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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
• Posted by: Ken Applegate   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, July 6, 2004, at 12:48 a.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: My take on rip offs, Zimmer clichés and readin... (Musica42)

Very valid points in your posts, but I think I see some weakness in these areas.

"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."

I hate to ask you.... but if Hans Zimmer were a tubist, would he be able to play John Williams's Tuba Concerto? The Gregson Concerto? How about the Vaghan Williams Concerto which is the cornerstone of our rep? No. Not if he couldn't read music. Yes, it does make him a lesser musician. Does it make his ideas any more or less valid? No. That is not what I typed.

"And another thing, 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."

Great, you are comparing writing words to writing music which is a whole different ball game. The only thing that can make words sound great or horrible, is the voice of the one reading those words. Hans just plunks out a tune, and puts the rest of it in someone else's hands, and that's all he has to do with it. Somebody else can easily take his ideas and turn them upside down and make him look stupid and he wouldn't know anything about it until it was all over and he was ruined (or slammed with another bad review, God forbid). Now, if he gets in a jam one of these days, and he doesn't have his thirty "media ventures" composers and orchestrators to bail his butt out, it would help him a great deal to know the basics of the field that has kept food on his table for quite some time. The fact that he doesn't even know what most musicians learn in the 5'th grade, is the very basic root of disrespect towards his field. Not knowing how to complete your work without somebody there to say "Oh, it's alright. I'll just do the majority of the work for you. No problem." What can be more disrespectful than that?

"Are the words somehow less meaningful because they're not
written down somewhere?"

Actually, they have the potential to be. I mean, they can mean a whole lotta nothing to the people who aren't exposed to the words because some idiot decided he needed to keep a great story for himself. When he dies, the story goes with him. Then it means nothing.

About your example of a great writer, we don't know if the words that Homer dictated to his copyists are his actual words, or his transcribers opinions of what they should be. He could just as easily have done like Zimmer and given somebody who was a thousand times the writer he was an outline and had this other individual fill in the rest. Is this fact? No. Is it within the realm of possibilty?? Absolutely.

Also, if he was blind, then your example is out of context. Zimmer is neither blind, nor deaf. And even Beethoven could turn out a pretty good tune without being able to hear. After that, you have the fact that the musical language is drilled into you maybe one one-millionth as much as your native language. Not always the reading and writing, but the speaking. So, we have mastered the part of our language that is essential for communicating what you want to communicate and doing it completely. You see how only 1 of 3 fields in language is needed to communicate properly, as opposed to music where you really need to be able to do more than play a keyboard. I realize, he has a large body of work played on whatever it is he plays and taken by his employees and made into something more real, but he is supposed to be a composer. He needs to know how to compose.

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