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 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 2:45 PM   
 By:   Mark malmstrom   (Member)

You can hear that JAWS is a small orchetra - and PLANET OF THE APES is

Then cme STAR WARS with a symphonic orchestra and SUPERMAN

Was that the turning point where the L.A. studio orchestras were increased in size?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 7:21 PM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)

I would say around the mid-1930s through the mid-1960s the studios had their own music departments with full orchestras.
Golden Age composers were no longer in fashion after The Beatles' invasion of U.S.A.

The late-'60s/early-'70s were a 'lean' time for composers in the field.

By 1978, it became feasible for composers to record (or re-record for album purposes) in England with symphony orchestras. Consider The Fury or Damien: Omen II with their albums done in London but the initial film recording sessions done in CA.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 7:26 PM   
 By:   GoblinScore   (Member)

Tiomkin.

Fine.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 7:52 PM   
 By:   podres185   (Member)

The decline of the studio system and the resulting rise of independent film production put a sudden emphasis on budgets. With more films being independently financed, a movie score featuring a solo piano, or small ensemble of musicians, was far more attractive than one written for large orchestra. Composers such as Henry Mancini and even Elmer Bernstein became in greater demand.



 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 8:10 PM   
 By:   nuts_score   (Member)

You can hear that JAWS is a small orchetra - and PLANET OF THE APES is

Then cme STAR WARS with a symphonic orchestra and SUPERMAN

Was that the turning point where the L.A. studio orchestras were increased in size?


Quick question for ya: have you heard any score recorded before Planet of the Apes in 1968?

 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 10:30 PM   
 By:   ibelin   (Member)

Tiomkin.

Fine.


Especially 'Land of the Pharaohs'. Actually, quite a few films from the 1950s and 1960s had grand music. The MGM recording for the score to 'Ben-Hur' featured a one hundred piece orchestra, I believe. Riz Ortolani's 'Maya' (1966) has the grandest opening fanfare I've ever heard in a film. I wonder what the size of the orchestra was.

 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2023 - 11:47 PM   
 By:   Lokutus   (Member)

Then cme STAR WARS with a symphonic orchestra and SUPERMAN

Was that the turning point where the L.A. studio orchestras were increased in size?


Perhaps when they moved to London and changed their name to LSO.

 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 8:26 AM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

Tiomkin.

Fine.


Especially 'Land of the Pharaohs'. Actually, quite a few films from the 1950s and 1960s had grand music. The MGM recording for the score to 'Ben-Hur' featured a one hundred piece orchestra, I believe. Riz Ortolani's 'Maya' (1966) has the grandest opening fanfare I've ever heard in a film. I wonder what the size of the orchestra was.


Yeah, it was epic subjects that prompted the desire for epic orchestras -- and as you note, epics were all the rage during the 1950s and 60s.

The success of Star Wars of course brought about a renewed interest in big orchestras in the late 1970s. Even the incidental score for Thank God It's Friday used a big orchestra!

 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 12:10 PM   
 By:   johnonymous86   (Member)

Budget has a lot to do with the size of the orchestra.

For JAWS, that was basically a low budget picture where the majority of expense went to the effects and location photography. With STAR WARS, another relatively low-budget production, the reasons they used the LSO were Andre Previn had been trying to encourage Williams to record with them, the production was already housed in London, and the cost was cheaper than recording in the US at the time.

After the Star Wars LP went platinum, the LSO was a household name and it was STILL cheaper to record with them or one of the similar European orchestras than the standard LA players, hence the bevy of symphonic scores that sounded like STAR WARS.

That's my highly abbreviated take.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 12:31 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

Did most of the respondees completely miss the POINT of the question?

I think so. He's talking orchestra SIZE not the style of music. It's a simple question. The typical Hollywood soundtrack orchestra up until the mid-1970s was fifty to sixty players. And they all sound fine because the composers and orchestrators knew that's what the band was. You could configure that number of players in any number of ways. Then it suddenly was all about 100 players and huge choirs. They made do in classic huge orchestral scores just fine without all those extra players.

 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 1:43 PM   
 By:   ibelin   (Member)

He's talking orchestra SIZE not the style of music.

There's a correlation between the two. I know that orchestras can make themselves sound bigger than they really are, but if you have the money to hire more players, why wouldn't you? When epics were in demand in the 1950s and 1960s, they had huge budgets. 'Ben-Hur' had the largest budget of any film at the time. Like I said, the original MGM recording of 'Ben-Hur' featured a hundred-piece orchestra. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra recording from 2017, to my ears at least, sounds a bit stifled at parts. I ASSUME that the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra had less than a hundred pieces.

Though the average orchestra size was fifty to sixty players, huge projects allowed for more players.

Then it suddenly was all about 100 players and huge choirs

Is this true, though? You really think film projects started to be 'all about a hundred players and huge choirs'? I just don't think it's true that tons of film projects, which is what you seem to be implying with your wording, began to use these huge orchestras and choirs. I could easily see the score to 'Star Wars' requiring eighty or so players, but a hundred sounds like too much. Maybe the average orchestra size HAS increased from what it was in the 1950s and 1960s, but definitely not to a hundred players.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 5:32 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Beware of Hollywood publicity: Weeklong sessions might feature dozens of different players showing up for a gig or two. PR flacks can spin the numbers into Mahlerian proportions.

 
 Posted:   Sep 9, 2023 - 6:35 PM   
 By:   Col. Flagg   (Member)

I'm surprised no one's mentioned the technology factor. According to some top scoring mixers, it was the standardization of multi-track release formats that influenced the demand for larger ensembles – if you ignore Fantasound, this started with a trickle in the early 50's and hit the ground running with Dolby Stereo destined for 70mm six-track release in the late 70s.

 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

Beware of Hollywood publicity: Weeklong sessions might feature dozens of different players showing up for a gig or two. PR flacks can spin the numbers into Mahlerian proportions.

Good point -- I've come across people who were under the impression that certain scores featured somewhere in the range of 150 players, because the CD credited all the players who performed on the session over several days.

Some people think because Quest For Fire credited the London Symphony and London Philharmonic it meant both orchestras were engaged simultaneously!

 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 9:45 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 10:01 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Yeah. And I've been thinking about Richard Rodney Bennett and his big orchestral sound in Nicholas And Alexandra, particularly the summer scene, if memory serves. Often in film it feels like the orchestra is right there as an unseen presence. Here it felt distinctly like a concert hall performance had been grafted onto the film. It's something of an acoustical thing in the ear, I don't know if I'm being properly descriptive, but the aesthetic is pronounced.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 10:11 AM   
 By:   roy phillippe   (Member)

You can hear that JAWS is a small orchetra - and PLANET OF THE APES is

Then cme STAR WARS with a symphonic orchestra and SUPERMAN

Was that the turning point where the L.A. studio orchestras were increased in size?


Alfred Newman at Fox

 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 11:24 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

Intrada and La-La Land frequently credit AFM musicians in their liner notes, so we know the size of orchestras for many films. Here are some examples:

The Caine Mutiny (1953) 50 musicians
The Robe (1953) 106 musicians
Hell and High water (1954) 96 musicians
Gunfight at the OK Corral (1954) 55 musicians
Giant (1956) 105 musicians
The Young Lions (1958) 57 musicians
The Miracle (1959) 84 musicians
House of Usher (1960) 50 musicians
The Great Escape (1963) 77 musicians
Flight of the Phoenix (1965) 77 musicians

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 11:29 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

To coin an oft used phrase - it is not how big it is but what you do with it that counts.

 
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2023 - 11:48 AM   
 By:   JohnnyG   (Member)

Exactly. That's why a 100-piece orchestra can sound "emptier" than a 70-piece one. Composers and orchestrators back then, in the golden and silver age, knew that perfectly well.

 
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