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Matrix and Harmonielehre


albanberg
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Hi ,

I was wondering if anyone noticed the similarites between Don Davis' Matrix score and concert composer John Adams' work. You can find all of the things that make the Matrix score ( brass clusters, running string/bassoon line, meter changes with harmonic changes a minor second apart, ect.) You can find all of these things in John Adams' Harmonielehre from the mid-eighties. Does anyone else have examples of "borrowings" in film music. ( I am aware that the entire Horner canon was borrowed.)

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Well, there's the Horner-type ("borrowing" themes) and the Matrix-type (copying a style). We recently had a thread about more or less severe cases of the former type.

BTW, I think the sentinel music in Matrix is heavily influenced by Horner as well. :D

Marian - who was surprised when he first heard Fast Ride in a Short Machine in concert and was reminded of Matrix.

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I noticed this similarity between the two when the Matrix first came out in 1999. It's funny too because Davis made no mention of the influence of Adams on his work probably thinking that no one knew Adams' Harmonielehre. Look at interviews concerning the second Matrix and all of a sudden he mentions Adams although he still discounts the relation claiming that his work is more dramatic. I beg to differ incidently.

I met John Adams after a concert a few years back and surprisingly no one was outside his dressing room after the show waiting for autographs. That gave me ample time to discuss various things with him. I did forget to ask him whether he'd seen or heard the Matrix though. It would have been interesting to hear what he thought of Davis' liberal borrowings from his superior work.

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I really don't have much to say about Davis' musical skills. He's a great colourist but melodically he doesn't offer too much up. I dearly wish that Broughton had been given JP3. There's a guy who's both a great orchestrator and a great melodicist. Wish he'd get more A-list film projects to work on. Really loved his Lost in Space score (didn't think much of the film though).

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Yes, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" is the correct title. I have the sheet music to both this and Tromba Lontana. I also have access to the scores of Harmonielehre, Harmonium, Nixon in China, Death of Klinghoffer, Shaker Loops, Violin Concerto, and others, if anyone is interested.

I like Adams much more than I like JW, and that is a statement I will not retract.

As far as similarities between Matrix and Adams, I am not familiar with the Matrix enough to make a fair comparison. However, I shall get to work on it right away.

What does anyone think of Gnarly Buttons?

By the way, the absolute beginning of Nixon in China is certainly lifted from Pärt's tinntinabula.

(Wants to leave JWFan for a John Adams fansite...)

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I like Adams quite a bit as well. But for different reasons than Williams. Both are incredible composers.

I have a hard time with Gnarly Buttons. Not one of my favorite pieces of Adams. Have you heard The Wound Dresser? It's one of the most moving, important American pieces of our time. Absolutely outstanding. I'm also fond of his Slominsky's Earbox and Naive and Sentimental Music. His upcoming opera is entitled "Dr. Atomic" and has to do with the creation of the atomic bomb. CAN'T WAIT for that one. Apparently he's going to treat it in the same musical fashion as those old 1940's b-movies. Cool cool cool!!!!!

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That sounds awesome (Dr. Atomic). I think we could run that, so long as I get the role of Oppenheimer ;) (or musical director LOL).

I assume, by the way, that we all know that he won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in music, which is one of the highest honors that any composer can achieve. He won it for "On the Transmigration of Souls".

I've started a new John Adams thread on my webforum where we can quibble about this more.

http://www.newcomposers.net/phpBB2/viewtop...c.php?p=103#103

Should I start an Adams themes site similar to my Williams' theme site?

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I came to know about John Adams with Morn, as mentioned earlier, in a discussion like this one, about how much Matrix is like Harmonielehre. After a few days, Harmonielehre really got into me, to the point that I became an instant Adams fan.

Although Adams is not as much a minimalist anymore, he still tends to keep harmonies at 'minimal' changes, evolving his pieces in rhythm and rich orchestrations. His music requires either a lot of attention or no attention at all to be enjoyed. In the attention mode, you enjoy how this little simple ideas evolve in increasing little simple changes into a level of amazing complexity. In the no attention mode, you just let go and allow yourself to be hypnotized but the pulsating character of the music.

For me, Harmonielehre is his yet unsurpassed masterpiece. I especially love part 1 with its anguished Herrmannesque strings and the rocket take-off that ends it. Part 2 is deeper, in the sense that Holsts Saturn is, and in part 3, the strings assume a dreamy lyricism in the Ravel style.

I'm buying everything Adams does. Many of his works are very cinematic, like El Dorado, an orchestral crescendo that could very well be used for a commando type of action and his operas are very cinematic also.

From his latests works Naive and Sentimental music begins quite peacefully and ''naive", only to build into a powerful caos of amazing arrhythmias, which I suspect are quite difficult to play. His oratorio about Jesus' nativity "El Niño" is an amazing choral work, I daresay one of the best oratorios ever written (no easy music, though!).

I think Adams is a true successor of Stravinsky in terms of his contribution to music based on complex rhythmic ideas and the exploration of textures by using the resource of extremely rich orchestrations. And Adams is doing so, introducing as well elements of american music: filmmusic, jazz, rock.

I am waiting for a CD release including his Guide to Strange Places and On the Transmigration of souls... if anyone has recorded there, please let me know ! ;)

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For me, Harmonielehre is his yet unsurpassed masterpiece. I especially love part 1 with its anguished Herrmannesque strings and the rocket take-off that ends it. Part 2 is deeper, in the sense that Holsts Saturn is, and in part 3, the strings assume a dreamy lyricism in the Ravel style.

Try "The Wound Dresser" charlesk. It's an incredibly moving work. ANd Adams is one of the few composers out there who incredibly articulate and intelligent about music. Not to say that Williams isn't incidently. But Adams has a vast awareness about music history and its relevance in today's world. And he's able to articulate it so deftly. I'm so thankful that I had a chance to talk one on one with him. I know I don't necessarily have to admire the person behind the music but it sure increases my appreciation for their work when the person themselves are nice.

Oh "charlesk" I've always had a respect for your posts in that you always define and detail what you like or dislike about music. Have you studied music formally?

Peace.

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I actually got a composition lesson with John Adams. He is very cerebral and very deliberate in his composing habits. He is very well read and picks his subjects very carefully. Very soft spoken but very articulate. I enjoyed his company immensely.

Frosty

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That's cool Frosty. He is a very well read man and very approachable. I mentioned to him that I was composing a piece entitled "Adams' Rib" a few years back which was a tribute to his style (structurally very much like HARMONIELERHE). He mentioned how he was going to compose a piece with the same name!

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Sounds like the model (or stereotype) concert composer. I would LOVE to meet him. How did you get so lucky?

I waited around his dressing room after a concert he did in Detroit in 2000. No one else was there which was strange but to my advantage. Even though he'd conducted the entire program for the vening and held a pre-concert lecture, Mr. Adams was kind enough to talk to me about composing, the state of film scoring (to a degree) and things of that nature. He's a very intelligent, modest person. Must be that New England upbringing.

Oh, I've really gone and pissed off people on the FSM message board regarding Don Davis in relation to John Adams. I don't know why but you all should check it out. Help me out too!!!

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/post...16226&forumID=1

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I know Wound Dresser, Fiery Angel, it came in the Earbox 10-CD anthology set. Really touching. I did study music formally, and classical piano, however at some point I had to decide where to continue and I went with my more natural talent which is engineering. But music remainded my more 'serious' and 'professional' hobby.

Frosty, Fiery Angel, you guys are lucky ;)

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I really don't have much to say about Davis' musical skills.  He's a great colourist but melodically he doesn't offer too much up.

Well, i definatly agree with that.

Stefancos- who has yet to hear one interesting theme by Davis.

I thought the opening credits and the finally for "Antitrust" was "cute"

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Frosty, Fiery Angel, you guys are lucky  :nono:

Yes, I am very aware of my good fortune in meeting Mr. Adams. For some reason, I wasn't nervous or intimidated when talking to him. he doesn't patronize or talk down to people in spite of his success. When I mentioned I was a composer he asked what I was working on with a genuine interest.

As for his comments on film scoring, all I can say is that when I mentioned I had scored a couple shorts he added " I just finished working on scoring a documentary and I could have written a real piece of music in those three months". I've also heard him respond to the level of musicianship in Hollwood as "there are a lot of rich composers in Hollywood". Obviously Adams still very much works for a living. He composes pieces that sometimes garner financial success or win prizes but $100,000 is pocket change compared to what some dolts like Bryan Tyler make in Hollywood- guys who cannot even read or write music and rely on teams of orchestrators to interpret his MIDI meanderings. Sigh.

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I have not heard that one, so I cannot comment on it.

I think you can goto Don Davis' website and have a listen... if its still uploaded on their server that is. Dont get me wrong nothing earth shattering - just a pleasant little diddy

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I was a great opportunity. I also think if you get the opportunity to meet him, it would well worth your time. I enjoyed his company immensely and he even recommended a few books I should read. I met him when he was composing "El Nino" do it was a lot of fun to pick his brain on that and find out some of his composing habits.

Frosty

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He composes pieces that sometimes garner financial success or win prizes but $100,000 is pocket change compared to what some dolts like Bryan Tyler make in Hollywood- guys who cannot even read or write music and rely on teams of orchestrators to interpret his MIDI meanderings.  Sigh.

FYI, Brian Tyler orchestrates and conducts his scores. At no time has he employed more than two orchestrators (besides himself) on any score. That hardly constitutes a "team".

I think it's fair to say that calling Brian Tyler a "dolt" only sheds light on Fiery Angel's frustrated existence and how little he actually knows about Tyler, who is, by all accounts -- and mine as well -- one of the nicest guys in the biz.

If you have a problem with composers using MIDI notation software or sequencers, perhaps you also have a problem with electricity and every other advancement in technology that allows us to do our jobs more efficiently. I don't want to keep you too long, Fiery Angel. I'm sure you need to shovel another load of coal into the furnace to keep your home warm. You must feel quite intimidated by your computer, or as you prefer to call it, "word processor".

Frankly I'm not surprised this sort of elite sentiment is coming from someone who professes to appreciate music -- particularly modern classical music. It's the same old bitter rhetoric fuled by one's own failure and another's success.

Ryan

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  • 12 years later...

I'm an Adams fan, and not really a Tyler fan, but ye gods this thread made my skin crawl until a swift flurry of good sense was delivered just above.

I invite any of the shamefully ignorant posters involved to return for another discussion on the subject. Perhaps the intervening decade has helped you wise up.

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Like one of those solemn epilogues at the end of films based on historical events, I post this:

David Coscina (formerly known as "Fiery Angel") is now a Hans Zimmer fan and resides at VI Control. He has recanted.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm not sure what a "Zimmer fan" is but yes, I do like some of his music, especially Interstellar.  I also like Tyler's fusion scores for Now You See Me and Fast Five- clearly he's carved out a good sound for himself.  

 

If you read my long post on VI Index, yes, it was an apology to Zimmer for some of the disparaging things I said about his music over the years, but it was more of an epiphany that came to me as I myself have had some experience composing music for media.  It's all good and well to have lofty high minded ideas about what your music or music for film should aspire to but if you need to make a living and please your employer (director, producers etc) you have to find a way to write the stuff they want, but still find creative ways to insert some of your own ideals into the music.  VI Control is mostly populated by working musicians, not fans of film scores.  I post on there because I appreciate their opinions about hurdles I have run into when I have been working on a project.  And you would be surprised which other Hollywood composers lurk over there.  

 

Anyhow, I've been away a long time here-so long that I didn't even remember what email account I used for my profile- hence the new one.  Generally I've lost interest in film scores, except those by Williams and a handful of other composers.  I do like what Hans has been doing these days- he is clearly evolving like any good artist should.  Mostly I have been listening to Shostakovich and studying his music.  I find it to be more thrilling and engaging to me at 48 than most current film scores.  Just my personal preference really.  

 

o

 

 

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On 02/11/2015 at 6:42 PM, KK said:

Most of these guys are long-gone............

 

Justin, Morn, long gone. I see the date 2003 on there and I wonder where the hell the last 14 years have gone. 

 

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