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Comments about the soundtrack for Batman Begins (Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard)

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Re: Batman Begins Score
• Posted by: Ken   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, March 26, 2006, at 10:00 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Batman Begins Score (Ethan)

Hey man,

Don't even worry about taking time to have a life outside this discussion. I hope that the music is flowing well. Also, if you like Howard Shores music, you might like the music of Gustav Mahler. I would reccomend Symphony #1 "Titan" with Sir George Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony. Also, the Vienna Phil Recording of his Fifth Symphony with Lauren Maazel Conducting(very inexpensive, and you can't miss it. It's in a bright red case. Should be available at your local borders.) I think you and I can both agree that there is some considerable power in both of those pieces. Symphony #1 requires a shade more patience at the start and less at the end because the whole piece is (in some way) accelerating towards the ending when Nature finally triumphs, as Mahlers ideals so say. But the Fifth just hits you almost right after the start. The later movements don't hit me with the same force, but they're pretty cool too. Definitely a lot of fun for that tuba player, Lord help him. *hehe*

Anyhow, on to your points...... I'm very glad that you have developed your own tastes. I guess the only thing that I question is... is power right at all times? I think that Hansy has mastered one way of communicating power and that is the large orchestra. When you hit 100 people playing for you, something just happens to the sound of the group. It is very hard to describe, especially since I've never heard it live, but it's supposed to be somethin' else. Throw in over 100 people, some good orchestrators (for both instrumental assignment, and alteration for voice leadings sake) and you can have a powerful sound. I just don't like what he does with it. But that's my thing.

But, you wanna know the truth?? I really like it when they give him little things to work with. I actually watched all of Driving Miss Daisy the other day (I don't think I've done that since it was out in theaters) and.... I'll tell ya; There may have only been three evident themes in that movie, but they not only fit, they were catchy and classy and truly enhanced the film. I mean, I consider the opening notes of the sound track as an independant theme. It doesn't really get stated as often as the clarinet solo that everybody knows from that movie, but it still works as one. One that is not prominent over the entire film for some reason that I think I will find in susequent viewings. Then there is the famous Clarinet Solo (the movies main theme.) And one of the things that I love about the simplicity of this soundtrack is that he doesn't do things on such a grand scale that the minor variances don't stick out. In the case of the movies main theme, two big things really jump out at me. 1:The cue is written to the tempo of Jessica Tandy's step. 2: The second half of the theme does not make its appearance until the car starts moving with her in the back and Morgan Freeman driving. Almost as if to say that she was not a whole person without Freemans character, and we come to find that is the truth at the end. Of course, there is a good solid Jewish sounding theme worked in to the movie as an obvious salute to Miss Daisy's heritage and it is used most notably when she is near the temple, but it is used a few other times here and there, indicating that her faith doesn't just stop at the building. While that soundtrack may not be the biggest shinging example of power, I think that it is one of the best examples of Hans doing really good work. Not really goose-bump good, but just darned solid. And that's what I miss. From both Zimmer AND Horner.

You pointed out that you have no idea why I don't like Jimmy Horner. Well, for one, he's a Texas boy who tries to sound like he's from London (from one of his tapes instructing an orchestrator,) he doesn't even let his orchestrators come to the recording sessions to hear their own work for fear that what he explains to the group will be corrected by them... and also has a very flakey work ethic. I understand very much so that he cuts and pastes. I mean, look at this little situation. You got Courage Under Fire claiming that it has the music of Glory. Since 95% of the soundtrack to Courage is the same bloody cue just cut and pasted to fit the film, I have to believe that 95% of what I'm hearing is from Glory, if not all of it. Then, what does Horner Do?? Not only does he blatantly lift half of Bruce Broughton's "The Boy Who Could Fly" theme, he takes that same cue from Glory AND Courage, and Throws it into Titanic!!!! I mean, The Boy who could fly is just that scottish sounding chorale theme that you hear in the "king of the world" scene and Courage is the Iceberg scene, and it's stated in fragmentary form all throughout the sinking (pretty much the whole back half of the film.)
Now, I would like to give you my real theory on what we need to do to make Horner great: Don't give him any time to write the score. If you don't believe me, go and get the Aliens DVD (I think it's a 2 disk thing) and watch his interview. It was the only time I've seen him interview without being especially snobbish, and it also addresses that James Cameron changing a sequence around and telling Horner about it at the session forced him to stay up overnight and write the greatest cue that he's ever written (the escape sequence that you hear in the trailor for like every action movie in the world now a days.) Not only was that good, but (aside from the Greeks landing sequence) Troy was an especially good product. I caught very few of his usual "Hornerisms" and I'm generally on those like a drug-dog on crack.

Anyway, to sum up. It is only Hans's work as of late that has truly turned me off. From both he and Jim Horner, the late eighties/early Ninties were a great time. I mean, you have Backdraft, Miss Daisy, Radio Flyer (nothing great, just a personal favorite), and then Horner's got Rocketeer (I think that's his best day, personally,) Glory, Patriot Games, Swing Kids... All of these are good scores. With Hans's case, I think that he was just getting into this stuff then (he only started scoring films about 84) and it was like a kid playing with a new toy. I just don't really feel that it's the same anymore. But, heh. Again. Just my thing.

One last thing. I don't know if you've heard of this guy.... but Bill Brown seems to be a shining example of what I wish Hans would do. Bill is the composer of the Rainbow Six music, and it has a very "The Rock" sound to it (I imagine that Ubisoft wanted Hans's sound but couldn't afford him so they found a guy who could do it.) But the thing is this: He has Hans's sound as a tool that he uses to build his own sound, rather than having Hans's sound being the whole building. He makes a great deal of his music available for free download and I really think that you would like it.

I would reccomend the War Cue from Lady Death, The Battle March from Lady Death, the Intro Movie Music from Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Battle-Final Conflict from Lineage 2, and The Survivors from Trapped. (I would stay away from Hail the Victors from Lineage 2.... mostly because the director told him to figure out a way to mask the main theme from Lord of the Rings and throw it in there. It even sounded like Bill was hurting by having to do it)

I will be honest, he has signature sounds for different situations, so some of these tracks will seem vaguely similar. But it's all really good stuff.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy and I'll try to properly respond to the rest of your message after I finally do get around to finishing up your request.

Take care,


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