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Wail Watchers: The Vaguely Ethnic Wail


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From "Gladiator" to "The Passion" to "Troy," nothing screams "epic" like an exotic-sounding, ululating female singer.

While sitting through "Troy" last week my attention wandered to the film's soundtrack, the last resort of the jaded and popcorn-less. Soon, from the score's generic, thundering drums and sawing strings arose a lone female voice chanting in a nameless tongue, pouring out her melodious lament like a widow over a fresh grave. If "Troy" were the only movie that I'd seen in the past five years, I would have been deeply moved by this exotic, angelic voice. But like any Blockbuster regular, I instantly recognized this woman's wrenching cry as one of the most recklessly repeated musical motifs in recent cinema history: the vaguely ethnic wail.

MovieMusic

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LOL "Blue diva"

It sounds so fake when she's doing the short fast notes. You can hear the "keyboarding"(or whatever it's called) while she's singing, heh heh

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LOL "Blue diva"

I forgot her name... hey, does she have a name?

It sounds so fake when she's doing the short fast notes. You can hear the "keyboarding"(or whatever it's called) while she's singing, heh heh

Yeah, that was a disappointment. But the beginning is beautiful - very exotic and ululating.

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The beginning is what gets me, though. I remember someone talking about transcribing it for a senior recital - that would have been cool. It's hauntingly beautiful. The ending sounds so fake and like a synth that I don't like to hear it. I don't think the second half is humanly possible - and you're right, it sounds really :pukeface:

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That's what it was supposed to be, humanly impossible, but they could have made something too make it sound realistic.

I haven't seen the movie Farinelli, but I read they also manipulated the voice with computer.

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I don't know what they could've done, though. That was 1997 - I think that may have been the state of synth technology. (It may still be - I've yet to find one that does a convincing impression of a string section.) Perhaps, like Lucas & EpIV SE Jabba, that was their best shot? Or the best shot given the time available?

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In Farinelli I believe they digitally merged the voices of a boy soprano and a professional female soprano (I don't know who) to give the effect of an unbroken male voice with the dexterity and sureness of tone of a seasoned professional.

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JW did it in AotC and Minority Report.

But in Minority Report it wasn't the kind of historical score, it's use there is different.

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In Farinelli I believe they digitally merged the voices of a boy soprano and a professional female soprano (I don't know who) to give the effect of an unbroken male voice with the dexterity and sureness of tone of a seasoned professional.

Wrong, they wanted it to sound like a castrate.

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Good call, Movie Music. Those vocals in Troy were so wretched. Instead of feeling sad about the state of Mediterranean politics, one feels sad about the state of film scoring. :)

JW did it in AotC and Minority Report.

Okay, I'm struggling to rememeber the 'vaguely ethnic wail' in AOTC. There's a female solo vocalist in "Meadow Picnic" and "Confrontation with Count Dooku" right? Any other instances? But these sounded nothing like Gladiator or Troy or The Passion of the Christ or Black Hawk Down as far as I'm concerned. It actually sounded good for the most part.

CYPHER

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I hate the wail, wail is a good word, as it's not exactly a very musical musical device. :)

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Whenever I hear the wail in AOTC, it makes me think of the blue diva from The Fifth Element.

That was so tasteless, brrrrr. That must be one of the biggest turkeys ever filmed.

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I was about four days into a month-long stay in France when I saw it and was really confused - both because it was in French and because it was so strange. I later found out that it makes almost no sense in English either... The first half of the diva bit was the only part of it that I really liked and wanted to see again.

Okay, I'm struggling to rememeber the 'vaguely ethnic wail' in AOTC. There's a female solo vocalist in "Meadow Picnic" and "Confrontation with Count Dooku" right? Any other instances? But these sounded nothing like Gladiator or Troy or The Passion of the Christ or Black Hawk Down as far as I'm concerned. It actually sounded good for the most part.

No, I think that's it. The one I meant was from "Confrontation with Count Dooku" - it sounds like a plaintive wail to me. Not so much the "Meadow Picnic" one.

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Another article on Troy mentions Horner's score:}

As if the bad acting and inane dialogue weren’t enough, the soundtrack was cliché and disappointing. Composed by James Horner, the soundtrack includes a woman chanting throughout the entire movie. Chanting in historic epic films has become somewhat of a trend lately -- but in "Troy," it sounds like the whining of an 8-year-old not getting their way.

Technician Online

;) Debney End Credits from Cutthroat Island

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

Erich Kunzel

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Chanting throughout the entire movie? Brrrrr!
LOL

I don't think I'm going to see Troy any more.

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Wasn't too bad, was a little bit funny. :music:

It totaly sucked. And that movie was going so well!

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JW did it in AotC and Minority Report.

K.M.

But the effect for which he used the female voice couldn't be more different. It just was supposed to feel uneasy, creepy, in both scores. In MR it was even digitally distorted and sounded exactly like the accompanying images, a distant vision of Anne Lively.

And hey, you've forgotten A.I. ;) Where I must say, the Blue Fairy (not blue diva ;):music: ) theme is utterly beautiful, Monica's theme less so... it's Ok, but to me it sounds as if it was composed with "Let's make this into a pop song" in mind... somewhat restricted in musical means...

But for once I think it's unfair bashing Horner for "copying" Gladiator's vocals, as Horner used female solos many years before this (Titanic, Apollo 13). So it's just standard self-hornerism, nothing spectacular :D

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They work, but I can't stand listening to them. Can't think of anything better for the funeral scenes.

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Ethic wail is not just any solo female singer humming. It's that middle eastern or something favourited style that you hear in things like The Passion of Christ or Black Hawk Down, I'm not fond of it at all, I mean I don't think it does a good job of expressing any emotion, it's wailing not singing!

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