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Why do many people think that classical music composed for film scores is not classical music?

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In the "Movie Corner" I opened a poll about the film scores which got the nomination "Best original score" in the Academy Awards (Oscars) of 1990: Talkclassical best film score award - 1990

This is for the first part of the competition Talkclassical best film score award.

Now, the score of the film "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (one of the film nominated in 1990) could be probably classified as Jazz (see for example the first theme) and Intrumental pop (see for example the second theme).

I think that no one would say that this is not jazz music because it was composed for a film. No one would say "this is not jazz but film music". Indeed, film music is not a genre of music: it only means that the music was composed for a film.

However, the other four nominated film scores, I think that can be classified as "romantic music".
Usually, the film scores which get a nomination for the "Best original scores" are more or less classical music.

That's why the radio Classic FM started to insert some film scores in the competition Classic FM Hall of Fame.
Their decision is criticized by many people. Read for example this article of the journal "The Guardian": Can film music ever be classical?

The argument of the writer of this article is that film scores can never be classified as "classical music" because they are composed for images and not for concerts (so, it is not standalone music, but a part of the movie).
If this argument is valid, then we must conclude that the score of "The Fabulous Baker Boys" is not jazz because it was composed for images and not for concerts.

However, I agree that pure "motion music" is not extractable from it's context, but the best film scores (the one who win at The Academy Awards) are not simply "motion music": it's music that can be extracted as standalone music. Indeed, the best score composers sell tickets for concerts.

Maybe the real reason of these people is that they think that John Williams is not as good as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and so on and they see classical music as a "closed enclosure" where you can enter only if you have a special permission.
If it is so, still I don't see the logic: you don't have to be Roger Federer for being a tennis player. So, you could simply say "Peter is a tennis player but not the number one" and "John Williams is a classical music composer but not the number one".

You might say that Bach is the number one and John Williams only an ordinary composer, if you think this, but I don't see the logic of "the closed enclosure".
Someone could for example say that the composer of "The Fabulous Baker Boys" is a poor jazz composer, but it's still jazz.

To conclude, my opinion is that much of the music composed for film scores is good classical music: "good" is my personal judgement, but every one can have his own.
If you ask me "Don't you hear the difference between classical music and film scores?", my anwser is that usually film scores are built around one or more powerful themes, while some pieces in classical music are not so melody focused.
I won't say that film scores don't have their distinticive rules, but that those rules are compatible with classical music, because there are many pieces that are considered "classical" that are built around a main theme.
"Spring" of Vivaldi is a good example.
The idea that classical music must be "chaotic" is only a personal preference of some people and not a rule that every composer must respect.
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For those who would categorically reject film music as a form of classical music, I ask: If the first work below is accepted as classical music, can the second or third work be rejected?

Your so incorrigible Dave...;) In answer to your question, read my post below yours.
I did, but I wasn’t convinced of your reasoning. Some soundtracks which have snippets of music throughout to coincide with what’s going on in the movie would not remind me of classical music, but other soundtracks that have what is essentially a work (such as my examples) and full-fledged segments indicating a love-scene or whatnot do.

I ask again in another way: Why are avant-garde works with no melody, no harmony and, frequently, dissonance throughout considered classical music and film-related music with a melody, harmony and use of instrumentation that reminds of classical music is not?

I understand that you feel that a difference in the mindset of the composer is a factor, but I’m not convinced that the major film music composers would agree. (More likely, they wouldn’t care. :))

Just for the record, my position is that some, not all, film music reminds of classical music. And if push comes to shove, I’m not as fired up about the subject as some here -those on the side of dismissing all film music as classical music- seem to be.
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Incorporating them into suites is a direct expression of that intention. It was pretty standard to create suites from ballet scores because this offered an additional source of income and the revenue stream tended to justify the sometimes significant work involved. There is no reason film composers couldn't do the same and I see no reason why successful adaptations for concert performance would fail to attract audience interest and hold the stage. Given the nature of movie cues, however, it's likely that adaptation into workable concert suites might entail considerably more work for a modern film composer than it did for, say, Tchaikovsky or any other composer whose ballet scores incorporated numerous set pieces and self-contained dances...
Fwiw, I occasionally come across suites from film music composed by the original composer.

A number of suites exists from the music of Ennio Morricone. Not sure if he put all of them together. But others apparently did.

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While I'm not terribly interested in how or whether to classify film music as classical music, these examples do bring to mind perhaps my biggest issue with much (certainly not all) film music as classical music: why does so much film sound like pastiches of romanticism and impressionism? I can't think of any artistic field that's dominated by pastiches from art that's over a century old by now. I may dislike the Ferneyhough, but at least it is undoubtedly contemporary and isn't just a regurgitation or pale imitation of sounds and styles that are ancient by now. Most all great composers wrote music that was contemporary to their own time rather than imitating sounds/styles that preceded them by a century. Maybe JS Bach comes the closest in holding onto the Renaissance's emphasis of polyphony, but it's not as if Bach didn't also incorporate contemporary influences as well like Vivaldi. I also don't know why anyone would want to listen to the latter in isolation as opposed to any number of romantic or impressionistic composers whom I think most would agree did similar things but usually better. Of course, if you do prefer the latter then don't let me stop you, but it is a point worth considering in the discussion.
I understand that people have differing views on film music. Personally, rather than argue points of individual negative perceptions, I go back to asking why Avant-Garde works that remove so much of what constituted classical music for centuries are accepted so easily as CM while film music which often retains significant elements of CM is rejected so quickly and absolutely (by some).
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I find the application of the word pastiche as applied to film music totally irrelevant to what film composers are trying to accomplish. None of them are trying to remind movie goers of classical music or return to a time when CP era music reigned. Producers hire composers who are going to compose music that transmits a message or draws an emotional response commensurate with the subject matter. And they are willing to pay well for composers who produce successfully and repeatedly.

Some of the most successful and memorable film scores have melodies and themes that draw the viewer in at the opening of the movie and/or elsewhere during romantic, exciting or otherwise dramatic moments. It’s an incredible skill and not all would-be film composers have it. And btw, the signals of romance in music have not changed much over centuries. Rather than such music being a pastiche, it is simply based on the fact that, if well composed, most people will know it when they hear it and, more importantly, feel it.

Hans Zimmer is one incredible talent. While the film scores he is credited with now are more a large group effort, some of his early works from 20+ years ago were more his effort alone. Take this opening to Pearl Harbor circa 1999: It immediately draws the viewer in to the movie:

IMO, this segment from Han Zimmer’s music for the movie Nine Months which predates the above by a few years is remarkable. How can one not be moved:

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Yes, but they do that through pastiche, in large part because these older styles of music contain within them ready-made emotional response cues due to their familiarity, and maybe also because of the associations they've built up through their uses in film, TV, etc. Films are often criticized themselves for being sentimental, kitschy, or emotionally manipulative in similar ways when some audience members don't like being hit over the head with art that seems to be screaming FEEL THIS, DAMMIT! People have greatly varying tolerance levels for such things. Some films have even played around with these sentimental excesses to make various sociological commentaries, like the films of Douglas Sirk or Todd Haynes, in which case these kind of pastiche scores were perfectly fitting (here's the opening theme of Haynes's Far from Heaven, itself a kind of homage to Sirk's All That Heaven Allows):

No disagreement that talent is still required to this, but talent is required for a lot of kitsch. I hear from painting experts that Thomas Kinkade is technically talented too (I don't know much about painting myself).

As for your examples, I remain a stone. :)

If I think about it, there are some even pastiche-y film music I still love, such as:

Despite the credit, Patrick Cassidy (rather than Hanz Zimmer) actually composed this piece, though Zimmer compose the rest of the soundtrack. Though as I listen to it I wonder the extent to which it sounds like a pastiche. Old in some respects, but newer (even if not contemporary) in others.
Why all the negativity? The word ‘pastiche’ is not meant to apply to a work that is not derivative or that is not meant to imitate another work, artist or period unless the movie requires it. To apply the word ‘pastiche’ as a derogatory label for music that, say, is likely to draw from the viewer a feeling of romance, love, affection, passion etc. because that is what is happening in the movie is just criticizing for the sake of criticizing. For all the films that you allege are criticized in the way you describe, far more are film-score-wise successful otherwise the composers whose names are familiar wouldn’t continue to be hired or, if approached, wouldn’t dare touch them.

Whether you like the music or not is your subjective right, but when it comes to criticism, try to be -I know you’ll find this excruciating- a little more objective.
I first want to point out, that the title of this thread is a bit of "poisoning the well".

The OP states in his thread title, that orchestral music composed for film, is in fact, classical music. Then they ask, why do some people not agree with his conclusion.

Just because music is orchestral, and even if it is composed by classically trained composers, does not make it classical music.

This 2008 article for The Guardian states my feelings pretty clearly:

Can Film Music Ever be Classical?

"Whether a piece is classical or not has nothing to do with the forces involved, but with the way in which it is intended to be listened to. Classical music is designed to be considered, contemplated and - being the most abstract of all the art forms - to provoke a truly subjective response in each of its listeners. Film music, on the other hand, is meant to accompany moving pictures, to provide an objective commentary to the on-screen action. Robbed of that on-screen imagery, it loses much of its meaning. "
That simply isn’t true of all film music. If it were, film soundtracks would lose a lot of their interest/value. The fact is that some soundtracks contain a lot of standalone quality music which is what people buy a soundtrack to hear. Watching the on-screen imagery is not necessary.


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Well quite. But does that make the entirety of the soundtrack, a single coherent jazz composition? I ask because it seems those who wish to argue for film music being "classical" would like to say that a "classical soundtrack" is a single coherent composition.

Of course, I may have that wrong, but I did ask you several pages ago why this question matters, and thus far, you've chosen not to answer. Please put me right if I've got it wrong.
Who is saying that? I don’t know what you mean by ‘a classical soundtrack’. A quote would be helpful.
Strange how similar to each other the two are. And both could have been written some 100 years before the first cinema opened - but would probably have not survived if they had been. I've no problem with you or anyone else enjoying this as standalone music but do think an experienced listener (as you undoubtably are) would recognise the difference between these and recognised classical music.
I do understand the difference while at the same time recognizing similarities with some, not all, film music. But, that aside, as I’ve said/inferred before, what I don’t accept is that avant-garde music gets to be under the classical music tent, but not film music. IMO, some film music is far closer to the ‘look and feel’ of CM than music that has thrown out melody and harmony.
..It becomes classical music only when the institutions of Western art music adopt it into the canon and use it for the purposes of classical concert music.
Who are these people who are messing with my world of classical music? Is there a phone number? :)
Since someone mentioned Pluto we can also use that as an example: if you know everything there is to know about Pluto--it's size, weight, orbit, what it's made of, environment, etc.--asking "is it really a planet" is basically a useless question because answering isn't going to change reality and you already know everything there is to know about Pluto...
’Useless question’? I suppose if your world is armchair philosophizing. For scientists (in this case, the International Astronomical Union) Pluto was voted to be an exoplanet because of characteristics of cosmological importance. To take your analogy to its inevitable conclusion, why not put classical music as a class of popular music? We know everything about it and answering the question as to whether it is really popular music isn’t going to change reality.
I probably should've clarified that it's useless in regards to questions about Pluto. It's still useful in the same way all clear language is useful, which is what you're describing. Your retort about "classical music as popular music" doesn't follow anyway. What people are trying to communicate by saying "classical music" is usually very different than what they're trying to communicate by saying "popular music," but I'd wager what most non-scientist people are trying to say when they say "planet" doesn't meaningfully differ regardless of how we categorize Pluto. The film Vs classical music distinction may or may not differ depending on what, precisely, is being communicated.

Also, you're fond of leveling this accusation of "armchair philosophizing," but what in the world do you think yourself and others are doing when you discuss philosophical topics?
Using commonsense logic: short and to the point, no equivocating, no parsing, no circular reasoning, avoiding words that would better fit a philosophy class debate than a classical music forum. Less is more.
A lot of people, the vast majority in Britain at least, find Beethoven "initially off-putting" perhaps in the same way that you may find Ferneyhough so..
From the Daily Mail a few years ago:
Britain has appeared immovable on the subject of its favourite composer, with Mozart being crowned king of classical music year after year. But Beethoven has taken the spoils in the Classic FM poll for the first time, with three of his works featuring in the top ten most popular pieces. The German composer had a total of 19 pieces in the top 300, with his increased popularity being linked to his music featuring in Hollywood films.
I am not sure what you are saying or what a poll of the listeners of Class FM tells us. It certainly does not represent the views of the British public who would be hard pressed to name more than one or two composers and would not recognise their music.
I assumed we were talking about people interested in the subject. I wouldn’t ask those who have never played, watched or followed golf who the best golfers are or were.
Yes, I was articulating what the position of a philosophical elitist would be, which is something I don't actually agree with. I was giving DaveM a "taste of his own medicine" so to speak...
Anything to fix the alleged delusions and incoherence.
^ Yes, they do not need to be in competition. It was just that I have noticed over time that those posting passionately in favour of film music being a form of classical music tend to include many of the same people who feel a need to trash contemporary music..
Oh, I don’t think so. What I’ve seen is similar to the question I raise. If the more ‘extreme’ contemporary music such as a avante-garde is included as CM, then why wouldn’t film music? That isn’t trashing anything. At this point, I don’t much care anymore, but others do. And I’d like to have those who think film music has no business being a form of CM answer that question. Fwiw, one of the answers that it is the institutions of CM that decide these things doesn’t work for me.
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I see you still haven't recovered from your profound misunderstanding of my actual allegations, but I can't fix your misunderstandings when you just decide what I think without actually consulting me.
Perhaps you should rethink the use of words such as ‘delusional’ and ‘not coherent’. Pretty hard to misunderstand their meaning.
Who do you think decides then? Artistic directors and conductors make programming decisions for orchestras, chamber ensembles decide for themselves, writers of textbooks base their decisions on performance history and critical opinion (an indirect influence on canon formation) of musical works, educational institutions decide what rep is appropriate for their students. I'm sorry that reality doesn't work for you. :)
I understand what you’re saying and I should clarify that I would have to agree that it is an important part of the decision. But don’t the listeners, the people who buy the tickets, the sheet music and the recordings have or should have an important influence? The same programmers, conductors and musicians that provide/perform ’regular’ CM concerts will have concerts of the works of film composers in the same concert halls drawing a similar cross-section of audience.

My guess is that that happens far more frequently and with far more success than avante-garde works which have been deemed CM. I also hazard a guess that many in said audience would agree that they hear more similarity with traditional CM than avante-garde works (assuming they’ve even heard the latter). Thus, I wonder why those in the hallowed halls of academia et al would decide on what is under the CM tent without any outside influence/input. :)
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