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 Posted:   Jul 22, 2014 - 3:18 AM   
 By:   Mike West   (Member)

I really like most of his scores.

And he is IMO one of the best, maybe the best, Hollywood-composer in terms of writing themes and developing, elaborating them.
The How to train your Dragon scores show his creativity and skills in dealing with themes,
it is very old school but firstly his melodic thinking enables him to come up with very beautiful and well-constructed themes and secondly his ability to work with motifs and themes enables him to really use them, not just quoting them. They are interwoven in the fabric of the entire score.
Also his orchestrations are fantastic.

Sometimes he probably writes to many notes, trying to put in everything, so that there is so much detail the piece tends to drown.

Sometimes the score is a bummer maybe because the editing and directing does not give breath for thematic writing, like in X-Men 3, which has great themes, but the score does not form an arch, everything feels disperated IMO.

But How to Train is fantastic.
I wish a non cgi-film would give the score so much breath nowadays.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2014 - 5:22 AM   
 By:   finder4545   (Member)

I searched for the term "IMO" and found it is not International Maritime Organization or International Mathematical Olympiad, but only "In My Opinion". O.K., Mike. That's YOUR opinion, and I wonder what a kind of master was Victor Young.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2014 - 6:25 AM   
 By:   Mike West   (Member)

As far as I know V.Y. has not written a score for some 60 years smile
Of course compared to the pantheon Powell is by far not alone, but in today's Hollywood active scoring landscape he is one of few outstanding composers, and I think in terms of dealing with thematic material maybe the best

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 23, 2014 - 7:35 AM   
 By:   Mike West   (Member)

well, the resonance to this is documenting the importance and the quality of thematic writing in film scores in these days

 
 Posted:   Jul 23, 2014 - 3:31 PM   
 By:   DavidCoscina   (Member)

Mike I totally agree that Powell has some terrific melodic gifts but what I'm mostly impressed with is his sense of harmony and architecture in his music. He actually develops his themes and motives throughout a score rather than either do one off cues or simple recapitulation of them with no development.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 1:53 AM   
 By:   Mike West   (Member)

David, exactly what I meant! His melodic gifts expand on how to develop and interpolate his thematic material in the overall arch or tapestry of the entire score. For me a theme consists of all parameter including harmony. He is really extraordinarily talented for working with motifs and melodies, in a way you find it with Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner.

I guess the english vaughan-williamserisms in How to train 2 was your cup of tea, wasn't it?
I remember you like that mixture-harmonic-progressions, you said that about war horse.

Tyler in Iron Man 3 for example is very thematic, uses his theme all the time, but his ability to work with melodies means he is changing the orchestration, or just leaving out the melody and quoting the harmonic progression,
which is of course also working with thematic material, but on a secondary plane.

With Giacchino it is similar.

Powell is working on the primary plane, altering harmony, rhythm, melody, AND working on the secondary plane, changing orchestrations and applying or taking away layers.
(I like Giacchino and Tyler!)

Primary and Secondary planes are just ideas to try to put it in words of course.

Powell's writing is essential and profound in terms of every parameter.

 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 6:22 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Sometimes he probably writes to many notes

You just put him in the same league as Amadeus. big grin

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 12:43 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I would agree that Powell is an amazing composer who composes wonderful themes. I remember first noticing a great theme in Road To El Dorado. I played his Fire Truck theme from Evolution a gazillion times. I never tire of hearing his Building A Barn from Chicken Run and thought his themes in Shrek were very good. HTTYD 1 and 2 are played frequently.

It appears that he does a lot of animated films which usually calls for a lot of rousing, continuous music. However, I also find him to be a versatile composer. He can beautifully score a romantic comedy like Two Weeks’ Notice and purely action movies like the Bourne series.

I always look forward to his next film and his next theme or themes and how he varies such themes.

 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   DavidCoscina   (Member)

David, exactly what I meant! His melodic gifts expand on how to develop and interpolate his thematic material in the overall arch or tapestry of the entire score. For me a theme consists of all parameter including harmony. He is really extraordinarily talented for working with motifs and melodies, in a way you find it with Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner.

I guess the english vaughan-williamserisms in How to train 2 was your cup of tea, wasn't it?
I remember you like that mixture-harmonic-progressions, you said that about war horse.

Tyler in Iron Man 3 for example is very thematic, uses his theme all the time, but his ability to work with melodies means he is changing the orchestration, or just leaving out the melody and quoting the harmonic progression,
which is of course also working with thematic material, but on a secondary plane.

With Giacchino it is similar.

Powell is working on the primary plane, altering harmony, rhythm, melody, AND working on the secondary plane, changing orchestrations and applying or taking away layers.
(I like Giacchino and Tyler!)

Primary and Secondary planes are just ideas to try to put it in words of course.

Powell's writing is essential and profound in terms of every parameter.


Interesting observations Mike. I ascribe Powell's attention to form based on his recent comments about NOT listening to other films scores as inspiration but rather classical pieces where composer's exploited structure to a far higher degree- especially given that current filmmakers and audiences have the attention span of fleas.

Giacchino on occasion does develop his material but for my personal tastes, he's taking 5 steps backwards harmonically. Very basic stuff and not particularly compelling. Not sure who he's listening to but just not my cup of tea anymore.

Tyler is terrific when he's doing groove-based work. I really enjoy his Now You See Me where he did play with the theme a bit but once again, he's focused primarily on rhythmic elements in his scores and doesn't have the same harmonic sensibilities Powell does.

Powell's chord choices have always resonated with me ever since he started in the business in 1997 and it's probably because he listens and enjoys the same composers that resonate with me- VW, Elgar, etc. Hard to go wrong with them. So it's not surprising that I enjoy his style.

 
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