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  Laying the Zimmer-basher smackdown just like old times?  
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• Posted by Nate U
• Date: Friday, July 21, 2006, at 3:58 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Re: I would agree that POTC 2 is lazy, however.... (Southall)

> I've got a large number of Zimmer albums, I've followed him for over a
> decade, and I don't have a short term memory. I give him a hard time
> because what he's doing is pushing the whole art of film music down into
> the gutter. In this junk popcorn music he writes, he's proving that films
> really don't need original scores, that music really isn't an important
> part of the dramatic needs of a film, that film music is just
> accompaniment, not improvement. For sure, he pulls some brilliant things
> out of the air sometimes, like The Thin Red Line or The Lion King, and I
> give him very much credit for that - but the bad aspects are SO bad.

> People who give Zimmer a hard time really either have short term memory,
> or do not look at his entire body of work. Hell, people still bring up the
> Peacemaker as if thats the only thing he has ever done. Yes he does
> "copy" himself, but only when it is appropriate.

Zimmer has limitations when it comes to film scoring...being self-taught I think makes these limitations more apparent when he is put in a position where he could concievably write a "genre" score, like Pirates of the Caribbean. James Horner is criticized for copying himself all the time, but he's got a doctorate in Music and he can write an old-school Latin-flavored Swashbuckling style score in the style of Korngold for a film like Mask of Zorro when he is called to do so. Zimmer took 2 weeks of keyboard lessons, but he's a darn creative fellow who isn't afraid to take risks or humble (or outspoken, or simply social) enough to bounce off others' own creativity. Thus intimidatingly effective conceptual scores like The Thin Red Line or wildly non-traditional and organically collaborative one-of-a-kind scores like Black Hawk Down. Zimmer excells as an artist, but only on his own terms. His own intuitive, conceptual world. Him, the film, and his keyboards, or a roomful of fellow musicians. Not him and the tradition expectations of genre-scoring. But when he can't create his own concept his music can suffer. The concept for the Pirates of Caribbean score is a big-loud-over the top Zimmer action extravaganza. Bruckheimer says so. Well, doesn't put Hans in the greatest position to be at his most creative, eh?

But, Zimmer still finds his little bits of inspiration. Listen to how Johnny Depp's swager permeates the initial idea of the new Jack Sparrow theme. Or, as Zimmer says, Davy Jones and his pirates remind him of a "Biker Gang" so Zimmer throws in this bizarre tritone heavy-metal rock beat in "The Kraken." Also one aspect I love most about those first couple "demos" of sorts on the beginning of the POTC:DMC album is the interplay between Zimmer at his keyboards and Martin Tilman on his reminds me of the joyful energy you feel listening to Zimmer's keyboards bouncing off the guitar player (forget his name) in Drop Zone and vice-versa. I think of everything besides Tillman's cello as a single instrument being played by Zimmer, I guess. "Jack Sparrow" is one big duet. Thats how the music makes sense to me.

Zimmer is an untraditional film composer, both in the technical aspects of his music and his conceptual approaches to scoring motion pictures. (Even ones that have the genre-expectations like a Pirate movie)

I have a hard time disliking someone who is untraditional just for being untraditional. But you're right southall Zimmer can be a caricature of himself sometimes if he doesn't have a unique concept to work from. But it makes you wonder how the film music fans were reacting to someone like Bernard Herrmann's scores back in the day...doesn't the fact that Zimmer is controversial mean there is real substance to his contribution to film music? Or that he effects listeners in a certain way, be it positive or negative? I mean, Rite of Spring was booed off the stage, wasn't it?


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