Jump to content

Is Howard Shore the Bernard Hermann of our time?


Recommended Posts

Today listening to Shore I thought by myself that the two have a lot in common. Both wrote scores for a lot of fantasy and quite abysmal movies. Both have a certain characteristic and concise simplcity in their music, and a tendency to a little boring concert works apart from the screen.

But in the end it is just a gut feeling of mine.

Does anybody else see that connection or similarity?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 54
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Herrmann never wrote a score as good as The Lord of the Rings.  

I don't understand why some people seem to treat the LOTR scores as some kind of peak for film music. I don't think LOTR is Shore's best work. He is good at suspense/horror, just don't let him write m

Another similarity is that both are far below my level. 

To be fair, if Herrmann and North were alive and working in today's industry, I don't know how'd they cope.

 

I don't know if either of them would be allowed to innovate as much as they did in their lifetime. Hell, with Benny's temperament he'd probably be composing concert works almost exclusevily :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote nothing as good as The Planets, but he was still a better composer than Holst.  

 

I like that - although I couldn't categorically call the Tallis Fantasia not as a good as The Planets. But it sums up my feeling about Holst & RVW very well.

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote nothing as good as The Planets, but he was still a better composer than Holst.  

 

I wonder if this would be applicable in film music as well... Perhaps Goldsmith instead of RVW, and JW instead of Holst? Stymied as what score to use in this equation...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am always wary of branding a vastly inferior melodist as the superior composer.

 

"I think that's the hardest part of it all: tune writing, motivic construction, and so on".

— John Williams

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Fabulin said:

I am always wary of branding a vastly inferior melodist as the superior composer.

 

In regards to Herrmann, Goldsmith or both?

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, KK said:

 

Meh. Great composers don't have to be great melodists.

 

Which, again, applies to Herrmann. I can recall many of his motifs and themes, but I would label none of those as great melodies, or even a melody to begin with. That was simply not his style and/or forte.

 

(NB: I remain unaware of large swaths of the man's career, so please take the above with a pillar of salt.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Kühni said:

 

Which, again, applies to Herrmann. I can recall many of his motifs and themes, but I would label none of those as great melodies, or even a melody to begin with. That was simply not his style and/or forte.

 

(NB: I remain unaware of large swaths of the man's career, so please take the above with a pillar of salt.)

 

Come on man. He has many many many many many famous and memorable themes. This is not true at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That, he certainly has. But outside of a functional sense, I wouldn't call Herrmann a particularly gifted melodist. His strengths lie in building structures around accumulating cells.

 

Shore isn't a strong melodist either. And for all of LOTR's brilliance, Herrmann is without a doubt the stronger composer. No contest.

 

Speaking of Herrmann, the LSO programmed his Psycho suite in a strings orchestra concert last night:

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a nice performance, I like the energy of the prelude.

 

13 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

But in the end it is just a gut feeling of mine.

 

Your gut is not wrong, but you're comparing a very good composer to a mediocre one.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Herrmann was much more of a visionary and innovator than Shore is.

 

Honestly, in terms of innovation, nobody beats Hermann and North. Not even Williams and Goldsmith.

 

 

 

From the Williams-Goldsmith generation, I'd say that Morricone is comparable or even superior to Herrmann in terms of innovative ideas. They both were keen on using unusual orchestrations to give each movie its own "color", and I think it can be said that Morricone experimented with a broader variety of compositional techniques. In Morricone's output, you find anything from the lush Romantic melody (e.g. Deborah's theme and other analogue pieces) to minimalism, to 12-tone, to avant-garde. Herrmann was more repetitive with respect to this aspect (to be fair, he also died much younger).  

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Your gut is not wrong, but you're comparing a very good composer to a mediocre one.

Ok, regarding it under the side condition that todays film music world is just a pale reflection of its golden times and comparing contemporary scores with golden and silver age scores is like comparing 20th century literature with Twitter, I still would see Shore as some kind of inheritor of Hermann in many ways.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Muad'Dib said:

To be fair, if Herrmann and North were alive and working in today's industry, I don't know how'd they cope.

 

I reckon Herrmann wouldn't have a chance in mainstream Hollywood, because of his refusal to revise cues or write anything other than what he wanted to.

 

As to the original topic, I agree that he never did anything on the scale of LotR, although I personally feel that The Hobbit scores demonstrate that Shore perhaps doesn't have the same inspiration when the filmic material isn't up there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

As to the original topic, I agree that he never did anything on the scale of LotR, although I personally feel that The Hobbit scores demonstrate that Shore perhaps doesn't have the same inspiration when the filmic material isn't up there.

Hm. I like the Hobbit scores. Especially "An Unexpected Journey".

For me Howard Shore became a better composer with every Middle Earth score. Return of the King might be the creative climax. But the maturity of the compositions increased in my oppinion.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Aenae said:

I don't understand why some people seem to treat the LOTR scores as some kind of peak for film music. I don't think LOTR is Shore's best work. He is good at suspense/horror, just don't let him write melody, in my opinion.

 

The LOTR scores are widely overrated. They are competent pastiche scores, but nothing new. Herrmann wrote many scores that are much better than LOTR.

I also thought, that the LotR scores should rather be compared to Hermann's own fantasy scores like 7th Voage of Sindbad, Three Worlds of Gulliver etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Aenae said:

I don't understand why some people seem to treat the LOTR scores as some kind of peak for film music. I don't think LOTR is Shore's best work. He is good at suspense/horror, just don't let him write melody, in my opinion.

 

Let Enya do it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Let Enya do it.

 

A LOTR-inspired album from Enya would be a dream come true.

 

As to the topic at hand, I can't really think of any contemporary composer that is the Herrmann of today. Plenty of composers who tap into his stylings now and then, of course (Elfman, most famously, back in the day), but not really a composer who is the exact replica of him.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

I also thought, that the LotR scores should rather be compared to Hermann's own fantasy scores like 7th Voage of Sindbad, Three Worlds of Gulliver etc.

 

I think in terms of motivic architecture, I understand the comparison in this thread. But I think they both just saw the orchestra very differently in the way they wrote. 

 

3 hours ago, Aenae said:

The LOTR scores are widely overrated. They are competent pastiche scores, but nothing new. 

 

What a strange argument. How is LOTR any more a pastiche score than something like Star Wars? And if you look beneath the popular stuff (as with anything), there's so much texturally and harmonically that Shore was doing that was largely unprecedented in big blockbuster films of that scale.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been slowly making my way through Herrmann's work recently, and though I love a lot of it, none of it has the emotional resonance or staying power as LOTR, or even the Hobbit scores for me.

 

I'm not saying Shore's music is objectively better, because it probably isn't, but I adore sci-fi and fantasy scores that not only create melodies that represent what they're meant to perfectly, but also do everything they can to be lore-friendly and assist in world building just as much as the film itself does.

 

The decision to get the choir to sing poems and dialogue from the books, in Tolkien's languages, and the way themes are used to expand, or build on lore that the content of the film couldn't cover, are genius ideas (yes I know the choral languages were not only Shore's work but it still improves the music's quality overall). 

 

So to answer the thread, Herrmann is probably objectively a stronger, and more innovative composer, but I think Shore's LOTR music is more appealing overall and has stronger memorability for general audiences (with the exception of the shower string clusters from Psycho). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, KK said:

What a strange argument. How is LOTR any more a pastiche score than something like Star Wars? And if you look beneath the popular stuff (as with anything), there's so much texturally and harmonically that Shore was doing that was largely unprecedented in big blockbuster films of that scale.

Both LOTR and Star Wars are obviously essentially pastiche scores, I didn't say one was more pastiche than the other, although obviously there was more temp track love in the case of Star Wars I believe. 

 

I agree with you to an extent, but it is when people say LOTR is better than anything Herrmann ever did is what I don't understand at all. I don't think Shore has a single score to his name that is as good as Vertigo and that is not even necessarily Herrmann's best score. Herrmann was the much more powerful and original composer for Shore to be able to stand a chance.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Aenae said:

I agree with you to an extent, but it is when people say LOTR is better than anything Herrmann ever did is what I don't understand at all. I don't think Shore has a single score to his name that is as good as Vertigo and that is not even necessarily Herrmann's best score. Herrmann was the much more powerful and original composer for Shore to be able to stand a chance.

 

Sure, the comparison is flawed. I think pitting any composer against Herrmann is going to be a losing battle. But let's not diminish Shore's own achievements for the sake of it.

 

Ultimately, I think LOTR is one of the "great" scores, as is Vertigo. The comparison kind of stops there for me. But I do listen to the former more.

 

And if we're talking about pastiche, Vertigo is essentially all Wagner anyway ;)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if Howard Shore is the Bernard Herrmann of his time, but I think he's an underrated composer and a lot of his albums are hard to find physically.

 

So GEEZ, put a man on the case!

Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, KK said:

Sure, the comparison is flawed. I think pitting any composer against Herrmann is going to be a losing battle. But let's not diminish Shore's own achievements for the sake of it.

 

Ultimately, I think LOTR is one of the "great" scores, as is Vertigo. The comparison kind of stops there for me. But I do listen to the former more.

 

And if we're talking about pastiche, Vertigo is essentially all Wagner anyway ;)

The music for the love scene draws heavily on Wagner sure, but the rest of the score is in Herrmann's own voice, so it is hardly a pastiche score.

 

For me LOTR is certainly an above average film score, it is certainly better than almost anything that is being done these days, but it still isn't anything that I would put up in the film score pantheon with Herrmann's finest work. It doesn't help that I find large chunks of the LOTR music to be filler that's extremely uninteresting on its own (despite some pretty memorable bits here and there). I think Austin Wintory put it best:

 

 

By the way, I don't dislike the LOTR music at all, I just don't think it deserves the be cited alongside the greatest scores (unless you mean in just in the most recent two decades) and that's where we probably disagree. Let's leave it at that ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Aenae said:

It doesn't help that I find large chunks of the LOTR music to be filler that's extremely uninteresting on its own

 

I guess a contributing reason for that is that the films have a duration of a gazillion hours.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.