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Luka

Composers habits and sound.

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Hello all!

 

I'm often impressed by how each composer has its own sound.

Give me a score that I never heard and I probably will be able to tell who it is. (Out of the composers I like most).

 

Now, when you guys think of a specific composer, is there anything that comes right to your mind? A certain motif they use all the time maybe?

As James Horner:

 

Like DAMN! I heard many by listening to some of his scores but I didn't know he used it THAT much! haha

 

 

Or maybe just a type of orchestration?

Actually, I want to understand what makes each composer so different from each other and so easily recognizable?

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Well, I do not know how to express myself in technical terms, but Elfman has a quick, comic when appropriate, writing form. When you listen, open a smile and think: That's by Elfman!

 

Desplat has, let's say, the blemish of always sounding very French and colorful. He uses everything he sees ahead in his scores.

 

Horner reminds me of space (Star Trek, The Battle Beyond Stars, Alien, Apollo 13). He knows how to build a fantasy score like nobody else! You automatically expect the music from these movies to sound like something made by him.

 

Zimmer has a heavy sound, sometimes confusing, because it mixes many instruments, and uses a lot of synthetics. However, the latter is a fact that, even criticized, still manages to keep his music a little fresh.

 

Williams is complicated to describe without seeming too silly.. He is multifaceted and this becomes clearer as you go deeper into his discography. It has jazzy and western films, Steven Spielberg & George Lucas, Hitchcock... I listened last week and was amazed at his approach to Memoirs of a Geisha. So I leave the description to someone else. 

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On 2018-02-06 at 8:57 PM, Luka said:

A certain motif they use all the time maybe?

As Alex Ross wrote, we are lucky that Hornerisms are not triumphant force in film scoring. Of course that is "cheating", anybody can just use a motif all the time, that doesn't count imo as having a "sound". And that danger motif is not even Horner's original construction, it originally comes from a symphony if I remember correctly. The Horner danger motif is an example of a BAD sound a film composer can have that's just laziness. I would count Horner's tendency to do much with little as a thing he did though.

 

Three names in film scoring to consider as having a personal sound/style:

 

Thomas Newman and his style, I am not an expert on him and have to read more on the subject to be honest, but that kind of blues-influenced quirky Americana.

 

Hans Zimmer and his maximal minimalism, all of the ostinati and power anthems.

 

Joe Hisaishi and his piano material, melodies and minimalism (sometimes combined with electronic music).

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1 hour ago, Lewya said:

 And that danger motif is not even Horner's original construction, it originally comes from a symphony if I remember correctly

 

You could also say that Rachmaninoff took it from Wagner...

 

 

...which I'm sure Wagner stole from Beethoven somewhere, etc...

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33 minutes ago, Richard said:

Habits?

I've heard that Hans Zimmer picks his nose.

 

Picks his nose and smiles and pokes his tongue at everything? 

 

I believe in love, but how can men who've never seen light be enlightened? 

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It's funny I've been thinking about creating such a thread many many times :)

 

I don't know where it comes from, but I can always tell when I'm listening to a JNH piece. It's something to do with its Strings writing maybe it's the orchestration or the mixing. But he has a very distinctive sound. I'ts not about motifs of themes.

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EW Korngold has a fairly unique (as far as I can tell) habit of writing chords... Basically what he does is he will write a series of chords with a very jagged rhythm, often very distant harmonically, which in the tonal context totally breaks the flow and makes it sound almost like the piece is about to fall apart. He mainly does it towards the end of pieces but it can appear in the middle too.

 

Some examples:

 

Die Tote Stadt #1 - it's a very simple theme, mainly made up of two pitches (high.. low high.....low high.. low high......), but notice how the chord accompanying the low pitch feels so different from the chord accompanying the high pitch, to the point that each pitch seems to be in its own different key. And also how sporadic the rhythm is, i.e. not smooth in the least.

 

Die Tote Stadt #2 - draw your attention to 1:34:22, how for a very brief period the music suddenly loses its key whilst Korngold throws in a bunch of different chords (turned into downward runs) in quick succession. Also, the last two chords.

 

There's a hint of this kind of writing towards the ending of King's Row...

 

But probably the most extreme example is the ending to his Piano Concerto.

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