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Alright, I figure this guy needs his own thread. The one thread that is all about JNH and his music. We need a place that is centralized and not scattered throughout several threads. Case-in-point, the "What's the best JNH theme" thread is already starting to morph into something else, and I'm afraid we're going to lose a lot of great debate and study. This way, we can go off on a tangent, and everything is still in one place.

So, hopefully we, as fans, can gather here and talk about his scores, in detailed analysis, and discuss upcoming pojects and their potential (like Lady in the Water, to name one) and whatever else floats your boat!

Have Fun! wave.gif

2707_303437.jpg

Tim

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Good idea, Tim! He's more than deserving of one of these "official threads," and I wish we can continue the discussion of his thematic structure and orchestral sensibilities that Merkel brought up in the other thread. In due time, I suppose.

On the note of Shyamalan and Lady in the Water, I remember reading somewhere that JNH actually meets with Shyamalan long before a film is finished to discuss the ideas of the film, at which point JNH will write something, which is where many of the central themes to the films have come from. Since I used to drive past the set of Lady in the Water almost every day last summer, I have often wondered if JNH has visited the set or started writing the music. The film is something of an enigma at this point; it's hard to tell what kind of film it will be since the first trailer didn't show very much, or even provide a sense of what the film will be like.

Ted

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With my comment I didn't want in anyway to diminish JNH's talent, which I consider to be vast and precious. His strength is not so much in extensive thematic development as Williams. And I think we all agree that very few film composeres nowadays make the orchestra sound so good (in terms of orchestration, not recording).

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I remember reading a recent interview which stated that Shyamalan wanted to make an E.T. type film for this generation, because there really wasn't any "bedtime" kid stories that were solid and dependable. I'm not saying I agree with his assessment, but it would be interesting if JNH takes a similiar direction to write an enchanting and magical score.

His strength is not so much in extensive thematic development as Williams.

I think King Kong is one of the most recent scores of his that actually does this well.

Tim

P.S. (to Ted). What part of Philly did they film this? I remember them filming in Chadds Ford for The Village

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Interesting. The "E.T." angle would be interesting. I think it's about time that Shyamalan moved away from "creepy" stuff for a while. But capturing the magic close to that of E.T.'s is not as easy and effortless ad Spielberg and Williams made it look, but it should be interesting.

And you make good points, Merkel. The beauty of many JNH scores is the subtle beauty of them, even in their bigger moments. I think of scores like Treasure Planet and the Postman (both not very good movies), and I can remember specific details about them, moments of beauty captured in their delicate design and orchestration. I think recently especially, his work with strings and winds and how they complement each other in much of his work is outstanding. When he's inspired, his music can be unspeakably beautiful.

Ted

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His strength is not so much in extensive thematic development as Williams.

I think King Kong is one of the most recent scores of his that actually does this well.

Especially considering the time he had to do it. There's more to that score I'm discovering all the time. It could have been more original, yes, but I feel if he had more time to develop the melodic and thematic ideas, that it would have been a masterpiece. Nevertheless, it's still incredibly good, I think.

As for Lady in the Water, it was shot outside Philadelphia in Bristol, close to Levittown. My fiance lives in that area, so I am out there quite a bit. Last summer is when principal photography took place - the whole lot outside the set was full with trailers - a set which from the outside looked like a construction site of some sort. At night, they had an enormous box lifted by a crane with a blue light on the bottom, which I'm guessing they lit the set with. I could be wrong though. It was really fascinating.

Ted

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His strength is not so much in extensive thematic development as Williams.

I think King Kong is one of the most recent scores of his that actually does this well.

Especially considering the time he had to do it. There's more to that score I'm discovering all the time. It could have been more original, yes, but I feel if he had more time to develop the melodic and thematic ideas, that it would have been a masterpiece.

I think what's presented on the CD is fine, and shows signs of stronger thematic development that I'm used to hearing from him, but when I saw the film (twice) I caught many moments that sounded tracked. I gather that, depsite the rush he had to finish the 3 hour film, he still didn't spot every scene, and instead the sound mixer tracked in certain cues, using them more then once throughout the movie. I think that's unfortunate for Howard, because he didn't have sufficient time to fully render each scene how he wanted. It would've given him more room to flex his thematic muscles (even more so then what we hear already).

Tim

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I think Kong is one of his best scores to date. There isn't a single weak track, the themes are amazingly solid (better than some he's come up with under normal circumstances IMO) and are well integrated. I agree that this would be a masterpiece if he had the same time as Shore. Compare this to Horner's Troy - a similar situation, yet Horner borrowed heavily for 2 of his themes, relied on the 3 note motif and created a really distracting (for me at least) fanfare. This is a guy with talent when he's inspired and works wonders under pressure.

I admire his simple changeability, by which I mean his ability to score just about anything and not be immediately obvious that it's him. For example, the delicate piano & strings of 6th Sense are totally different to something like Atlantis, which shows amazingly complex orchestrations to JW's standards.

At the moment I'm trying to get into Freedomland, which has some challenging modern aspects, but an easier second half. The fact that the film's got pretty crap reviews doesn't make me want to see it in action so I have to appreciate this one by itself.

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He rocks, I have met him many times and he is a really chill guy. His studio is so awesome looking and sounding. He is really maturing into a brilliant composer.

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This is a great idea for a thread. Like Ted mentioned in the other JNH thread, he's my favorite composer, second only to Williams. I really feel that he's a master of atmosphere, creating distinct and wonderful feels for specific scores and scenes through orchestration and harmony, even without concrete thematic ideas (for example, "Race to Resting Rock" from The Village, the beginning of "I Do Believe in Fairies" from Peter Pan, and the entire score for The Man in the Moon). Moreover, he can write truly great and memorable themes, and just creates such energy and emotion in his music. I can't wait to hear what he has in store for Lady in the Water, especially with regards to what's been discussed so far in this thread. Remind me, when is the film set for release?

Ray Barnsbury

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James Newton Howard is definitely one of my favourite composers working today in the film score business. Apart from Kong I have not heard his recent scores but e.g. Village, Signs, Unbreakable, Atlantis, Dinosaur and Snow Falling on Cedars are all wonderful scores where he demostrates not only inventiveness but also his ability to change his style and create both great thematic material and perfect athmosphere for the film in question. His ability to capture mood and subtle nuances is also note worthy.

But I seem to be the only one who really was not impressed with King Kong. I find that the score lacks spark. The action music is not as good as it could be, the emotional music is not as emotional as it should be. It does not even compel me to listen to it more often. The thematic material is appealing in parts (e.g. the Love theme, 4 note Kong motif, the mysterious Island theme). I have not seen the movie (I really am not a Kong fan) so I cannot say how well the score works in the film. Maybe my total lack of interest in Kong works against me here. I REALLY should give this score more playing time.

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my total lack of interest in Kong works against me here. I REALLY should give this score more playing time.

That happens a lot to me. Many scores don't get the listen they deserve simply because the film isn't for me or is just pap (Geisha is an example - I don't listen to the score as much as some because the film just didn't appeal to me at all).

Looking on IMDb (yes I know...) it looks like JNH has 3 projects for 2006: Lady in the Water, The Risk Pool and The Lookout. I would include R.V. too, but the trailer is not encouraging and they don't release scores for movies like that.

I also noticed that he's credited with writing a theme for The Rock - anyone know which one (if it's actually true of course)?

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I don't actually listen to it that much, but Hidalgo has a wondrous main theme and some excellent action music.

About King Kong, I think it's a solid score, with many great cues, and I ought to listen to it more often as well. I really like the ominous Kong theme: it's almost corny because it sounds rather like a cliche old-movie evil theme, but it's perfect, the way it's used. The Island theme is great and mysterious, but I noticed it was used at least three times in the first third of the film, all tracked in from the main titles cue (that part of the film could have been trimmed a lot, too). The love theme is beautiful, especially in "Central Park." The "showbiz theme" (as heard in "Defeat is Always Momentary" and "That's All There Is") is lovely and catchy, and the "heroic Kong theme" is very fitting, as well. The last few minutes of "It's Deserted" are home to some of the best action music JNH has ever written.

Nice thread, by the way. :)

~Sturgis

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Yep, Hidalgo's really nice. Main Title, The Last Push and Let 'Er Buck are wonderful mood setting cues and Montage is just that classic sound (all really horribly edited in the movie though - I saw bits of it last night on Sky and not a single cue was played in full :|)

I think Howard's best at the warm string & woodwind aspects, like parts of Signs. It's Deserted is also one of my favourite cues, but Captured remains the best IMO. The second half with those string rhythms follows by the majestic 'outbreak' of the 'heroic/might' theme is awesome :)

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Yeah, I was suspicious about that. I was kinda hoping that maybe he'd composed the beautiful Jade theme, but it's not to be...

After hearing "The Man in the Iron Mask" I instantly noticed that the "Jade" theme must'Ve come from Glennie-Smith :|

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He's not bad. I liked King Kong and Dinosaur. Those are the only two James Newton Howard CDs I have. His themes are generally good, but get very little development with just mere statements, which is a bit frustrating. He does have a knack for creepy scores, though they're too atmospheric for me to listen to on their own.

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Montage is just that classic sound (all really horribly edited in the movie though - I saw bits of it last night on Sky and not a single cue was played in full :|)

Yes, there is about a two minute section about two or three minutes into Montage that blows me away. The rhythm, ethnic sound, light chorus and melody are so perfectly in synch with each other. It's really quite great. If I were asked to find pieces of Howard's that shows his versatility, originality, and quality of composing, this would certainly be one I'd single out. No other composers I know of can duplicate a sound like the example in Montage.

Ted

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The King Kong score has grown on me. It doesn't feel like it has much substance or orchestrational finesse. The signs intro is a great piece of music. But the rest of the score is just too repetetive for me.

The problem is, when he sounds like someone else is when I like his music the most. When he is sounding like JNH, I really don't like it. I've grown to know his sound, but the only pieces I like of his are the ones that are Herrmanesque or Goldsmithesque.

He offered a big score consisting mainly of his own voice in "Fugitive". It works in the film, but it is just too crossover contempo for my tastes. I say "contempo" and not contemporary because contemporary is Williams, grown out of the jazz and concert music tradition, while JNH is grown more out of the pop and easy listening tradition. ER is such an awful theme. I just can feel so much of this type of desire to write John Tesh cheezy fusion jazz in between all his "Golden Age" cues. I feel his music too often feels like it is inspired by bad New Age music that baby boomers would listen to while rubbing each other's feet in front of the fire place.

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His themes are generally good, but get very little development with just mere statements, which is a bit frustrating.

I think that's the main gripe I have about The Village, because it seemed like every statement of the two main themes are exactly the same and never really go anywhere. Thankfully, they're great themes, with an extremely pastoral handling, and I'm able to get through it peacefully ;). But I think the 3 note motif in Signs is done nicely throughout the score in various forms.

Nice thread, by the way. :|

I just figure that we needed one place where we could go to talk about him and get JNH news and updates. This will also bring more attention to his work for those who don't know him as well, and hopefully make him more popular around here.

Tim

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The Signs main motif is very effectively varied and developed in the score. It goes through many little permutations and different orchestrations and that is why it never grows boring. The finale of the score is so powerful because the motif has built up the momentum through the score and finally it grows to a full fledged elaborated statement. At first I thought very little of this score but over time my appreciation for it has grown immensely. It is the same with Unbreakable. It took many concentrated listenings to fully grasp it. And now I love both scores.

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Definitely. When the 3-note motif goes to a major key in "Hands of Fate Pt. 2" and the strings come in around the :40 sec mark and then start to swell between 1:20 - 2:00....it's probably the best cue he's written (that I can think of right now).

Tim

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Yep, I love Hand of Fate too - especially the second part which for me conveys the mysteriousness of the movie with a 'summer warmth' and a feeling of closure - like how it just drifts away gradually. Plus of course, the 3 note motif is developed beyond comprehension :|

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Tru dat.

Last night, I listened to the first half of King Kong, and I have to also say that I love "It's In The Subtext." In the film, it's great because as it swells, it's intercut between Anne and Jack kissing, and the sound engineer finding the island; I love that scene. And it's a very interesting and fresh way to score a kiss. I must also say it's interesting that the "love theme" in that score is for Anne and Kong, not Anne and Jack. I like it. :|

~Sturgis

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I love Howard's score for Dinosaur alot. Hearing the full score though is a lot better than the OST. A lot of good music was left off. I also like his score for Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

King Kong though I really can't get into for some reason...

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I have yet to listen to the complete Dinosaur. The complete Atlantis on the other hand is great. Both scores are immensely enjoyable with great thematic material and great set piece cues. I like Atlantis little better for the awesome choir music in the latter half of the score.

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The End Credits for Dinosaur are incredible. Whereas some of his other suites are just either edited together from various cues or re-recorded but in the same style, this one is clearly a re-orchestration of all the themes. Dante's Peak is similar in that there's a lot of original material that expands the main theme.

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The last 15 minutes of Signs is one of the best-scored sequences you'll ever find.

Truer words have never been spoken. I bought the CD simply for the last 2 tracks (though the rest is still good, if a little slow).

In fact, I think I'll give the whole thing another listen.

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I find JNH mostly uninteresting and generic.I do like Peter Pan a lot,and Atlantis somewhat.The rest I've heard bores me to death(King Kong,Waterworld,Dinosaur...)

His theme for Dante's Peak is pretty good.

K.M.

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I find him rather generic as well. A bit like Doyle's action cues on GoF: too much noise. Even in Dinosaur: that score has very remarkable cues and very unremarkable at the same time for me. But Signs and The Fugitive are really very good though.

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I've only seen Hidalgo and King Kong, both of which the scores were okay and noticeable in parts, but not enough to warrent an immediate buy, maybe sometime in the future.

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I still think The Fugitive is one of his best works to this day.

;)

Justin

Thanks Justin, other than Lotman I was beginning to think I'm the only one who knew he did the score for The Fugitive or the only one that's heard it.

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The Fugitive was the first time I remember seeing his name in a movie's credits, and years later, when I started getting into his score for Signs, I recalled his name in conjunction with the older film, some 10 years earlier. I still get that rhythmic beat stuck in my head from time to time.

Tim

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Mine's only 29 tracks but all the music that is in the film is with my set... I know this score by heart in the film...

A couple of cues I did rename them a tad to be more correct.

01- Inner Sanctum (1:34)

02- The Nesting Grounds (1:39)

03- The Attack (1:12)

04- The Egg Travels (2:41)

05- The Egg Hatches (3:43)

06- Playing Monster (1:28) -The real full cue with good quality sound

07- Zini Rehearses (0:39)

08- The Courtship (4:10)

09- The End Of Our Island (3:57)

10- They're All Gone (2:05)

11- Raptors - Aladar Meets The Herd (4:18)

12- Aladar Meets The Misfits (3:22)

13- The Herd Prepares To Move (2:27)

14- Across The Desert (2:33)

15- Finding Water (4:11)

16- Enough For Everyone (1:27)

17- Aladar And Neera (3:26)

18- Kron Moves The Herd (2:41)

19- The Misfits Find Bruton (1:48)

20- The Cave (3:34)

21- The Carnotaur Attack (3:51)

22- Neera Helps The Orphans (1:03)

23- Dead End (1:00)

24- Breakout (2:43)

25- It Comes With A Pool (3:01)

26- Kron And Aladar Fight (2:50)

27- The Carnotaur Standoff (4:45)

28- Epilogue (2:27)

29- End Credits (6:09)

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I love what Howard does.

I only wish he could find more, stronger, memorable themes; he can write some great ones (The Prince of Tides, Dinosaur, Atlantis, Signs come to mind), but he doesn't have quite the melodic knack of Barry, Goldsmith, Horner, Williams, ... There's a little something missing; Peter Pan suffers from this; a great pop flying theme, lovely motifs, but nothing like Hook.

He does have a wonderful knack for rhythm / percussion, however, as clearly displayed in The Fugitive, my first score of his.

He's also great pure atmosphere, suspense, mood: Signs, Unbreakable, Dreamcatcher. The Village is splendid-- the theme & violin parts.

As for comedy, Dave is quite an enjoyable little score.

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