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:   Jun 12, 2024 - 3:01 AM   
 By:   Kentishsax   (Member)

I've often thought about this over the years. Pretty much everyone says that Star Wars changed Hollywood and everyone started using orchestral scores again. I used to be on the same bandwagon, as I started recognising film scores because of Star Wars, at age 10. I started to buy the odd one here and there. But now I see social media posts saying that, for instance, 1984 was forty years ago and I think naah, feels like twenty max! And it got me thinking.

Anyway, it's often said that Charles Gerhardt's 1970s film score classics LPs were heard by the likes of Spielberg and Lucas and that's why they wanted those type of scores. But composers were still writing orchestral scores before Star Wars (supplemented with electronics here and there).

Johnny himself was doing them all through the period from the late golden age to Star Wars, such as Jaws in 1975. Jerry had Papillon in 1973, Wind and the Lion in 1975 and a host of others and so did all the other traditional composers.

So why exactly do people still credit Star Wars for reviving the orchestral sound in film, when it never actually went away, as far as I believe?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 3:08 AM   
 By:   Clark Wayne   (Member)

Because the soundtracks sold like Topsy in an era of disco and pop song scores.

The orchestra didn't disappear it just became less popular because it was more lucrative to cram pre existing songs onto an LP and have a best selling album.

Williams, with Jaws 1 and 2, CE3K, Star Wars and Superman in quick succession in the mid to late 70s became a household name, that continued well into the 80s with Raiders, Empire, Jedi and ET following quickly.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 3:16 AM   
 By:   Kentishsax   (Member)

ET following quickly.

I think ET is Johnny's best ever score.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 4:10 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

What Clarke said!

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 4:20 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

Indeed, the orchestra never "went away", it was always there, in classical as well as in film music. I think it's just a question of what is the "in" sound at the moment, what is prominently used and "copied". So when STAR WARS came along, it became fashionable for big blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy movies to boast a "John Williams" (or "big orchestral") sound. That doesn't literally mean the orchestra went away before STAR WARS, obviously not.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 4:37 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Maybe if Star Wars had been a flop , then orchestral scores would have stayed out of fashion,maybe. And it would have still been John who? Until..........

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 5:49 AM   
 By:   Kentishsax   (Member)

Indeed, the orchestra never "went away", it was always there, in classical as well as in film music. I think it's just a question of what is the "in" sound at the moment, what is prominently used and "copied". So when STAR WARS came along, it became fashionable for big blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy movies to boast a "John Williams" (or "big orchestral") sound. That doesn't literally mean the orchestra went away before STAR WARS, obviously not.

Yes but I don't hold with the common vernacular that Star Wars changed Hollywood. I would like to see more jazz inflected scores again!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 7:30 AM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)


So why exactly do people still credit Star Wars for reviving the orchestral sound in film, when it never actually went away, as far as I believe?


People who collected soundtrack LPs from the 1950s & 1960s tend to regard 1964 as the 'end' of Golden Age Hollywood scoring.
Composers who worked in the industry from the 1930s through the early '60s had become unfashionable and no longer 'en vogue'.
Hugo Friedhofer had 8 of his scores on LP but, after One Eyed Jacks, basically nothing after 1961 (a similar situation with Frank Skinner, too).
Franz Waxman also had 8 LP albums between 1956 & 1962.
Miklos Rozsa went out of fashion after 1963's V.I.P.s as did Dimitri Tiomkin when his Fall of the Roman Empire did not win an Award for music.
By 1968, Daniele Amfitheatrof had gotten a job as an insurance salesman because he was no longer being employed to write film music.
Audiences and producers alike wanted more contemporary sounds, so younger composers were sought to provide music which avoided sentimentality and old-school schmaltz.
Bear in mind also that there was a significant musicians strike in 1958 which was yet another nail in the coffin for the Golden Age studio system.

When Love Story won instead of Patton, my understanding is that Jerry Goldsmith chatted with Alex North about the possibilities of opening up restaurants as alternatives to the 1971 film scoring scenes which favored acid rock/funk idioms over hoary romanticism.

Symphonic music was not absent. It receded from the center stage temporarily to permit other musical genres to have their place in the sun until their currency faded and the time was ripe for a comeback.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)






I hope that's the orchestra ( term used loosely) that played those cover versions that I bought, when I started collecting.smile

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)



Yes but I don't hold with the common vernacular that Star Wars changed Hollywood. I would like to see more jazz inflected scores again!


Well, STAR WARS did change Hollywood... a lot. There is a clear "before/after" STAR WARS that's quite visible when you look at Hollywood history. Which is no surprise, because STAR WARS changed a lot of things. It was not just the most successful science-fiction movie ever made, or a considerable box office hit, no it was the biggest box office hit of all time, despite going against all of conventional Hollywood wisdom at the time. (Irwin Allen reportedly was befuddled by the success of STAR WARS... as there weren't even a lot of stars in it.) When something like that happens, of course, "Hollywood" takes notice and looks how it can somehow "learn" from that success (and ideally repeat it).

Of course one can debate the details, and one cannot ever "prove" influence of one thing over another, but by and large, there is considerable consensus that STAR WARS had an enormous impact on Hollywood and the type of movies that were produced (apart from a few exceptions, science-fiction movies were more or less "B-budget" affairs, after STAR WARS, there were many big budget blockbuster (attempts) produced). And having a "Music composed by John Williams" credit was a considerable credential (so much so that Golan/Globus really wanted that name on the movie poster for their SUPERMAN film).

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 8:55 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Sure, there were some classically composed scores in the 70’s like The Three Musketeers and Swashbuckler but they were far and few inbetween.

Even Williams early 70’s blockbusters Towering Inferno and Earthquake were rather minimalist.

But Star Wars in particular was the sound producers wanted in their films and there was a huge resurgence in sci fi, fantasy, adventure films which would benefit from such a sound.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 9:08 AM   
 By:   MichaelM   (Member)

The mid-sixties to mid-seventies are definitely the transition from film music's "Golden Age" to what we call "Silver Age" (I think FSM actually coined that term in regards to film scores).

Many of the Golden Age composers died or retired during that period. At the same time, the youth culture movement of the sixties changed everything, not just film music.

The phenomenal success of the Bond scores (and title songs) as well as films like THE GRADUATE and EASY RIDER led to Hollywood producers increasingly seeking out more pop-oriented music for their films that could be marketed as soundtrack albums. The Hitchcock/Herrmann fallout over TORN CURTAIN is perhaps the most significant example of how times were changing.

Most of the Silver Age composers like Henry Mancini, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Johnny Williams etc. could easily adapt to and incorporate the contemporary groove into their scores when appropriate.

Although it was definitely a period of transition and adjustment, the orchestra did not go away completely.

Films like PLANET OF THE APES, THE LION IN WINTER, PATTON, AIRPORT, THE TOWERING INFERNO, JAWS, THE WIND AND THE LION, etc. needed orchestral scores, not Simon & Garfunkel songs. But yes, the majority of films between 1966 and 1976 had pop-style scores.

The success of Charles Gerhardt's Classic Film Scores series was fueled by nostalgia of the generation that had grown up watching classic Hollywood films either in the theater or on TV. It also didn't hurt that these recordings were classy, gold-standard audiophile productions backed by a major record label.

It always amazes me that THE SEA HAWK was only 32 years old when the first Classic Film Scores album came out. That's how old BASIC INSTINCT is now. And indeed, films of the 80s and 90s are now the beloved classics of the Gen X/early millennial generation.

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 11:17 AM   
 By:   John Schuermann   (Member)

Great all the thoughtful replies here.

People often complain about the level of discourse on the FSM board, but I'm rather impressed by it. Most here express themselves well; most opinions are well considered. There's also a wonderful lack of horrible grammatical and spelling errors.

I would guess that the average film score fan has an average than higher IQ. Just compare the discourse here to what you see in other fandom groups - it's much more thoughtful and well expressed here than elsewhere.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 11:34 AM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)


I would guess that the average film score fan has an average than higher IQ.


Most of us have La-La Land's I.Q., but I'm one of those who prefer Goldsmith's Seconds over I.Q.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 11:37 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)



Most of us have La-La Land's I.Q., but I'm one of those who prefer Goldsmith's Seconds over I.Q.


As.long as they're not sloppy.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 12:53 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)



Yes but I don't hold with the common vernacular that Star Wars changed Hollywood. I would like to see more jazz inflected scores again!


Well, STAR WARS did change Hollywood... a lot. There is a clear "before/after" STAR WARS that's quite visible when you look at Hollywood history.


If the subject is music, it did not change a thing. It restored what was. Not for nothing that Spiely's nickname for JW is "Max."

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 1:10 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

Studios and producers tended to rely less and less on big, leitmotif driven, orchestral scores, as others have noted from some time in the 50’s and that trend continued up until “Star Wars” exploded so unexpectedly. I tend to date the onset of that trend to when Alfred Newman left his management role at 20th Century Fox, but that may be historically inaccurate!

I lived and breathed films and film scores throughout that period, and belonged age-wise to the generation that Hollywood was trying to engage in the 1960’s and 70’s with pop scores and jukebox scores. “Easy Rider” of course was a huge influence in that regard, as were other so called “youth oriented” films like “The Graduate” and so many others. The studios learned that it was easy to sell albums of pop and/or pop sounding music to the kids and teens, and they went at it gung-ho – and they made money off of the albums. Profits from the release of orchestral scores had always been hit and miss, if they were released at all. It was hugely profitable when it worked for pop scores. Some composers like Mancini, Barry, Goldsmith, and Bernstein (even Williams) were able to continue the tradition of orchestral scores but in a much more muted fashion. It became the rage to say that the best scores served their films in the best way when one didn’t notice them – the fetish of the “subliminal” if you will.

Those of us who loved big orchestral scores and themes that often carried films by moving their flourishes to the foreground were often told that such music was “old fashioned” and not keeping with the times. Scores with electronic elements, however primitive, also were lionized for having a “new” sound.

The impact of world cinema in this regard was also huge – with many films unscored and or featuring wistful, jazzy, or beautifully winsome music that certainly imparted moods.

So that kind of music sold lps and singles – and it flourished.

Orchestral scores, of course, continued on and were acknowledged from time to time. But it wasn’t considered to be an opinion for hip folks to express.

There were other factors in play, though. Elmer Bernstein started his film music club devoted to rerecordings of classic orchestral scores. Other specialty labels started that focused on unreleased scores. Younger folks, like me, were emboldened to express our love of classic scores. Gerhardt released his albums. Herrmann was “rediscovered” by a new generation of filmmakers who embraced his notion that music was a factor that could raise a film to a new level of impact. Spielberg, especially, was never shy about his love of classic Hollywood scoring. His devotion to Williams was amazingly against the grain – or so it seemed to me at the time.

So when “Star Wars” opened, I was there for the first public NYC showing all those years ago. I had no idea what the film would be – just a general sense that it had a pulpy SF vibe and was directed by the guy who did “American Graffiti.” That first blast of music – unashamedly loud, in your face, and unmistakably orchestral, was overpowering in its impact. Apparently, likewise for others!

The impact of "Star Wars" on cinema's scoring culture, it seems to me, is that it brought the romantic, European, classically foregrounded, orchestral, leitmotiv, scores back into the realm where they could compete again for critical admiration and general popularity without too much scorn.

Just my reductive take which may be skewed and simplistic, God knows!

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 1:20 PM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)



Most of us have La-La Land's I.Q., but I'm one of those who prefer Goldsmith's Seconds over I.Q.


As.long as they're not sloppy.


Took me a moment.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 1:34 PM   
 By:   MichaelM   (Member)



I would guess that the average film score fan has an average than higher IQ. Just compare the discourse here to what you see in other fandom groups - it's much more thoughtful and well expressed here than elsewhere.


It takes a certain amount of sophistication to appreciate the genius behind things like "The Gremlin Rag" or "Ewok Celebration".

We are humanity's last hope.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 1:34 PM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)



Most of us have La-La Land's I.Q., but I'm one of those who prefer Goldsmith's Seconds over I.Q.


As.long as they're not sloppy.


Took me a moment.



I like to throw in a hard one now and again( if you pardon the phrase).

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2024 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.
Website maintained and powered by Veraprise and Matrimont.