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Comments about the soundtrack for A Beautiful Mind (James Horner)

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Re: Standing Ovation for A Beautiful Mind
• Posted by: Dan Sartori   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, April 22, 2002, at 7:01 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Standing Ovation for A Beautiful Mind (Kevin Scott)

> It seems that we have differing viewpoints on this score. I disliked what
> I felt was misleading the viewer into a vortex of something quite
> different than what the story conveys. I respected your viewpoint until
> your last comment regarding my credentials.

> I am a composer who has scored some minor independent films back in the
> late 70s, and one of them dealt with a very complex relationship between a
> pseudo-intellectual hippie gal and a quadripalegic man. That was not an
> easy film to score, but using folk and atonal elements was, in my opinion,
> the proper approach to justify their two lifestyles (sometimes I would use
> the atonal style for her, folk for him - mirror imaging, so to speak).

> Moreover, I have been composing works for orchestra, voice and chamber
> groups for about 30 years, since my teens, and have been performed by
> several major orchestras in the United States. I have also been an avid
> devotee of film scores and composers, and have conducted first
> performances of several works of Bernard Herrmann.

> Horner's music is indeed good, but for me it just did not fit this film.
> What I heard and felt in conjunction with the images of the screen did not
> bode well with me. In closing, I respect your views, and indeed your
> analysis. But not your last statement. Such a questioning will only come
> back to reflect those who deliver those goods - including me.

> Kevin Scott
New York

I feel that I must apologize to you. I unfairly jumped to the conclusion that you weren't a musician because you had some misinformation in your comment. However, it does detract from your statement if you don't get the information right. I still don't really understand where the problem with this score is, though. Horner uses a minor chord in low voices overlain by a major third in an upper voice throughout the score - a tidbit which no one can deny is absolutely ingenious writing - and gives any musician a shudder due to the implicit minor second interval. It gives me a shudder every time I hear it. What could be more appropriate for a movie about schizophrenia? Didn't Bernard Herrmann use the same type of minor second in the beginning of Psycho? I really don't understand what exactly in the soundtrack you think doesn't fit. No matter - I still like the soundtrack anyways.


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