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 Posted:   Jan 25, 2014 - 2:49 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

Remember folks, we're living in the age where bigger and noisier is better.

If you have a modern two hour action film, expect three hours of music for the crash-bang-wallop orchestra and the great grand choir of the apocalypse.

There's nothing wrong with choir as a form of musical expression. There are some wonderful choral scores. The Lion In Winter. The Omen. Conan.

But, has it become an over-used Hollywood cliche? Yes!

Nowadays, it seems the absolute minimum statement necessary in an action movie is massive overstatement.

So many modern action scores bore me silly, precisely because it's all so monotonously overstated.

 
 Posted:   Jan 25, 2014 - 4:03 PM   
 By:   yonythemoony   (Member)



Except the very example you use seems appropriate for it. These days it's just a sound devise. In fact, they even use it to promote reality shows now. Not that that's an example of a composer's over use. It just illustrates how producers view it. And these same producers are the ones pushing for the choirpocalyse in so many movies today. One example that always seems unfortunate for me is Don Davis succumbing to it in the final confrontation between Neo and Smith in Matrix Revolutions. I adore the Matrix scores but there it just got a little cheap for me.


Except that the choir in Matrix does have some sense when you know the lyrics they're performing, which it fits with the spiritual symbology of the trilogy.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 4:49 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

Remember folks, we're living in the age where bigger and noisier is better.

If you have a modern two hour action film, expect three hours of music for the crash-bang-wallop orchestra and the great grand choir of the apocalypse.

There's nothing wrong with choir as a form of musical expression. There are some wonderful choral scores. The Lion In Winter. The Omen. Conan.

But, has it become an over-used Hollywood cliche? Yes!

Nowadays, it seems the absolute minimum statement necessary in an action movie is massive overstatement.

So many modern action scores bore me silly, precisely because it's all so monotonously overstated.


I agree with you, Stephen. There's a great article in an old print issue of FSM (perhaps by Jeff Bond?) in which he says that one of the problems with scoring for modern action films is that every moment is treated like a climax - which completely obliterates any power the "real" climax (if there is one) may have. This must have been about 15 years ago so it's not a new thing, and although he wasn't singling out the overuse of choirs, I think the result is the same.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 12:55 PM   
 By:   GOLDSMITHDAKING   (Member)

I guess a lot of you hate Basil's Conan the Barbarian then. What a revaluation!

I prefer listening to the choirless version of Riders of Doom on the Prometheus set of Conan The Barbarian.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 1:52 PM   
 By:   Trent B.   (Member)

I honestly don't mind scores with choir, if it's used appropriately. Superman Returns to me is awesome with the choir and so is a score like Star Trek Into Darkness IE: "Warp Core Values".

Although I think some scores tend to over use it but it's something I think adds to the score.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 8:31 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

While I've never had a problem with soundtracks with choruses, I did feel that John Ottman's original soundtrack recording of "Superman Returns" had too much of it for my own taste, but was convinced by others here to buy the 2-CD expansion and don't regret that I did. Choruses have been used judiciously and effectively in a myriad of films, from "Ben-Hur" to "King of Kings" to "The Lion In Winter" to "Gladiator" to "Rudy" to "Empire of the Sun" to "Omen IV," and a myriad of others. But it's all a matter of taste -- just now I had the start of the Grammy Awards pumping out of my surround system and angrily changed channels because I couldn't stand the music they were playing. For us soundtrack lovers there's a wealth of them with and without choruses, so there's plenty of great music out there for all of us.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 3:03 AM   
 By:   paulhickling   (Member)

Personally I love the use of choir. Two amazing examples I think of straight away are Howard Shore's scores for the LotR trilogy and Murray Gold's Doctor Who, especially Series 4. Incredible. Human voices are as good as any other instrument in any orchestra.

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 4:35 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

To be honest, the massive over-scoring of Dr. Who is exactly why I don't like about the new series but I know I'm unusual in that.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 5:51 AM   
 By:   alexlim   (Member)

I think these days there is an exaggeration in the use of choir by current composers. Turned into something banal. Composers such as Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen Trilogy, Poltergeist, Legend, First Knight, The Sum of All Fears, QBVII), John Barry (The Lion in Winter, The Last Valley) and Basil Poledouris (Conan the Barbarian) made remarkable soundtracks using choir.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 6:28 AM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies I think started a resurgence of over-scoring and choir.
I found that as more of those movies came along that sound became really grating, pompous and entirely to be expected.

And synthetic or sampled choirs are pretty much always detestable.

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 7:04 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Goldsmiths First Knight is a good example of choir used sparingly to good effect.The final battle between Lancelot and Malagant is thrilling stuff.However if the whole score had been like this ( Are you listening Mr Ottman? ) it would have been too much.

Actually, the ONLY track i dislike from this all-time fave is that "Carmina Burana" knock off!

bruce


Hm? I always loved that track on First Knight, for one precisely because it did NOT sound like anything from Carmina Burana (even though it was temp tracked with it).

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 7:13 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

If you think about the choir as an instrument ...

Then, as with all instruments, it's possible to use it in ways which are distinctive, original and meaningful ...

And it's possible to use it in ways which are bland, indistinct and over-used.

(It's not the instrument / style so much as the way it's used that can get tiresome.)

I don't have anything against good choral music, but I think the way choir has been used in 'blockbuster' films recently has become very uninteresting.

Cheers

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 9:03 AM   
 By:   random guy   (Member)

Star Trek 2009
Fantastic Four
Hellboy 2

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 9:50 AM   
 By:   Other Tallguy   (Member)

First off, it was amusing this morning to see these threads right next to each other:

Scores which suffer from too much CHOIR..
Alan Silvestri: THE ABYSS (DELUXE EDITION) Varese

(It’s not an opinion I share, but I know it’s one that many have.)

I think I went through a phase in the 90’s where I thought choirs were awesome. But then like some have said here, too much became too much. EVERYTHING had choir. For anything.

I’m not sure what my tipping point is. I found the choir added to Krypton for Superman Returns to be quite charming.

Hmmmm, I guess I can’t think of a score that suffers from too much Choir.

Ones that don’t?
The Abyss
Secret of NIMH
Krull / Brainstorm – You know, really, Horner goes for such a different sound here. It’s a “fragile” choir.

You know what choir I adore? Goodbye Serris from Galaxy Quest. It might be intended to be goofy and over the top, but it brings a tear to my eye every time.

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 9:59 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Based on the examples given I would say some just don't like choir in their music. Just come out and say it. Stop beating around the bush.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 1:01 PM   
 By:   Rnelson   (Member)

Based on the examples given I would say some just don't like choir in their music. Just come out and say it. Stop beating around the bush.

But that's not it at all. Personally, I think something special should be signified when I hear a choir. Mind you I'm not talking about scores such as The Omen where the main musical concept is the use of the choir. But something just seems a bit self indulgent when it's just there to add a sound. It's a really different sort of organism than the orchestra.

It's a color in a whole pallet of colors at the composer's disposal. Any one of those colors are viable at any time but there are some colors that are so intense, which have such strong associations, that they should be used sparingly. Think bright red. I think some, including me, feel that the choir has become an overused color.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 1:17 PM   
 By:   Bob Bryden   (Member)

One in three scores since 'Conan the Barbarian' (1981).

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 1:48 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I only briefly skimmed some of the comments in this thread, so forgive me if it's already been mentioned...

But does anyone else here ever remember the first time they heard the male choir doing the wordless thing underneath Luke and Vader's final saber battle?
It gave me goosebumps then and it still does today. Absolutely thrilling.
Of course, Williams has since used choirs copiously (or so it sometimes seems), but back in 1983 (in a SW movie, of all things!smile) it's delicious effectiveness could be said to be due to its underuse.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 2:36 PM   
 By:   Broughtfan   (Member)

Almost any score where the choir model is Carmina Burana (I guess this is more an annoying use of choir).

Examples of film scores with tasteful/particularly effective employment of choir:

CE3K
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Brainstorm
Empire of the Sun
Willow

The aspect of The Abyss that I always found bothersome is (what sounds like) lack of reverb on the choir (really dry room sound). By contrast, Horner's employment of choir is, I think, the best of any film composer (Willow, in particular, has a glorious cathedral-like sound).

 
 Posted:   Jan 28, 2014 - 5:47 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

To be honest, the massive over-scoring of Dr. Who is exactly why I don't like about the new series but I know I'm unusual in that.

I feel exactly the same way Stephen. The score tries too hard in either ratcheting up the action or pushing the emotional buttons and it's just too wall to wall. For once I find the sound mix of the music to be too up front as it often makes the dialogue hard to hear.

 
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