Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 8:16 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” I am wondering if that statement might apply to film music? After reading the CHARIOTS OF FIRE topic, I’m a bit torn between wanting the general public to hear memorable film themes versus having scores lovers become so over exposed to certain themes that the themes no longer resonate with us, or we actually grow to dislike those themes.

It is a hit and miss for me. I never tire of Rocky’s themes or Steiner’s A Summer Place that has played endlessly over the years. I never mind hearing Rudy’s themes underscoring many sports events. I’m not weary of hearing Williams’ iconic Superman theme. On the other hand, Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago totally wore out its welcome for me after too much exposure, and to a lesser extent, so did Rota’s love theme from Romeo and Juliet and Barry’s theme from Born Free. It is not that I don’t admire those three scores; I do admire them. I was just too drenched in them and don’t want to hear them anymore.

There is the dilemma. It is nice to have people recognize great film music, but in some cases, familiarity may truly breed contempt or at least removal from our CD players. Your thoughts?

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   Other Tallguy   (Member)

The play count in iTunes for The Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture would say “No”. (It’s really ridiculous.)

I’m sure that some music wears better than others. I know many (many) people got tired of “My Heart Will Go On” or “I’ll Be There For You” (from Friends).

OTOH anytime I hear Born Free now I hear Chis Rock singing “BOOORRRRRN FREEEEE! LA LA LA LA LAAAAA LAAAAAA! I DOOOOON’T KNOW THE WOOOOORRRRRRRDS!” big grin

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 9:06 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I don't think over saturating the market with popular songs breed contempt from the general public. For them it's the flavor of the day until the next hit comes along. Though Ive most certainly lost interest in many of my favorite film scores.

Sadly it just took too long for the likes of Wrath Of Khan expanded, TMP Expanded, Superman expanded, Conan expanded. I played the OST's to death for 25 years and even with additional material and improved sound I hardly spin them anymore. The magic is gone. (but I am happy they got expanded releases)

On the other hand there are a few cues I never tire of. Darth Vader's theme comes to mind.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 9:36 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

At times I have fallen into the trap that Solium just described, but now I take care not to overplay something so much that I get sick of it.
I still binge-listen, but I walk away from it earlier.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 10:18 AM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

Certainly, anyone can get tired of just about any cue, piece, or score with enough exposure. But I think Joan's question speaks more to the composition of a cue. For example, there was a debate that emerged recently among music theorists about what the difference is between competent music and great music. One argument I quite liked was that great music has "inspired improbabilities", meaning that something would happen in the music that wasn't expected or "normal", but that delights us when we hear it.

I think this explains part of why we don't get sick of some cues while we certainly do of others. Of course, it's still very subjective and depends what tickles you in listening to music. But with something like Lara's Theme, for example, it's a pretty theme that delicately expresses the love of the film's protagonists, but it does seem to be lacking those inspired improbabilities. It's as though what we get is what we expect for the whole theme.

On the other hand, take Solium's suggestion of Vader's theme. Sure, some are tired of it, but there are still plenty (myself included) who still enjoy hearing it. And I would venture that this is because it has more of those unexpected events in it. Like the opening accompaniment riff, for example. The chord progression is entirely unexpected for a piece of tonal music, as it takes a fairly standard two-chord progression and darkens it by making the second chord minor instead of the expected major (had it stayed in the minor key it implies with the first chord). That alone is a tantalizing twist that engages me and I'm sure many others from the first few bars. And the rest of the cue is very much like this, taking us through unexpected musical events that are surprising, rousing, and delightful.

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 11:11 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” I am wondering if that statement might apply to film music? After reading the CHARIOTS OF FIRE topic, I’m a bit torn between wanting the general public to hear memorable film themes versus having scores lovers become so over exposed to certain themes that the themes no longer resonate with us, or we actually grow to dislike those themes.

It is a hit and miss for me. I never tire of Rocky’s themes or Steiner’s A Summer Place that has played endlessly over the years. I never mind hearing Rudy’s themes underscoring many sports events. I’m not weary of hearing Williams’ iconic Superman theme. On the other hand, Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago totally wore out its welcome for me after too much exposure, and to a lesser extent, so did Rota’s love theme from Romeo and Juliet and Barry’s theme from Born Free. It is not that I don’t admire those three scores; I do admire them. I was just too drenched in them and don’t want to hear them anymore.

There is the dilemma. It is nice to have people recognize great film music, but in some cases, familiarity may truly breed contempt or at least removal from our CD players. Your thoughts?


I certainly have a few (you've captured some of them in your OP) that I can hardly bear to hear, and some others that I've heard just as many times that I still enjoy hearing. I don't know that there is necessarily any particular characteristic of the ones I hate vs. the ones I love that would allow anyone (even me) to predict which ones would fall into which camp. Examples of those I still enjoy hearing despite more exposures than I could possibly count: EXODUS, A SUMMER PLACE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, SPARTACUS Love Theme. Way tired (like you) of Lara's Theme from DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, also BORN FREE, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, ROCKY and a few others.

Related to this topic (a great one, and thank you, by the way!): For me there is also a small group of film scores or tracks that I truly love, but which I deliberately avoid listening to "too often" for fear that they may lose their specialness if I overplay them. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, for example, rarely gets a full-score listen, or a viewing of the film. Maybe once a year. I'm sure there are others like this, but that's one that comes to mind.

One other bit of weirdness -- I have discovered that it is actually possibly (on rare occasion) for me to rehabilitate an overexposed piece of music, i.e., to start tolerating and even enjoying it once again despite having grown at some point to hate it. The best example of that, for me, is Tara's Theme from GONE WITH THE WIND. When I was younger, the song version of Tara's Theme ("My Own True Love") was played to death on the radio stations my parents listened to, and when I discovered that it was the main theme from GWTW, I avoided that score (the WB/Muir Mathieson-conducted, boiled down version of the score is what was "out" at that time) like the plague. Many years later, I discovered the Charles Gerhardt re-recording of GWTW, and was shocked to find that I absolutely loved it. Much of that had to do with the way the theme is morphed for dramatic effect, most particularly in the final 5 or 6 minutes of the score, and of course the abundance of other wonderful themes in the score didn't hurt. Anyway, despite my initial distaste for the theme, I have come to appreciate what a stunning, monumental film score GWTW actually was, and I hear that theme in an entirely different way.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 12:05 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Ludwig, you have an interesting theory related to the "composition" of a cue. That makes sense when I think of those that I tired of and those that I still like hearing.

I'm glad Dana and othesr brought up the whole notion of "overplaying" a score or song. I thought I was the only one who did that. I remember that I just kept repeating The Egg Travels from Dinosaur. Seems like I couldn't hear it enough. Then one day, I was a bit tired of it. I left it alone for a few years and then reengaged with it. Now when I buy a CD, I'll play it several times and then walk away. A couple months later, it sounds fresh again. In other words, I learned to not be my worst enemy through daily, constant repetition.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 12:05 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

DP

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 12:06 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

The more important question is: Does contempt breed familiarity? smile

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 12:08 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Interesting question, haineshisway. What is the answer?

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 12:29 PM   
 By:   Thomas   (Member)

I thought it was familiarity breeds content...

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 5:19 PM   
 By:   Olivier   (Member)

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” I am wondering if that statement might apply to film music? After reading the CHARIOTS OF FIRE topic, I’m a bit torn between wanting the general public to hear memorable film themes versus having scores lovers become so over exposed to certain themes that the themes no longer resonate with us, or we actually grow to dislike those themes.

It is a hit and miss for me. I never tire of Rocky’s themes or Steiner’s A Summer Place that has played endlessly over the years. I never mind hearing Rudy’s themes underscoring many sports events. I’m not weary of hearing Williams’ iconic Superman theme. On the other hand, Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago totally wore out its welcome for me after too much exposure, and to a lesser extent, so did Rota’s love theme from Romeo and Juliet and Barry’s theme from Born Free. It is not that I don’t admire those three scores; I do admire them. I was just too drenched in them and don’t want to hear them anymore.

There is the dilemma. It is nice to have people recognize great film music, but in some cases, familiarity may truly breed contempt or at least removal from our CD players. Your thoughts?



How true.
Some themes, sons, excerpts from classical works, ..., have been so much used, sometimes poorly and sometimes in terrible ads, and repeated so often that you do grow tired of them.

When you keep listening to the same things over and over, you such as in the early years of your collection, especially, you end up knowing hem by heart and needing a break.
The huge difference is that it's always your decision: you play them a lot, you stop for some time, play them again; you have total control.

The big problem is when the repetition is forced upon you and you're helpless. that's when you grow tired to the point of disliking something.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 5:36 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Ludwig makes a great point. I agree there are some special pieces that will always touch me [DELERUE] for one because it is so rich in melody and style. Some things always work for me and some of those I don't over play because I want to make sure they will always be special to me.Meanwhile I definitely believe one can lose a bit of that love for a music piece if you listen just too much to it. This I feel is the problem with top 40 and film themes that became standards over the years. I feel it is possible with this music as years go by you actually start to become a bit bias against them, you don't want to hear them and you know it is good music. but enough is enough. In my life I am definitely always listening to something new and will at times revisit the music I really love.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 1:14 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Well, it is a question that has been posed for a long time, and I don't think there's a clearcut answer.

Take Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", for example. It belongs among the 'golden nuggets' of classical music and you can find it in almost everyone's collection, even those that are not particularly interested in classical music. Same goes for, say, Orff's "O Fortuna", loads of Mozart, Beethoven and a host of others. Even though they may be overplayed, there's still no denying their musical quality.

In fact, there's a REASON for why they've been played so much over the years, and the same goes for certain film music themes too. Ludwig mentions that it's because they have something 'off'. I would initiate such an argument with the opposite; it's because they provide comfort in predictability. In western, tonal music the satisfaction often stems from a return to a tonal centre. So to quote the morphology of music theory - when the expectations to such structures are fulfilled, we are pleased. Only when that is in place comes the 'off' bit in to give it something 'extra' that other, less memorable cues don't. This can be any number of things, often details relating to chord changes, instrumentation, melody lines etc. If it deviates TOO much from expected structures, it doesn't have the same impact.

Personally, I've always strived to see the excellence in such music and I do my best to create a sort of temporary 'tabula rasa' when I listen to the cues, even if I've heard them a million times before. Like Joan, I sometimes have to tread carefully and not play the cues TOO often in a row. JURASSIC PARK, for example, which still remains my alltime favourite score -- largely because of the theme. I can't play it every day, but have to portion it out throughout the year. I'm not afraid that familiarity will breed contempt -- which is too strong a word, I'm only afraid that familiarity will undermine some of the emotional impact of certain twists and turns in the music. One has to maintain a certain element of "surprise", even if you know what's coming.

It's the dynamic between expectations and surprise that creates the sustained staying power of such themes.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 1:27 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Double post.

 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 4:05 AM   
 By:   WillGoldNewtonBarryGrusin   (Member)

To answer the thread´s question: yes, of course.

If I listen to the same thing over and over, at some point it will bore me. Just like eating the same dish, reading the same book, watching the same movie, looking at the same painting.

But I have never experienced this contempt to last. In fact, some time off and distance create the need to listen to something again (in me at least). And it often happened that I really listened to that particular piece with a new perspective, discovering things which I had either forgotten or never paid attention to.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 5:29 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Joan, you've known me long enough to be able to answer that question yourself!

As for film music, or indeed any music, I find it self-regulating. If I start to get sated with some music, I find that I stop playing it quite so much. Pretty obvious, I suppose. I don't feel that I have to play a favourite piece every so often, otherwise I might feel somehow disloyal to it.

I read something interesting the other day about an ingredient of great music that chimes with a previous answer. Great music, said the writer, sets you up to expect certain things and then something unexpected occurs. They were saying it about Mozart and Beethoven, if I recall, but I personally find that proper "classical" music fails that test in the vast majority of cases - as does most "popular" music.

Perhaps because film music tends to be programmatic and has to follow the twists and turns on the screen, most of the stuff I like best DOES subvert my expectations. As do my favourite concert hall composers (let's call them), Shostakovich, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Tishchenko and a few others. I'm not going to list my favourite film composers because you know who they are - and who they ain't!

TG

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 8:01 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Interesting theories. I like Thor's idea about the "dynamic between expectations and surprise;" and Tall Guy kind of supports that idea with hearing the "unexpected." And like Willliamgold, I do try to distance myself.

Obviously we realize we need to SELF-REGULATE. We need to not saturate ourselves into repeated constant playing of a certain cue or score in order to avoid significantly diminishing our initial love of that score. I've learned that lesson. However, I'd like to add that sometimes it is our surroundings that perpetuate that diminishment. That is what happened to me with Lara's Theme and Rota's theme and others. Radio, TV, trailers, Musak (sp?), and so forth play certain cues so often, I grow weary of them. We might be able to regulate ourselves, but we can't always regulate our surroundings.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 9:20 AM   
 By:   ANHaupt1337   (Member)

“...for what desire would turn from so much deliciousness? But for whatever cause, it appeared to him better not to taste again. Perhaps the experience had been so complete that repetition would be vulgarity - like asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.”

--C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 4:57 PM   
 By:   follow me   (Member)

No, familiarity does not exactly breed "contempt", but- of course - one can get tired of ANY piece of music (and classical music is no exception here) sooner or later (depending on one´s taste and - probably [also VERY subjective] - on the geniality, inventiveness and complexity of the music). I have never had this problem, though, as I have always deliberately avoided listening too often to even my beloved John Barry -scores . So, in the end there are certainly many people who do know Barry-scores much better than I do, but I never will get tired of them.

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.