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John Debney Thread

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if it's allowed? ol

I don't mind John Debney... but I do think that he's probably one of the most plagauristic of the modern film composers.

For example, almost the ENTIRE score to Hocus Pocus--a great score/film--sounds like other things... there's actually a statement of the empererors theme... but without the theme... like... the chord progression and sound are the same thing... just minus the mens choir...

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Am I the only one who didn't like Cutthroat Island?

At first I didn't like either, but it's one of those scores that are so busy that you have to learn the different layers, and then appreciate it as a whole...

Once you do, it has some of the most relentless and amazing and exciting music you'll have set ears to listening to.

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ha! I heard his music for the Disney World Spectro Magic Parade! Its fun but so cheesy! I love the Passion, although its very Gladiator, still sounds great in context of the film.

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While I don't dislike Debney or his scores, his total lack of unique voice or style makes me not take him too seriously. He does a great job of channeling Williams, Arnold, Goldsmith, Howard, Silvestri and Horner, but I've never heard a 'John Debney score'.

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my thoughts exactly...

His uncanny ability to sound like everyone else is amazing. He can pull sounds from other composers into his scores... I love Hocus Pocus becuase it's a fun score that is well written... and sounds like a Hans Zimmer/John Williams hybrid...

I mean, think of the end when the boy is reunited with his sister and they walk through the gate of the graveyard (Heaven)... "Saying Goodbye" from ET anyone? I mean... even the damn Timpani! lol

The End Credits are even reminicient of "Amazing Stories," "space Camp" and maybe some of the old 60's JW like "Towering Inferno" mixed with a Disney sound...

The Witches music sounds like Hook mixed with maybe Elfman's "Batman" score...

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his cutthroat island was amazing, but nothing of his has really interested me.  Yeah he does plagiarize alot off the top of my head I can say Elf sounds alot like the Polar Express, and Zathura sounds like Hook.

I must offer another point of view however. What are the chances that Debney had heard all the other scores and bothered to figure out the chord progressions and use almost hte same melody? What are the chances that most composers we accuse of plagiarism actually commit plagiarism? I would like to offer the theory (which many people seem to forget) that they independently came upon the same idea! WHOA! Yep that's right, they independently came up of the same idea. What are the chances that Debney listens to every single score by everyone else? very few. its just most of tonal music has 7 notes, and there are only so many permutations of them. if you plan to end on a dominant tonic relation, then chances are your melody ends with leading tone-tonic. etcetc.

What is the proof? For one thing, Polar Express (2004) was written AFTER elf (2003). So shouldn't we be arguing that Alan Silvestri copied Debney? :angry:

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but Star Wars and ET were written before Hocus Pocus lol

Although, in all fairness, If I'm not mistaken, Hocus Pocus was originally to be composed and was partially started by Hans Zimmer... but because of other projects he had to drop off the project and John Debney was brought on at the last minute...

So for a score written at the last minute, it's great...but at the same time... has no sound of it's own but rather sounds from other films.

It's not so much plagaurism I'm speaking to, it's an original "sound."

Look at the scores done by John Williams. People accuse him of stealing other peoples work because of similar chord progressions or intervolic relationships... but his sound is almost always quite original, and you can tell what score the music is for because of the sound....

Few modern composers seem to be able to produce this effect... and John Debney is mostly a cacophony of many sounds all in one...

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Cutthroat Island is one of the few scores that I enjoy every single note of. I never really appreciated it until the complete release, though. Then it became clear how brilliant it truly was.

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Although, in all fairness, If I'm not mistaken, Hocus Pocus was originally to be composed and was partially started by Hans Zimmer... but because of other projects he had to drop off the project and John Debney was brought on at the last minute...

Actually, it was James Horner. He composed the medieval-sounding dittie Sarah Jessica Parker sings in the film. In this case, i would have preferred the Horny One. Children's films are his forte.

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Cutthroat Island is one of the best scores ever written, as far as I'm concerned. One of the few scores that can survive a comparision with John Williams' work. :music:

As far as I'm concerned, it's the best pirate score ever. I've listened to all other pirate scores that I could lay my hands on, but although they are certainly good, I just don't find them as good as Cutthroat Island. I find The Sea Hawk too romantic for my taste. Cutthroat Island has nice romantic and beautiful music, but also lots and lots of excellent action music. The final battle music is 18 minutes long and is impressive during every single second of it. There are few composers who can keep up the excitement during such a long time. The choir-usage is also excellent. And although Cutthroat Island does sound classical in a way, it certainly is a score standing on its own and not copying pirate scores from the past.

The Scorpion King is very good. Zathura has a nice main theme, though the finale of the main title comes straight out of Star Wars. Chicken Little is fun. In general: John Debney is very capable of writing good music in a short time. Unlike Hans Zimmer who also writes music in a short timeframe, but doesn't really manage to reach the same quality as John Debney does. It probably helps a lot that John Debney uses real orchestra. :)

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Well, the first 15 minutes of Cutthroat Island are pure orchestral bliss. The score drags a bit until the big finale, but it still is a lot of fun, although it doesn't have the slightest hint of subtlety.

The Passion Christ I find to contain some really haunting tracks, while others border on bad taste. BUt non-reliance on themes really was the best aproach. It totally deserved to be nominated for the oscar.

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his cutthroat island was amazing, but nothing of his has really interested me.  Yeah he does plagiarize alot off the top of my head I can say Elf sounds alot like the Polar Express, and Zathura sounds like Hook.

I must offer another point of view however. What are the chances that Debney had heard all the other scores and bothered to figure out the chord progressions and use almost hte same melody? What are the chances that most composers we accuse of plagiarism actually commit plagiarism? I would like to offer the theory (which many people seem to forget) that they independently came upon the same idea! WHOA! Yep that's right, they independently came up of the same idea. What are the chances that Debney listens to every single score by everyone else? very few. its just most of tonal music has 7 notes, and there are only so many permutations of them. if you plan to end on a dominant tonic relation, then chances are your melody ends with leading tone-tonic. etcetc.

What is the proof? For one thing, Polar Express (2004) was written AFTER elf (2003). So shouldn't we be arguing that Alan Silvestri copied Debney? :music:

oops, I guess it was the delayed DVD of holiday releases, and in that case the Elf and PE example is mixed up, lol.

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What is the proof? For one thing, Polar Express (2004) was written AFTER elf (2003). So shouldn't we be arguing that Alan Silvestri copied Debney?  :mrgreen:

Oh Snap!

I thought The Passion was good. He seems to get some bland movies to score. I think Alan Silvestri is a better composer, but keep in mind "Elf" and "The Polar Express" when you're comparing scores....

Debney falls into the 3rd tier of my favorite film composers list.

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I like a lot of Debney's work - to me, he's a composer who can write very good scores in a short time, and I was impressed recently with The Ant Bully and Zathura, neither of which seem like they deserved particularly amazing scores.

In particular, his scores for I Know What You Did Last Summer and Dreamer were definitely better than the movies deserved. I think he's ready to do a blockbuster, or at least a bigger movie which will appreciate some complexity.

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The Passion is one of my favourite scores.

I didn't want to see the movie at first, but then I visited the movie's website which features a lot of Debney's score, and it caught me immediately. I bought the soundtrack, and played hardly anything else for a while. It was the soundtrack that eventually made me want to see the movie.

Let me just say that I enjoy the score more than the movie.

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I think he's ready to do a blockbuster, or at least a bigger movie which will appreciate some complexity.

I agree...him and Alan Silvestri are highly underated in terms of the general public. They've both been writing great scores for a while, you'de think they'd be more famous.

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Haven't heard too much of his stuff in a serious listening context. Phantom Manor is great, though I doubt he would have written it with anywhere near as much passion and beauty if not for Buddy Baker's fabulous "Grim Grinning Ghosts." I really need to get my hands on Cutthroat Island...

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I don't see what people would have against John Debney. He wrote Cutthroat Island, for crying out loud! Yesterday I also listened to the Lair iTunes release and I must say that one is also really good. The only thing I considered to be odd was Jamer Horner's danger motif at the end of the Civilization Theme, but that's the ony question mark I have. Other than that: very impressive.

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I don't see what people would have against John Debney. He wrote Cutthroat Island, for crying out loud!

He's not John Williams. Always a source of discomfort around here.

I have about 10 of his albums now, and the one thing I've universally noticed is that the films he writes for do not deserve the music they're given. Evan Almighty, I Know What You Did Last Summer etc. He needs to stop doing kiddie movies and comedies.

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As far as I'm concerned Cutthroat Island can compete with the better John Williams scores. Sure John Debney doesn't write brilliant music on a regular basis as John Williams does, but he IS capable of it and when he does, it is absolutely amazing.

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Anyone who says that score is not to Williams' standard is quite mad IMO.

It is not. And i'm not that mad. It is capable and very loud, but it lacks the spark of unique-ness. It often seems to just go through the motions without fine-tuning them

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I forgot to mention: I think John Debney should be given more projects of epic proportions. He seems to respond really well to those kind of things, but unfortunately he usually scores comedies and the like.

You said it! My personal favorites are his big scores: Cutthroat Island, Lair, The Scorpion King, and Zathura. I'm hoping he gets the IRON MAN job as well!

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As far as I'm concerned Cutthroat Island can compete with the better John Williams scores. Sure John Debney doesn't write brilliant music on a regular basis as John Williams does, but he IS capable of it and when he does, it is absolutely amazing.

True, but unlike John Williams he does not have a really strong style. He certainly knows how to use an orchestra, better then a lot of his contempories. But I have not been able to hear a "John Debney" sound.

That said, my collection of John Debney scores is a very modest one.

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Perhaps he doesn't really have a style of his own, but then I am very bad at recognizing music "styles". Sure I hear the difference between Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer (and co) and John Williams, but those are obviously different. I still have to find out what this "John Williams boom-tzzzz" is all about. Shame on me!

That being said, I have heard not a single pirate score that sounds similar to Cutthroat Island. Sure it's got the swashbuckling pirate sound, but it does sound different (and better) than everything else I've heard. It's no Hook*, no Sea Hawk, no Captain Blood and no Pirates of the Caribbean.

* Note: The only reasons why I consider Cutthroat Island to be a better pirate score than Hook is because Hook isn't an all-out pirate score and Cutthroat Island is more serious.

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To be honest I still don't know what the hell they mean with Boom-tzzzz, but Williams has a very reconisable style, as indeed do Goldsmith, Zimmer, Silvestri, Jamie Horner, Barry etc...

I'm sure that if you own a lot of Debney's score you would discover certain fingerprints that will identify John Debney, but that's not really a good thing in film music.

You need to be instantly identifiable to become a real big A-list composer (something Debney, despite his vast body-of-work is not IMO).

Cuttroath Island works so well because even though it does have a strong swashbuckling, heroic feel, it doesn't sound like the 1930's, because it's augmented with very modern orchestrations and instrumentation, and a huge sound that just was not possible in those days.

Hook, overall is not a pirate score, but John Williams does works wonders with the tired old Korngold cliches.

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* Note: The only reasons why I consider Cutthroat Island to be a better pirate score than Hook is because Hook isn't an all-out pirate score and Cutthroat Island is more serious.

Some (Morlock) say that the piratical cues in Hook are better than anything in Cutthroat Island. I'm not so sure about that.

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Ah. So THAT's it. Thanks a lot! So this comes up frequently in other John Williams scores as well? I'll pay attention to it next time. :)

There are some that dont have it. (specially drama ones). Others just have one. Try to find the WOTW one :)

John debney has used this both in lair and cutthroat island.

Its fine for you not noticing...but Stefan? Shame on you... :P

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