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 Posted:   May 13, 2019 - 1:02 AM   
 By:   Per   (Member)

What Hans Zimmer does NOT use is woodwinds. I think his synth background works against him here because woodwinds usually need to keep moving and that’s easier to understand if you’re classically trained. Also woodwinds can make a score sound old-fashioned and “classical” if used poorly so he probably doesn’t bother.

Where do people get this from, that Zimmer doesn't use woodwinds ? I can't speak for the recent scores from the last 10-15 years, but for many of his earlier scores, I would have said woodwinds (like panflute) was of the instruments he used a lot, and as a main instrument too.

I could have mentioned several things where he used woodwinds ... but too name one, which is the prime example I would say, is Beyond Rangoon ... do your research, "LOL" (which is the best reaction I can get for this one)

Edit: when I think about it, it's actually harder to find scores he didn't make the use of woodwinds in some way...

 
 
 Posted:   May 13, 2019 - 1:30 AM   
 By:   Per   (Member)

Hans Zimmer - (early scores, ah the good old days) - xylophone, woodwinds !, (electric) guitar, saxophone, piano, "light" (?) / "rythmic" (?) drums
Harry Gregson-Williams - the electric violin

 
 
 Posted:   May 13, 2019 - 2:29 AM   
 By:   jurassicmaromaro   (Member)

What Hans Zimmer does NOT use is woodwinds. I think his synth background works against him here because woodwinds usually need to keep moving and that’s easier to understand if you’re classically trained. Also woodwinds can make a score sound old-fashioned and “classical” if used poorly so he probably doesn’t bother.

Where do people get this from, that Zimmer doesn't use woodwinds ? I can't speak for the recent scores from the last 10-15 years, but for many of his earlier scores, I would have said woodwinds (like panflute) was of the instruments he used a lot, and as a main instrument too.

I could have mentioned several things where he used woodwinds ... but too name one, which is the prime example I would say, is Beyond Rangoon ... do your research, "LOL" (which is the best reaction I can get for this one)

Edit: when I think about it, it's actually harder to find scores he didn't make the use of woodwinds in some way...


You missed my follow up post. The example you gave is exactly the same as what I described which is that Zimmer really only uses "woodwinds" in a lyrical way, and his early stuff was mostly pan flutes, just like he also did in Rain Man. That's not difficult to write for and right in line with his synth background, and probably performed by Jeff Rona who is his go-to "woodwind" guy. The underscore of your Beyond Rangoon example is also exactly what I was describing, which is powerful and muscular layers of strings, brass and percussion with no woodwinds. The melody of course could be interchanged with strings or even brass as well because it doesn't have any characteristics specifically inherent to woodwind playing. Prince Of Egypt also has a couple moments where *gasp* oboe and clarinet are used in a semi-conventional sense but that's about it - also that soundtrack is pretty widely known (as most of Zimmer's music is) to have been put together by the Media Ventures team, which is only more information supporting Zimmer's own statements that he doesn't have enough formal training.

In any event, the Prisoner of Azakaban example I gave is virtuoso woodwind writing specifically for that instrument. Even simpler though, Williams uses woodwinds all throughout the Jurassic Park score, a great example where most of the tracks have woodwinds playing rhythm, scales, runs etc. which is what woodwinds classically excel at. Williams also uses all the different types of woodwinds. It's a staple of most of his action music because he's classically trained, understands how to use them in an orchestral context, and understands how to use them to add color to his music.

I agree with you that the Media Ventures stuff was vastly more interesting and versatile pre-2000 and established Zimmer's instruments of choice (percussion, brass and strings) layered in octaves for a dense, powerful sound.

 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 8:05 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

Max Steiner had a thing for harps. And harpists!

 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 12:40 PM   
 By:   jkruppa   (Member)


We might want to ask the question of why certain instruments might be used, which gets into orchestration techniques.


I'd be very interested in more discussion of this. One thing I've heard on the Art of the Score podcast (and maybe someone can back this up) is that the flute is traditionally an instrument to evoke a "girl" character and a clarinet is more of a "boy" character.

 
 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 1:44 PM   
 By:   jurassicmaromaro   (Member)


We might want to ask the question of why certain instruments might be used, which gets into orchestration techniques.


I'd be very interested in more discussion of this. One thing I've heard on the Art of the Score podcast (and maybe someone can back this up) is that the flute is traditionally an instrument to evoke a "girl" character and a clarinet is more of a "boy" character.


A lot of that has to do with how instruments represent the range of the human voice which is generically classified as low = male and high = female. That can also translate to low = maturity and high = youth/immaturity.

Apart from “vocal range” is the playing style: elegant/delicate = female and inelegant = male, and the performance style: agile/fast/fluttery = female/youth and slow/broad/steady = male. And of course culture plays a part as well.

So with your woodwind example you’re seeing that the flute (a high woodwind) is evocative of a “female” and the clarinet (a lower woodwind) is evocative of a “male”.

If you consider brass: Tuba, French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet are all played by blowing vast amounts of air into the the instruments and pressing big clunky keys. I point that out because brass is often associated with “male” and even though the trumpet is a higher-pitched brass, the playing style is not the most elegant.

This gets into cultural aspects - the use of trumpets for war calls, in military bands, etc. gives it a culturally “male” connotation.

The harp would be considered more feminine - while it has a range that is high to low, the way you play the instrument is very elegantly and your fingers are doing a lot of the movement. Of course you can do inelegant things like slap the strings and scrape them too, so it’s not a firm “rule”.

With violins and cellos, you bow both of them but the cello is larger, has a deeper range, and the fingering usually has less movement/agility/elegance than the violin.

So the general perceptions would be:

PERCUSSION = male
BRASS = male
WOODWINDS = female
STRINGS = female

Of course there are subgroups:

WOODWINDS
Piccolo = female
Flute = female
Clarinet = male/both
Oboe = male/both
Bassoon = male

STRINGS
Violin = female
Viola = female/both
Cello = male
Bass = male

As I write this though, the other thing is really the emotion - a female character who is having deep emotional thoughts about some mature subject is represented less by her gender and more by the emotions she’s feeling, so you might score that with cello.

But again, they’re not set rules but just generalizations. The real fun in composing is challenging yourself to communicate what needs to be communicated but changing expectations a bit smile

 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 4:06 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

In the 60s Barry used the cymbalom on Ipcress File, King Rat, Quiller Memorandum, Thunderball, and others; in the 70s The Persuaders.

More. like' overused' it.

 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

Max Steiner had a thing for harps. And harpists!

Why are harpists always women?

 
 Posted:   May 15, 2019 - 4:14 PM   
 By:   Justin Boggan   (Member)

I've heard quite a good deal of use of the trombone by Dennis McCarthy.

He's got a tromboner for the instrument.

 
 
 Posted:   May 20, 2019 - 5:44 PM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

Lalo Schifrin used the flute as a solo instrument extensively in tv, film, jazz, and concert pieces.

TV: T.H.E. Cat, his Man From Uncle arrangement, and the Mission: Impossible theme's most effective moment is when Schifrin introduces that cool flute line after all that pounding brass and percussion.

film: Bullitt, Che!, Once a Thief, the Cincinnati Kid (a bass flute!)

jazz: Leo Wright solos on flute on Gillespiana, Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts features several flute solos by Paul Horn, and on the Schifrin/Sade album flutist Jerome Richardon takes a nice solo.

concert: Concierto Caribeno for Flute and Orchestra

Many more examples, but that's off the top of my head

 
 Posted:   May 22, 2019 - 2:33 AM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

I was always stuck with Maurice Jarre's brilliant use of percussion. It's not an instrument per se, but generally its performers are listed as "percussionists" rather than by a single instrument. They seem to usually be proficient at just about anything you can hit with a stick, hammer, etc. Or course, it makes sense that Jarre would favor percussion because that is what he "specialized" in when doing his advanced music education.
In maybe the first half of his career (at least when he started doing Hollywood and international films) I could always identify a Jarre score before a single bit of melody played just by the flourish of percussion that started almost every score. Always very different and fitting for the film....from the pounding Arab drums of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA to the tinkly oriental sounds of GAMBIT and the castanets of THE PROFESSIONALS. This may be true of his early strictly French films too, but I am not familiar with most of them.
He seemed to use this opening less in later years, but his percussion use remained strong and sophisticated throughout most films. So different from today when a lot of percussion seems to be drum machines and electronic pounding. Or maybe they just get lost with the tendency of so many scores to have the orchestra blasting away tutti all the time.
Don't get me wrong, there were and are plenty of film composers who are great at percussion. I just think Jarre excelled because he was trained as a percussionist...much like Morricone was trained as a trumpet player and Goldsmith as a pianist. It shows in your work.
Anyone know other film composers who trained as percussionists?

 
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