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Dixon Hill

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Everything posted by Dixon Hill

  1. I'm not a fan of that series, but it sounds like they let James stretch his legs much more in this score than the first. Great samples.
  2. The latter. Pope said that Davis is one of those composers who present very complete sketches. He hasn't said much about DOS since he wasn't permitted to discuss "current projects."
  3. Precisely - that's part of the whole operatic principle. Of course, one could argue that silence might be better, but.... re 1) Forgive me, but my impression is the opposite: that Shore's counterpoint writing sometimes seems more like an arduous course exercise, than a free artistic elaboration I'd hope someone else is able to express this better than me, because of course it does not have to be not jarring, it can jump as much as it wants - as long as it sounds and feels musically justified, or deliberately aims for a jarring effect, of which I have the general impression that with Shore that's mostly not the case. re 2) Exactly, and that is where the strengths of this style come out: It allows him to keep the music (and suspense/mood) going while fading into the background and not doing much for a while - a sequence of repeated swells to carry over to the next moment where he can rise into the foreground again and heighten the excitement or segue to something else. But I'd dispute that this is "the whole operatic principle". In opera writing the "background music" (as much as music in an opera can be considered background) is usually more active in keeping with the development of the drama. 1) Ultimately all that can be said further about that is that there's no accounting for taste. We can't be in his head to know how he thinks - so it just comes down to if it moves you or not. I'd be interested to know what specific moments you have in mind though. 2) There is also singing in opera. The whole musical element is shifted "down" so to speak from opera to film. Singing becomes speech, and accompaniment becomes, in this case anyway, less concerned with itself.
  4. Good grief. http://collider.com/its-a-wonderful-life-sequel/
  5. Forgive me, but... these points strike me as a tad clinical. Why can't contrapuntal lines jump? Why must modulation be not jarring? Why must there be intrinsic harmonic connection? It seems like you're judging these things based on guidelines for an exercise in a university harmony textbook. Precisely - that's part of the whole operatic principle. Of course, one could argue that silence might be better, but....
  6. I'd say Desplat has a more interesting take on this sort of stuff. Especially in some stuff from The Painted Veil. Amazing stuff. Glass is not that rewarding to explore in the long run, I found. A prisoner of his own style almost. But I do give him credit - he's a signature composer, for better or worse. I do like some of his stuff. Desplat, as obviously skilled as he is, often leaves me kind of cold. But The Painted Veil is very much one of the exceptions to that. Zero Dark Thirty was also engaging. And not to go too far off track, but have you tried Glass' symphonies? There's much more to him than his most well known 70's phase would suggest. Particularly in his most recent ones.
  7. Ah yes, that I agree with, that his natural habitat is a different kind of score. But, I don't see this foray into opulent Hollywood scoring as a compromise or a sort of fluke. I think it was a stroke of fortune, and wouldn't in retrospect choose any other composer to replace him. The sound world that he created utterly embodies Middle-Earth in my mind, in a way that no one else could have, and that's not an indictment of the skill of any of his colleagues. It's an assertion that the filmmakers knew exactly what they wanted, and that Shore was the person to best deliver it. It's unique, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Horner and Williams are seasoned blockbuster composers but that's precisely the point - Shore delivered something new that they likely wouldn't have.
  8. I don't think i would disagree on the choices (i even mentioned GM), and Shore is hardly a slouch, but the proof is in the pudding, and there still so much more simple/bombastic stuff that to me doesn't approach any of these heights. Thank you for providing examples that i may have noticed myself, but what about all the loud stuff? Do you really think that's all layed out like that on design and Shore easily could have written Goldenthal-like complexities into it? I find that rather hard to believe. Well, that's something that neither of us can ever really know. All I know is that he is a trained, experienced musician. I'm not sure what you mean by "loud stuff" either, though it's difficult to argue that his action music is for everyone if that's what you mean. In those sequences, like the rest of his work, he is very reserved with his highly complex writing. It's probably worth also taking into account his philosophy of scoring, which is very informed by operatic principles. He wants the music to support, but not to stick out, so that accounts for his more subtle approach barring those moments where he feels dramatically justified in letting loose. It's like Mozart setting a recitative very simply, and then writing flashy for an important dramatic moment. But I think where we actually differ is that you want to compare it all to something - Goldenthal, for example. I'm satisfied to just take a composer's style and voice as it stands. And if this reads to you as defensive drivel, well, what can I do?
  9. Don't hold me to cue names or track times, i'm too lazy to check. There are certain parts where Shore showed an imaginative flair, like the hardanger in TT or the layering of some of the choral stuff, the handling of the solo voices etc., then there are other parts that betray a rather conventional and compositionally not very interesting tendency to reach for grandiosity by just being LOUD via organ chords (long-held notes) and rather basic ostinati techniques, again often played by the most obvious instrumental groupings (the reverb tries to cover this at times, maybe?) often ofr minutes straight without much change even in tone and color...the same goes for his, imho, often monotonous suspense music that takes a rest for sometimes long stretches, again, organ chords, hardly a counterpoint or idea to handle the orchestral colors where it could have been crucial to make the music at least a bit more eventful. As i said, the tendency to flatten the musical complexities in movie music since the late 90's, as in other kinds of popular music, played a part in making this much more viable to the general public, or indeed film music fans, than it might have become 20 years before. That's all fair, and I wouldn't presume to try and change your opinion, but you'll forgive me if I feel the need to over-respond. So, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration. Ok. Well TTT and ROTK have their own riches in these departments, but I think FOTR is a brilliant enough score to stand on its own. First let's look at some interesting orchestrations, starting with the first minute of Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe. Initially simple tension in string clusters, but this erupts into a "dark" and "glassy" sheen of fluttering strings, winds, and celesta, underpinned by heavy, roving low strings and winds. This builds into the moment where Bilbo slips the ring off, marked by a soft brass chord, an upward sweep of violins, wind chimes/mark tree, and a light cymbal roll. Then Hobbity intervals in the low winds. Not quite monochrome. The Doors of Durin, during the Watcher sequence starting around 3:20. Something stirs under the surface of the lake, and the basses do slithery quarter tone glides with the contrabassoon accenting the target notes. Then the music for the discovery of the dead of Moria, and the Watcher's appearance itself. The aleatory here is obviously all over Shore's scores, but this is one of the most wild and unsettling appearances, with stabbing, non-vibrato trumpet clusters, wailing horns at the top of their registers, etc. How about Khazad-Dum, at 7:32? Those low strings jumping up into their higher registers is heart wrenching. Caras Galadhon, 3:35 to about a minute later, and a similar passage in The Fighting Uruk-Hai during the gift scene, 2:43 to 4:00 in that track. The main material is covered by ethereal, very still strings and women's voices, with glimmering arpeggios in the celesta and harps. Under this is a more sinewy line for mid-low range winds, brass, and strings, minus the brass/winds in the second excerpt. Again, anything but monochrome - these are all subtle and extremely effective colorations. Now, harmony. This is where you are most accurate about feeling Shore has "limited" resources, but "limited" in this case does not nearly equate to "few." There's quite a bit of movement by thirds, especially major thirds, which is a very Wagnerian sound and there's no mystery in his inclinations towards that. I'll also avoid talking merely about harmonization of themes or motives. However, consider the build up in Give Up The Halfling from 1:47 to 2:48. That's a skillful mounting of tension using relatively simple harmony and clusters, leading up to the statement of the wraith theme. The Doors of Durin again, but this time, the little moment for the reveal of the Doors themselves starting at 1:37. Luminous bitonality, with a sustained triad underneath a sequence of rising major chords. It's these small gestures where much of the ingenuity of these scores is apparent. The Dwarrodelf sequence in Balin's Tomb. I have no technospeak to tout this moment, it's just incredibly moving harmonically. This entire cue is harmonically very satisfying though, moving deftly between tonal areas of the opening moments' sad grandeur to the ominous reading of the book, the battle scene's dissonance, the airy relief that Frodo is still alive/Mithril reveal, and then the big statement of the Fellowship theme that spins off into a propulsive clusteral crescendo. The same gifting sequence from The Fighting Uruk-Hai mentioned above - these are a very facile few moments harmonically, gracefully sliding from one sonority to the next. Finally counterpoint. This is one thing that increases as you move in the scores chronologically. Shore has said that he didn't want to write with too much contrapuntal complexity at the start of the story - by the time you get to ROTK, you have some thrilling moments, particularly during the Pelennor battle, but in this first chapter he specifically said he was more reserved with writing that way as the story doesn't yet have the scope that really calls for it in his vision. That said, there are a few choice moments, fleeting though they may be. Gilraen's Memorial, 2:10 - 2:19, very delicate interplay between the clarinet and oboe. Khazad-Dum, 0:21 - 0:30, clashing lines with the horns playing declamatory phrases and the strings scurrying around similar pitches in counterpoint. The Road Goes Ever On… Pt. 1, 0:51 - 1:22, gorgeous dialogue in the strings. So... I obviously had a bit of time on my hands today. Don't misconstrue it as "fanboying" or anything like that, I just enjoy trying to encourage others to appreciate things that I appreciate.
  10. But from my limited understanding of harmony and counterpoint, i deduct that Shore has limited capabilities in these areas if i compare him to composers more well-versed in those capacities. Well, then I'd genuinely be interested in hearing you elaborate on this.
  11. Season 8 is quite good actually; darker in tone than many of the previous seasons. I'm not a fan of the mythology element they tried to introduce, and it all went horribly wrong in Season 9, but Season 8 is suprisingy effective. Yes, many episodes I've watched so far are surprisingly gruesome compared to the earlier seasons. I'm a bit dissapointed about the retreat of Mitch Pileggi's character, he was always fantastic, the character as well as the actor. That all supposedly goes horribly wrong in season 9 is probably good news though, I tend to enjoy what others find horribly wrong (i.e. LOST) +1
  12. That insinuates he could do this stuff any other way...judging his body of work, that's not really the case. It's like saying John Barry could have written dense action music like EMPIRE STRIKES BACK for THE BLACK HOLE, he just chose a different style which would be utter nonsense. Shore may be more versatile, but judging his counterpoint and coloristic tendencies, i doubt that we ever were in for an orchestral feast á la WILLOW & Co. Whether or not he could or would choose to do things differently is irrelevant. I'm just pointing out that how a composer orchestrates their music is typically one of the most personal stages of composition. It's a pet peeve of mine when people critique orchestration when there aren't any obviously lazy or egregious deficiencies, because it's then just a matter of taste and telling someone how to write their music. Anyway, I won't pontificate on it any further.
  13. How they are shooting some scenes: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BZS8UbSCYAA7I5y.jpg:large Source: https://twitter.com/PaulJFranklin
  14. The reverb does cover up details. But at the same time it really fits with the whole aesthetic of the score I think. The first thing that comes to mind are the cello arpeggios under the chorus during the wide shot of Gandalf and the Balrog falling. They get swallowed up by the reverb.
  15. Well that's completely fair, yes, but I just don't understand the notion that he is a weak orchestrator, which I haven't only seen expressed here. It's obvious to me that he orchestrated these scores in a very specific way, to sound a certain way, and it seems like some people interpret that as being the "wrong" way.
  16. I don't think "weak" is how I'd describe it. Perhaps "not like John Williams" is more apt here. There's no real difference to me from those samples. If anything, things are a little less colorful than usual.
  17. Yep, I think the calvichord will work well, since it has a much more unique, plaintive sound than the harpsichord, which will probably just make the general audience think of powdered wigs.
  18. Middle-Earth has used the Hardinger fiddle, African Rhaita, bodhran drums, tin whistles, pan flutes, bagpipes, taiko drums, Tibetan bowls, spoons, etc in its colourful musical palette. And they've all worked perfectly in context. I don't doubt that the clavichord will be effective in Laketown as well. Those are all instruments that don't necessarily conjure up cultural/historical associations with them at first hearing, though. The harpsichord starts to walk that very fine line between exotic and familiar, I agree. And the bagpipes are something I actually hope aren't utilized much more at all, because they, to me, are too familiar.
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