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I'm missing something: Why is Goldsmith great?


Vaderbait1
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Before people get bent out of shape, I'm not saying Goldsmith is bad. But I've seen several people say he's better than Williams, or the first or second best composer ever. Why?

His music for Star Trek was phenominal. Some of his other scores were pretty good, but the vast majority of his work is either forgettable or irrtiating (Congo). Why the love? It also seems to me that with the exception of a few scores, most of his music isn't thematically consistent. Sort of....schizophrenic, all over the place.

Can someone recommend the best of his scores to listen to, and maybe why they think they're worth listening to?

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Jaws is simple and not among JW's greatest, and Goldsmith is ehh, hmmmm,

listen to Twilight Zone the Movie,

the Omen, Poltergeist, Alien, Boys from Brazil, Capricorn One, The Mummy, and the Gremlins scores.

this man has greatness in his veins. True he has his mediocre days, and he's never had the choice films like JW, but still he's the next best thing too.

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I'm one of the Jerry #1 camp. Well, actually I put him at #1 alongside John Williams. But if forced to, he's #1, and Williams #1.00...1 :P

most of his music isn't thematically consistent.

Quite the contrary. His work is the polar opposite of Williams' leitmotif approach (Williams has mastered that in terms of consistency). Most of his work introduces a primary idea, that all other ideas/themes come off of, and that idea is developed from start to finish, which in turn produces a much more cohesive whole than most other composers.

In other respects, beyond simply composition, Goldsmith was probably the best spotter out of his peers, he not only understood music, but also its application. He understood when and where a score was needed, but when he did provide score, he consistently nailed the scenes he was scoring.

In my opinion he was the best film composer at consistently hitting the right note at the perfect moment.

His best? Long list, but I'll narrow it.

The Blue Max

Patton

Boys from Brazil

The Wind and the Lion <--- Probably his most phenomenal work right next to ST: TMP. It may sound atonal at first but it is truly wonderful. And a gorgeous love theme.

The Omen (I, II, and III)

Alien

Capricorn One

Inchon

Under Fire

Poltergeist

The Secret of NIMH

The Russia House

Total Recall

Basic Instinct <---- Movie underscore at its finest

Rudy

The Shadow

The Ghost and the Darkness

The Mummy and 13th Warrior

Mulan

[edit] Can't forget Chinatown![/edit]

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All you have to do is listen to Planet of the Apes, or even some of his earlier television work to hear his innovative approach to presenting you with what you don't realize is a melody. His approach wasn't so obvious as Williams sometimes could be (along with all of the Williams imitators that came along), but like Blumenkohl put it (and quite well), it produced a more cohesive whole.

And by the way, there's nothing wrong with asking that question. The question of why someone is so great should be applied to many other "talents" out there. I doubt they'd find such support as Jerry will.

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this man has greatness in his veins.  True he has his mediocre days, and he's never had the choice films like JW, but still he's the next best thing too.

Joe is right.

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this man has greatness in his veins.  True he has his mediocre days, and he's never had the choice films like JW, but still he's the next best thing too.

Because, like Blumenkohl said, he's the polar opposite of Williams.

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I wanted to get the Mummy soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith. I listened to sample clips on iTunes Music store it does sound really good.

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See, out of those scores listed, only Patton is exceptional to me. Maybe his scores just work better in film, because I'm bored by Alien and to a lesser degree, the Omen. I still place him pretty high up on the list of composers, just because he has had some fantastic scores, and he's one of the most respectable composers of the last 100 years, I just don't understand why people consider him THE best is all. I remember when I was younger I used to love the Gremlins scores, though.

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If Goldsmith's scores work in their films, that's all he was trying to achieve. Whether or not they work on CD isn't really anything to do with his talent as a film composer.

As it is, I feel his scores do (mostly) work well on CD.

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See, out of those scores listed, only Patton is exceptional to me. Maybe his scores just work better in film, because I'm bored by Alien and to a lesser degree, the Omen. I still place him pretty high up on the list of composers, just because he has had some fantastic scores, and he's one of the most respectable composers of the last 100 years, I just don't understand why people consider him THE best is all

The always reliable 'why is Goldsmith great'-thread....why don't you just hang it onto on of the two dozen threads with the same topic?

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If Goldsmith's scores work in their films, that's all he was trying to achieve. Whether or not they work on CD isn't really anything to do with his talent as a film composer.

You're absolutely right, but since I'm really only familiar with the handling on CD, I can only judge by his CDs.

The always reliable 'why is Goldsmith great'-thread....why don't you just post an addendum to the two dozen threads with the same topic?

You're right, how utterly ridiculous of me. Don't you think that if there was a thread like this easily found I wouldn't have posted this? I swear, some posters on the Internet. If a subject has been broached multiple times over the past 5 or 10 years, it's like it can never be brought up again.

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Amen. One purpose this thread has served me is compelling me to listen to some of Jerry's finest all this morning. What a great feeling that is.

Ted

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Amen. One purpose this thread has served me is compelling me to listen to some of Jerry's finest all this morning. What a great feeling that is.

That is exactly the purpose of this thread. My intention is not to talk about how much Goldsmith sucks (he doesn't), but to ask for specific reasons why specific scores are good so I can go seek them out.

I'm actually listening to Patton right now and I love it.

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goldsmith was the epitome of musician. he wrote music for his own sake, not just to placate any director. he was very creative, and not afraid to experiment. when his scores were yelled at for not being wat the director wanted, he would vehemently argue for his score. as a consequent, he made film music into an art. williams on the other hand is known as the mediator. (i have many sources on this, including goldsmith himself. read the biography:P) he wont argue for his scores, but would rather change it if the director wants it.

some people have considered goldsmith the greater, because what he writes, he wont readily change.

also because goldsmith's music is often more creative/experimental than williams, not that williams is not experimental. however williams usually resorts to neoromanticism in his scores, whereas goldsmith would have no qualms about using wierd textures. think of planet of the apes. imagine williams scoring it. would williams have written it in such a modern style back then? i doubt it. even now, he has no purely dissonant score except for War of the Worlds. everything else has some of the neoromanticism, or some jazz sounds (pre1975).

but then whether these qualities are important depends on the person. for many people ont he board, they might prefer williams because his melodies are more hummable.

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I don't think he was one of the greats, but I think that many of his scores were really, really, REALLY good (ex: First Knight, 13th Warrior, Air Force One). I think he got bogged down into too many inconsequential, sound-a-like scores that kept him from really becoming "great" (a term thrown around too often). I still find myself listening to his music though, quite often.

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On only the merits of his truly great scores, which don't make up the bulk of his work, he is still a great composer. Yes, I consider him one of the greats in spite of Rent a Cop, Gladiator, Alien Nation, and the so-so scores such as Along Came a Spider, US Marshalls, etc.

Goldsmith has written many hours of great music, and some truly great scores. That's more than the length of Stravinsky's great ballets combined. Nobody thinks Stravinsky is "Great" for things like The Rake's Progress. No, it's those few truly noble moments in a composers career that solidify their worth among their listening community. I emphasize that aspect. The listening community of film music generally does deem Goldsmith to be one of the greats. This excludes judgements by outsiders from classical purism spheres who might not know much film music.

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"t only takes one amazing score to get peoples attention."

Yep, for me it was Poltergeist a couple of years ago. I listened it full blast with my headphones, doing nothing else. That was a mind-transfiguring experience, that brass is so powerful....!!!! I was then a Goldsmith freak and went on a shopping spree :P

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This might sound a bit sappy...but

For me 'twas a long time ago, with The Motion Picture Soundtrack. A few years before there was even a more complete and better quality release of it. I was a 15 year old in a pretty depressed state due to things going on in my family...

And I listened for the first time to "The Enterprise" and somehow, within those 6 minutes, my view on life...and where I wanted to go with it changed. For the first time in a long time, I had hope that things could be better much better. If something that majestic can be written and performed...then something good and great can happen as well in life.

I now look at the successes in my life, and my happiness now, and I can't help but...laugh at the fact that what sparked me to get here was some music some person I never met wrote for some drawn-out movie, a year older than myself.

In a way, Jerry was a counselor to me through some very tough times. My only regret is not ever being able to see him in person, and thank him.

Of course, knowing him, he'd think me a loon. :P

And that is why, Goldsmith will always be the best, in my opinion, why if forced, I would select him just barely over Williams.

No one's going to convince you he's great, just listen to his music, and maybe see the films, and decide for yourself.

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Zimmer gets a lot of flak about his action/suspense music all sounding the same, but I don't think Goldsmith is immune to it either. Along Came a Spider, Deep Rising, US Marshals, Executive Decision, Star Trek Insurrection & Nemesis, Hollow Man, Sum of All Fears, The Last Castle... too much of it sounds alike for me to use the word "great." I enjoy the hell out of his music though! :P

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i doubt it. even now, he has no purely dissonant score except for War of the Worlds. everything else has some of the neoromanticism, or some jazz sounds (pre1975).  

so being dissonant is a required quality to be 'great'? whats wrong with neoromanticism?

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The problem why these ratings never work is the different frame of reference, so to speak.

Numerous people don't know enough of the oeuvre of discussed artist, but go on with fervour and rate it anyway. It's not so inane like similar threads regarding Morricone, but it's bad enough when the rating grounds are scores from 1995-2004.

(plus 'STar Trek - TMP')

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The Wind and the Lion <--- Probably his most phenomenal work right next to ST: TMP.  It may sound atonal at first but it is truly wonderful.  And a gorgeous love theme.  

Why exactly is that one so good? I listened to it and it did sound pretty good, but I didn't hear the awesomeness the first time around. Is there anything in particular I should pay attention to? I'm not saying it isn't good. It probably is VERY good and I simply missed why the first time around. :P

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The Wind and the Lion <--- Probably his most phenomenal work right next to ST: TMP.  It may sound atonal at first but it is truly wonderful.  And a gorgeous love theme.  

Why exactly is that one so good? I listened to it and it did sound pretty good, but I didn't hear the awesomeness the first time around. Is there anything in particular I should pay attention to? I'm not saying it isn't good. It probably is VERY good and I simply missed why the first time around. :P

Here's a training wheel tip. Take all of your Jerry Goldsmith albums and playlists and change the name to "John Williams". It's a cheap method of appreciation, but it may be the only hope for people who can't take their Williams goggles off.

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My post above was NOT an attack on Jerry Goldsmith of any kind. It was simply a sincere question.

I have recently tried to get myself more music from Jerry Goldsmith and I am trying to see as many films scored by him as I can. I am very impressed by most I have heard so far.

I actually appreciate a lot of Jerry Goldsmith's work. I consider him a very good composer indeed. But much of his music is much harder to appreciate fully on first listen than John Williams' music is. That doesn't mean Jerry's music isn't good, of course. It just means it needs some getting-in-to. So I'm asking for some help in getting into it. It would help to know why people consider some of his scores so good, so I can pay attention to the aspects they mention. I might just agree with them after listening to it some more. :P

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Total Recall did it for me. Knowing the film already - I just stand in awe at his amazing ability to capture the most obscure of feelings perfectly to fit the scene.

I do sometimes wonder if Goldsmith was better at capturing the sound for a scene/movie than Williams is.

Like for example - The Treatment from Total Recall. With the film, this cue is just such an amazing example of how film music should serve a film. Right from the beginning of the scene, Goldsmith adds that feeling of "What the hell's going on!?" that I think just improved that scene so dramatically. And just listen to that orchestration, such perfect instrumentation. The man's a genius.

Get the Total Recall Deluxe Soundtrack if you can. It's so entertaining from start to finish. You'll probably appreciate it even more if you've seen the film.

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Okay, I feel the need to clarify something: Jerry Goldsmith was great, one of the greatest, not because of his willingness to experiment, not because he would vehemently argue for his points of view over a director's, not because he wrote more dissonant music than other film composers early in his career...

Jerry Goldsmith was great simply because he was a first rate composer, imbued with epic dramatic talents and a profound understanding of the relation of music, drama and life.

Neo-romanticism (which is a misnomer when it comes to Williams' music, simply because he never had to "pick up the pieces" of a tradition, but rather grew out of tradition and belongs to an unbroken lineage, through people such as Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and more peripherally, via Korngold, Waxman, Rosza and Herrmann) is not less "modern" or less valid than more modernist trends and techniques.

Goldsmith wasn't more sophisticated than Williams. On the contrary, Williams' tonal writing is vastly more complex than Goldsmith's, and Williams probably has a deeper knowledge of more abstract schools of musical thought than Goldsmith. Yet he has chosen a path that to me shows most profoundly the validity and impact and present potential in embracing tonality. Much more so than Nicholas Maw, John Adams, etc.

But--- Jerry Goldsmith remains one of the most uniquely gifted composers ever to grace Hollywood, simply because he was a master at what he did, and a master with a tremendous presence and command artistically, dramatically, aesthetically...

There are no composers out there today that can even begin to compare (other than Williams, who I consider the greatest composer ever to write for film) with Goldsmith in a qualitative way. He was simply too deep, too brilliant...Williams and Goldsmith belong to a generation and a tradition of musicians that is sadly mostly missing from our world today. We would be very wise to study their craft, their legacy, as thoroughly as our faculties allow us. We will be better for it. Music will be better for it.

Oh, and parenthetically; "The Rake's Progress" is one of Stravinsky's best dramatic works, and a masterpiece.

Best,

Marcus

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Jerry Goldsmith's cue at the end of Dennis the Menace, when Mr. Wilson hears Dennis coming back home, almost made me tear up. Dennis the menace!!! Any composer who can do that has my respect.

I first started with Supergirl and then discovered Air Force One, Rudy, Dennis ... then moved on to discover First Contact and Insurrection. 13th Warrior was next and the list grew from there.

I just recently embraced Twilight Zone: the Movie. I usually gave up after a minute or so into the Overture but listened all the way through to Nightmare at 20,000 feet and I knew I had to have it all. It's simply ... great.

I love his lyrical stuff. Any other suggestions?

MySpace Film Music Group: http://groups.myspace.com/filmmusiccentral

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It's easier to maker Goldsmith "best of" compilation.Lots of his scores are only 2-3 tracks great...

K.M.who can't listen to a whole c.d. of weak themes,however "cohesive" the score is...

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It's easier to maker Goldsmith "best of" compilation.Lots of his scores are only 2-3 tracks great...

The same could be said to a lot of Williams releases. No film composer is immune to that. And no, not every film requires Straussian tone poems. And even if it is hard to grasp, 'Logan's Run' is no less an accomplishment than 'Star Wars'. Just on a totally different scale...

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You know what?

I really like Oranges.....they're so juicy and sweet!

But I must admit that I also really like Apples - the way they crunch in your mouth and how the juices dribble down your chin - its to die for!

Wait, what was the topic again?

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You know what?  

I really like Oranges.....they're so juicy and sweet!

But I must admit that I also really like Apples - the way they crunch in your mouth and how the juices dribble down your chin - its to die for!

Wait, what was the topic again?

what makes apples great? and which is better, apples or oranges?

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so after a trip to hollywood, here's the sentiments that i hear about goldsmith. Goldsmith is one of and possibly the MOST original/creative film composer. john has a very versatile classical skill and good orchestrational skills in terms of the standard romantic orchestra; among musicians, he is considered a fine musician technically, as in everything he does is meticulous and careful, kind of like ravel in that regards. however, jerry really was the emotional one who had a very STRONG sense of colour. jerry thought of everything in colour and his orchestrations are always really interesting. for instance, in patton, he used this interesting thing called an echoplex on his trumpets to create that echoey sound. (btw, this is from the original score) likewise, in star trek, he used so many extra instruments, including the blaster beam, organ (in a movie??, plus he also did celeste, piano, clavichord, AND synth), conch, cheesegrater struck with a wooden stick, a bouncy rubber ball on a tenor drum, some latin instrument but bowed, some percussion that starts with ang___, etc. this btw, this infromation is straight from the original handwritten score from the library down in LA. (omg, holding the ORIGINAL score is like heaven!) chinatown on the other hand had 4 pianos, a trumpet, and percussion. only one of the pianos was played normally. the other 3 were prepared or struck with mallets.

looking at jerry's full scores, you immediately see the difference between him and williams. williams was extremely versatile on the orchestral set. he used them extremely well, but sticks to pretty normal sounds. jerry is the more avant-garde of the two. almost every page had something strange. the main title is the exception; it is SO ordinary. Also would like to point out, the music for Star Trek TMP is two piles, 8 feet high. I hoep that gives you an idea of the amount of music he wrote. (however, these includes parts, full scores, and conductor's score)

btw, someone might say full score vs conductor score? aren't they the same? the answer is NO. the conductor score is a reduction of the full score. the conductor's score has the main important lines. i think this is because the conductor cannot remember all the things going on at once (even jerry prolly couldnt do it considering the music he wrote).

anyways, the next time i go to LA, i'll give another report. What goldsmith stuff should i check out next? i'm thinking Planet of the Apes:P.

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Papillon is my favorite Goldsmith score still. It's amazing through and through. The spotting of it was also excellent. It takes 30 minutes to hear his first cue and it's shocking with its trumpet dissonance in the opening bars.

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Someone's going to shoot me, but Goldsmith used electronic stuff in his music all the time, so why had he criticised Zimmer? Is it the composition style that differs between them, does Goldsmith just not like Zimmer's music, or what it is?

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