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Comments about the soundtrack for King Arthur (Hans Zimmer)

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Re: The Zimmer Effect
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• Posted by: Amuro
• Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2004, at 8:30 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: The Zimmer Effect (Fraley)

> 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!


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

Comments in this Thread:     Expand >>
  • The Zimmer Effect  (3368 views)
       Fraley - Wednesday, July 28, 2004, at 4:44 p.m.
    •    Re: The Zimmer Effect  (2639 views)
         jonathan - Sunday, August 1, 2004, at 11:56 a.m.
    •    Re: The Zimmer Effect  (3320 views)
         Jojo - Friday, July 30, 2004, at 6:54 a.m.
    •    Variety's Spice and the Road Ahead  (2930 views)
         Amondar Narundithar - Thursday, July 29, 2004, at 3:19 p.m.
    •    Re: The Zimmer Effect  (3112 views)
         Some Guy - Thursday, July 29, 2004, at 2:11 p.m.
    •      Re: The Zimmer Effect  (2879 views)    We're Here
         Amuro - Wednesday, July 28, 2004, at 8:30 p.m.
    •    Re: The Zimmer Effect  (3198 views)
         Zimmer_Fan(returned) - Wednesday, July 28, 2004, at 6:44 p.m.

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