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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
Hey Hans congratulations on the Oscar... ;)
Thanks! ;)

I wanted to give a slap to Chris Rock but Will Smith did it before me.

If you listen to John William's 1st Violin Concerto and then compare it to his film work, you might get a sense of why he himself considers his film work distinct and a different musical aesthetic and technique to his concert work. Comparison of the two disciplines at work (yes, they are different disciplines in crucial areas), from a compositional and sounding point of view should go all the way to answering your question.

I've said this before in conversation with member Fabulin (who will chime in no doubt and make me waver in my opinion on the OP dilemna), that JW is quite unique in that his cue writing (as opposed to his excellent theme writing), is good enough to pass off as a more serious stand alone offering in the concert hall.

But it is rather telling that when he sits down and purposely writes for the concert hall, the language in particular is much more personal and one hears that his mindset and expressive reach is different and more personal. In other words just what you expect from absolute music, that of music from a deeper place within who's genesis is not instigated by what is fundamentally utility.
As I wrote in the OP, it's true that music for film scores has some distinctive rules:
1) It's melodic
2) It's emotional and monumental

I'll now expand the second point.

In film scores you have to describe situations and emotions with music, so there are typically:
  • A danger theme
  • An action theme
  • A sad theme
  • A happy theme
  • A relaxing theme
  • A heroic theme
  • A greatness theme

and so on...

It's monumental because the sad theme, for example, must not be simply sad, but it must makes you cry. If you write a sad theme and people don't cry then you are not a good film score composer. You can win an Oscar only if the music you write has a strong emotional impact.

It's true that the music that John Williams writes for films follows these rules while the music he writes outside of this context is less melodic and less monumental.

However my point is that the rules of film music are not incompatible with classical music, indeed the "New World" symphony of Dvorak is a good example of something that could be used for a film score.

I'm thinking about a film with the title "The great emperor".

The main theme at the beginning is the "greatness theme": the king is in the top of the tower of his castle looking at his land.

1:14 it's the action theme: the knights of the emperor are fighting with the invaders of the empire.

2:35 it's the love theme: a knight is speaking with a beatiful woman and we all know that they will fall in love

4:45 it's the relaxing theme: the knight and the woman are walking in the wood

 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
I still have to answer to the many replies.

Meanwhile, I want to give a new input to this discussion.

Keep in mind that many times the composers write music for the end credits.

For Indiana Jones in the Talkclassical best film score award - 1990 I posted the final credits.
I don't see the difference between writing a symphonic movement and writing this.



For the Lion King, Hans Zimmer didn't compose anything for the end credits, however he made this arrangement for concerts.

What is the intent of this arrangament? Concerts.


Can we agree at least that that music arranged for end credits and concerts is self-contained, eventhough it still references a film?

Then we can go on and discuss about the music exclusively arranged for scenes of the film.
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
The reasoning is that musical high art would not be effective as music for popular films and that explains to me why the music in most of the films being discussed here does not (for me) resemble classical music. I do think that art films require music that is essentially classical (contemporary musical high art).

I think the question concerns which film music (if any) is classical music in the same way that the music in operas and ballets is? I don't think there is any question of any film music resembling symphonies - clearly it won't.
Do you consider Schindler's List as an "art film"?

Why is this classical music?



Why is this not?

 

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Discussion Starter · #106 ·
From the composing pov, there is a considerable difference in mindset, circumstance, technique and crucially, expressive freedom between composing a cue/theme for film and writing music for its own sake. As a result of this I find that if one defines concert music as being an expression of the composer's own, untrammelled personality and artistry, as indeed I do, then it becomes that bit harder to see a justification for music that is dictated to in every aspect - from timings through to orchestration - to be classed unequivocably in the same way as perhaps a symphony, concerto or sonata.

Opera and ballet are not included in my distinction because music written for those genres is largely free from external expressive restraint other than service to dialogue, story telling and/or danceability. Likewise, there is no strict enforcement of timings, orchestration (other than numerical) and the composer's mindset and creative options have as much freedom in the language they use along with the expressive reach they wish to convey.

That said, I'm personally very happy to hear the best film work in the concert hall and love a lot of it. I can also see why others wont be bothered with the distinctions I make here. But a someone who has worked in both disciplines I am acutely aware that there is a fundamental difference in the compositional process for the two genres that utterly dictates the musical result. As always ymmv and on this, mine still does occasionally, especially when JW is on the programme.
@mikeh375 do you work for Hollywood? Is it possibile to know on which scores did you work?
 

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Discussion Starter · #119 ·
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. Found this in the guardian
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. "
It's your opinion, but an opinion must be logically coherent.

If you tell me that the music that Beethoven wrote for the Egmont play is not classical music because the play suggests the emotions that you have to feel I still don't agree with you, but at least is a coherent opinion.

My opinion, however, is that classical music can be a part of a greater artistic work, just like any other kind of music. Is jazz not jazz if it's written for a film?
 

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Discussion Starter · #121 ·
I frankly doubt John Williams or Hans Zimmer write even a small fraction of their film scores. It’s all done by algorithms and graduate minions, under contract, earning buttons…
There is a simple rule in economy.

If doing what Hans Zimmer and John Williams do was so easy, the cost of their work would be low. In reality, they are paid about 2 million dollars for one film score.

No one is so stupid to pay 2 million dollars for something that anyone is able to do. The reality is that only a few persons have the talent of Hans Zimmer and John Williams and this is why they can ask 2 million dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #139 ·
"The Fabulous Baker Boys" was scored by Dave Gruisin, who is a bona fide jazz composer. Of course the soundtrack is jazz. Same deal with "I Want To Live!" by Johnny Mandel or "Bird" about Charlie Parker any number of other jazz soundtracks. You wouldn't hire a non-jazz musician to write the soundtrack for a movie about jazz.

I can't speak for the "many people [who] think that classical music composed for film scores is not classical music" -- whatever "classical music" means -- but I can speak for myself. Film cues are usually short, tied to the visuals on-screen, and intended to support the emotions displayed on-screen. Do you know of any symphonies composed for film? Keyboard sonatas? Violin concertos?

I don't. Music "composed for film scores" is music composed for film scores, nothing more. Just because it's played by an orchestra that doesn't automatically make it "classical music," any more than kittens born in your oven automatically become muffins.
Ok, but in which way is incindental music for tragedies different? Short musical pieces for different scenes.

The overture is a symphonic movement like the end credits in a film.
 

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Discussion Starter · #141 ·
Is it? If it were, then one should be able to name shared stylistic features common to all instances of the style that are not also common to other styles. So what does an early Baroque monody have in common with a Mozart mass, a Schnittke string quartet, a Webern piano piece, or Penderecki's Threnody Hiroshima? Give it a go. I think you'll find that classical music is not in fact a style and that the only thing uniting all classical works is their loose association with a set of ever changing, steadily evolving social institutions and industries. If you think about it a little further you will likely find that it actually has more to do with intent than style. :)
@EdwardBast ok, but if "classical" is the name of the intent, then what is the name of the style?

For example, if someone writes a piece that has the style of Moonlight Sonata, but the intent is not what you call "classical music", then we will say that only Moonlight Sonata is classical music, but both pieces are X (where X is the style).
My question is simple: what is the name of X?

As I don't know any name to indicate X, I simply use the term "classical music" to refer to the style.
I know that in the encyclopedia, classical music is considered a synonim of "art music", so by this definition there is no such thing as an ordinary classical music composer: you are a classical music composer only if you are an excellent composer.
However, what I don't understand is why there is not any pop music or rock music piece in the "art music". If it is about quality, and not about the style, then even a rap music piece could be "classical music".

For example, "Lose Yourself" of Eminem could be considered "classical music". Look at this technical analysis.

 

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Discussion Starter · #152 · (Edited)
@HansZimmer
Music composed for films draws on different musical traditions, including that which is considered "classical". To that extent, it can be called classical. I'm not clear what the purpose of the argument is for labelling "classical-for-film" as "classical".
@Eva Yojimbo @Forster

So, are you asking "why does it matter", it's only a word.

In reality, it doesn't matter for me. I have a folder in my phone called "Classical Music" and there I put all the music that I perceive as "classical": doesn't matter who is the author and what is the intent. My personal classification is about the style.
So, I have Beethoven's music, classical film music and classical videogame music mixed in the same folder.
My phone is a private property and I do what I want.

The radio Classic FM follows my same definition of "classical music". This is why in the "Classic FM Hall Of Fame" everything with a classical sound is accepted: from historic classical music, to videogame music.
Classic FM is a private property too, so they do what they want.


So, why would classification matters? Well, it matters when you argue with someone. For example, if Classic FM had two or three managers, they might have a discussion about what they should accept in the "Classic FM Hall of Fame".

In this forum I posted a piece that was accepted in the "Classic FM Hall of Fame" and that I have in the folder of my phone. A moderator told me that I shouldn't post it because it's from a videogame, so he used the "intent argument" ("it's not about the style, but about the intent/context").
So, this is an other example: a moderator of this forum must decide what is "classical music" because in the main section you can post only classical music.
This forum is a private property too and the admin does what he wants, just like Classic FM.

So, to conclude, it doesn't really matter, because everyone follows the classification he wants in his private property.
This thread is only to talk, like any other thread in this forum.
I was simply curious to hear the arguments of people who think that classical music is not about the style but about the intent/context.

I'm reading that arguments but I still think that Classic FM has the most pragmatic view on this subject: being open to novelties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #155 ·
As I state quite clearly, there is no classical style. I never said anything remotely like classical "is the name of the intent," WTH that means, I only said intent has more to do with defining the general category of classical music than style does.

Once again, any argument that a piece of film music is classical music because it sounds stylistically like Beethoven or Bach or Webern or whomever, or because it uses similar instrumentation, harmony, etc., is misguided. It becomes classical music to the extent that it is performed by classical ensembles on concert and chamber series, is learned by conservatory students, and so on. Once again, the only viable definition of classical music is the institutional one.
Ok, but this post doesn't anwser my question.

My question is simple: if we can't call "classical music" the music with a classical style that is not insitutional, then how should we call it? Every style of music has a name, so you have to tell me what is the name of the style.
 

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Discussion Starter · #157 · (Edited)
While this is true it also applies to pop songwriters like Max Martin.
Yes, and I know what you want to say.

Despacito is junk music and the author probably earned a lot of money.

Right, but remember that the market is not about "abstract values", but to give to some people what they want.
If you tell the author of Despacito "Is this intellectual music?" he will probably answer "What the **** are you saying? This is summer music for parties, to dance while you are drunk".

The author earns money simply because he is able to produce material that works well inside a determined context. The market competion is always inside a specific context.

We can say the same thing of films as "How High". The author obviously didn't want to produce an intellectual film, but a film that was totally idiot. He earns money because he is good at producing this kind of films.


Now, a film like Schindler's List is not a comedy and is not idiot. It's a serious and drammatic film. Spielberg asked John Williams to compose the score because he knew that he has the qualities to produce the music for a great film.
When the Disney asked Hans Zimmer to compose the score of the Lion King, he thought that it would have been a relaxing work, until they didn't tell him that it was a drama about a little boy losing his father. At that moment, he realized that he had to compose a serious score. Zimmer also lost his father when he was a child, and this is probably why he put so much effort in that score: the only Oscar he won, before Dune.

What I want to say is that the music that film music composers are required to produce is not "comedy music" like Despacito. You have to be able to write music with a strong emotional impact.


Despacito.

 

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Discussion Starter · #184 ·
No, classical music is a period of the classical era.
@ClassicalMaestro you should know that the so called "classical period" is one thing, while "classical music" an other thing. The latter is used to indicate the style of the music, and it covers everything from baroque music to modern music.
 

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Discussion Starter · #192 ·
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.
@Eva Yojimbo

I don't see what is the problem. If there are people who like romantic music, why shouldn't composers write new romantic music for people who like it? It's not that we have to abandon everything of the past and replace it with new things. If romanticism is good, then we should keep the tradition alive. And this is why I like score composers. While the industry of popular music is producing trap, the composers in film and videogame industry are keeping a respectable musical tradition alive. This is the good capitalism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #238 · (Edited)
Prokofiev's film music was written for truly great films and we know his music because he prepared suites from his film music. As for The Godfather: it just might be the greatest Hollywood film ever! But I am not necessarily asking for music that is more popular than the film it was written for - that would indeed be a test - but merely films where the music attracted as much interest among people with some interest in music as the film did among film lovers. There must be some but I can't think of them. It is interesting to compare this with operas and ballets which are loved at least as much for their music as for the drama.
I can't speak for all people, but my favourite part of the Lion King is the score and I recently watched the film only because I wanted to hear the music inside the context.

You can't expect that the score is more popular than the film, because people today listen to rap, trap and pop music. Look at the statistics!
The famous films are created to stay within the market trend, while their music doesn't. Hans Zimmer, John Williams and so on... wouldn't be able to have a good revenue for their work if they were not paid by film producers. Their music is out of market. They are not able to compete with rappers, trappers and pop singers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #243 ·
Classic FM is far from being open to novelty. Witness the recent "scandal" wrt some Hendrix by Nigel Kennedy. But more importantly, naming pastiche as contemporary classical music while totally side-lining genuine contemporary classical music will end up killing classical music.
I agree, but if you think that Classic FM should be open to novelty then you shouldn't reject music from films and videogames. So, you should say that Classic FM should be open to everything of the new world.

Furthermore, If it's true that in the field of arts you can't set too many rigid rules, because this would limit the artistic expression, then also the content of the quote below must be rejected.

I do. It's short attention span music flitting from one idea to the next. The main heroic theme is repeated over and over with no significant development. There are cheesy arbitrary modulations all over. The orchestration is full of cliche gestures like the sweeping harp and string flourishes. I couldn't imagine this being mistaken for a movement from a symphony.
I agree that the main theme is repeated too many times in the end credits of Indiana Jones. Futhermore, I can say that I don't nether like so much the theme.
However this a matter of tastes: it doesn't have anything to do with the question of this thread.

Indeed, there are musical pieces that are universally considered classical music that are built around a main theme which is repeated many times. Some classical music pieces have too much repetition for their lenght, according to me.


So, if what you want to say is that John Williams could do a better work in this case I agree, but you can't say thata piece is not classical music because it has features that in classical music are not uncommon.
But the problem is: would it make sense to establish the rule that in classical music repetition is forbidden? And what if someone would establish the rule that is forbidden to break the rules of the harmony? If you want free artistic expression you can not establish rigid rules only to accomplish your personal tastes.

To conclude, I didn't post the end credits of Indiana Jones because I think that it's the best example of good film music, but only to make an example of a piece that it's self-contained.

Indeed, although all people are voting for Indiana Jones in Talkclassical best film score award - 1990, I'm the only one who voted for the Little Mermaid.

 

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Discussion Starter · #266 · (Edited)
In a lot of cases one of the things that makes me feel weirdest about this whole topic is an implied elevation of orchestral film music when film music is all over the place stylistically.

To put it another way rhe question of whether "film music" is classical music makes zero sense. Film music isn't a style at all, it's a discipline, or occupation.
Indeed if you read the title of the discussion and the text of OP is clear that I'm asking why WHEN the score of a film has a classical style many people say that it's not classical music.

I know that "film music" is not a genre of music. This is what I'm saying. There are indeed examples of film scores based on pop or jazz music and no one says that it's not pop or jazz because it was composed for a film.
However, the films nominated at the Academy Awards for "Best original score" have usually a neoromantic score, with some exceptions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #276 ·
For me works like this have a place not that far away from the big tent of CP era CM and would likely be more mistaken for CM by ticket-holders as part of a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert than some of the works commissioned by said orchestra.

Thi score is good. Did it get a Oscar nomination?
 
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