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Instruments you don't like hearing in Orchestral Scores.


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For me there's a few I find annoying  . Sometimes it "works" but I'd rather hear the same tracks without them.

 

1-Saxophone (often used for a "jazzy" flavor but I tend not to like it and no Saxophone dominant tracks are in my favorites)

2-Accordion (please ban this instrument)

3-Harpsicord (I dunno, sounds kind of annoying and cheap...one of the reasons some of  Williams 70's pre- Star Wars  scores don't sound as good as they should)

4-Accoustic Guitar (Should remain in pop music and songs)

5-Harmonica (irritating sound)

6-Synthesisers (especially Goldsmith's Drum Machine)

 

I might have forgotten a few.

 

Added to original list:

-Banjo.

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I agree with numbers 5 and 6. The first four are just fine, many times even beautiful.

 

My own choice would be pan flute.

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3 hours ago, Counterparts said:

None, its all about context, techniques, and recording mixing.

 

This.

 

Although in the last 15 years or so, I've veered more and more away from busy, brass- and percussion-heavy symphonic action scores and more into alternative, calmer, non-orchestral things. But that's more about idioms than instruments.

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electric guitar

 

But I agree, it really depends on context and use.

 

For example, I don't find the Saxophones in Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica disturbing. But in some French classical music they may be quite prominent and have something vulgar to them.

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Interesting, that this topic is placed in the John Williams thread and not under General Discussion. So, probably this is supposed to be related to John Williams' music, where I have absolutely no complaint about usage of instruments.

 

Yes, I don't like Training Montage from Spacecamp and mostly David Foster produced 80s pop music in american movies.

But I have no issue with the usage of unusual or simply non classical instruments. What I rather dislike, especially in modern scores, is the balance between instruments. So even if an orchestra is used, it is rather a background noise. Mostly you have an electronic techno-like driven frame, where orchestral parts are included somewhere behind that. That aplies to Hans Zimmer and colleagues, but also James Newton Howard or Thomas Newman, when they are more action oriented.

Very often you have either this techno including orchestral falvours or some kind of small ensemble chamber music like music with one dominant solo instrument supported by string section, woodwinds and very little brass but hardly any well balanced full orchestra scores. And don't get me started about what happens in the music.

 

Of course there are some exceptions. John Williams is one of them. He and some others manage to stick to a more or less natural orchestral sound. But that seems to be completely out of fashion.

 

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2 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

Yes, I don't like Training Montage from Spacecamp and mostly David Foster produced 80s pop music in american movies.

 

I like Foster's Winter Games for Calgary '88.

 

 

11 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

And don't get me started about what happens in the music.

 

Go for it!

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5 hours ago, King Mark said:

 

3-electric Harpsicord (sometimes)

6-Synthesisers (especially Goldsmith's Drum Machine)

 

 

 

This. Everything that sounds too artificial. Prefer the natural sound of an orchestra. I like some of his electric harpsichord scores though, especially Eiger Sanction and Monsignor. 

5 hours ago, King Mark said:

4-Accoustic Guitar (Should remain in pop music and songs)

What about classical guitar, e.g. the river or eiger sanction?

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Ooh, good topic. I generally (always exceptions of course) don't like the heavy use of saxophones, and I agree with KM that the harpsichord really dates some of JW's earlier 'modern' work.

 

'Synthesizers' is a bit broad and definitely depends on the application. I like electronic soundscapes/pads/percussion, etc in the use of modern scores. Their use in older scores from the 70s/80s I think works less as the tend to date the cue more.

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Thinking of it within the context of Williams' orchestration, sometimes the use of glockenspiel and xylophone can sometimes be annoyingly bright within very dark pieces: I'm thinking for instance of some of the Mustafar pieces from Revenge of the Sith. You'll get this oppresively dark music, interspersed with these odd twinkles. Its part of the way Williams evokes a "mechanical" sound of grinding gears, but in these cases...

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All is fair game, better than artistic (or indeed personal) standstill where everything has the same pasty Hollywood sound.

 

That being said, the Kenny Loggins alto sax is hopeless, in and outside of film music. I think Dave Brubeck may have found a setting once where it was acceptable, but i'm not really sure.

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1 hour ago, publicist said:

That being said, the Kenny Loggins alto sax is hopeless, in and outside of film music. I think Dave Brubeck may have found a setting once where it was acceptable, but i'm not really sure.

I guess, you were referring to Kenny G. and Not Kenny Loggins. Kenny L. was the Guy singing Footloose.

 

1 hour ago, publicist said:

All is fair game, better than artistic (or indeed personal) standstill where everything has the same pasty Hollywood sound.

 

I think, pasty Hollywood sound is such a wide area of possiblities that you can put a whole life of personal development into this. If you have the abbility and the skills and the talent. But it often nowadays with the modern tools you can create professional sounding music with every smartphone. So, musical skills are not that important anymore.

 

But yes, some might create with their smartphone better and more interesting music than others utilizing a whole symphony orchestra. But that is then rather about spirit and talent and less about skills.

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You can create an effective score using a few synths (Social Network for example) but I see this thread as focusing on more orchestral based scores where unusual instruments are more conspicuous.

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3 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

You can create an effective score using a few synths (Social Network for example) but I see this thread as focusing on more orchestral based scores where unusual instruments are more conspicuous.

 

Like Jurassic Park?

 

On the subject of saxophones:

 

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35 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

I guess, you were referring to Kenny G. and Not Kenny Loggins. Kenny L. was the Guy singing Footloose.

 

Both, actually, i was thinking of a KL cover version on Sax, but yes...

 

Quote

I think, pasty Hollywood sound is such a wide area of possiblities

 

It really isn't, after many years of messageboard debates i can pinpoint exactly what it means, namely gold standard sound established in between Star Wars and Stargate, or better, ID4. Where harpsichords etc. are verboten!

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Everything can be used well and not so well. Depends on the project and the composer's abilities. I do always particularly enjoy non-standard instruments popping up.

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1 minute ago, publicist said:

It really isn't, after many years of messageboard debates i can pinpoint exactly what it means, namely gold standard sound established in between Star Wars and Stargate, or better, ID4. Where harpsichords etc. are verboten!

OK. I am not up to your level of discussion. But if I see, how that sound has evolved between the 30s of past century until today under the hands of Max Steiner, Miklós Rózsa, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams then I don't see just more of the same again and again, musically.

But If I just break it down to the sound and don't look at the details of the music itself, which is actually a sign of the times, then I get your point and agree.

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13 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

OK. I am not up to your level of discussion. But if I see, how that sound has evolved between the 30s of past century until today under the hands of Max Steiner, Miklós Rózsa, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams then I don't see just more of the same again and again, musically.

 

Believe me, the beloved orchestral Hollywood sound from the 80's and 90's has very little to do with Rózsa et al., in the early 90's the template became so common it was referred to as a specific orchestrator trademark, where every big orchestral McNeely, Arnold, Newton Howard, Debney etc. suddenly appeared to have fingerprints and crossovers that certainly weren't stylistic choices of the composer, but because they all (to a degree) used the same orchestrators.

 

This has little use in the discussion at hand, though.

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9 hours ago, Counterparts said:

None, its all about context, techniques, and recording mixing.

 

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11 minutes ago, Muad'Dib said:

I'm not against it but I'm not a big fan of the xylophone hits doubled with flutes/piccolos in action cues that Williams likes to use so much. 

 

Does that mean you don't like The Battle in the Snow?!

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7 hours ago, Bryant Burnette said:

It's all about how the instrument is used; I don't have anything on a do-not-fly list.  But if the music is bad, I don't want to hear any of them.

 

This. For every instrument mentioned in this thread, I can think of numerous passages that put it to wonderful use. There are plenty of contexts where a given instrument could sound out-of-place, and plenty of contexts where it's exactly the flavor that's needed.

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33 minutes ago, Stu said:

 

Does that mean you don't like The Battle in the Snow?!

 

I meant more like these kind of passages

 

 

I like everything else that's going on that moment, but the xylophone hits seem like filler.

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Some of the flute pasages in JW's 70's suspense cues.

 

Celesta suspense cues from late 2000's/early 2010's like KOTCS and Tintin

 

That whirly bit in Whirl through Academe

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2 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

 

Williams waaaay overuses xylophone hits. I think they make a lot of his action not sound as menacing or serious as it could.


It’s most out-of-place in those pieces where the musical texture is quite dark and serious, and all of a sudden that damn Xylophone comes in.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:


It’s most out-of-place in those pieces where the musical texture is quite dark and serious, and all of a sudden that damn Xylophone comes in.

 

Yes!

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How about Horner’s reliance on that darn pan flute! A couple of times, okay, but he just kept jamming it down our ears.  More than once, I turned off a CD thinking, “Dude, get a new favorite spice!  Not everything sounds better with it.”

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1 hour ago, Docteur Qui said:

You can always rely on Giacchino to turn things up to eleven when a nine or ten would've done fine; it only serves to diminish the effect - the same happened with his Jurassic World scores.  

I think he only used the chorus in a few tracks in JW:FK (those being "Go with the Pyroclastic Flow", "Thus Begins the Indo-Rapture", "Worlds Worst Bedtime Storyteller" and "Declaration of Indo-Pendance") and once in JW ("Our Rex is Bigger than Yours"). And I think they work quite well with their respective scenes.

12 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

I don't like hearing HanZ in orchestral scores.

Hanz? Hans Zimmer? I think he made a few good scores, didn't he?

12 hours ago, Sergeant said:

Strings, woodwinds and brass. We do not need real instruments, we have computers and hansu.

Guessing this is meant to be sarcasm?

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7 hours ago, HyenaBoy said:

Hanz? Hans Zimmer? I think he made a few good scores, didn't he?

 

Did he?

 

7 hours ago, HyenaBoy said:

Guessing this is meant to be sarcasm?

 

We can only hope.

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Obviously anything can work, given the scene/moment.  However, I agree with King Mark that certain instruments have a tendency to diminish a score for me, and the harpsicord is one of those instruments.  I struggle with Family Plot for just that reason.  I don't like Bach pieces on it either, so it is not just Williams.  

 

I will add the piccolo and/or fife.  I get the historical use for The Patriot, but they are still annoying.  

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Did he?

Yep. I can name two examples: "The Lion King" and "Pirates of the Carribean"

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

Love me some piccolos

 

 

You're killing me.  

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