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Re: Zimmer, team, alums Pt 6 - RC 2008-10: Supes, Sequels, and Sherlock, oh my! (6f) [EDITED]
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• Posted by: Riley KZ
• Date: Friday, July 15, 2022, at 2:01 p.m.
• IP Address: d75-159-156-167.abhsia.telus.net
• In Response to: Zimmer, team, alums Pt 6 - RC 2008-10: Supes, ... (JBlough)
Message Edited: Friday, July 15, 2022, at 2:02 p.m.

> This is part of a series. The fifth part of the 2008-10 set is here:
> https://www.filmtracks.com/scoreboard/forum.cgi?read=111761

> -----------------------

> Sherlock Holmes (2009) - ****
> Hans Zimmer; add’l music by Lorne Balfe; orchestrated by B&W
> Fowler/Moriarty & Kevin Kaska; conducted by Gavin Greenaway;
> featured soloists Aleksey Igudesman, Atli Örvarsson, Ann Marie Calhoun,
> Davey Johnstone, Noah Sorota, Tina Guo & Diego Stocco;
> technical assistant Jacob Shea; thank you to Ryeland Allison, Jim Dooley,
> Ramin Djawadi, David Fleming, Steve Jablonsky,
> Henry Jackman; Trevor Morris, James S. Levine, Michael Levine, Henning
> Lohner, Martin Tillman & Geoff Zanelli

> “Movies are different now. Rain Man had 30 minutes of music. Sherlock’s
> probably got two hours of music. It is what it is.”

> Coming a year after Iron Man and Tropic Thunder, this action
> blockbuster take on the famous private eye cemented the remarkable career
> turnaround of actor Robert Downey Jr., and also reset the career of
> British director Guy Ritchie after a stretch of middling-to-poor films.
> Ritchie’s earlier movies had tended to be more reliant on needle-dropped
> pop songs than original scores, but obviously that wouldn’t do for this
> movie. Instead, Hans Zimmer was pulled in - and a little later than he
> would’ve liked. “Guy called. ‘My editors have slapped Dark Knight all
> over my movie, and I don’t like it!’ Dark Knight was as good as I could do
> on Dark Knight. I feel loyalty to Chris Nolan. That’s his. It shouldn’t
> get appropriated to anything else. I’m usually there before they start
> shooting, and I’ve had all those conversations. I had a little catching up
> to do. It didn’t make any difference; I just had less time to
> procrastinate. But I didn’t procrastinate! I didn’t have a day off until
> the Sunday after Thanksgiving.”
Zimmer and team (namely Lorne Balfe,
> who contributed to a bunch of tracks) would produce something that
> somewhat mirrored the rhythmic energy and darkness of Zimmer’s
> Batman music as well as the comic silliness of the Jack Sparrow
> music from the Pirates franchise but would otherwise be wildly
> different from the temp track.

> “The Dark Knight is a very minimalistic score. Everything just sticks
> to one note and hangs around that one note and does very little. It
> doesn’t have a lot of chords. It doesn’t have a lot of harmonic movement
> in it and it doesn’t have a lot of tunes in it. So after The Dark Knight
> there were so many other scores out there that sort of employ the idea of
> an ostinato – which is just a bunch of repeating notes around one pitch.
> When Sherlock came along, I tried to figure out how to have lots of chords
> and lots of harmonic movement again and how to put tunes in it and still
> make it a modern score. We never talked about songs. But my themes are in
> a song structure, I come from rock n’ roll, I always think about verse
> & chorus, you always have to have a decent hook.”

> Whereas earlier blockbusters in the RC era had seen Zimmer smuggling his
> love of Morricone into a few tracks (parts of The Holiday, the
> Parlay track from At World’s End, and so on), here we had a
> score that was more like a Morricone work with some of Zimmer’s portentous
> dramatic tendencies smuggled in - namely with its extremely quirky
> theme and equally quirky instrumentation that seemed a deliberate callback
> to the Italian maestro’s noticeable compositions for Westerns and crime
> movies. “What I was struggling with - I knew what I wanted it to sound
> like, the general quirkiness, I just didn’t have the notes. And at the end
> of the day I have this pathetically simple tune, and I wonder why it took
> so long. I was getting rid of the notes that were in the way.”
Zimmer
> would claim he was doing “far more homage to the Threepenny Opera”
> than Morricone (“I think the Ennio reference has more to do with the
> orchestration”
), basically trying to emulate the racket he remembered
> from his days living around London pubs (“I know what that feels like,
> and I know what that sounds like”
) in response to the grubby aesthetic
> of the film and Downey’s performance. Zimmer would make a lot of comments
> about trying to score Holmes’ intellect that wouldn’t be too far from what
> he said about trying to make “watching a man think be as interesting as
> a car chase”
for The Da Vinci Code.

> The resulting sound was certainly distinctive, possibly to a fault for
> some listeners who were expecting a more “normal”-sounding score, yet
> fascinating for those who wanted something sonically different for a
> visually different take on the master detective - banjo, Hungarian
> cimbalom, hammers hitting an old piano on its side, abrasive cello
> strikes, an upright bass used as a percussion instrument, and so on. It
> fit with what the director wanted - “he did like singular things as
> opposed to a mush of instruments - one violin, one cimbalom, one
> banjo”
- and it was also dang catchy. Whereas Zimmer’s comments
> earlier in the year about Modern Warfare 2 had been a bit
> overhyped, here his statements about fusing gypsy music, The Pogues, Kurt
> Weill, and Bertolt Brecht were rather on point. One could wish that the
> secondary ideas in this score were a little more fleshed out, or that some
> of the music in the climax didn’t get so abrasively heavy (with low brass
> blasts that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the next year’s
> Inception), or that Zimmer hadn’t underplayed the sort-of love
> story between Holmes and Irene Adler, but it was hard to argue with the
> score’s overall effectiveness - and Zimmer at least deserved bonus points
> for using a dark, slowed down version of Westminster Quarters melody as
> the villain’s theme and frequently weaving it into the
> race-against-the-clock action finale.

> “We didn’t ruin it. We were brave and bold and we had fun.”

> Parts of Zimmer’s output here came pretty close to the “jam band” format
> that he had made extensive use of earlier in the decade. “I was
> thinking about my friends who could play this music. Get a collection of
> soloists, find people I’d worked with or just knew by reputation - and
> leave the idea of the orchestra off the table for the longest time.
> Approach it from a virtuosic point of view - that’s how Holmes’ brain
> works. We always assumed he would play nice tidy classical music. I didn’t
> want to go over the Elgar or Vaughan Williams ground. It’s not about
> anthropology or historical correctness. This was basically getting great
> virtuoso musicians and telling them, ‘Put your violin down. Now pick it up
> again and think it’s a fiddle.’ Davey Johnstone played banjo - he’s been
> part of Elton John’s band forever, doesn’t get to play it much there, but
> I knew secretly he has a great love of Irish music.”

> One of those players would be cellist Tina Guo (a USC Thornton Music
> School graduate, just like Jim Dooley), a common contributor these days
> but a fresh face in Zimmer’s crew at this time after coming to his
> attention thanks to her industrial take on Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s
> Flight of the Bumblebee that appeared on YouTube earlier in the
> year. “I'd heard his music in movies, but I didn't know who he was. My
> goal at the time was to do metal festivals. My focus was not on working in
> soundtrack music. [But] it’s genreless. On-screen, there is no limit with
> what type of music you have to do. I love the fact that he allows everyone
> that he works with to truly be themselves. There's a lot of freedom and
> creativity.

> Before we recorded any of the music, Hans and Guy and the other composers
> and soloists sat and watched some of the scenes. Everything was very
> planned out. We didn’t want to use electric cello because it wouldn’t fit
> with the era - so we kept everything more acoustic, but it was more
> aggressive “classical” cello-ing. Probably the most common phrase he used
> with me was ‘give it more Tina’ because a lot of the scenes I played were
> action scenes.”

> Zimmer on the track titles: “They were the only ones that would work.
> There are better ones but they’re far too long. Someone said you can’t
> make your titles two paragraphs long! I think I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs
> Before goes down real well with the family.”

I'd give it half a star higher actually, thought that may be because the film itself has become a routinely watchable flick in our house, probably have seen it once a year at least since it came out and now the music is really stuck with me. So much creative fun.

>
>

> Clash of the Titans (2010) - **½
> Ramin Djawadi; add’l music by Neil Davidge, Geoff Zanelli, Dominic
> Lewis, Noah Sorota & Bobby Tahouri; orchestrated by
> Stephen Coleman & Matt Dunkley; conducted by Gavin Greenaway;
> technical score advisor Bryce Jacobs; ‘The Storm That Brought
> Me To You’ by Djawadi, Davidge & Tina Dico; thank you’s to Trevor
> Morris & Hans Zimmer; ‘Io’s theme’ by Craig Armstrong

> “I’ve done stuff with Hans, where I worked on Pirates or other movies
> where there was no time. So I was used to that fire drill type thing.
> Knowing that, ‘Okay, the big action scene at the end of the picture will
> probably be changed here, and we probably should focus more on this reel
> right now’...just to stay organized so that you don’t waste your time. On
> Iron Man I had a similar scenario, even though I was on the project much
> earlier on. The reels just kept changing, and certain scenes you can’t
> really start scoring because everything is CG.”

> This remake of the 1981 fantasy film of the same name would be one of the
> first films to have its studio demand an expedited postproduction
> conversion to 3D in the wake of the rampant success of Avatar.
> Despite the 3D looking terrible, poor reviews, and some dialogue that
> became self-parody upon arrival (namely “release the Kraken”), the film
> would see enough financial success to justify a sequel. Last-minute
> tinkering would also extend to the film’s music. Muse frontman Matt
> Bellamy was originally attached to the movie as a collaborator with
> composer Craig Armstrong, but when Bellamy had to step away for his tour
> his spot was taken over by Massive Attack producer Neil Davidge. The work
> by Armstrong/Davidge would be jettisoned about two months before the
> film’s release date, with Ramin Djawadi and four other Remote Control
> veterans coming in to write and record around 90 minutes of music in under
> a month. Geoff Zanelli would describe it as similar to the group effort on
> Pirates of the Caribbean. “Anytime I needed another set of ears
> I’d pull someone in, or I’d play a rough sketch for someone, or we’d run
> ideas by each other.”
Davidge would stick around. Weirdly, one of
> Armstrong’s themes would end up in the end credits.

> The 1981 film had received a robust orchestral fantasy score by Laurence
> Rosenthal, something the filmmakers didn’t want Djawadi to emulate for
> this iteration. “There was always the fine line. ‘We know you did Iron
> Man, but we don’t want guitars. We want something different. But it still
> has to be modern, even though this is ancient mythology.’ I would record
> with the orchestra, but then also take several solo celli and set them on
> top of it, so that the recording would get a bit more aggressive. It’s all
> done with traditional instruments or percussion (taikos and timpani and
> metallic sounding percussion). In some of the action cues, I added a
> little bit of electronics, but it really fits in well with the organic
> percussion.”

> Given time constraints, there was little choice but to have a fairly
> familiar composition, and what we got was basically the fantasy
> movie equivalent of Zanelli’s replacement score for 2007’s Hitman
> that was derivative of various MV / RC mannerisms and the Bourne
> franchise. Film score critics didn’t outright slam the work (they were
> certainly much kinder to it than they were to Djawadi’s Iron Man),
> but coming a few years after Transformers there was a mounting
> sense of fatigue. “Oh, great, another movie genre now has
> filmmakers that want their composers to double down on this sound
> palette.” Today, the score plays like an embryonic version of the epic
> style Djawadi would refine in later works like Pacific Rim,
> Warcraft, The Great Wall, and Eternals, never mind
> the big TV show he would start working on the next year - the reliance on
> cellos, the very direct nature of the composition, the rock-adjacent
> rhythmic energy that’s a bit above basic chugga-chugga alternating
> two-note patterns, and so on. Djawadi’s heroic themes were adequate, and
> even kind of fun at times. It was leagues beyond the cheap-sounding
> sampled action tracks from his Prison Break music. And, gosh, it
> wasn’t as derivative as it could’ve been - this isn’t some bass-heavy
> clone of the Media Ventures “house style” from the early aughts, or even a
> King Arthur rip-off like plenty of other scores were in this era.

> A good portion of the score dwells in mundane atmosphere or functional
> dramatic stretches. And it’s a pity the vocal creativity in Djawadi’s
> Medusa suite (where opera singers were scattered throughout the recording
> hall so that “the voice is kind of calling from her everywhere”)
> didn’t carry over to the rest of the score. But the 10 minutes of
> Djawadi’s suites and 50 minutes of score compositions on the album still
> made for an adequate listening experience, and I’d be lying if I said I
> didn’t find something like Scorpiox to be a head-banging guilty
> pleasure.

> The album would also feature 15 minutes of music that Davidge contributed
> to. The 10-minute Be My Weapon would be a wild bit of electronica
> (not too dissimilar from portions of Davidge’s later work for the video
> game Halo 4), while The Storm That Brought Me To You would
> be a song arrangement of Djawadi’s original opening. Neither track would
> be part of the movie (“in the film, Be My Weapon is more
> orchestra-based to make it fit and not go too modern”
), but the team
> thought they would be fun to have on the album - though the choice to put
> the abrasive longer track two-thirds of the way through the album has to
> rank as one of the more bizarre sequencing decisions of all time. The
> music is so ill-suited to the concept and so at odds with the surrounding
> material that it docks a half-star from my rating.

> Satnam Ramgotra, who had been drumming with Zimmer & team since
> Black Hawk Down, got to have a more active role on this score.
> “The first project working with Hans was through the recommendation of
> cellist Martin Tillman, who is a dear friend of mine. Hans wanted someone
> to vocalize percussion sounds and what-not. I was playing drum set on a
> gig for about eight years touring with Nikka Costa (the daughter of Frank
> Sinatra’s arranger), but once I started with Hans I [got] more calls to do
> sessions. There would be music but no notes on it, just bars and a clean
> slate. It’s total creative freedom. Drummers and musicians often think
> they don’t write, [but[ the minute you play a solo you are in fact
> composing. Eventually people would come to me and say ‘I have this cue and
> it’s really percussion driven, why don’t you just do the cue’” [For a
> track I wrote on Clash] Ramin and the music supervisor loved it, they
> thought it was perfect for the whole scene, they didn’t need to change it
> so it ended up going into the film and I got my first additional music
> writing credit and it gave me the confidence to want to get into it
> more.”

Oh man, I'd give it a lot more than that. Guilty pleasure RC/MV music to the MAX, buddy! Didn't know the behind the scenes story about the Davidge piece before, but ehhh, it doesn't really bother me much when listening to the album.

>
>

> Green Zone (2010) - ***½
> John Powell; add’l arranging, MIDI orchestration & programming by
> James McKee Smith, Paul Mounsey &
> Michael Mollo; orchestrated by John Ashton Thomas, Daniel Baker, Laura
> Bishop, Angus O'Sullivan & Jessica Wells;
> conducted by Gavin Greenaway; score production coordinator Germaine
> Franco; sound programmer Beth Caucci

> Despite the reteaming of Bourne star Matt Damon and director Paul
> Greengrass, the Iraq War investigative thriller Green Zone was a
> non-event when it was released in spring 2010, serving mainly as another
> example of War on Terror-themed movies not doing well as the U.S. box
> office. John Powell’s score (his fourth for a Greengrass film) was very
> much an extension in rhythm and percussive volleys - even more so than his
> Bourne music had been. There are no humanizing themes. Heck, there
> aren’t really any major recurring melodic ideas at all; only a grim,
> descending motif seems to recur regularly. It’s almost as if Powell was
> asked to take Goa Chase from The Bourne Supremacy and build
> an entire score around a more aggressive version of that track (hey, at
> least the Middle Eastern musical scales made more sense this time). But
> even if it wasn’t the most memorable score thematically, its layered
> soundscape and propulsive ruckus was still rather impressive at times.
> Special commendation was due for the climactic Attack and Chase,
> one of the decade’s most exciting pieces of film music.

> Powell and Greengrass wouldn’t work together after this - mainly because
> Powell felt increasingly constrained writing music for action films. But
> one has to wonder if there was some truth to the rumors that this score
> had to be rewritten a bunch to satisfy Greengrass, given the
> rewrite-palooza that would be the composing process on the director’s next
> movie.

I'd give it 4/5. Really strong action score in my books. Wish he did three of these a year...

>
>

> The Pacific (2010) - ***½
> Hans Zimmer, Blake Neely & Geoff Zanelli; orchestrated by Neely, B
> & W Fowler/Moriarty, Liz Finch,
> Rick Giovinazzo, Kevin Kaska & Carl Rydlund; conducted by Neely; add’l
> programming Noah Sorota

> Neely: “When we started this, we all suspected [Hans] was going to
> write some themes and we were going to [score it]. We’ve done this before.
> But once we got into it, we were all writing themes.”

> Nine years after producing the acclaimed World War II miniseries Band
> of Brothers
, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks would oversee a follow-up
> show (possibly the most expensive thing ever put on television at the
> time) covering the stories of Marines fighting in the Pacific theater.
> Band of Brothers composer Michael Kamen had passed away several
> years earlier, and Spielberg would initially turn to Hans Zimmer for this
> show’s music. Zimmer would bring in former assistant Blake Neely who had
> actually been an orchestrator on Band of Brothers, as well as Geoff
> Zanelli who had prior Spielberg experience with Into the West.

> The trio spent several months coming up with ideas before even writing to
> picture. At one point they thought they would alternate episodes, and at
> another point they thought they would divide up the characters. With
> Zimmer being busy on Angels & Demons during much of the actual
> episodic scoring, the resulting approach was that Neely and Zanelli split
> up storylines and character arcs, meaning two episodes centered on one
> character would be scored by Neely, another two would be taken by Zanelli,
> and the rest “we just split up.” Per Zanelli, “Blake conducted
> every note of the score, and I was in the booth during the recording of
> every note of the score. So you had all four of our ears always focused on
> what was going on. And Hans was there for a great deal of it, too. So even
> as late as while we were recording things, Hans and I’d come in and go,
> ‘Hey, what if it was just a solo cello here?’ Or Blake might have an idea
> on one of my cues, and vice versa.”
Executive producer Gary Goetzman
> would actually be the one who suggested one of Neely’s pieces be converted
> to the main title theme and another of Zanelli’s be used for end titles.

> Neely: “I find that Kamen sneaks out of me a lot anyway, his
> influences. But we were very careful. I remember even one meeting where it
> was like, ‘Uh, that sounds a little Band of Brothers-ish...let’s steer
> clear from that.’ I tried to take some of the things that he had talked
> about while we were doing Band of Brothers—you know, how you approach war
> scenes musically or not approach it, where to use thematic material, that
> kind of stuff. But we really tried to make our own thing with The
> Pacific.”

> In total, the gang would record six to seven hours of music for the
> series, with four of those ending up in the show. Neely and Zanelli would
> further whittle that down into a 72-minute album which would be largely
> tonal, sensitive, and slow-moving, hinting at Americana at times without
> tipping over into over-the-top patriotism (not dissimilar from Kamen’s
> approach, funny enough). It was also impressively consistent; there were
> few moments one could point to and say “well, this is obviously a Neely
> bit” or “duh, Geoff wrote this”, save for some brooding Iwo Jima material
> which was transparently of Zimmer’s making (Neely would adapt part of
> Hans’ lengthy suite into the film). Hints of the more contemplative parts
> of The Thin Red Line would peek through every so often. On the
> whole it was a fairly understated work that (at least on album) kept a
> fairly sustained mood without having a lot of tracks that really called
> attention to themselves.
>
>

> The Tudors Season 4 (2010) - ***
> Trevor Morris; technical score advisor Steven Davis

> RC discovery #66.

> Armed with more live instruments (vs the sampled tones of earlier seasons’
> music), Morris would dabble in a variety of forms - chamber music,
> passacaglia, more modern repeated string rhythms, etc. - that made for a
> consistently likable standalone listen. The final season’s score wouldn’t
> have the striking highlights of the music from Season 3 - obviously the
> Jane Seymour theme didn’t belong anymore, but it was disappointing that
> the choir seemed a more muted presence this go-round. However, the final
> four tracks on the album were gorgeous and should have a place on any
> highlights playlist of Morris’ work for the series.
>
>

> The Pillars of the Earth (2010) - ***
> Trevor Morris; various uncredited add’l music composers and
> orchestrators

> “Years ago [there] used to be movies on the big screen and TV on the
> small screen; but now it’s the same screen, [it] doesn’t matter if you’re
> watching Emerald City or Transformers. So my decision is just to write
> music for good stories; to be honest I think that [the] best stories are
> told on television now.”

> RC discovery #67.

> Airing only a month after Showtime’s The Tudors concluded, the
> network’s eight episode miniseries adaptation of Ken Follett’s cathedral
> construction novel (boasting a solid cast including Ian McShane, Rufus
> Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell, and Donald
> Sutherland) debuted to solid critical praise. For Trevor Morris it
> required a ton of work. “If you took a normal schedule for a composer
> to work on one 2-hour movie of similar subject matter, I had just a little
> more time than that to do all of Pillars, which is more or less the
> equivalent of FOUR feature films.”
The music was largely in the same
> sonic universe as the composer’s music in later seasons of The
> Tudors
, though with a greater sense of dramatic urgency and scale in
> parts (sometimes in very stereotypically RC ways), plus some occasional
> ethnic flute strikes and wood block percussion usage (very James
> Horner-like). If you liked Morris’ earlier output for the network, you’ll
> probably like this too. The album would cover over an hour of highlights
> from the series as well as 13-plus minutes of Morris’ original theme
> demos.

Haven't heard the rest of these, or at least not that i can remember.

> —------------------------------------

> Next time: “You know you can write a pretty shitty score for an Oscar
> film.”

Great write up as usual bud!




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