. Its also worth mentioning how so many people focus on his action scoring, and forget he has composed for a variety of projects in all genres.

I have noticed that Zimmer's popularity is very high among people with no formal music education, people who lack the knowledge of composition to notice the details present in a well-composed orchestral work. However, that doesn't mean that Zimmer's music only appeals to people who "don't know any better", it simply means it succeeds in reaching beyond the borders of traditional film score or classical music fans. For many film music fans, they dislike Zimmer because his music doesn't fit the traditional criteria of a complex score, it doesn't sound like what they are used to hearing.

Everyone has personal preferences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either liking or disliking Zimmer's music. However, I think a little more tolerance and open-mindedness is necessary on both sides. Before claiming Williams is boring next to Zimmer, consider that there may be complexities in the composition of Williams that you may not be noticing. Likewise, before proclaiming Zimmer's music as "noise", consider that the very same reasons you dislike it may be the reasons others love it.

In conclusion, my $0.02. As a collector of film music for 15 years, I appreciate both sides. Personally, I believe Zimmer is a brilliant and highly under-rated composer who has done much to evolve the state of film music. Just like our parents who thought the music we listened to growing up was garbage because they didn't understand it or it was so different from what they grew up with (and no matter what generation you are, your parents never approve of your music ), Zimmer gets the same treatment quite often. Just remember, Zimmer's music isn't ABOUT the same thing traditional orchestral scores are.

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Zimmer_Fan(returned)
(res10260.housing.res.kent.edu)

  In Response to:
Fraley
Re: The Zimmer Effect   Wednesday, July 28, 2004 (6:44 p.m.) 

Finally, a person who actually understands. Ha...your right I have no formal education in music...in fact I kind of play by ear...I started composing after hearing some of Zimmer's music...that's been my influence (ohh not...not another MV clone!) But the thing that pisses me off are the people who don't like Zimmer for his synths...I mean I don't rag on William's fans because he uses an actual orchestra...Truth is...all these composers are freaking amazing at what they do and that's why their at the level their at! Ohh and by the way...you were right...Zimmer is the only person who can bring about a war like this in the film scoring world that comes close to the ones seen in King Arthur!

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Amuro
(12-222-18-69.client.insightbb.com)
Profile Picture
  In Response to:
Fraley
Re: The Zimmer Effect   Wednesday, July 28, 2004 (8:30 p.m.) 

> The Zimmer Effect: the ability to polarize the film score community like
> no one else.

> If nothing else, you have to admit no other composer approaches Zimmer's
> level of controversy. I've written on this before, but it seems people
> either love his music or hate it, and the passion with which they do so is
> amazing. Fans proclaim him the greatest composer ever, and detractors
> don't stop at simply saying they dislike the music, they frequently feel
> the need to insult the music, the man, and the fans.

> I really think there is a misunderstanding between the two camps. Zimmer
> is by nature a collaborator, and frequently gets the credit (or blame) for
> something he didn't actually write ("The Rock", for example, on
> which Nick Glennie-Smith was the primary composer). Most of Zimmer's
> detractors fail to make the distinction (which, admittedly, can be
> difficult to do at times). I'm not actually referring to works on which
> his name actually appears, but scores like "Armageddon",
> "Pirates of the Carribean", etc, in which Zimmer had either no
> or very little direct input on. Not everything that comes out of Media
> Ventures was composed by Hans Zimmer (in fact, lately, nothing has since
> Zimmer parted ways with MV on bad terms a while back).

> Another common point of disagreement is the composition and style of the
> music. Some claim his music is powerful, others say its simplistic and
> overly synth-dependent. Zimmer simply seems to approach music from a
> different perspective than other composers. Williams thoughtfully composes
> his scores, where there is subtleties hidden in the music. A single
> instrument playing differently from the rest of the orchestra, or a theme
> played slightly off kilter may hold significance, a musical forshadowing.
> You can actually listen to and "study" the better scores by
> maestros like Williams and Goldsmith. Zimmer typically doesn't have this
> kind of depth, and his orchestrations (taking that literally to mean
> arrangement of the orchestra) are not that complex -- you won't usually
> find the orchestra playing six different parts.

> However, that doesn't make Zimmer's music any less valid or interesting.
> He seems to begin with the idea of "what sounds pleasing to the
> ear", and then works outward from there, adding sounds, other parts,
> etc. To Zimmer, the orchestra is simply another instrument in the palet,
> rather than being the palet itself. This leads to complaints about
> Zimmer's music being too dependent on synths, but that statement is
> predicated on the assumption that everything is SUPPOSED to sound like a
> live orchestra, for example that using synth strings is inherently
> inferior to live strings. Zimmer takes the position that synths don't
> sound inferior, simply different, just like a french horn sounds different
> from a trombone. Why limit yourself only to sounds that can be reproduced
> by a live instrument? Ultimately, Zimmer's objective is to produce
> something that simply sounds pleasing and interesting. The complexity in
> his music isn't in the arrangement of the notes, the actual composition
> (like Williams or Goldsmith), but in the careful selection of the sounds,
> the musical palet, and the inclusion of new (to film music, anyway)
> musical elements frequently pulled from modern influences like rock or
> techno. And before anyone says "but composers have been using
> electronic beats or electric guitars for year", remember Zimmer was
> doing this long before it was popular or even considered acceptable in
> film music. His big-break score, "Black Rain", was reportedly
> hated by the producers and music critics of the time.

> What all this means, is that many old school or traditional film score
> fans find Zimmer's music to be offensive, simplistic, and just so much
> noise. However, many younger film score fans find his music to be cutting
> edge, exciting stuff. Its also worth mentioning how so many people focus
> on his action scoring, and forget he has composed for a variety of
> projects in all genres.

> I have noticed that Zimmer's popularity is very high among people with no
> formal music education, people who lack the knowledge of composition to
> notice the details present in a well-composed orchestral work. However,
> that doesn't mean that Zimmer's music only appeals to people who
> "don't know any better", it simply means it succeeds in reaching
> beyond the borders of traditional film score or classical music fans. For
> many film music fans, they dislike Zimmer because his music doesn't fit
> the traditional criteria of a complex score, it doesn't sound like what
> they are used to hearing.

> Everyone has personal preferences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with
> either liking or disliking Zimmer's music. However, I think a little more
> tolerance and open-mindedness is necessary on both sides. Before claiming
> Williams is boring next to Zimmer, consider that there may be complexities
> in the composition of Williams that you may not be noticing. Likewise,
> before proclaiming Zimmer's music as "noise", consider that the
> very same reasons you dislike it may be the reasons others love it.

> In conclusion, my $0.02. As a collector of film music for 15 years, I
> appreciate both sides. Personally, I believe Zimmer is a brilliant and
> highly under-rated composer who has done much to evolve the state of film
> music. Just like our parents who thought the music we listened to growing
> up was garbage because they didn't understand it or it was so different
> from what they grew up with (and no matter what generation you are, your
> parents never approve of your music ), Zimmer gets the same treatment
> quite often. Just remember, Zimmer's music isn't ABOUT the same thing
> traditional orchestral scores are.

I generally do not like Hans Zimmer, for example I thought Gladiator was mediocre at best, and POTC I thought was absolute #####. But I remember hearing Crimson Tide and thinking "WHOA!" and then in the theatre for KING ARTHUR (which I enjoyed thoroughly) I remember thinking that the score was genius! So I think that I may be one of the few listeners/composers who has a mixed view of him, I certainly hate some of his works, but I love some too (King Arthur, Crimson Tide). Yeah, I think Williams and Horner have more talent, and of course Goldsmith (Rest in Peace), but thats because I personally see no use for Synths, however I can appreciate their use, I just think that an orchestra is more powerful from an emotional standpoint. I see your point about Subtleties in the music, and I think Zimmer lets people just "listen" which we all need to do sometimes, whereas to understand a Williams work, you have to work at it!

Now, I enjoy King Arthur, but I'll say I think Trevor Jones Merlin is a better example of music for this story (yes, I realize the plot and period changes). In fact I had the choice of Merlin or King Arthur, and after much thought, I chose Merlin. Does this mean I think any less of King Arthur? No. Does it mean I think better of Merlin? Yup. But thats just my taste, people are not taking into account "taste" I don't like Synths, however Joe might, who knows, and does it matter? HELL NO!

Alright, I'm done thanks for reading my ramble!

Amuro

P.S. My parents actually love my music... granted, its all film music and classical music... with a TON OF GERSHWIN!

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Some Guy
(69.158.154.42)

  In Response to:
Fraley
Re: The Zimmer Effect   Thursday, July 29, 2004 (2:11 p.m.) 

VERY TRUE MY FRIEND. ZIMMER'S MUSIC CAN APPRECIATED BY ANY ORDINARY PERSON BUT NOT ALWAYS. HIS ELECTRONIC SCORES LIKE BLACK HAWK DOWN, THE ROCK ETC ARE LOVED BY SOME OF MY FRIENDS WHO DONT EVEN LISTEN TO FILM SCORES.

ALSO I GUESS ZIMMER'S SCORES LIKE THIN RED LINE AND HANNIBAL ETC WHICH ARE MOSTLY CLASSICAL ARE VERY GOOD ACHIEVMENTS FOR A SYNTH/ELECTRONIC COMPOSER WHO STARTED OFF HIS CAREER IN A ROCK BAND.

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Amondar Narundithar
<Send E-Mail>
(p50817e16.dip.t-dialin.net)

  In Response to:
Fraley
Variety's Spice and the Road Ahead   Thursday, July 29, 2004 (3:19 p.m.) 

First of all I wouuld like to thank Fraley for his excellent commentary of Hans Zimmers unique style; he put very well into words a piece of what I have desired to say for some time now. I am an avid fan of Hans Zimmer myself, as well as a collector of Williams, Horner amd the like. The variety itself seems a contradiction in the rapidly-splitting gap between the orchestral and the electronic, but despite such passionnate argumants of late over either the superiority or inferiority of Media Ventures scores, the overall effect tends to work quite well.

The reason for that is hinged, as Fraley so eloquently put it, neither on the fact that the electronic albums are better or worse, but on the fact that they're different. Orchestral scores are better suited for some occassions, electronic scores to others, and the 'music as heard on film' quality of each seems to vary more with a particular score than with a particular style. A few examples:


    John Williams has long been one of my favorite composers; my first soundtrack that I owed was Jurassic Psrk, and since then nearly a quarter of my collected scores have been his compositions. I agree that he is one of the best quality composers out there, not so much because of any particular score as his ability to consistently write excellent and original scores to his films. His themes are brilliant, and no two are quite alike; a uality that lends an elegance and uniqueness to each of his scores. However, Williams style tends to impact most often superficially, driving the emotional wheel well on the surface but often failing to impact quite as deeply as other scores. This quality is a strength to his albums when the listener desires a more relaxing listen where the music takes precedence and carries the emotional banner along with it, but it fails to capture the feeling that some composers provide.

    James Horner is undoubtedly one of the most controversial composers alive today, primarily (though not completely) because of his persistend 'self rip-offs' in which he will take themes or parts of themes from his previous works and recycle them in new films. However, his origionality handicap besides, James Horners music is some of the most beautiful on the market. His scores would best be described as 'sweet,' and generally provide quite a refreshing texture at there conclusion. His music is typically fairly passive (with the possible exception of some battle scenes) in that it quite easily lends the listener a passive feel themselves. This, coupled with the beauty and tenderness of muany of his scores, is often the key strength of his albums, but can be the very reason notto listen to his music if the listener is in the mood for something a bit more active and involving.

    Hans Zimmer's scores, on the other hand, tend to have a completely different set of strengths than the other scores. Strangely enough, the simplicity of the scores tend to make my usual first choice for a focused listen. As has been previously remarked, Zimmer's scores typically have only three or four types ofinstruments playing at any given moment, but the orchestration nonetheless fits together wonderfully, with everything flowing as a single sound rather than all the instruments seeming to wander their own seperate ways. His themes are simple and uninteresting on a basic level, as many have before complained, but they triumph themselves in their varied beauty, power, and feeling. Put quite simply, Hans Zimmers works for films such as Gladiator and The Last Samurai are some of the the most emotionally powerful scores I have ever heard, and tracks such as 'Am I Not Merciful', 'Now We Are Free', 'Red Warrior' and 'The Way of the Sword' are among my favorites on any album. However, there are some pieces of Zimmer's that, though providing very well on film, are downright harrowing on CD (The last 20 seconds of 'Red Warrior' and much of the music in Drop Zone come to mind).

I have not had as much experience with soundtracks as many of the visitors to this site (a fact due more to time available than enthusiasm; I'm still a student at High School, and many of you here have undoubtedly been collecting soundtracks for longer than I've been alive), but I pay enough attention casually to pick up a bit here and there. I usually take enough time on the second viewing of any film to do an assessment of the music, and I've noticed that Zimmer's compositions tend to compliment their respective films so well that they are all but inseperable from the films they support. Zimmer's music lends a sort of a soul to the film that few other composers can accomplish. For example, the next time you watch The Last Samurai, try to imagine viewing the final battle scene with music instead by John Williams or James Newton Howard. On the other side of the spectrum, try to imagine Star Wars with a score by Zimmer rather than Williams. Doesn't work either, does it? Which composer a director chooses for his or her film is, as with so many other things during production, less a choice of better or worse than it is one of how the director wants the film to be expessed. The choice of composer directly affects the feel of the final film, and whether that is classic Williams bombast, passionnate Horner melodies, or heavyset Zimmer intensity is entirely the choice of the film crew.

So, to wrap it up (I never meant this to grow so long), Zimmer is certainly different, but then again, who isn't? The technique of film scoring has changed a great deal over the years, but I still hold to the belief that it's improving as time goes on, and while there will always be the flukes that just don't work, overall the technique of film scoring is continually getting better. Part of that is seeing what workes and what doesn't, and you can be guarenteed that if one new technique crashes it's not going to be used very often again. The concept of electronic scores is still rather new, and I have faith that the explorers of the technique will continue to improve as their experience increases. There was a time when even the idea of the basic theme was new and untested. We've come a long way since Richard Wagner introduced the idea of leitmotif in the 19th century. Who knows what the future may hold if we maintain an open mind? Only time will tell.

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Jojo
(25.122-201-80.adsl.skynet.be)

  In Response to:
Fraley
Re: The Zimmer Effect   Friday, July 30, 2004 (6:54 a.m.) 

Hey Frailey,

After all the B.S. said and done conserning zimmer's ability's and potential as a serious composer I have to say that i really enjoyed reading your comment. It's right on and i'm with you all the way! too much people here are so short minded and think that talent is something that fits in only one person! Now that's something to worry about! Look, I like good scores, no matter who penned them! famous or infamous...

Sheers mate, Jojo ( a soundtrack addict :p )


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jonathan
<Send E-Mail>
(82-169-250-245-bbxl.xdsl.tiscali.
nl)

  In Response to:
Fraley
Re: The Zimmer Effect   Sunday, August 1, 2004 (11:56 a.m.) 

amen to that.

I'd hope for all people to read this ...

> The Zimmer Effect: the ability to polarize the film score community like
> no one else.

> If nothing else, you have to admit no other composer approaches Zimmer's
> level of controversy. I've written on this before, but it seems people
> either love his music or hate it, and the passion with which they do so is
> amazing. Fans proclaim him the greatest composer ever, and detractors
> don't stop at simply saying they dislike the music, they frequently feel
> the need to insult the music, the man, and the fans.

> I really think there is a misunderstanding between the two camps. Zimmer
> is by nature a collaborator, and frequently gets the credit (or blame) for
> something he didn't actually write ("The Rock", for example, on
> which Nick Glennie-Smith was the primary composer). Most of Zimmer's
> detractors fail to make the distinction (which, admittedly, can be
> difficult to do at times). I'm not actually referring to works on which
> his name actually appears, but scores like "Armageddon",
> "Pirates of the Carribean", etc, in which Zimmer had either no
> or very little direct input on. Not everything that comes out of Media
> Ventures was composed by Hans Zimmer (in fact, lately, nothing has since
> Zimmer parted ways with MV on bad terms a while back).

> Another common point of disagreement is the composition and style of the
> music. Some claim his music is powerful, others say its simplistic and
> overly synth-dependent. Zimmer simply seems to approach music from a
> different perspective than other composers. Williams thoughtfully composes
> his scores, where there is subtleties hidden in the music. A single
> instrument playing differently from the rest of the orchestra, or a theme
> played slightly off kilter may hold significance, a musical forshadowing.
> You can actually listen to and "study" the better scores by
> maestros like Williams and Goldsmith. Zimmer typically doesn't have this
> kind of depth, and his orchestrations (taking that literally to mean
> arrangement of the orchestra) are not that complex -- you won't usually
> find the orchestra playing six different parts.

> However, that doesn't make Zimmer's music any less valid or interesting.
> He seems to begin with the idea of "what sounds pleasing to the
> ear", and then works outward from there, adding sounds, other parts,
> etc. To Zimmer, the orchestra is simply another instrument in the palet,
> rather than being the palet itself. This leads to complaints about
> Zimmer's music being too dependent on synths, but that statement is
> predicated on the assumption that everything is SUPPOSED to sound like a
> live orchestra, for example that using synth strings is inherently
> inferior to live strings. Zimmer takes the position that synths don't
> sound inferior, simply different, just like a french horn sounds different
> from a trombone. Why limit yourself only to sounds that can be reproduced
> by a live instrument? Ultimately, Zimmer's objective is to produce
> something that simply sounds pleasing and interesting. The complexity in
> his music isn't in the arrangement of the notes, the actual composition
> (like Williams or Goldsmith), but in the careful selection of the sounds,
> the musical palet, and the inclusion of new (to film music, anyway)
> musical elements frequently pulled from modern influences like rock or
> techno. And before anyone says "but composers have been using
> electronic beats or electric guitars for year", remember Zimmer was
> doing this long before it was popular or even considered acceptable in
> film music. His big-break score, "Black Rain", was reportedly
> hated by the producers and music critics of the time.

> What all this means, is that many old school or traditional film score
> fans find Zimmer's music to be offensive, simplistic, and just so much
> noise. However, many younger film score fans find his music to be cutting
> edge, exciting stuff. Its also worth mentioning how so many people focus
> on his action scoring, and forget he has composed for a variety of
> projects in all genres.

> I have noticed that Zimmer's popularity is very high among people with no
> formal music education, people who lack the knowledge of composition to
> notice the details present in a well-composed orchestral work. However,
> that doesn't mean that Zimmer's music only appeals to people who
> "don't know any better", it simply means it succeeds in reaching
> beyond the borders of traditional film score or classical music fans. For
> many film music fans, they dislike Zimmer because his music doesn't fit
> the traditional criteria of a complex score, it doesn't sound like what
> they are used to hearing.

> Everyone has personal preferences. There is absolutely nothing wrong with
> either liking or disliking Zimmer's music. However, I think a little more
> tolerance and open-mindedness is necessary on both sides. Before claiming
> Williams is boring next to Zimmer, consider that there may be complexities
> in the composition of Williams that you may not be noticing. Likewise,
> before proclaiming Zimmer's music as "noise", consider that the
> very same reasons you dislike it may be the reasons others love it.

> In conclusion, my $0.02. As a collector of film music for 15 years, I
> appreciate both sides. Personally, I believe Zimmer is a brilliant and
> highly under-rated composer who has done much to evolve the state of film
> music. Just like our parents who thought the music we listened to growing
> up was garbage because they didn't understand it or it was so different
> from what they grew up with (and no matter what generation you are, your
> parents never approve of your music ), Zimmer gets the same treatment
> quite often. Just remember, Zimmer's music isn't ABOUT the same thing
> traditional orchestral scores are.


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