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Comments about the soundtrack for Legends of the Fall (James Horner)

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Re: Horner IS a THIEF
• Posted by: Danny French
• Date: Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 2:49 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Horner IS a THIEF (A Movie Fan)

With a fair initial comment, and a remarkable response from Observer, I knew we'd have to go into the childish name calling. Let's try and get this back on track.

I've been fairly Anti-Horner in my time here at Filmtracks, but this score knocked the stuffing right out of me. Yes, the guy regularly pinches material left right and centre. (For those who say he doesn't - please listen to Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky and Star Trek II side by side. Saying this is not a Prokofiev obsession - it's a simple statement of fact that most of Horner's motifs of the eighties were lifted from the works of Prokofiev, or indeed any number of Russian composers.)

I think, however, there is a limit to how much originality we can sustain bearing in mind the inherent limitations of the symphony orchestra, scale, and tonality (which is still of major importance in 99% of film music for obvious reasons - entirely atonal music is still largely the food of the academics - great for technical analysis but bad for emotional invocation.)

I've a hard time wondering sometimes why a composer is slated when his new piece of music sounds similar to his last. Is music about constantly introducing new gimmicks, pushing back the boundaries of what can be achieved, creating more analysis material, and inventing completely unheard sounds, just to say, "Hey, look what I can do!" ... Or is it about transmitting a feeling, painting a picture, setting a scene, or invoking an emotion? Horner's music is some of the most emotional in film - this score particularly. Who gives a damn if it's written in the same style as his last score? What does it SOUND LIKE?

Who gives a damn if he uses similar chord progressions? It's a unique trademark. I'm a composer myself and I have two motifs and chord progression sequences I have deliberately worked into every piece of music I've written in the last three years. It's my watermark, and it helps bind together my work. I vary it in a different way every time, but if you pick away the dressing, it's the same basic chordal sequence. I'm not ashamed of it - it's quite a deliberate thing. It can add a lot of personality to a piece of music. Example: I composed a love motif for a piece of music some years ago, and now it can turn up in new pieces of music - someone who knows the original piece has an additional insight into the new piece and the usage of that material. They can compare it against its original appearance and they "know something" not everyone knows. Maybe this is a load of bollocks, I don't know... But it's something that means a lot to me, and it seems to mean a lot to the people who listen to my music. [Note: I do not claim to be a great composer, I don't even claim to be good. I let people make up their own minds. I write what I want to write to evoke the feeling I want to evoke - if that meets with approval, then I've suceeded. If it doesn't evoke that feeling or it evokes something else, maybe I've failed.]

So here ends my most Pro-Horner posting of all time!

Love & Peace, folks


Comments in this Thread:     Expand >>
  • Horner IS a THIEF  (8697 views)
       Max - Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 10:57 a.m.
    •    Re: Horner IS a THIEF  (7680 views)
         Observer - Friday, March 5, 2004, at 5:32 a.m.
      •    Re: Horner IS a THIEF  (7255 views)
           antizimmerhorner - Thursday, December 16, 2004, at 12:35 p.m.
    •    Re: Horner IS a THIEF  (7675 views)
         Thomas - Thursday, September 25, 2003, at 1:14 a.m.
      •    Re: Horner IS a THIEF  (7535 views)
           A Movie Fan - Thursday, November 13, 2003, at 11:35 a.m.
        •      Re: Horner IS a THIEF  (7307 views)    We're Here
             Danny French - Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 2:49 p.m.

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