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Showing content with the highest reputation on 08/09/12 in all areas

  1. Dear Blume, First of all, thank you for your kind words regarding my work; they mean a lot to me. As to your questions, I'll try my best to reply with clarity, and simplicity where I think (hope) it can suffice. In reverse order: 1. "Ideals of Art": If what I wrote comes across as simplified or relatively "textbook", it may be because the only thing we truly can influence to any considerable degree, is our choices concerning craftsmanship and work ethic. Beyond that,things quickly take a turn for the metaphysical. And I'm certainly not one to deny the importance of all the myriad of unknowns factoring into what constitutes a successful life in the arts, but in my experience, in my life in the arts, there's little to be gained from attempting to "control" anything beyond one's own work-a-day tools. I believe in being humble before one's chosen art form, which I personally think is the exact opposite of being obedient to any pre-conceived notions whatsoever! It is not a matter of academicism, or of being loyal to anything other than one's own ambition and, with a little luck, potential. Granted, the ethos of this may be simple, but I believe this philosophy to be true, and also completely aesthetically undogmatic and flexible. 2. "Maturity in Art": As simply as I can possibly sum this up, it's empathy. Empathy through knowledge and experience, empathy through seeing clearly and fully, empathy in being honest and truthful. "Honesty" and "truthful" are lofty and potentially untangible qualities, but if I am to be concrete, few media serve better than film music: As a film composer, you respond to an external drama; you may comment on various aspects of it, or elect to play indifferent to it, but ultimately, what you write will be seen & heard as a response, either to a specific scene or to a broader context. And this is -for me, at least- where technique and craft come into play. By craft, I mean to imply the sum of one's experience. In general terms, film music today (especially in Hollywood, with a select few exceptions!) is unspecific. It captures drama, emotionality and psychology (if at all) only in the very broadest sense. Music exists as a kind of sonic prop, an adrenaline filter, and mostly only marginally effective, meaning it will perhaps propel the action, but seldom anything more than that. I find an alarming amount of film music completely interchangable. There's probably been some truth to this ever since a "film idiom" was first established, and before that, an echo of this unpleasant truth rings through all times and cultures, whenever a language becomes more or less cemented. Still, I find myself only rarely touched by most recent film music. Nor do I find how music is currently being used in film very interesting. There are exceptions -Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat, Elliot Goldenthal and a few others (John Corigliano more than most, whenever he scores a film); composers who still seem interested in exploring what music can do for a film. I enjoy Howard Shore's music to Cronenberg's films quite a bit (I remember loving "Naked Lunch" many years ago!), so I'll include him in that list. But: I don't think Shore is a particularly strong or interesting orchestral composer; that really isn't his forte, and this brings me back to the concept of "maturity": Artistic maturity has to do with mastery, sincerity and depth of perception. It has to do with multi-layeredness, with "totality of vision" (the way something is constructed from beginning to end), and with having the vocabulary to be sufficiently articulate, being able to say what you want, and also to say the right thing at the right time (or knowing when to shut up!). For one thing, I find that the "interchangable-ness" of so much film music, stemming from a limited and/or oversimplified vocabulary, feels dishonest, untruthful. It ends up washy or vague, and it conveys drama -and life!- falsely. Falsely because it is neither sufficiently personal nor sufficiently accurate. It's as if the music doesn't truly have a point of view, and therefore it becomes irrelevant. Undoubtedly, this has to do with film becoming more and more a producer's medium, and there's less and less room for real creative contribution. But another factor is the dwindling of greater technical integrity, of real musical standards, within the film scoring community in recent years. Now, I don't wish to imply that all film composers should be highly trained classical composers (although back in the day...): We need all kinds of composers, all kinds of vision, and I agree with you, Blume, that we ought to keep an open mind, to explore each work on its own merits. But merit really is the key word here: I believe that our open-mindedness as artists must go hand in hand with a strong set of standards, with a sense of artistic morality, a sense of beauty. This can be just about anything, but it cannot be fickle! It must be severe and unyielding! In closing: I really didn't wish to go into pitting composers against each other here, but let me say that I find that Williams, for instance, always seems completely sincere in what he writes, and always very specific: His musical characterizations are seldom interchangable, and more likely than not, they have a tendency to capture more than just one essential element of what they attempt to portray. It's precision work. It never feels as if he's writing down to an audience; there's always a complexity (and I'm not just talking about chromatic saturation or busy writing!) to it. And I think this stems also from a certain view of the world, and of life. There's a generosity, a kindness, about it, that to my mind, at least, bespeaks a certain wisdom and warmth that I find immensely attractive and admirable. And beyond its servitude to film, there's the whole separate agenda of taking one's musical responibilities seriously. Williams obviously writes with a sense of purpose. He knows what film music can mean in terms of recruiting and exposing a broader audience to orchestral music and to classical music. His concert arrangements of his own film music often take on a level of ambition unprecedented in this particular brand of "cross over" genre (The "Children's Suite" from Harry Potter, for instance, or "Escapades for Alto Saxophone & Orchestra"). This unquestionably sets him very much apart from the rest of the world of film music, and is certainly one reason why so many musicians might have a strong sense of preference for his musical contribution to the world of film. It's wonderful serious music as well as wonderful film music.
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  3. Yes. Did you listen to the samples? http://www.quartetrecords.com/the-long-goodbye.html
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