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How do we feel about James Horner's Titanic?


indy4
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Rate the score to Titanic  

39 members have voted

  1. 1. Rate the score to Titanic, 10 being the best



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I never doubted the quality of themes. There's nothing wrong with the writing or the themes or anything like that. 

 

 

The synth choir is nothing but awful though. 

Couldn't put it better myself.

 

 

 

That's the thing - all the haters and whiners in here are in denial about the themes. There hasn't been anything written in years and years, thematically, which gets anywhere near the quality, complexity and stunning beauty of Rose's theme. You just don't get intricately developed and finely crafted melodies like that in movies any more, but here we are again seeing idiots dismiss it on a whim.

I don't know Quint... What does it sound like?

Karol

Show me a better melody recently. I desperately want to hear it.

 

 

And if I go back longer than two years, I can get quite a few more in there.

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I still want the complete score with all the film versions. It's irritating that there's a bunch of extra re-recorded music and music inspired by the film that I tend to skip on the original album and Back to Titanic, but the film versions of Southampton, The Portrait, the opening scenes, Jack and Fabrizio catching the ship, Jack and Rose running from Lovejoy and other bits and pieces have never surfaced. I don't know what the hell the anniversary version is supposed to be, but I don't even want the music on discs 3 and 4. That bastard Horner knows we want the music, too. I doubt we'll ever get it.

Pretty much.

I'm not normally one to moan about incomplete presentations, but I'd buy a new album if it had everything from the movie and in chronological order. And with no annoying extended/unused material tacked on. At least it'd be easy to skip all the repetitious Rose material, which hasn't aged to well (it's mostly too cheesy).

So is the Rose theme separate to all the repetitious Rose material?

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That's the thing - all the haters and whiners in here are in denial about the themes. There hasn't been anything written in years and years, thematically, which gets anywhere near the quality, complexity and stunning beauty of Rose's theme. You just don't get intricately developed and finely crafted melodies like that in movies any more, but here we are again seeing idiots dismiss it on a whim.

I don't know Quint... What does it sound like?

Karol

Show me a better melody recently. I desperately want to hear it.

Fernando Velazquez's The Impossible has that similar saccharine quality to it that might appeal to you.

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I actually feel that Horner was fairly restrained throughout, especially the score as presented in the film. It is an intimate score for an epic type of film.

Isn't the majority of the actual film score unreleased? Much of what is on album to me sound like alternate takes.

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On impulse, I gave it a 7. It's a very good score, but I think I've always sold it a bit short because of all the baggage it carries—i.e., the general "It's TITANIC!" vibe, Celine Dion crooning the love theme to death, that kind of thing. If it had been just another movie without all the hype, I probably would've had a much more open-minded disposition toward it. I admit, it's not a very fair perspective. Just the general impression I have.

Again, though, I do think it's a very good score. Not Horner's best—frankly, I think a film as big as this did deserve real vocals and a full orchestral job throughout—but it was certainly up to the job at hand. I really like the material in port and leaving port, and the final sequences of the film recalling her life, heading below the surface, and her reappearance in the stairwell hall. I do think it's a beautiful love theme, but (as I said) it's been tainted by overplay, and I've never thought it superior to the romantic material in Braveheart. (And the notion that nothing better has been written since is just silly.)

I actually feel that Horner was fairly restrained throughout, especially the score as presented in the film. It is an intimate score for an epic type of film.

I agree with this. Another composer might've gone overboard on the epic scale, but I think Horner plays it right by keeping things on a more intimate level—reflecting the individual perspective of the larger event.

Also . . . I don't know where people got it in their heads that Horner is an arrogant guy. I've always seen him as very humble, ingenuous, and understanding that it's about what the director wants, not just the creative impulses of the composer. The reason he and Cameron clashed on Aliens wasn't creative differences; it was because what Cameron was asking for was a physical impossibility. And Horner's response to Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd, when they demanded more than he could give, was absolutely perfect. He managed to push back and still remain completely humble about it.

Ultimately, he was the right person for this job, and absolutely deserved the Oscar he got for it. Because it is a good score . . . and because, hey, it's TITANIC!

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I agree to a large extent with Uni-bombers post.

A lot of the aggression against this score is in part because it is the score to Titanic, a film many people hate on principle, and the fact that that song was everywhere at one point.

The synth choir, while probably not Horner's own idea, since it's not really a concept he has used before and since, does help give the score it's "unique selling point". It's at-least partially defined by it.

A real choir would have made Titanic a more conventional score.

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Didn't he also have some choice words about Malick?

And there's also accounts from his musicians....

I'm sure the guy is as prone to ego as anyone else, and he's just a little worse at hiding it when necessary.

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Also . . . I don't know where people got it in their heads that Horner is an arrogant guy.

Probably comes from the Troy interview...

I don't even know how to describe how atrocious the music was.

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Y'know . . . the more I think on it, for the music in that scene—as it's written—the synth choir actually does work better than a real choir might have. In other words, actual voices singing the "Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah - Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah" and so on might've sounded pretty stupid, even hokey. It's an approach that admittedly works well with the instrumental choice. Of course, if he'd had an actual chorus to work with, he probably would've penned something different for that scene, so it's all a wash anyway.

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Y'know . . . the more I think on it, for the music in that sceneas it's writtenthe synth choir actually does work better than a real choir might have. In other words, actual voices singing the "Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah - Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah" and so on might've sounded pretty stupid, even hokey. It's an approach that admittedly works well with the instrumental choice. Of course, if he'd had an actual chorus to work with, he probably would've penned something different for that scene, so it's all a wash anyway.

Another good one!

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I'm sure the guy is as prone to ego as anyone else, and he's just a little worse at hiding it when necessary.

Horner can easily come across as arrogant. Partly for me because of the way he keeps repurposing music - his own and that of others -, often in such obvious ways, and the way he apparently keeps insisting that he doesn't remember his own music (implying that he couldn't possibly quote it).

But I two interviews with him last year, a lengthy one by Robert Townson with audience questions (nearly an hour long I think) and the shorter one Thor did. And while at first the impression of arrogance got even stronger, it turns out that he's just a really shy and humble person who thinks about his music in totally different ways than we do. He wouldn't write concert music for a long time because to him it means competing with composers like Brahms, in whose league he doesn't feel he belongs. He seems genuine when he says that he doesn't think about films and film music in themes but rather in colours, and that the themes only come later.

Y'know . . . the more I think on it, for the music in that sceneas it's writtenthe synth choir actually does work better than a real choir might have. In other words, actual voices singing the "Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah - Ah-ahh, ah-ah-ah" and so on might've sounded pretty stupid, even hokey. It's an approach that admittedly works well with the instrumental choice. Of course, if he'd had an actual chorus to work with, he probably would've penned something different for that scene, so it's all a wash anyway.

It could well be that neither type of choir would have worked for the scene, and the music written for it is just bad, regardless of orchestration.

The cliched ah-oh choir is overused anyway.

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But I two interviews with him last year, a lengthy one by Robert Townson with audience questions (nearly an hour long I think) and the shorter one Thor did. And while at first the impression of arrogance got even stronger, it turns out that he's just a really shy and humble person who thinks about his music in totally different ways than we do. He wouldn't write concert music for a long time because to him it means competing with composers like Brahms, in whose league he doesn't feel he belongs. He seems genuine when he says that he doesn't think about films and film music in themes but rather in colours, and that the themes only come later.

Those interviews, plus several in which he discusses specific scores, were foremost in my mind when I made the comment earlier. To me, his isolationist bent, and the fact that he never does concerts of his own material, just doesn't suggest the mentality of a galactic narcissist.

I also believe him when he says he doesn't consider any of his earlier scores when writing new material. It makes sense. He really doesn't perceive that he's "copying" his own stuff; he approaches each score as a completely new work. What he doesn't seem to realize (I guess) is that we're all prone to getting certain little tunes stuck in our head. By never referencing his earlier work, he misses recognizing that the lovely melody he's spinning out on the page is the same lovely melody he's used in three or four prior films. As the composer, it's entirely up to him how he chooses to approach the craft, but by putting on the blinders to his former scores he sets himself up for the criticism he receives as a self-plagiarist.

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And there's also accounts from his musicians....

Do tell! :)

I enjoyed Tony Hinnigan's story from one of the Willow scoring sessions:

James Horner had heard the score for "The Mission" and asked Mike Taylor and myself to play on "Willow", which had, at the time, the biggest ever music budget for a movie. On the first morning we began with a cue containing a nightmare solo in the heinous key of B Major. (For the uninitiated, that means a rather uncomfortable number of sharps). We only had one instrument between us on which it could be done - a somewhat dodgy cross-blown Bolivian flute. We tossed a coin for the dubious honour. Mike lost. The first run-through, predictably, didn't go that well. Audible sniggers were heard from members of the London Symphony Orchestra. James, to his eternal credit, tapped his baton on the stand and said "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a 120-piece orchestra here, two choirs, Alpine horns, anvils etc., etc., and these chaps with numerous bits of stick, some of which have holes bored in them. I have written the cue in the wrong key and that's my fault. If anyone thinks they can play any of these instruments better, please step forward". You could've heard a pin drop.

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Celine Dion's song is great, despite being played at least twice for every person on the planet. The score is epic like the film, and yet intimate when it needs to be, even quiet. It's one of my favorite scores and in my top 5 Horner scores.

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And there's also accounts from his musicians....

Do tell! :)

I enjoyed Tony Hinnigan's story from one of the Willow scoring sessions:

James Horner had heard the score for "The Mission" and asked Mike Taylor and myself to play on "Willow", which had, at the time, the biggest ever music budget for a movie. On the first morning we began with a cue containing a nightmare solo in the heinous key of B Major. (For the uninitiated, that means a rather uncomfortable number of sharps). We only had one instrument between us on which it could be done - a somewhat dodgy cross-blown Bolivian flute. We tossed a coin for the dubious honour. Mike lost. The first run-through, predictably, didn't go that well. Audible sniggers were heard from members of the London Symphony Orchestra. James, to his eternal credit, tapped his baton on the stand and said "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a 120-piece orchestra here, two choirs, Alpine horns, anvils etc., etc., and these chaps with numerous bits of stick, some of which have holes bored in them. I have written the cue in the wrong key and that's my fault. If anyone thinks they can play any of these instruments better, please step forward". You could've heard a pin drop.

Great story, that. What's its source?

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I listened to it today. It's interesting that the music for the alternate ending, which wouldn't have fit in with the film at all (and is actually quite heinous), doesn't fit in with the rest of the score.

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I listened to it today. It's interesting that the music for the alternate ending, which wouldn't have fit in with the film at all (and is actually quite heinous), doesn't fit in with the rest of the score.

What's this now?

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