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Incanus

Film Music Magazine Interviews Conrad Pope

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I just spotted a very interesting interview with composer/orchestrator Conrad Pope on the Film Music Magazine's site.

http://www.filmmusicmag.com/?p=8734

As always Pope is gentlemanly and very articulate about his craft and business. He is the man behind the orchestrations of some the biggest names in Hollywood, John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith among them, and a long time veteran in the business. It is always a joy to read his thoughts and I am very happy that he is getting some of the spotlight now with his score to My Week with Marilyn because he is without a doubt a talented, intelligent man of great musical spirit.

Daniel Schweiger and Pope talk much besides his upcoming score for My Week with Marilyn, discussing the industry, Pope's role as an orchestrator and his experiences in the business. He also mentions Williams several times, noting for example that HP POA is in his opinion one of the most remarkable of Potter scores.

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rom John Williams’ first trailer, through the first film, to orchestrating for Bill Ross and making sure everything was “just right” on the second

Really, WTF did Williams Ross do on COS??????

:ROTFLMAO:

PS: So the 'williams' perfect sound should be credited to Pope?

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rom John Williams’ first trailer, through the first film, to orchestrating for Bill Ross and making sure everything was “just right” on the second

Really, WTF did Williams Ross do on COS??????

: ROTFLMAO:

PS: So the 'williams' perfect sound should be credited to Pope?

This seems to be the sore spot for many JW fans, so often discussed and debated. The feared orchestrators doing their job in the business and creating a "sound" for composers. If you read a bit more carefully you willl notice that Pope himself says that he approaches his work as not putting his own stamp on the experienced composers' works but helping them sound the best they can and helping younger ones become better at their job. I think this is a norm for Hollywood's intense work schedule. We do not know exactly what else Pope's duties entailed on the second Potter film but I think he was there as usual to make sure things ran smoothly as Williams was in US and Ross in UK. I think the schedule on that one was hectic and orchestrators' jobs integral in getting the material to the scoring stage on time and in such form as JW wanted it to be.

Pope has never had anything but the highest praise for Williams, actually once again chiming in his admiration in the interview several times. I do not think he downplays his role in Williams' case out of sheer business tact or is diplomatic because he fears for his job when he has said so often that he has very little to do on Williams' music.

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Yeah. He will be forever haunted by slightly insulted JW fans who hate the doubt gnawing at their innards that this man could have had something to do with the music JW wrote for the COS. And now Conrad Pope puts his foot in it as well.

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The story, which I recall part of being posted here at JWFan by an ex-member, composer who used to work ghostwriting and stuff for a famous composer, was:

Williams was busy. He could not score the film. He suggested, or brought up Ross' name. Ross did his score. It was rejected. Williams had some time suddenly and a rush was made, and Ross' helped on the new score in arranging.

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The story, which I recall part of being posted here at JWFan by an ex-member, composer who used to work ghostwriting and stuff for a famous composer, was:

Williams was busy. He could not score the film. He suggested, or brought up Ross' name. Ross did his score. It was rejected. Williams had some time suddenly and a rush was made, and Ross' helped on the new score in arranging.

That makes a lot of sense. I wonder why they rejected Ross, though...

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Well, if true, I'll find out one day -- rest assured. I found out all those obscure rejected scores (see my signature) and information, so I'm sure I'll find out this one, too. You can run, but you cannot hide from me (at least, not forever).

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The story, which I recall part of being posted here at JWFan by an ex-member, composer who used to work ghostwriting and stuff for a famous composer, was:

Williams was busy. He could not score the film. He suggested, or brought up Ross' name. Ross did his score. It was rejected. Williams had some time suddenly and a rush was made, and Ross' helped on the new score in arranging.

Is this the same guy who was adamant that Horner didn't write the biggest cue on LEGEND OF ZORRO? Grain of salt, anyone?

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rom John Williams’ first trailer, through the first film, to orchestrating for Bill Ross and making sure everything was “just right” on the second

Really, WTF did Williams Ross do on COS??????

: ROTFLMAO:

PS: So the 'williams' perfect sound should be credited to Pope?

This seems to be the sore spot for many JW fans, so often discussed and debated. The feared orchestrators doing their job in the business and creating a "sound" for composers. If you read a bit more carefully you willl notice that Pope himself says that he approaches his work as not putting his own stamp on the experienced composers' works but helping them sound the best they can and helping younger ones become better at their job. I think this is a norm for Hollywood's intense work schedule. We do not know exactly what else Pope's duties entailed on the second Potter film but I think he was there as usual to make sure things ran smoothly as Williams was in US and Ross in UK. I think the schedule on that one was hectic and orchestrators' jobs integral in getting the material to the scoring stage on time and in such form as JW wanted it to be.

Pope has never had anything but the highest praise for Williams, actually once again chiming in his admiration in the interview several times. I do not think he downplays his role in Williams' case out of sheer business tact or is diplomatic because he fears for his job when he has said so often that he has very little to do on Williams' music.

damn, my mistake. That 'PS' was in reference to COS. I consider it a 100% Williams score regardless of who wrote it. I asumed that the excellent seamless adapting and arranging was Ross doing, but now it seems it was Pope's work...

I dont think Williams sound changes depending on the orchestrator, and never will :)

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I asumed that the excellent seamless adapting and arranging was Ross doing, but now it seems it was Pope's work...

Well, it's not an "either/or" situation, is it? They both could have contributed to a seamless Williams sound.

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rom John Williams’ first trailer, through the first film, to orchestrating for Bill Ross and making sure everything was “just right” on the second

Really, WTF did Williams Ross do on COS??????

: ROTFLMAO:

PS: So the 'williams' perfect sound should be credited to Pope?

This seems to be the sore spot for many JW fans, so often discussed and debated. The feared orchestrators doing their job in the business and creating a "sound" for composers. If you read a bit more carefully you willl notice that Pope himself says that he approaches his work as not putting his own stamp on the experienced composers' works but helping them sound the best they can and helping younger ones become better at their job. I think this is a norm for Hollywood's intense work schedule. We do not know exactly what else Pope's duties entailed on the second Potter film but I think he was there as usual to make sure things ran smoothly as Williams was in US and Ross in UK. I think the schedule on that one was hectic and orchestrators' jobs integral in getting the material to the scoring stage on time and in such form as JW wanted it to be.

Pope has never had anything but the highest praise for Williams, actually once again chiming in his admiration in the interview several times. I do not think he downplays his role in Williams' case out of sheer business tact or is diplomatic because he fears for his job when he has said so often that he has very little to do on Williams' music.

I agree this article was great.

In comparing a "before" and "after" of the work Conrad has done from sketches he gets from JW and the output he produced from it, it's very clear the sketch was detailed with very little if any guess work of what the composer’s intentions were. JW pours over the orchestration and comments on changes in the sound he wants (how the orchestrator might have divided a line, where a double comes in or out, etc.). Conrad said when working on a JW score, he acts more like an editor and time saver by double checking and expanding it. Example, maybe a melody has the word “tutti” over it which is clear what the orchestrator needs to do and what the final result should be. Sometimes JW might have a wind melody and write in the short score (dbl in winds) which Conrad would flush out in the proper register to expand it across the other instruments in their various registers. Conrad said JW could rightfully take orchestration credit because it was detailed enough. Sometimes Conrad might change an accidental to aid in sight reading, but I see this not as a correction but rather helping simplify the part for sight reading. In some cases the sketch goes unorchestrated straight to the copyist because they know what needs to be done from the sketch to produce the score and parts - this is usually the worst case scenario but it does indicate how complete the sketch is. I remember noticing in the JW sketch that not only is the melody, rhythm, and harmony all there, but every counterline and Williams's signature wind ornaments are there as well with clear instrumental details of who has the lead…phrasing, dynamics and hairpins are all there, and something that surprised me - each note of the harp gliss was spelled out. I thought that was borderline excessively detailed. Had JW just written “+ harp”, the orchestrator would have known what to do but this indicates the level of thoroughness and attention to detail JW puts in the short scores he creates. I believe this level of detail is consistent with other JW/CP collaborations.

So the question is, if the sketch is so complete, why does someone of Conrad's level need to be the orchestrator when any second rate orchestrator could do it? The reason is because when you are the best, you only work with the best.

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Maybe 'cause JW works with pricey orchestras with windows to record planned and paid for, with windows before and after with other high paying clients, and he'd rather have somebody who knows his stuff and not make a mistake.

As somebody put it in an interview once (Iforget who), when youy work with certain professional orchestras, you are expected to get it right the first take, or they find somebody else who can.

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Excellent seamless adapting and arranging???

Were? Since when?

Since always.

It sounds like a 100% Williams score, its the best not-fully-commited-williams sequel score ever.

Even if it is a derivative mediocre score, its pure Williams.

If Williams did not wrote it all then the guy who got all the new parts and the PS parts and mixed it together did a a spot on job.

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Anyone who has seen Williams work with Herb Spencer knows that Williams has a specific idea of what he wants to do ochestrally in terms of timbre and intention. He leaves nothing to chance, and even after writing the condensed score he continues to slave over the details with the orchestrator. Everything you hear is Williams.

Even on the scoring stage during the recording session he still continues to hammer it out until it sounds right.

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rom John Williams’ first trailer, through the first film, to orchestrating for Bill Ross and making sure everything was “just right” on the second

Really, WTF did Williams Ross do on COS??????

: ROTFLMAO:

PS: So the 'williams' perfect sound should be credited to Pope?

This seems to be the sore spot for many JW fans, so often discussed and debated. The feared orchestrators doing their job in the business and creating a "sound" for composers. If you read a bit more carefully you willl notice that Pope himself says that he approaches his work as not putting his own stamp on the experienced composers' works but helping them sound the best they can and helping younger ones become better at their job. I think this is a norm for Hollywood's intense work schedule. We do not know exactly what else Pope's duties entailed on the second Potter film but I think he was there as usual to make sure things ran smoothly as Williams was in US and Ross in UK. I think the schedule on that one was hectic and orchestrators' jobs integral in getting the material to the scoring stage on time and in such form as JW wanted it to be.

Pope has never had anything but the highest praise for Williams, actually once again chiming in his admiration in the interview several times. I do not think he downplays his role in Williams' case out of sheer business tact or is diplomatic because he fears for his job when he has said so often that he has very little to do on Williams' music.

I agree this article was great.

In comparing a "before" and "after" of the work Conrad has done from sketches he gets from JW and the output he produced from it, it's very clear the sketch was detailed with very little if any guess work of what the composer’s intentions were. JW pours over the orchestration and comments on changes in the sound he wants (how the orchestrator might have divided a line, where a double comes in or out, etc.). Conrad said when working on a JW score, he acts more like an editor and time saver by double checking and expanding it. Example, maybe a melody has the word “tutti” over it which is clear what the orchestrator needs to do and what the final result should be. Sometimes JW might have a wind melody and write in the short score (dbl in winds) which Conrad would flush out in the proper register to expand it across the other instruments in their various registers. Conrad said JW could rightfully take orchestration credit because it was detailed enough. Sometimes Conrad might change an accidental to aid in sight reading, but I see this not as a correction but rather helping simplify the part for sight reading. In some cases the sketch goes unorchestrated straight to the copyist because they know what needs to be done from the sketch to produce the score and parts - this is usually the worst case scenario but it does indicate how complete the sketch is. I remember noticing in the JW sketch that not only is the melody, rhythm, and harmony all there, but every counterline and Williams's signature wind ornaments are there as well with clear instrumental details of who has the lead…phrasing, dynamics and hairpins are all there, and something that surprised me - each note of the harp gliss was spelled out. I thought that was borderline excessively detailed. Had JW just written “+ harp”, the orchestrator would have known what to do but this indicates the level of thoroughness and attention to detail JW puts in the short scores he creates. I believe this level of detail is consistent with other JW/CP collaborations.

So the question is, if the sketch is so complete, why does someone of Conrad's level need to be the orchestrator when any second rate orchestrator could do it? The reason is because when you are the best, you only work with the best.

Thanks for these specific examples - I've always wondered exactly what Pope does for JW, beyond his vague explanations. The whole idea of orchestrators makes it a little difficult to idolize any one composer, so I'm glad that Williams relies on Pope for superficial busy work only.

Incanus, thanks for the interview. Interesting read.

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