Jay

War Horse MUSIC Discussion Thread

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No Man's Land must be one of the most masculine and driving action pieces that Williams has written in YEARS. Similarities to Zimmer be damned (though I agree it takes more from Goldsmith than Zimmer), this is one of the coolest things I've heard from Williams in a long time.

The whole score I just absolutely adore, but this is definitely one of the highlights.

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This has been a well known fact for nigh-on forever. He's a bit of a snob.

He's a bit of a snob when it comes to his music. Like Spielberg, you don't get where they are by being nice to everyone, you know?

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Similarities to Zimmer be damned (though I agree it takes more from Goldsmith than Zimmer), this is one of the coolest things I've heard from Williams in a long time.

These similarities I don't hear at all. It's more like drama Williams of the early nineties (Far and Away. JFK) to me.

Karol

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NO MAN'S LAND sounds more like James Newton Howard (Hidalgo etc.) or James Horner (Samuel's Death/LotF). People are so fixated on Zimmer these days they'll find a similarity between HOME ALONE and PEARL HARBOR, for sure.

He's a bit of a snob when it comes to his music. Like Spielberg, you don't get where they are by being nice to everyone, you know?

Exactly. He will throw his weight around when he really wants something and his agency is powerful enough to sell his wishes. In a way, it's expected from someone within a certain power range, or the whole system would collapse.

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The truth is, the work of an orchestrator in the business can be very hard to define. On some scores, the orchestrator is as much an arranger as the composer is, if not more. The orchestrator certainly needs to be credited if this is the case.

With other composers, the orchestrator does little to no arranging since the score drafts from the composer are so detailed or the composer doesn't want the orchestrator to add anything substantial on a melodic or harmonic level. Basically the orchestrator does nothing creative, but is merely dissecting the composer's draft and creating sheets for the invidual instruments.

With Williams, the latter is the case. With other composers, the orchestrator actually deserves a co-composer credit. I think Williams wants to avoid confusion and prefers not to credit the orchestrators, because it is well known that his score drafts are incredibly fleshed out and detailed. He has every right to be proud of his great arranging skills and doesn't want to attribute this to anyone else.

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If he's an assistant or an orchestrator doesn't matter. If he had seen the manuscripts and at least transcribed them then it would be only decent to mention him in the "thank you" section. I mean, different people thank their kids and pets in there. Why not someone who actually had something to do with the music?

Karol

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Other composers do that and it doesn't make a difference. Goldsmith did it. Horner does, Silvestri does, Desplat does, all the MV crowd does it.

Karol

Just giving a possible explanation for Williams not crediting his orchestrators. Since Williams has a background as an orchestrator/arranger, he must be very well aware of the duties an orchestrator CAN fulfill. On some scores, the orchestrator is basically the arranger/co-composer of a score. On Williams scores, the orchestrator is - yes, yes - a copyist. Williams is the sole arranger and I guess he doesn't want people to think the 'orchestrator' made creative contributions to his music (like it happens all the time with other composers). Whether you agree with him is up to you.

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I understand that.

It's just that by not crediting his collaborators and then them giving interviews on their relationship with him, it might give people a wrong idea, that Williams doesn't do it all by himself (contrary to what his albums state), ironically. Just a thought.

And yes, I disagree with him! Time to boycott War Horse album! ;)

Karol

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I understand that.

It's just that by not crediting his collaborators and then them giving interviews on their relationship with him, it might give people a wrong idea, that Williams doesn't do it all by himself (contrary to what his albums state), ironically. Just a thought.

And yes, I disagree with him! Time to boycott War Horse album! ;)

Karol

Yeah... Let's do that... Oh wait! Damn; I already bought it. ;)

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Hmm, after listening to Williams recent effort after Tintin (which emotionally completely ticks with me, therefore a [subjective] masterpiece in my opinion) I somehow struggle to find War Horse very interesting.

Don't get me wrong, there is nice thematically writing but I find it dull/boring and just cannot connect to this kind of music. The action writing in No Man's land does not even come close to his recent writings and surprisingly does not really remind me of John. The only track I immediately can connect to is The Dissertation (~0:29 - 1:30; gimme more of that in Lincoln please ;) ).

So, what is wrong with me? What do the guys who very much like the action writing in the prequels, War of the Worlds, Tintin, etc. think of? Am I the only one having trouble getting a decent emotional response out of this score, which sadly is the first Williams album I feel this way?

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The only track I immediately can connect to is The Dissertation (~0:29 - 1:30; gimme more of that in Lincoln please ;) ).

So, what is wrong with me? What do the guys who very much like the action writing in the prequels, War of the Worlds, Tintin, etc. think of? Am I the only one having trouble getting a decent emotional response out of this score, which sadly is the first Williams album I feel this way?

Hmmm I think it should be Desertion not Dissertation unless Joey is a very smart horse indeed. ;)

And I for one love Williams' modern action music but No Man's Land sends my heart racing like the best of Williams' action pieces. I am sorry to hear you can't get into this music or at least not emotionally engaged. To me this is equally if not more emotional as The Adventures of Tintin.

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Hmmm I think it should be Desertion not Dissertation unless Joey is a very smart horse indeed. ;)

Doesn't your CD cover states: War Horse, PhD? :) But yeah, you're right ;)

No Man's Land starts getting interesting at 3:55 (I love these "twitchy" strings) but than it is already over... :/

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To me this is equally if not more emotional as The Adventures of Tintin.

Well, the film is a tearjerker so it's a given. And given the good amount of set pieces (PLOWING!) Spielberg had the decency to let Williams not play second fiddle this time (which isn't a given).

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I've been avoiding all War Horse discussion threads for fear that somebody will mention the spoilerific track titles, but I just had a chance to give War Horse my first listen, and here are my thoughts:

It's fantastic! I love each of the themes and the ways they're utilized. They never quite play the same way twice, in instrumentation, harmonization, mood, etc. It is definitely a John Williams score - I hear traces of the prequels, SPR, and WotW - but it avoids retreading old ground, and it offers a lot of really new and interesting ideas. After hearing mutliple instances of self-plagarism in KotCS (and I still love that score, btw), I was expecting Tintin and WH to have a decent amount of references. But I can't hear anything but some very general similarities to other score, also known as style (okay, there is that lift from PotC, but it's so radically different in every aspect that I'm not too offended by it).

I wonder if JW is about to write a flute concerto? He certainly seems to have a new found appreciation for the instrument after listening to Tintin and WH.

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And the opening spread lists all the performers. I noticed two "Williams" under "Percussion": Donald and Jerry. And they BOTH related to the maestro?

I only learned of Jerry a few days ago in the booklet of one of those 60s Williams scores. Being familiar with Don and seeing the album notes mention his brother, I was somewhat confused when the credits listed a Jerry Williams. Then I noticed that several of the 60s scores do.

War Horse is the first CD where I've seen both Don and Jerry listed, though. Could this be the first time they've both performed together on a John score?

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He has written a flute concerto already. I think it will be a trombone concerto next, if he ever gets a break from Spielberg! Although I really want him to do a piano concerto.

"Snowy's Theme" seems like a warm-up for a piano concerto. I really hope he'll write one someday.

I agree that a Trombone Concerto will probably be his next concert composition (he even slightly mentioned in that interview with Brian Bell last May).

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The "war" cues sound like Williams conjuring up more of a feeling of blood, sweat and tears than describing/illustrating it. The use of interesting colors (boht in terms of harmonic language and orchestration) seems to suggest a kind of impressionist feel more than trying to replicate the action as seen on screen. This is something Williams and Spielberg do often when making straight dramas. What is innerly great in these cues is that Williams reaches a hair-raising intensity, literally pulling out all the stops.

I honestly can't understand the talk about Williams using a Zimmer-like style in these sections. To me, it sounds more of a development of his tense action writing as heard in JFK. He surely uses some block-chords and unison orchestration in strings and horns, but if you listen carefully you'll notice there's much more going on in these cues than the typical straight Zimmer in action mode.

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The "war" cues sound like Williams conjuring up more of a feeling of blood, sweat and tears than describing/illustrating it. The use of interesting colors (boht in terms of harmonic language and orchestration) seems to suggest a kind of impressionist feel more than trying to replicate the action as seen on screen. This is something Williams and Spielberg do often when making straight dramas. What is innerly great in these cues is that Williams reaches a hair-raising intensity, literally pulling out all the stops.

I honestly can't understand the talk about Williams using a Zimmer-like style in these sections. To me, it sounds more of a development of his tense action writing as heard in JFK. He surely uses some block-chords and unison orchestration in strings and horns, but if you listen carefully you'll notice there's much more going on in these cues than the typical straight Zimmer in action mode.

Well put!

To my ears e.g. the Charge and Capture is more in line with Williams' previous dissonant and exciting pieces like the Motorcade from JFK, ratcheting the tension by the growing density in the orchestra, the brass making those dissonant call-and-answer gestures, the rhythm staying constant and relentless.

The Desertion is also in line with Williams' more recent action pieces, but more tense suspence and kinetic push than all out action.

No Man's Land on the other hand displays a very effective, simple and unsettling building of those cold string dissonances that are followed by the explosive and exhilarating scherzando (from another scene), which I think is some of his most gripping action music in quite a while. There is one heroic brass passage here that has been getting comparisons to Zimmer but since I don't know his recent output very well I can't comment. To me it sounds like Williams pulling out all stops and presenting determined and heroic material for what sounds like a wild race.

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Are there still people who hold Clemmensen's reviews in that high regard?

I think he does a good job. I disagree with him in this case, but his reviews are always a good read.

His biggest flaw as a reviewer is that sometimes he fails to see the forest for the trees. For example, he spent most of his time bitching about how PoA didn't keep in line with the series (and repeat Hedwig's theme enough), rather than seeing the wonderful music before him.

But even with that flaw, I'd say I hold his reviews in higher regard than most other reviewers.

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I don't Christian really "gets" Williams more serious side. Not saying that War Horse is completely serious, but he only seems to give five stars to his classic scores or the fun ones. No love for the more challenging ones, like Memoirs for example.

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Are there still people who hold Clemmensen's reviews in that high regard?

I do.

Still haven't got to the score yet. It has been the score I've been looking forward to the most this year and I believe it will be a 5 star effort. And just because CC rates a score that others might not agree with in terms of the rating, it doesn't change the fact that he still writes fantastic reviews.

And after all, its HIS opinion. Why should anyone have to insult or undermine that? All reviews are subjective, and he is just expressing what he thought of the score with very solid arguments. No one asked anybody else to conform to it.

An excellent review, I say.

I don't understand the whole Filmtracks hate around here...

- KK

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H never claimed it was "simplistic" in the sense you referred to. He meant to say that the score was easier on the ears, especially when compared to his other works of the same year (War of the Worlds and Revenge of the Sith). He still praises Williams for his masterful blend of Japanese and western styles. He never claimed it was simplistic in a compositional sense. Just easier on the ears when compared to something as dense as War of the Worlds...

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H never claimed it was "simplistic" in the sense you referred to. He meant to say that the score was easier on the ears, especially when compared to his other works of the same year (War of the Worlds and Revenge of the Sith). He still praises Williams for his masterful blend of Japanese and western styles. He never claimed it was simplistic in a compositional sense. Just easier on the ears when compared to something as dense as War of the Worlds...

That's how I interpreted it too. At any given moment in Memoirs, there's likely less going on in the orchestra than in RotS (a lot of Memoirs is solos or very sparse orchestrations). I don't think he was speaking to its compositional or thematic complexity.

I find Clemmensen's reviews to be interesting reads, even though I often disagree with him. They're very well thought out.

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Filmtracks review is up...

http://www.filmtrack.../war_horse.html

I can't believe he gave this one only four stars. This is a five stars score!

Reading his review is only good if you want to ruin the listening experience of a score...

I never liked his reviews.

Why should that affect the listening experience? It's just some reviewers opinion.

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Sorry, if this has been already discussed somewhere (I couldn't find it, if so), but what's up with the distortions on the WH album? I hear it almost every time the Bonding Theme is played by the brass section (for example Track 15, around 4:05; or in the last track).

Anybody else hear that? I don't know how you call it--maybe "distortion" is not the right word--but it's a sort of "thrrrrrraaaappppp" in the background...

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