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Comments about the soundtrack for The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer/Various)

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Re: Who is this reviewer?
• Posted by: Jacque   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, July 16, 2012, at 9:04 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Who is this reviewer? (Hyun21K)

> I've been reading this review and have noticed there are some strange
> declarations in it.
> 1) John Powell "bleeds creativity in relative obscurity"--then
> what about his Academy Nomination for How to Train Your Dragon, as well as
> his fairly busy career?

I think he means that he doesn't understand the copious media attention that Zimmer receives--interviews, publicized performances, praise by directors, gigs playing at the Academy Awards, etc. As for Powell's Oscar nomination in 2011, consider the fact that the awful score for the Social Network won that year for further proof that the composers that get the most media attention are often the most undeserving.

> 2) "Zimmer's mouth is his worst enemy for anyone interested in
> actually examining the merits of his structures and instrumentation."
> Well, sorry to be the intellectual party-pooper, but I don't listen to
> film scores for intellectual stimulation. If you want to actually work
> your brain, try analyzing Anton Webern's Symphonie, which uses
> docecophony, Pierre Boulez's Le marteau sans maître, or any other modern
> classical composers. These composers actually create musical forms in
> which their music has no image or dramatic backdrop to prop themselves
> upon. The fact is, while Bach composed fugues, while Beethoven broke
> Classical forms, while Chopin and Debussy loosened the meaning of
> tonality, and while Schoenberg did away with tonality altogether, Mr.
> Zimmer merely has to make a scene dramatic or sad.

Perhaps you are actually in agreement with the reviewer here. Lately Zimmer only creates a basic atmosphere with his music--dark, brooding, etc. But he doesn't go further than that and make truly dynamic, complex, emotionally satisfying music. He can write a cue that sounds sad (correction: his ghost writers can write a cue that sounds sad), but he's apparently lost his ability and/or willingness to tell a story with his music that can appropriately evoke the kinetics of a film scene. I won't lie and say that most film music is intellectually impressive, but it certainly can be, and I think that's what most people here want to hear from Zimmer. He's attaching himself to hugely popular franchises like Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and now Superman, so it seems like a waste to have a composer that doesn't want to push the intellectual boundaries of film music. John Williams did it with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. Howard Shore did it with Lord of the Rings. We want Zimmer to do the same thing with the considerable number of movies that he writes music for.

> 3) "The "bull[bleep!] meter" is pegging on that
> explanation, with the dreaded phrase "creative differences" a
> more likely reason for Howard's wish to divest himself from the
> equation." What makes Mr. Clemmensen so sure that Mr. Howard has
> Clemmensen's exact opinion? Do they have a personal relationship? And
> also, I frankly don't care whether Mr. Howard scored or didn't score the
> movie anyways, as I do not like Mr. Howard's compositions.

Honestly, I think that Howard was basically implying that they had creative differences. He didn't want to infringe on the relationship between Zimmer and Nolan--that sounds very much like Zimmer and Nolan knew what they wanted to do with the music and Howard didn't feel like his contributions were needed.

> 4) "The composer needs to shut his yap, dump the ghostwriters, shift
> to F major, conjure a fluid theme, and drop a wicked oboe solo on
> us." Is the reviewer a composer too? Because he should know that F
> MAJOR HAS THE SAME KEY SIGNATURE AS D MINOR! And what's so important about
> themes? It may sound weird, but many great composers did not create themes
> in the proper sense. Beethoven's utterance in his 5th symphony is only 4
> notes long. Mr. Elfman's contribution to the Batman universe was 5 notes
> long. But, just because Elfman's theme is one note longer does not make it
> better than Beethoven's idea. The only requirement of music is that it
> must have an idea, whether 100 measures or just one note. And also, oboe
> solos are a painful cliche in scoring poignant scenes. Why not have a
> viola solo? Violas actually have a darker and more mysterious tone than
> violins.

Oh please. Beethoven and Elfman did infinitely more with their simple themes than Zimmer has ever done with the Batman theme. Also, Beethoven's four-note motif was supposed to represent a single concept--fate knocking on the door. But Zimmer wrote a boring two-note theme that's supposed to represent a very psychologically complex character. It just doesn't work. If you read the review, you'll see that Clemmensen complained that Zimmer doesn't do anything interesting with the two-note theme, even though he promised he would. Therein lies the problem.

And how can you possibly say that oboe solos are a cliche when pretty much every technique that Zimmer and his clones use in their action scores have become cliches? Cliche or not, an oboe solo could really make a diverse contribution to the score simply by virtue of the fact that the score is otherwise absent in woodwinds.

By the way, one of the nicest touches to Zimmer's score for At World's End was the addition of significant woodwind solos. It was one of the most important reasons that score became the best in its series. Clemmensen isn't crazy to suggest that it would work again here.

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