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Thread: The limited value of movie soundtracks?

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    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Default The limited value of movie soundtracks?

    I've been reading Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle Earth (Vols 6-9) and, inevitably, watching the Jackson trilogy and listening to the Shore soundtracks.

    I became a convert to the LOTR story around 1998 (having previously disdained to have anything to do with it). Since then, I've been a bit of a fanatic, even annoying my family with a habit of slipping quotes into everyday conversation.

    Over the same period, I also set out to expand my understanding of classical, beginning with Beethoven's symphonies.

    What struck me in revisiting Shore's movie music is how...I can't think of the quite the right word, so this will have to do...simplistic it now seems. Now I have heard so much more orchestral music by some of the great symphonists, it underlines for me that the merits of film music is as cues to the visuals, and the constraints of the medium tend to enforce the simplistic. It's no wonder that people can be so dismissive of soundtracks. Comparing, for example, the Largo of Sibelius No 4 with The White Tree (I know that this might seem a pointless exercise) it's easy to see how the Sibelius is a richer, more nuanced journey. Both work to a clear and emotional climax, but the Shore has to get there much more swiftly, takes shortcuts, and seems a less satisfying experience.

    It's one reason why I own so few soundtracks - the separation of music from its movie should not be undertaken lightly.
    Last edited by MacLeod; Dec-06-2018 at 17:01.
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Agree in general. If you're an LOTR fanatic try out the Ralph Bakshi version. The score by Leonard Rosenman works as stand alone music. He studied with Schoenberg and shared the bill with Babbitt before his film music reputation dogged him in his career.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    People don't bring Rosenman up quite enough. I believe the orchestral arrangement of Handel's Sarabande from his keyboard suite that was featured heavily in Barry Lyndon was Rosenman's work. He made several arrangements for different moments in the film. I'd like to think Handel would've been happy with the arrangement.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SalieriIsInnocent View Post
    People don't bring Rosenman up quite enough. I believe the orchestral arrangement of Handel's Sarabande from his keyboard suite that was featured heavily in Barry Lyndon was Rosenman's work. He made several arrangements for different moments in the film. I'd like to think Handel would've been happy with the arrangement.
    Yes, that was Rosenman's orchestral arrangement, according to this interview with Kubrick.

    http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/d...erview.bl.html
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member DeepR's Avatar
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    Getting into classical music changes perspective on all other music; film music is no exception. Apart from that, listening to a soundtrack as standalone music is usually disappointing.

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    I don't know what effect it had on me. Classical was the beginning of my musical life. From as early as I can remember, Mozart and Beethoven were names as familiar to me as Mom and Dad. I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time at 6 or 7, and falling in love with the soundtracks, which I had to have. I listened to them right alongside Mozart and Beethoven, and I didn't put Williams any lower, or feel his music was less. It was different, but not less.

    There are soundtracks from guys like Herrmann, Morricone, and Barry that I feel stand with the "great" works. One has to simply see them for what they are though, and judging them as a standalone thing isn't quite fair, most of the time. It's like hearing an opera without the words or being able to see what is going on. It can still be beautiful, but you are only getting a fraction of the work.

    A lot of older soundtracks weren't designed to be listened to in an album form. A composer would compose and record a hundred little snippets of music, if it ever did get released on an album, you didn't get some of the smaller pieces, but major themes. More often than not, they wouldn't even be takes used in the film.

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