Friday, March 28, 2008

The Grumpy Oldish Composers Post.

Most film music written today is terrible, with few scores lingering in the memory like the underwater menace of Jaws or the whimsical "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, top composers have told The Times.

Hans Zimmer, who wrote the music for the Hollywood box-office hits Gladiator and The Lion King, dismissed the majority of contemporary screen compositions as unmemorable. “They drift around like cows grazing. So many scores sound like nobody really thought about them.”

Anne Dudley, whose music in The Full Monty won an Oscar, and Christopher Gunning, whose score for La Vie en Rose picked up a Bafta this year, attacked the “blandness” of soundtracks.

The public appear to agree. A recent poll of the nation’s all-time favourite film themes was dominated by scores from decades ago by composers such as John Williams (Jaws) and Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).

Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean were among five scores in the poll by Zimmer, whose Oscar-winning soundtrack for The Lion King has sold more than 15 million copies.

“Where is the next Jerry Goldsmith?” Zimmer asked yesterday, referring to the late composer of the Stravinsky-inspired score for Planet of the Apes and the jazzy theme of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

Zimmer praised the craftsmanship of Williams (Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park) and Morricone. “There’s never a lazy note from them,” he said. Gunning said: “I go to movies a lot and I find myself disappointed again and again [by] the blandness of the music. Where has melody gone in film music? What do you remember of Breakfast at Tiffany’s? "Moon River" by Henry Mancini. You can’t get it out of your head.”

He said that these days scores were more likely to be written by keyboard players with computer skills learned at film schools rather than composers trained at music college.

Dudley blamed American studios for choosing music “by committee”.

That was from a couple of weeks ago, and it and responses to it are here. Now I'm not saying they don't have a point... but it's also true to say that you get wheat and chaff in all areas. And really, considering how insidious Zimmer's cloning process is (as opposed to apprenticeship, like with Michael Kamen and Edward Shearmur... and Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer, come to that) he's a fine one to talk. Still, there's stuff to look forward to this year - Michael Giacchino's Speed Racer, John Williams's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - and Barbarella on TV now is on my want-to-buy list, music-wise.

Wait a minute... that was from 1968!

I can only assume that poll was from Classic FM, which ain't the most trustworthy of things...

1 comment:

The Archivist said...

Music is vastly overlooked.

So says he who went and hunted down a Smallville episode because it had a Jennifer Knapp song playing in it...