Dan Golding's brilliant response to the Marvel soundtrack originality debate


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/19/dan-goldings-brilliant-respo.html


Plus all of the memorable stuff sounds like Korngold and Wagner and Bruckner and Holst anyway because reasons.


IIRC, didn’t Lucas want an orchestrated score specifically because it was like the old films he was emulating?

Remember in the last 70s the hot thing everyone was doing was synth based scores, most of which did NOT age will and really date films.


Well Korngold recapitulates Mahler because he was Mahler’s prized student. Williams deliberately referenced Korngold’s music as a strategy to emulate the music of the serials. Specifically it was the Robin Hood suite that he nicked. Obviously the Imperial March goes right back to Mahler’s Death March itself. Cuts out the middleman.

Edit - King’s Row.

I hate them all anyway. As Steve Reich said - lookI’m not saying it’s bad music, I’m just saying it has no interest for me. Western art music between Mozart and Mahler (inclusive) just isn’t of interest to me.

I’m pretty sure that Star Wars would be exactly what Jameson categorised as the nostalgia film (as Andrea James is saying here but Dan Golding appears to be saying should have a different category - it is a postmodern nostalgia).

Obviously he wasn’t using a synth score as they were not making an SF movie, they were making a cowboys and Indians type thing. As my father said to me when he had to watch it with me. “why is this popular now? This is exactly the old cowboy movies we had when I was a kid”.

And as for orchestral scores not dating and synth ones dating? Have a listen to Delia Derbyshire’s original Doctor Who music intro which still sounds futuristic fifty years later versus the current orchestral pastiche which always sounded dated and particularly sounds so dated to the kind of retro muck that is being served up for the last decade or two.


I don’t care what anyone says…there is nothing redeemable in the Transformers movies, or anything that Michael Bay touches.


Synth and popular music were the ‘thing’ in 70 film. Directors and critics thought scored films were old school and stodgy.


Well, the biggest thing is the use of leitmotif. Movies with memorable soundtracks have used it well; forgettable soundtracks have obviously either failed, or never made the effort.


ETA Using leitmotif doesn’t have to be some sort of retro nostalgia throwback thing, either. Disney animated films and Pixar movies are still doing this very well.


One of my musically inclined friends pointed out that a substantial portion of the Inside Out score is Bingbong’s theme music, either in a different key, slowed down, sped up, etc, and now I can’t not hear it.


I dislike William’s score for Star Wars as being kind of epic-by-the-numbers. FWIW I more often listen to synth scores from the 70s-80s than I do orchestral scores. The big problem with electronic music is that much of it is supposed to be imitative of acoustic instruments, which is still an issue today. The “tuba” button on your Casio SK-1 is not really very different from most film and video soundtracks today being arranged and pieced together from orchestral loop sample libraries. So maybe 95% of these are in a sense skeuomorphic - electronic productions whose main purpose is to sound orchestral. And many with real orchestras are still corny arrangements (a la Murray Gold).

But well-made electronic music can be as rich and timeless as well-made orchestral music.

I think that this presumes that memorability is a measure of success. Some of the best scores fit so well that they call little attention to themselves. Music being “catchy” seems to be a criteria more for commerce of the music industry rather than the arts of cinema or music themselves.

In other words, this music is often not original because that’s not what (most of) the audience wants.

This is the paradox of arts as popular entertainment. Why bother hiring creative people such as writers, illustrators, actors, composers, etc if just anybody can do it? They are hired because these are really somewhat specialized skills. Yet either the public or the marketplace do not trust these people to use their knowledge and exercise their skills. Does your average moviegoer really know more about these areas than those who work in those disciplines? I consider myself completely egalitarian, but I think there is a distinction to be made between mere opportunity and what is learned through experience. Despite the fact that I think anybody should be able to apply themselves towards whatever they choose - be it composition, street paving, biological research, or anything else - expertise is still an actual thing. And when I pay people for a movie they have made, I am paying them for their expertise in informing me of how their art and craft is best practiced. NOT for them to defer their expertise to others who don’t know much of anything about it.


“In other words, this music is often not original because that’s not what (most of) the audience wants.”

Which has nothing to do with the video, whose thesis is that Hans Zimmer revolutionized the economics of movie scores using a style without melody, and established a new pattern from which we have not escaped.


Well, for this conversation, that was kind of the point. It wasn’t that the Marvel movies’ soundtracks were bad, it’s that they weren’t memorable.


I know that. But as a sort of musician, my position is that memorable is itself a capitulation to familiarity.

This also is an absurd situation, as movie scoring is ostensibly a creative process, whereas economic games themselves tend to be pervasive clichés. Non-melodic music has been a focus of contemporary classical music at least since Varese. It does not suddenly become fresh and interesting because a certain person does it, or if their uncle does it, or if they are friends with Batman.

Anybody who cares about making movies, writing, music, etc owes it to themselves, their craft, and the culture at large to stay away from the Hollywood production/distribution cartels and do their thing elsewhere.


And disney/pixar movies are not retro-nostalgia?


Some are, certainly, as they use 60-70 year old characters or are based on old fairy tales. Or are sequels to very popular movies from 13 years ago. Or are stylish throwbacks to 60s spy films. But others, like Wall-E, Big Hero 6, or Inside Out, aren’t ‘retro nostalgia’ at all, and then there’s films like Frozen, which intentionally subverts traditional/nostalgic love stories entirely.


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