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Re: Define intelligent music.
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• Posted by: Drew C.   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, July 2, 2012, at 8:30 a.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Define intelligent music. (Gashoe13)
• Now Playing: Harry Potter 8 (Alexandre Desplat)

> I loved Lord of the Rings' music - it's incredible. It's beautiful. It's
> thematically rich. It's harmonically extraordinary.
> But one thing I still don't entirely understand is what makes music
> intelligent. Everyone says that it's "smart." It's
> "intelligent."
> People also say Golden Compass had an "intelligent" score.
> However, people say things like X-Men First Class had a
> "brainless" score.
> I've been listening to a bunch of music recently, and I've been trying to
> figure out what makes music intelligent by listening to LotR and Cutthroat
> Island and then listening to First Class and Transformers to see what's
> missing. All I can say is that LotR and Cutthroat Island are orchestral
> and more complex.
> What am I missing? Could someone please explain?

"Intelligent" music is mostly defined by high levels of thematic integrity and orchestral complexity. A theme, or motif, is a musical phrase that represents a person, place, thing, or idea. Scores like LOTR, Cutthroat Island, and The Golden Compass have dense orchestrations and have many themes (LOTR has over 80 themes and motifs). "Brainless" scores are often scores that have very limited thematic ideas that are sparsely developed over the score. These scores are criticized of not having intelligent orchestrations (or using electronic samples and synthesizers instead of real human performers). X-Men: First Class and Transformers actually have decent thematic ideas, but both suffer from arguably boring orchestrations (especially the latter, for Transformers is one of the way too many scores that contains repeated string ostinatos (an ostinato is a continually repeated musical phrase or rhythm). Instead of complex orchestral structures, Transformers, among many other scores, rely on "brainless" ostinato-like structures that get will eventually get boring after hearing them many, many times). Additionally, scores like The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo are truly "brainless", replacing an orchestra with industrial droning noises, and developing absolutely no thematic material whatsoever. In the end, the main things that make a score "intelligent" are memorable themes and complex orchestration (Electronic samples and synthesizers are often not accepted as "intelligent" in the film score community). Lack of any of these two elements will usually result in a "brainless" score. I hope this answers your question.

Comments in this Thread:     Expand >>
  • Define intelligent music.  (4259 views)
       Gashoe13 - Saturday, August 6, 2011, at 8:13 p.m.
    •      Re: Define intelligent music.  (3639 views)    We're Here
         Drew C. - Monday, July 2, 2012, at 8:30 a.m.

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