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Comments about the soundtrack for The Terminal (John Williams)

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My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and reading music
• Posted by: Musica42   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2004, at 9:26 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: Rip Off? (Pawel Stroinski)

I just snagged a quick listen to some of Zimmer's As Good as it Gets score and I hear what people here are saying. But I think it’s nigh retarded to think Williams went and listened to Zimmer's score and decided to rip Zimmer off. Personally I can hear the "similarity" but the two are very different, as different as the two composers involved. It's just that minor key European romantic music with the accordion, clarinet, bass, etc that's been used for decades in one film after another. Neither Williams or Zimmer invented that style but both felt that kind of music was appropriate for their respective films. It's as simple as that.

Also I think its a shame that people are blaming everything that comes out of Media Ventures on Zimmer. Sure Zimmer is the one that first created the sound, but he isn't the one that made that sound a cliché; it’s the other guys and various other unoriginal bastards in the film composing community whom we can thank for that. For instance, Gladiator was a totally fresh and well-received score when it came out. But damn if I haven't heard that "gladiator sound" in just about every other movie trailer I sit through now. And that certainly isn't Zimmer's fault, is it? Personally I think Zimmer is a remarkably talented composer/sound engineer and I think he single-handedly changed the sound of action scores in the last decade or two. Not to mention how many great themes he's created since he began.

And another thing, I think its just snobbery that people think if a composer can't read music he's somehow a lesser musician. I think that's total bunk. It in no way implies disrespect for one's craft. It's as ludicrous as saying a brilliant poet who can't read or write is a lesser poet somehow. Are the words somehow less meaningful because they're not written down somewhere?

Music is not notes on a page. Music is a phenomenon that lives in the realm of sound and time; notation is just a cold written recording. If one can manage a path to music that doesn't require mucking about with notes, then by all means do so. After all, notation came way after the creation of music. Zimmer has a brilliant ear and he creates amazing music with it. As for Elfman, sheesh, he just learned to notate music to speed up the process - not because he felt like a lesser musician not knowing how. Anyway, history is replete with amazing musicians who couldn't read music, particularly in the realm of popular music. Example, Irving Berlin managed to go through his entire career without learning to read or notate music, yet look at his body of work.

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