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 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 12:52 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

It's depressing because they MADE it depressing through selected editing, rhetorical statements and questions etc. The program is far from a fair and balanced view on contemporary Hollywood film music. It's like a Michael Moore or Louis Theroux documentary.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 1:15 AM   
 By:   WillGoldNewtonBarryGrusin   (Member)

You are trying to sugarcoat the situation, Thor.

Even distinguished composers complain about the current climate.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 1:35 AM   
 By:   Trent Easton Navarro   (Member)

It's depressing because they MADE it depressing through selected editing, rhetorical statements and questions etc. The program is far from a fair and balanced view on contemporary Hollywood film music. It's like a Michael Moore or Louis Theroux documentary.

While I agree that there is still good film music out there (and this year even a few by the Zimmer and his minions), it isn't as exciting as it used to be. You can't deny that a lot of the music these is quite the same and lacks an identity of it's own, especially the big Hollywood films.

If you look at some of the blockbusters from the 80's or 90's, most of those film had a unique musical identity. You'd never confuse The Terminator with First Blood. Or Speed with Waterworld. You can't really say the same about today's music. I love Brian Tyler, he seems like a cool bloke, but his music for the big films is pretty interchangeable. It's his smaller scores that are more interesting.

When you hear Horner and Elfman talk about their music, you can hear the passion they have for their craft. That same passion you can hear in their music. You don't here that passion when you listen a score by Balfe, cause he doesn't seem to care about his craft. For him it seems to be just a job. And that's probably also the reason why Balfe hasn't scored anything interesting on his own so far. Jablonsky, Djawadi, Orvarsson and Jackman are all doing fine on their own. Even Heitor Pereira has a better career than Balfe.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 5:49 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I'm not denying the points that are given in the program (although I think some of them require a fair bit of nuance too) -- I'm annoyed by the lack of perspective. There's so much great stuff out there -- both inside Hollywood and outside -- and so many GOOD things happening now that we didn't have before (like the possibility to recruit film composers from different venues), so I feel it's unfair to have an episode about the current climate that just regurgitates age-old, tired, negative arguments without showing the other side.

It's also important to repeat -- and I can't say this often enough -- Hollywood ACTION film music does NOT constitute ALL of Hollywood film music, nor all of film music. People seem to equate the two, however, which is peculiar, to say the least. Heck, even Hollywood action film music has its fair share of diversity.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 6:29 AM   
 By:   Trent Easton Navarro   (Member)

I'm not denying the points that are given in the program (although I think some of them require a fair bit of nuance too) -- I'm annoyed by the lack of perspective. There's so much great stuff out there -- both inside Hollywood and outside -- and so many GOOD things happening now that we didn't have before (like the possibility to recruit film composers from different venues), so I feel it's unfair to have an episode about the current climate that just regurgitates age-old, tired, negative arguments without showing the other side.

It's also important to repeat -- and I can't say this often enough -- Hollywood ACTION film music does NOT constitute ALL of Hollywood film music, nor all of film music. People seem to equate the two, however, which is peculiar, to say the least. Heck, even Hollywood action film music has its fair share of diversity.


Sure, the program is a bit one-sided. But then again, there's only so much one can tell within 45 minutes. But what is all the great stuff happening right now? You mean someone like Trent Reznor scoring a film? Or Daft Punk and M83? In a way that's nothing really new. Elfman, Zimmer, Mansell and Rabin all come from a rock background. In the eighties you had Tangerine Dream writing film scores. And while Reznor managed to write a score that sounded how I imagined a Trent Reznor score would sound, the same can't be said about Tron and Oblivion.

The only great thing that's really happening right now is that labels like Lala Land and Intrada release so many great expanded scores (although I know you don't agree with this, Thor). That are basically the only soundtracks I still buy.

And true, there's more to film music than Hollywood action music, but I think that's where the journey for most of us started. And there indeed used to be a great diversity. Now, not so much. You could swap Powell's Bourne scores with Tyler's Fast and Furious' and nobody would notice the difference.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 6:42 AM   
 By:   KevinSmith   (Member)

I'm not denying the points that are given in the program (although I think some of them require a fair bit of nuance too) -- I'm annoyed by the lack of perspective. There's so much great stuff out there -- both inside Hollywood and outside -- and so many GOOD things happening now that we didn't have before (like the possibility to recruit film composers from different venues), so I feel it's unfair to have an episode about the current climate that just regurgitates age-old, tired, negative arguments without showing the other side.

It's also important to repeat -- and I can't say this often enough -- Hollywood ACTION film music does NOT constitute ALL of Hollywood film music, nor all of film music. People seem to equate the two, however, which is peculiar, to say the least. Heck, even Hollywood action film music has its fair share of diversity.


Sure, the program is a bit one-sided. But then again, there's only so much one can tell within 45 minutes. But what is all the great stuff happening right now? You mean someone like Trent Reznor scoring a film? Or Daft Punk and M83? In a way that's nothing really new. Elfman, Zimmer, Mansell and Rabin all come from a rock background. In the eighties you had Tangerine Dream writing film scores. And while Reznor managed to write a score that sounded how I imagined a Trent Reznor score would sound, the same can't be said about Tron and Oblivion.

The only great thing that's really happening right now is that labels like Lala Land and Intrada release so many great expanded scores (although I know you don't agree with this, Thor). That are basically the only soundtracks I still buy.

And true, there's more to film music than Hollywood action music, but I think that's where the journey for most of us started. And there indeed used to be a great diversity. Now, not so much. You could swap Powell's Bourne scores with Tyler's Fast and Furious' and nobody would notice the difference.


Aside from the really famous scores, isn't most film music interchangeable and hasn't it always been?

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 6:48 AM   
 By:   WillGoldNewtonBarryGrusin   (Member)

I'm not denying the points that are given in the program (although I think some of them require a fair bit of nuance too) -- I'm annoyed by the lack of perspective. There's so much great stuff out there -- both inside Hollywood and outside -- and so many GOOD things happening now that we didn't have before (like the possibility to recruit film composers from different venues), so I feel it's unfair to have an episode about the current climate that just regurgitates age-old, tired, negative arguments without showing the other side.

It's also important to repeat -- and I can't say this often enough -- Hollywood ACTION film music does NOT constitute ALL of Hollywood film music, nor all of film music. People seem to equate the two, however, which is peculiar, to say the least. Heck, even Hollywood action film music has its fair share of diversity.


You maintain that the arguments against the Media Venture-influence on contemporary film scores are age-old, tired and negative without showing the other side.

But what other side is this? Established composers hate the fact that the temp score is strangling their creativity. They also look with horror at a business in which people get assignments because they are celebrities from the pop music area but do not have the proper background to compose an orchestral score.

And, really, where is the "fair share of diversity" in Hollywood action film music during the last decade?


 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 6:48 AM   
 By:   WillGoldNewtonBarryGrusin   (Member)

I'm not denying the points that are given in the program (although I think some of them require a fair bit of nuance too) -- I'm annoyed by the lack of perspective. There's so much great stuff out there -- both inside Hollywood and outside -- and so many GOOD things happening now that we didn't have before (like the possibility to recruit film composers from different venues), so I feel it's unfair to have an episode about the current climate that just regurgitates age-old, tired, negative arguments without showing the other side.

It's also important to repeat -- and I can't say this often enough -- Hollywood ACTION film music does NOT constitute ALL of Hollywood film music, nor all of film music. People seem to equate the two, however, which is peculiar, to say the least. Heck, even Hollywood action film music has its fair share of diversity.


You maintain that the arguments against the Media Venture-influence on contemporary film scores are age-old, tired and negative without showing the other side.

But what other side is this? Established composers hate the fact that the temp score is strangling their creativity. They also look with horror at a business in which people get assignments because they are celebrities from the pop music area but do not have the proper background to compose an orchestral score.

And, really, where is the "fair share of diversity" in Hollywood action film music during the last decade?


 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 7:44 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Basically, you can find every imaginable idiom these days, to a far greater extent that ever before -- jazz, orchestral, electronic, pop/rock, ambient, experimental, you name it. I love the fact that great film composers can come from anywhere, and that it's no longer a prequisite to be part of a stuffy old music department with a classical background. Talent can come from anywhere, and the proof is in the pudding, as it were.

Just taking a random pick from this year's film output that I've seen or heard, as listed on Wikipedia:

Elfman's classical fantasy symphonics for OZ and EPIC, Giacchino's equally traditional sci fi score for STAR TREK, the ostinato-based MAN OF STEEL and PACIFIC RIM, Velazquez' haunting MAMA, the sensual ambiance of STOKER, the ambient/dubstep score of SPRINGBREAKERS, the delicious electropop of OBLIVION, the classical symphonic romance of THE GREAT GATSBY, the suggestive/Asian score to ONLY GOD FORGIVES, Equyem's traditional western/Americana score for COPPERHEAD and so on and so on.

Of course, there will always be trends that come and go -- and sometimes homogenization becomes an issue (the same can absolutely be applied to Hollywood's Golden Age too!) -- but it doesn't overshadow the great stuff that actually exists and that keeps coming out. It only depends on where you look.

And that's just the versatility argument. So many other great things happening too -- proliferation of film scoring programs, a heightened public awareness of the artform (through festivals, seminars, concerts), the conservation of older scores, new distribution platforms, new technologies with new sonic possibilites, more opportunities for up-and-coming directors to get the "sound" they want without going bankrupt etc.

Plus the vibrant independent scene, the art films, the films that use music sparingly and consciously.

There are negative things too, of course (and many of them are touched on in the program and in endless discussions in film music forums), but one shouldn't forget all the great stuff happening.

REJOICE!!

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 7:57 AM   
 By:   WillGoldNewtonBarryGrusin   (Member)

It also depends on whether people would rate those examples as high as you do.

IMHO, all those scores cannot approach the greatness of scores of the Silver Age.

Personally, I would say that getting anyone to compose a film score has not enriched this art form but cheapened it. The same would apply, IMHO, to pop music which is dominated now by people who can hardly play an instrument or sing well.

Of course, this is all just subjectivity and therefore not helping this discussion.

What is not subjective, however, is the current working climate which dictates the kind of score a composer has to deliver and narrows the creative choices immediately, also due to the limiting of the music budget. And that is the real problem.



 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 8:02 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

It also depends on whether people would rate those examples as high as you do.

IMHO, all those scores cannot approach the greatness of scores of the Silver Age.

Personally, I would say that getting anyone to compose a film score has not enriched this art form but cheapened it. The same would apply, IMHO, to pop music which is dominated now by people who can hardly play an instrument or sing well.

Of course, this is all just subjectivity and therefore not helping this discussion.


That is indeed subjective. I must say that I disagree. Yes, there are sometimes people "slipping through the open door" that shouldn't be there, but for everyone of those, there are at least two wonderful additions that come out of nowhere. Whether it's a Daft Punk or a Reznor or a M83 or an Orbital or whatever (usually great electronica artists, for some reason).

What is not subjective, however, is the current working climate which dictates the kind of score a composer has to deliver and narrows the creative choices immediately, also due to the limiting of the music budget. And that is the real problem.

You see, I don't agree with that either. I think it depends very much on the director you're working with, the studio you're working for, the genre you're working in etc.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Whether it's a Daft Punk or a Reznor or a M83 or an Orbital or whatever (usually great electronica artists, for some reason).

Let the record reflect that Trent Reznor is NOT a wonderful addition to anything.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 8:32 AM   
 By:   Trent Easton Navarro   (Member)

Whether it's a Daft Punk or a Reznor or a M83 or an Orbital or whatever (usually great electronica artists, for some reason).

Let the record reflect that Trent Reznor is NOT a wonderful addition to anything.


roll eyes

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 8:49 AM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

Just an FYI this expires tomorrow. I wish there was a way to download it.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 9:35 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

I've just listened and what a great programme. Well done BBC for airing it. My computer is down at the moment but I'm coming back to the internet cafe tomorrow to give it another listen before it expires.

One is left with confirmation that a significant part of the modern Hollywood scoring scene is:

Temp scores
Focus groups
Committees

As Balfe said, he does as he's told or he will be performing concert music to 5 people.

You said it Buddy!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   Mr. Shark   (Member)

I get where Thor is coming from with his argument about diversity in film music, but by and large that diversity is within pop subgenres. For Hollywood blockbusters, the spectrum of 'classical idioms' to choose from is much narrower, streamlined and to an extent, dumbed down. With the exception of Gustavo Dudamel's recent score, there's less interaction between the concert scene and film music than ever before.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 9:43 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Temp scores
Focus groups
Committees

As Balfe said, he does as he's told or he will be performing concert music to 5 people.


Thus speaketh the opportunist.

I agree with earlier comments that Balfe is coming off as a sneering, arrogant prick who dumps on people who really KNOW how to write music. I am not going to listen to any of his scores in the future, and I've got a hunch I won't be missing much.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 9:47 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I get where Thor is coming from with his argument about diversity in film music, but by and large that diversity is within pop subgenres. For Hollywood blockbusters, the spectrum of 'classical idioms' to choose from is much narrower, streamlined and to an extent, dumbed down. With the exception of Gustavo Dudamel's recent score, there's less interaction between the concert scene and film music than ever before.

But then you'd have to ask if 'interaction between concert scene and film music' is something to strive for. Don't get me wrong, I love it when it happens -- Philipp Glass, John Corigliano, Elliot Goldenthal etc. -- but at the end of the day, it's just one avenue among many. Besides, you can be a wonderful symphonic writer without ever being part of the 'concert scene'. In fact, many are better off outside it.

As I said, the proof in the pudding, whatever your background is.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 9:55 AM   
 By:   ChristianK├╝hn   (Member)

Just a quick aside to you, Thor: Mr. Bernard is, I believe, right in his assessment of some (not all) of your posts coming over as passive-aggressive. OK, the internet is partially to blame for that (read words "sound" different than spoken words), but I, too, have often had the feeling that there's often a subtle undertone in your posts that, to me, comes over as patronizing at best, condescending at worst. And in general, I find (m)any discussions with you pointless, because of your dogmatic opinions that I've been reading ever since I started here. You seem to bemoan the fact that nothing new or too much old stuff is being discussed. But really, you're not contributing much new either. I could look it all up in the archives, were I to choose to do so. I don't, because I find that style of "discussion" stale and unrewarding.

OK, that wasn't quick at all...no worries, that's my once-in-two-years direct reply to you. Consider that a "nudge" as well.

* * * * *

All in all, I found the interview interesting because many of the things we bemoan are an annoyance to some (most?) composers and/or film music people as well. It kinda feels nice to know that Jon Burlingame is on "our side", even if doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Yes, the problems lies more with the brass than the actual composers and how it all comes down to money. I realize all of that, but I still don't like it.

I am in agreement with the points that particularly Elfman and Yared raise; with Horner's only partially, as I can't stand his "double standards". Film music ought to have an element of "beauty" to it, be it musical or intellectual. That element has been declining in Zimmer's output since the early 2000s. That's not to say that it has vanished altogether, but I feel it's more inherently present in other composers' works (outside of the MV-RC realm) and/or outside of the Hollywood blockbuster.

And even though I am not a musician, I find Balfe's disparaging remarks on the techniques/styles that have been used since the inception (see what I did there?) of film music absolutely baffling, arrogant and actual rubbish. Get Horner, Elfman, Morricone, Williams, Shore staff paper and a pen, and they can create actual music. With you, Mr Balfe, I have the utmost doubts.

Sorry, but I'm not sorry for choosing art over lowest common denominator music.

Coincidentally, I'm listening to Badelt's THE PROMISE right now. Not a fan of him, but this is a beautiful score. So there.

Christian

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2013 - 10:16 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Sorry you feel that way, Christian. That's certainly only what you read into it on your end of the computer screen. Personally, I prefer discussions to stay on the issue and with actual arguments, not to succumb to personal attacks, which you just did. That's probably the least constructive route of them all. But if that's your chosen mode of debate, then you're right -- it's probably best that we don't engage each other much on this board.

Still, I'm glad to see you post something again here. It's interesting how a topic like this tends to draw a lot of 'usual suspects' out of the woodwork, only to slip into oblivion afterwards. smile

 
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