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Comments about the soundtrack for The Terminal (John Williams)

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Re: My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and reading music
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• Posted by: Pawel Stroinski   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, July 4, 2004, at 4:31 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and readin... (Musica42)

> 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.

The tracks we are referring to as the rips are the last and A Dinner with Amelia, the beginning. At last you said it. None of them invented it, but the thing is who was first. And who's the European . Seriously, you are so right .

> 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.

Hmm. You can blame Media Ventures, not Zimmer. Zimmer created the sound, they made it cliche and producers, who demanded such music, made it cliche. Zimmer is self-taught, he has no professional background as Elfman does. What people forget when mentioning Zimmer are some scores they perhaps haven't heard of, maybe except The Thin Red Line and The Prince of Egypt, which are actually his best scores.

> 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?

Yep. Homer wasn't an awful poet, because he couldn't write and he couldn't. One of the reasons is he was blind. And who implied Zimmer doesn't know notes or anybody doesn't? Most of film score composers happen to have professional background, some of them perhaps took even film scoring classes (held by the likes of Christopher Young). Back to words, words said, not written, are somehow more meaningful, because, to their own message, they add some of the teller's (sayer's? ), personality.

> 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.

Music is not notes on a page. I do agree. Music is emotions, saying that on a basic level. You won't say with music more than emotion. You can only give importance and that is the why does it work in films, giving the message a boost maybe. I recently came to the conclusion that the way music works in film isn't about melody or being interesting. It is convincing. With music composer has to convince the audience to the world presented in the movie. That's all. Just convincing the audience, some of listeners do forget it. A film composer is more of a psychologist than a composer. He uses cliches (solo trumpet=army), harmony (consonant=safe, dissonant = insecure, atonal = chaotic), scale, all his knowledge to convey specific emotions. He uses his intelligence and sensitivity to note the most important aspect of the movie and concentrate on it. Film music is one of the most eclectic genres ever. It is neither popular music or classical music. The problem is that it is between those genres. You may add jazz to classical music, rock to classical music, blues, anything if it works (recently, we need to unfortunately add financial profit to it). If it works, you may take even an one-note synth score. This is film music. If it fits the emotions, it works. If it works, it's in the film. The question is, are film composers outstanding talents? Yes they are. Even more, they are often overrated. You will never know their technique to the end, so they are said to be lesser than others.


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