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 Posted:   Sep 9, 2019 - 6:04 PM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

I offer another example, Graham, similar to yours in your initial post.
When listening to Richard Rodney Bennett's music for Sherlock Holmes in New York can anyone detect it was conducted by ... Leonard Rosenman?
(don't tell this to Bruce R. Marshall because Bruce hates Lenny).
Even the esteemed expert on Rosenman - TheFamousEccles - may not be able to decipher any Rosenman input in that Bennett soundtrack.


If it's the meaning of Graham's initial question, it's more related to the style of the composer as a conductor.

A composer/conductor who conducts someone else music won't change the music to make it sound like if it was composed by him.

It's still possible though, I don't have example in film music in mind, but as I said in another thread when Bernard Herrmann conducted Honegger's Pastorale d'été he made it sound like Bax or Vaughan Williams.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2019 - 12:16 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Furthermore, I would say that a composer/conductor who would make the music of someone else sound like if it was his own would be a very bad conductor.

The composer/conductor's style is also not to be searched in his compositions but in the way he conducts an orchestra and the sound he gets from it.

Composing and conducting are two different arts.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2019 - 4:27 AM   
 By:   Nils   (Member)

This may be slightly off-center of the topic, but...

The (non-professional) wind orchestra I play in is sometimes used as a rehearsal orchestra for conductor students, which is a fun and fascinating experience. During a few hours we are conducted by maybe 6-8 students, and even though they've all had the same basic training, it’s remarkable how differently they do things - both physically with arms, hands and body language, in how and what kind of instructions they give, and in how they interact with us musicians. Their very personality and where they are on the introvert-extrovert scale is quite crucial for what kind of energy and engagement they can elicit from the orchestra.

Most of them are quite good, but I do remember this one guy from a few years back. He was more or less like a zombie - completely stiff, and basically unable to give us any hints about how he wanted things like phrasings, dynamics, transitions and accents. He looked like he had more than enough just counting to four with his arms. And our performance was just like him - lifeless and dull. This went on for a couple of minutes, before the instructor - a professional conductor - stopped him and said, “Here, let me show you something”, took over the baton, and did what good conductors do: communicated his intentions in an expressive way. And we sounded like a totally different orchestra.

Of course, the difference wouldn't be as great with a professional orchestra, who would probably more or less ignore the zombie and do their own thing anyway.

But yes, conductors definitely can have a big impact on a performance. Then again, would I have noticed if ALIEN had been conducted by Goldsmith instead of Lionel Newman? No, probably not. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2019 - 6:04 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

For what it's worth, Miklos Rozsa said he could detect the point at which he took over conducting the THIEF OF BAGDAD score from Muir Mathieson. Of course he would know; he was there. I've never noticed any serious disjunction in the music, even though there was a change of orchestra personnel and recording studio (as well as conductor) when the production moved to Hollywood in 1940. (I admit I've never listened critically.) The so-called Grand Canyon sequence (presumably for the djinni's flight) and the concluding melee in the palace were among the scenes filmed in Hollywood and presumably conducted by Rozsa.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2019 - 7:27 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Good stuff all - thanks for keeping this going. We're moving into unexpected territory now, but that's what "the man down the pub" does, and that's how I like to see this Board.

I feel that Nono's correct in that a conductor should probably avoid trying to make a piece sound as though he himself had actually composed it, but it's an extreme example and I'm not sure it's ever been done.

Indeed, Eccles is Famous enough to know that Leonard Rosenman didn't use the click-track when conducting, even when conducting music by RR Bennett. I'll bet the esteemed member an Eccles Cake that even he would never detect Rosenman holding the baton on that score, just as I can't detect Marcus Dods at the podium on James Bernard's THE GORGON (this was just after Hollingsworth's death, and before Hammer had found a replacement in Philip Martell). It's interesting to read the Rózsa-Mathieson stuff posted by Rozsaphile, but I'm a mere mortal and the only thing I can be sure of is that I'd recognize a score conducted by me. That's all.

Zardoz swung things out further. Yes, we've had some threads about a "British" sound, a wider "European" sound, and the sound of scores recorded in the USA. Not much talk of Japan or Australia yet, but I think that's enough to be going on with for the moment. Were all the Jerry Fielding-scored films directed by Michael Winner recorded in England? Whatever, not even the experts are entirely sure if it was Fielding or David Whitaker conducting LAWMAN. But even I, in my ignorance, can "imagine" that I hear a typically English recording tecnique behind those scores. A certain ambience, more spacious.

Now that I've opened myself up to nincompoopery, I may as well nutmeg on. I think we spoke about this on another thread, but I recently bought the 5-CD set from Network of Albert Elms' scores for MAN IN A SUITCASE. Knowing THE PRISONER, THE BARON, RANDALL AND HOPKIRK, plus the Gerry Anderson shows, I kind of group the likes of Elms, Ron Grainer, Edwin Astley, Barry Gray et al as occupying the same aural universe. I'd never confuse that "sound" with the USA-made spy shows of those times. I suppose that we'd have to think about how light music, pop (popular) music, jazz, and orchestral/symphonic music first appeared and was developed over time in different parts of the world. It's a complex issue.

It's so complex in fact that even though I boldly said that I'd never confuse the '60s Brit spy/ action TV scores with their American counterparts, I'd still never be able to tell if it was Jerry Goldsmith or Samuel Matlovsky conducting them.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2019 - 7:04 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

This update might not be of much interest, but I think I might have evolved musically since last week. I'm proud to be at plankton level now.

I'd always been familiar with David Raksin's 25-minute suite from FOREVER AMBER, which he did for the RCAVictor series of recordings. I love that suite so much. It's glorious. But it had been a while since I'd played the Varese edition, which is of course much longer (though still incomplete), and conducted by Alfred Newman. Well, because I'd been so used to the suite, it was really noticeable how different the original soundtrack is. It may be a simple case of the "Newman-Fox Orchestra", but right there during the Main Titles there's an upward-sweeping string moment - it is just a moment - which made me forget that it was a Raksin score. It was just so Alfred Newman! Other themes which don't appear on the Raksin-conducted suite also have that (almost "too") sweet string sound, which I've never idendified with Raksin. I always hear a harder edge in Raksin's scores.

So there you go. I may not have been able to identify the conductors on both recordings if I didn't know who they were beforehand. But if I were blindfolded and told to identify the one conducted by Newman, I think I'd have got that right. So praise the Lord, I'm plankton.

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2019 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

The general question "do conductors have a recognizable style?" is easily answered with "yes". Easy to answer because there are certain conductors whose style can easily be recognized. I can easily spot if Karajan conducts Beethoven's sixth symphony or Bernstein Mahler's 5th or Boulez' Ravel's Ma mere l'Oye or Abbado Brahms 4th symphony. That is not to say conductors force "their style" on anything, but I think it is very natural to just "have" a certain "style", a "vision", so to speak, if you are a performing artist, and that is what a conductor is, a performing artist.

In film music, it is more difficult to determine if conductors such as Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams do have a recognizable style, as they tend to conduct repertoire that few other conductors tackle (mostly their own), but I would just presume that they do, it's just not as obvious as in classical music. Jerry Goldsmith has a very recognizable style as a composer, but I would not be able to distinguish whether a score like ALIEN was conducted by him or Lionel Newman, so I just take their word for it. If it said on the Album cover "composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith" (though it was actually Lionel Newman) I would not have noticed that it was not him.

However, if Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams would all decide to record independently from each other the complete works of Miklós Rózsa and one would compare these recordings, presumably one would find certain individual characteristics to their interpretations, so that one could distinguish between their approaches to the music, something that is then referred to as a "recognizable style".

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2019 - 8:12 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

I was thinking about the The Egyptian which is an excellent example for this topic. As John Morgan says :

"Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman shared conducting duties in the original recording sessions, with each conducting his own music. They each had their own emphasis and conducting styles to bring to the music: Newman insisted on precision, smoothness, and absolute beauty of tone, while Herrmann stressed energy and in-your-face dynamics, which resulted in a certain barbaric roughness to his performance. I am particularly pleased that conductor Bill Stromberg was able to bring these disparate conducting styles into his own interpretation of the music."


I believe that Newman conducted the entire album (save for some vocal bits derived from the original film tracks). If so, the Decca album offers a chance to test this Morgan's thesis.


The differences are quite obvious in the OST itself, just listen to the way Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann conduct the strings : they sound fuller and warmer with Newman, but tauter and more intense with Herrmann.

The album recording confirms these differences.

 
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