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Comments about the soundtrack for The Terminal (John Williams)

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Re: My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and reading music
• Posted by: Musica42   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, July 6, 2004, at 11:11 p.m.
• IP Address: adsl-66-136-62-192.dsl.snantx.swbell.net
• In Response to: Re: My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and re... (Ken Applegate)

> I hate to ask you.... but if Hans Zimmer were a tubist, would he be able
> to play John Williams's Tuba Concerto? The Gregson Concerto? How about the
> Vaghan Williams Concerto which is the cornerstone of our rep? No. Not if
> he couldn't read music. Yes, it does make him a lesser musician. Does it
> make his ideas any more or less valid? No. That is not what I typed.

That's a good argument but unfortunately the inverse would also be true. What if the tubist was Hans Zimmer? Would he be able to effectively compose music for film? No. Not if he, like the vast majority of performers I've come across, couldn't compose music worth a damn. Wouldn't that imply then that he as well as all people who only know parts of their craft were lesser musicians? Or would that merely imply that all musicians have a different set of skills that more or less apply to what it is they specifically do in the music field? Zimmer is a composer; the hypothetical tuba player is a performer. Each profession by definition is proficient at completely different things (ignoring the performing composer), yet each is considered a musician even though each lacks many skills necessary for the opposite profession.

> Great, you are comparing writing words to writing music which is a whole
> different ball game. The only thing that can make words sound great or
> horrible, is the voice of the one reading those words.

Sound isn't the medium of words though, concepts and meaning are (forgive the simplification). My point merely was that whether these words are written down or not doesn't affect their meaning. Likewise, whether or not music is written down doesn't affect its meaning either.

> Hans just plunks
> out a tune, and puts the rest of it in someone else's hands, and that's
> all he has to do with it. Somebody else can easily take his ideas and turn
> them upside down and make him look stupid and he wouldn't know anything
> about it until it was all over and he was ruined (or slammed with another
> bad review, God forbid). Now, if he gets in a jam one of these days, and
> he doesn't have his thirty "media ventures" composers and
> orchestrators to bail his butt out, it would help him a great deal to know
> the basics of the field that has kept food on his table for quite some
> time. The fact that he doesn't even know what most musicians learn in the
> 5'th grade, is the very basic root of disrespect towards his field. Not
> knowing how to complete your work without somebody there to say "Oh,
> it's alright. I'll just do the majority of the work for you. No
> problem." What can be more disrespectful than that?

So I have to ask where in the hell you got this information? Hans Zimmer doesn't plunk out tunes then send it on down the assembly line. There are plenty of examples of scores he's done completely by himself (within reason of course), and I think this media ventures composer thing is being blown ridiculously out of proportion. Sure he gets help, but then so does everyone else. Hate to burst your bubble but it’s a rare thing for a film composer to fly solo these days. Everyone has their team of copyists, orchestraters, and assortment of helpers etc, etc. Various composers make different uses of these guys but they all have them, particularly the big dogs in Hollywood.

> Actually, they have the potential to be. I mean, they can mean a whole
> lotta nothing to the people who aren't exposed to the words because some
> idiot decided he needed to keep a great story for himself. When he dies,
> the story goes with him. Then it means nothing.

That is unless the book on tape edition is released

> About your example of a great writer, we don't know if the words that
> Homer dictated to his copyists are his actual words, or his transcribers
> opinions of what they should be. He could just as easily have done like
> Zimmer and given somebody who was a thousand times the writer he was an
> outline and had this other individual fill in the rest. Is this fact? No.
> Is it within the realm of possibilty?? Absolutely.

First I didn't mention Homer, someone else did. But again you're assuming that someone else is writing Zimmer's music. I'm not going to deny that there's a great deal of "ghost writing" going on over at Media Ventures, but this is a common practice all across the map. Zimmer just isn't the anti-composer you're making him out to be.

> Also, if he was blind, then your example is out of context. Zimmer is
> neither blind, nor deaf. And even Beethoven could turn out a pretty good
> tune without being able to hear. After that, you have the fact that the
> musical language is drilled into you maybe one one-millionth as much as
> your native language. Not always the reading and writing, but the
> speaking. So, we have mastered the part of our language that is essential
> for communicating what you want to communicate and doing it completely.
> You see how only 1 of 3 fields in language is needed to communicate
> properly, as opposed to music where you really need to be able to do more
> than play a keyboard.

Again I didn't mention Homer, but what the hell. Pay attention to the world around you a bit more and you just might discover there's a far more music flying around the air than you think. Granted your totally right in we get music less than language and we understand the former far less than the latter. But I disagree with that last point. Christ have ever heard a great piano player throwing down his soul onto those keys?! If that isn't communicating than I don't know what is...

> I realize, he has a large body of work played on
> whatever it is he plays and taken by his employees and made into something
> more real, but he is supposed to be a composer. He needs to know how to
> compose.

The guy does know how to compose, it's just his medium is mostly electronics as opposed to the more traditional orchestral palette. Rather than knowing how to arrange for an orchestra, he knows how to compose for synthesizers, samplers, and electronics. This takes different skills than composing for orchestra but takes plenty of skill nonetheless. And he's a total whiz with electronics. Granted he uses live orchestra in nearly every score he does, and only then does his helpers pop out of the woodwork and do the boring work of brain dead copy/pasting, checking ranges and playability, etc, etc for him. I know I'm simplifying things ridiculously and for that I apologize, but give the guy a little more credit.

Anyway, you seem like a smart guy who thinks this kind of stuff through so I don't see much point in trying to convert you to the way I think or whatever. You've got plenty of valid points and a few less than valid ones, which I'm more than positive is the case with myself as well. Fact is I enjoy and respect Zimmer and hate to see misconceptions about his work practices propagated. Just check your facts please and don't believe everything you read. Least of all anything you read from me




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