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Thread: Symphonic musicians and movie scores

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    Default Symphonic musicians and movie scores

    I've been wondering for a long time what professional classical musicians think about most Hollywood movie scores but haven't been able to find the right combination of keywords to generate a productive search on the subject (though my most recent attempt landed me here, so maybe I've almost got it down). I think I first started wondering when Danny Elfman's oom-pah scoring was running rampant in American movies- and I've been curious what the SFSO really thought of their Metallica gig since I first heard S&M- and now I'm hoping that someone here can give me some insight. What did the LSO think of re-re-recording James Horner's work? Did Basil Poledouris command the respect I desperately hope he did? Just how unhappy were the poor ******** who had to work on the Transformers OST? This has been gnawing at me intermittently for several years now so any information would be welcome.

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    First, Professional classical orchestral players often enough do not love anything near all the music they play, including various pieces or composers music from the canon of common practice repertoire. Some hate the more contemporary music, some are truly pleased and excited to play it.

    So you get the gamut from A-Z. Some will think the film scores fun, (many a player is often enough indiscriminate, readily swayed to judge an entire piece by whether it has a 'good part' for their instrument), others may really enjoy the music, some will regard it as a sort of busman's holiday, i.e. easier work for the same pay -- film scores are written within a technical limit so a good pro can sight-read the part and go straight to one take recording, all about Hollywood costs and the meter running on the time of delivery, so they're relatively 'easy' -- others will have the opinion they are playing really bad music.

    All part of the biz. They are pros, paid pretty well for the most part, happy to have the post, and will play anything put in front of them they are required to play.

    Most symphonic players have also learned the unwritten rule and adhere to it strictly -- never convey by face or body language when you do not like the work or your part. To do so would be completely unprofessional. The audience have paid to hear a work, not to be told, in any way, what the players think of that work. Talk may be free between the musicians, but it would be suicide for a player to be quoted in an interview that they thought playing this film score or that video game suite meant they were playing garbage. However, conveying enthusiasm for a piece is allowed, so you can sometimes see and detect when they enjoy playing a piece.

    Re: Pouladouris. A friend of mine is a retired horn player from the N.Y. Philharmonic. We joke about his musical taste at times, as he will rave about a work, and I will finish for him, "I know, great horn part." Other players may find the 'epic' style of film scoring downright cheesy, while still playing it convincingly -- then again, there are some who find the epic style of Wagner or Bruckner cheaply sensational, so there ya go.

    I do think there is a general, and professional, respect for anyone who can write a decent score, and extra points for really good orchestration, while that has nothing to do with the judgment on that score being a good or great piece of music. Aesthetic judgements on hold, most of those opinions are a matter of something being technically well done. For the most part, it is "Just Business."

    Sorry if it disappoints in that a lot of what goes on behind the scenes is that workmanlike and clinical. Many an audience member on the other side of the stage is rapt with the music, and fantasizes / romanticizes what the musicians must be thinking and feeling in order to be able to make those sounds :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by oudeis View Post
    I've been wondering for a long time what professional classical musicians think about most Hollywood movie scores but haven't been able to find the right combination of keywords to generate a productive search on the subject (though my most recent attempt landed me here, so maybe I've almost got it down). I think I first started wondering when Danny Elfman's oom-pah scoring was running rampant in American movies- and I've been curious what the SFSO really thought of their Metallica gig since I first heard S&M- and now I'm hoping that someone here can give me some insight. What did the LSO think of re-re-recording James Horner's work? Did Basil Poledouris command the respect I desperately hope he did? Just how unhappy were the poor ******** who had to work on the Transformers OST? This has been gnawing at me intermittently for several years now so any information would be welcome.
    I think PetrB's given a good response to your overall question. I just wanted to comment on some of the composers you've mentioned. I agree on your point about Elfman, whose 'comedy' work with Tim Burton on, say, Batman tends to stick in the mind. However, I did like The Nightmare Before Christmas, especially the opening sequence. I'm sure he's done better than oom-pah, but nothing springs to mind at the moment.

    Poledouris struck me as the person you'd have gone to if you couldn't get any of the other biggies - esp Horner, Williams, Zimmer, Goldsmith. He's not got a long list of scores (obviously not growing longer now he's dead). I'm interested to know what it was about his work that you particularly liked?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oudeis View Post
    Just how unhappy were the poor ******** who had to work on the Transformers OST?
    They were probably quite happy. Zimmer and co. wouldn't do what they do if it didn't pay so well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crudblud View Post
    They were probably quite happy. Zimmer and co. wouldn't do what they do if it didn't pay so well.
    I want an indefinite moratorium declared on the use of the i-flVI-flIII-flVII progression in movie scores...or anything else.

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