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 Posted:   Aug 25, 2018 - 7:48 PM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

Post four of your favorite quotes about film music — or quotes from film composers. If it is an observation about film music, it can be from anyone — composer, filmmaker, fan, your Aunt Tilly, whoever. However, if it is a quote from a film composer it doesn’t have to be about film music specifically (though it should pertain to music or art).

As far as who qualifies as a “film composer”, lets say it is anyone who scored a feature film — even if it was just one movie. (So yes, Leonard Bernstein and Bill Wyman qualify.)

Oh, and please cite your sources. You don’t need to provide the ISBN, but please provide the title (and date if possible) if it is a book, magazine, documentary, TV interview, etc., or URL if it is a youtube video or online article. Please only use sources that can be corroborated (claiming you heard James Horner’s voice from behind a public toilet stall does not count).

I’ll start with mine…

“Music is the most emotional of all the art forms. It reaches depths that no other form of art can reach, and I think that no other personal experience in life can reach.”

— Jerry Goldsmith (The Movie Channel, 1983)

“The film music in Hollywood today is in danger. Many composers don’t even read music, or for one reason or another have no business writing for a full orchestra. Other composers create their scores by recording each section individually — the strings, the woodwinds, the brass, the percussion — and mixing them together in the studio, which to me is like shooting all of Humphrey Bogart’s scenes first, and then all of Ingrid Bergman’s scenes, and then editing them together in post. And it’s part of the reason to me that we’re not hearing anything approaching the level of art that John Williams has been giving us for decade after decade.”

— Seth MacFarlane (AFI Tribute to John Williams, 2016)

"I do think the composer without the ability to orchestrate is without some essential tools. Just from a timbral point of view, the orchestral setting in terms of the scene in the film can be more important than the melodic or rhetorical material. One can admire a providentially given gift, but what you respect is someone who has all of it: the natural talent it all sits on, but also all the tools and technical expertise to bring it forward."

-- John Williams (

"I've never taken an exam, and I'd probably flunk if I did. My favorite composers -- Prokofiev, Shostakovitch, Bartok, Stravinsky -- generally break all the rules of composition anyway."

-- John Barry (liner notes from "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movies Hits", PEG Records)

 Posted:   Aug 25, 2018 - 7:51 PM   
 By:   Jim Cleveland   (Member)

"TURN THAT SHIT DOWN!!!!!" - My sister big grinbig grinbig grin

 Posted:   Aug 25, 2018 - 8:48 PM   
 By:   W. David Lichty [Lorien]   (Member)

Robert Bresson once said something like, "When you see an image, you can seldom imagine music, but when you hear music, you can always imagine images."

That's why film composers have a *very* difficult job and that's why I consider them heroes.

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 6:03 AM   
 By:   Hurdy Gurdy   (Member)

I always liked the Doug Trumbull quotes in the Brainstorm liner notes which finishes with 'He just turned 30. Frightening'
I also really like MY comment* in a review I wrote for Movie Music or Music From The Movies about a James Horner score which went something like 'the writer/director/actor can place the tear in your eye, but it's James Horner who makes it spill'.
I remember seeing it quoted in that French Horner glossy/colour fanzine and feeling all proud smile

*but I stole it from my Aunt Tilly wink

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 6:45 AM   
 By:   Adam.   (Member)

I don't have four. Just one.

At the 1986 Oscar telecast...when Cocoon won for Best Visual Effects.

When accepting the award Ken Ralston said (and I'm paraphasing here) "What made the effects special was James Horner's music score, which made the effects twice as good as they were."

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 6:59 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

I've heard this attributed to different sources, but the sentiment says it all:

"Everyone in Hollywood is an expert at two jobs - his own and music!"

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 7:15 AM   
 By:   Bill Carson, Earl of Poncey   (Member)

There are a lot of amateurs and dilletantes in film music today, many cant even orchestrate their own scores. If it was up to me, i would win the Oscar every year!" wink

- our man in Rome.

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 7:31 AM   
 By:   celluloid70   (Member)

"TURN THAT SHIT DOWN!!!!!" - My sister big grinbig grinbig grin

Nice one. Over the years I got that from my Mom, then in later years from my wife and now it's from the next door neighbour. LOL

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 7:57 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

"Film music, without film, is music." - anonymous

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 7:59 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

Bernard Herrmann had a quote (so you know it's good). I think it was ifrom an interview with Royal S, Brown in High Fidelity Magazine; I think it might have also been used in Steven Smith's Herrmann bio. It's not short, I don't have it in front me, so I'm going to paraphrase it.

BH was lamenting the trend of producers wanting hit songs. So he said it's like going to the doctor, the doctor cures you . . . but then the doctor looks at the patient and says: "You look unhappy. What's wrong? I cured you and you look unhappy." The patient replies: "You may have cured me, but you didn't make me rich, also."

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 8:39 AM   
 By:   DougAdams   (Member)

“Our young composers, instead of writing hundreds of useless operas yearly, should devote themselves to the films.”

-Richard Strauss, 1926

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 9:18 AM   
 By:   ryanpaquet   (Member)

From composer Sean Beeson on Twitter:

"When someone tells me my music is crap, this is what I send them back."

From composer Jon Everist in my interview with him:

"One man’s trash is another man’s instrument."

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 9:23 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

I've heard this attributed to different sources, but the sentiment says it all:

"Everyone in Hollywood is an expert at two jobs - his own and music!"

Or, as attributed to Alfred Newman: "Out here everybody knows his own job -- plus music!"

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 9:23 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

"A film composer's immortality lasts from the recording stage to the dubbing room." E.W. Korngold

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 9:39 AM   
 By:   Mathias   (Member)

"Choosing the right composer is like choosing the right actors. You let them go with their instincts and their sensitivities. And Ennio Morricone is a genius, really" Brian de Palma

"Ennio Morricone is the singular talent of the 20th century, as far as film music is concerned. There is nobody else. There are other styles. There’s John Williams, of course. There’s Erich Korngold. There’s Bernard Herrmann. There are a handful of great composers. But Ennio for me personally is so above everybody. His inventiveness and his gracefulness and his daring, and at the same time the emotionality, the core truth in his music, the true heart. Which other composer reveals as much about their own heart as Ennio Morricone does?" Hans Zimmer

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 10:16 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

"Everyone in Hollywood is an expert at two jobs - his own and music!"

Or, as attributed to Alfred Newman: "Out here everybody knows his own job -- plus music!"

I wonder where this quote originated. The first time I ever heard it, it was in the '90s, and a veteran television director told me "You know what they say, everybody in this town knows his own job, plus directing!" I thought it was amusing.

Then a few years later, an editor told me the same thing, except about editing. And I remembered wondering if it started about directors or editors.

And then way later, I read it on this board, attributed to Newman. Later, I heard a representative of the Writers Guild say it about writing!

So I have to wonder… did it start as a quotation about composers, or about directors, editors, writers, or some other field? Regardless, it's clearly infinitely adaptable! (We here in the entertainment industry are a cranky lot!)

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 10:28 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

"One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear." - Maurice Jarre

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 10:34 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

I saw a video once of Rachel Portman accepting an award--the Richard Kirk?--and she said that she had a cartoon that someone gave her wherein a movie producer is moaning about how awful his movie is. I'm going by memory, so I'm paraphrasing: "The movie stinks. The acting sucks, the direction sucks, the cinematography sucks, the editing sucks . . ." "So, what are you going to do?" "Change the music."

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 10:37 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

OK, so it's not about film music, but what a quote. Frank Zappa once said that "rock journalism is people who can't write writing about people who can't play for people who can't read."

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2018 - 10:51 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

I'm going to make it easy for myself and choose four from the dust jacket of the Irwin Bazelon book "Knowing the Score" -

"No music has ever saved a bad picture, but a lot of good pictures have saved a lot of bad music." (Jerry Goldsmith)

"Film composers are often juxta-posers." (Lalo Schifrin)

"You would be surprised how often a film composer is just thought of as somebody who comes to paint the walls of your house." (Richard Rodney Bennett)

"As a group, the composers are the most literate people in Hollywood. They are the intelligent, well-informed artists. They should be making the films." (Leonard Rosenman)

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