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Confessions of a Hans Zimmer intern... Samplecast #46 exposes everything (well almost)

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Wow, all of this gunfire because of an unfortunate, clickbaity headline.
The podcast interview was innocent, Reuben's video fine.

Eat a Snickers?
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Make it a Milky Way and I'll skulk elsewhere indefinitely, good man!
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
I listened to the podcast. Nothing indicting about it. More of an observation from this person as to how the operation works, and it wasn't really any earth shattering news. Not sure why it was promoted as "dishing the dirt" when there was no dirt- and I highly doubt anyone working at RCP would "dish" any dirt out, especially if they wanted to maintain good connections in LA.
 

jimmy3189

New Member
Just Reuben trying to get you guys with a clickbaity headline, that is all. I'm actually quite comforted that most of the people in this space took offence to a Sun 3am/Daily Fail style headline an you all kicked off. The actual content is nice enough and mundane.

Nobody will be offended about the content, perhaps the delivery, but as a marketing tactic it got everybody listening!
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
All respect, but then you're a kinder man than I. Or you have a significantly different idea of what art is (and no, I don't believe it's all subjective, as there are things called educated deductions).

Art to me is that which can stimulate, challenge, and/or resound within a number of people in a deep, consistent, enduring way and from manifold perspectives. Beethoven's 9th, a significant chunk of John William's work, the Beatles, the Sistine...

But again, no offense meant in the slightest toward you or your opinion. I just don't see a good deal of that music being art, it's most often utilitarian.
Ah, the quintessential Liberal Studies debate!

I suppose I would use that as a working definition of "high art". I agree that the criteria of "good" art is definitely objective, but I think of general art (not high art) more as a pure and skilled form of expression (within reason...). Apply any adjectives to "art" and objective criteria arise, but as to the word "art" itself I've encountered as many PhD's agreeing as disagreeing with its subjectivity.
That said, I think I agree with you. Many scores aren't independent artistic works on their own, and certainly not the "producer/director/studio is terrified of straying from the formula", poor-attempt-to-plagiarize-Hans-Zimmer scores. But many scores do work as a larger part of something I would consider art, or close to it.

I think more than anything I would hope that there's room for what I would consider a form of "artistic expression", to be judged afterwards by the listener. There seems to be more hope in the video game industry in that regard -- whether or not considered art, there are a good many more experimental, eclectic and interesting scores than one might think, or would likely find in TV. That's good enough for me. There are many amazing scores and pictures I wouldn't consider universal or "high" art, but they're meaningful enough to me to be judged as such, at least on a personal level (i.e. scores and their films: Logan, The Last Samurai, The Revenant, etc; in the game world, Limbo, Bioshock, Amon Tobin's score for Chaos Theory, etc).
But the idea of "copy our temp music" is a repulsive one in my mind, at least for a film or show that warrants attempt at originality. I certainly hope the majority of the game industry isn't like this too.

How's that for a verbose response? And I appreciate your politeness, but no need to be concerned about offense :) I've found you courteous and respectful (as I do most of the forum), and I'm happy to be disagreed with.

I've found art (for instance) in some of the music of Cannibal Corpse, to show my partial agreement. Most would completely scoff at that...I doubt the true artist would ;)
I haven't really found it in Cannibal Corpse...but Opeth? Most definitely. As with Gorguts, Wintersun, Beyond Creation (on occasion), among others.
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
Just Reuben trying to get you guys with a clickbaity headline, that is all. I'm actually quite comforted that most of the people in this space took offence to a Sun 3am/Daily Fail style headline an you all kicked off. The actual content is nice enough and mundane.

Nobody will be offended about the content, perhaps the delivery, but as a marketing tactic it got everybody listening!
The problem is that marketing tactics like this tend to leave a sour taste in people's mouths, and will make them wary of future headlines. I actively avoid Dailymail-esque marketing...

I don´t know if that has to do with the Topic here, but yesterday I had some beers and watched some shows (sports events, reality, entertainment shows, cooking shows..the list goes on) on television. I force to disconnect myself from work especially when I try to relax, but still I often notice and pay attention what music is used to spice up the picture. And that is not new to anyone I guess, but I noticed like that there is almost 80% - 90% of music used which contains the following instruments:

- Taikos, Bassdrum
- Choirs
- Low Brass
- Strings
- electronic elements are optional

And regardless what happens in the storyline, it doesn´t matter, it is always those epic banging Tracks. I know that has nothing to do with the topic, I guess? Just wondering sometimes who is responsible for the choice of the music...;) Apart from my personal taste, one thing I can say: There is too much music used so the music just looses its effect to support a scene, even worse: It becomes a parody.
I hate this trend. It ironically loses any emotional pull that form of music had. It's precisely become that -- parody.

I remember last year I had a gig scoring a soundtrack for a client and most of time I was not asked, no: I was pretty much told "to copy their given temptracks".
I find this incredibly disappointing. I hope this isn't the case for all mediums composition is a big part of.
 

Leon Willett

Active Member
But will I listen to the next one now? They better include a free plugin that's so good it writes my music for me so I can play Golf otherwise I'll kick off.

for what it's worth, I certainly unsubscribed from their email list due to this last episode being so click baity
 

AdamAlake

Music Person
Your mileage may vary here but...

When I saw Inception for the first time I was eager to get home to my piano and work out what the hell is that cool chord progression?!?!?

I am a very "harmonically oriented" composer, for example when I first began studying John Williams scores the first thing I picked up on was how he likes the I bVI I progression (CM AbM CM).

Anytime someone comes up with a chord progression that's novel and actually works, to me it's like a mathematician reading a journal where someone discovered a new proof.

I have noticed that the very first part of the Inception chord progression (Cm BM) has become very popular, it's been used in loads of movies, videogames and production music.

If your ear is more towards melody than harmony then I can understand why that score might not be as interesting to you.

Every chord progression "works".
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I doubt Hans Zimmer ever imposes a music preference on a score (I think I'll put some cool chords together on this one or I'll do lots of melodic things on this one. It seems to me he considers the story being told on the screen and things occur to him. His gifts are such that if he forms a motive or statement with a chord sequence, it's going to be an interesting one both musically alone and psychologically to picture. Same with his melodic writing that he keeps off the beaten path quite well while exploiting his fresh harmonic choices. He's a bit of a miracle worker that way.
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
I doubt Hans Zimmer ever imposes a music preference on a score (I think I'll put some cool chords together on this one or I'll do lots of melodic things on this one. It seems to me he considers the story being told on the screen and things occur to him. His gifts are such that if he forms a motive or statement with a chord sequence, it's going to be an interesting one both musically alone and psychologically to picture. Same with his melodic writing that he keeps off the beaten path quite well while exploiting his fresh harmonic choices. He's a bit of a miracle worker that way.
I think it's a key thing that distinguishes him from his imitators. A lot of "big Hollywood" scores imitate a lot of the elements of his scores but without the variation, melodic ideas and character. Some of his great themes and "sounds" are very simple, but unique and appropriately placed.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I think it's a key thing that distinguishes him from his imitators. A lot of "big Hollywood" scores imitate a lot of the elements of his scores but without the variation, melodic ideas and character.
And without the insight to picture, which has always separated the men from the boys. That's an intangible gift which you find in theatre composers and isn't something that can be taught in a formulaic way. Not easily anyway.
Some of his great themes and "sounds" are very simple, but unique and appropriately placed.
It seems he always starts from the story/visual so you get large or small or whatever he thinks will enhance it. I listened to the Inception score with no picture and I didn't find anything boring at all. Just his usual thoughtful writing.

I did happen to hear an HZ clone Main Title yesterday from a 2014 film from a composer I have always liked. It did have a very interesting opening texture with spicatto eighth notes and simple harmonic scheme. But my goodness it fell flat and died before the cue ended. The score from there just got worse. I went to Rotten Tomatoes to see how the (franchise) film was received and sure enough the first review I read put the knock on the 'cliched' score.
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
And without the insight to picture, which has always separated the men from the boys. That's an intangible gift which you find in theatre composers and isn't something that can be taught in a formulaic way. Not easily anyway.
It seems he always starts from the story/visual so you get large or small or whatever he thinks will enhance it. I listened to the Inception score with no picture and I didn't find anything boring at all. Just his usual thoughtful writing.
I've listened to the score from The Last Samurai over and over since I was...15 or something. Fantastic work accompanying the film, but also on its own.

I did happen to hear an HZ clone Main Title yesterday from a 2014 film from a composer I have always liked. It did have a very interesting opening texture with spicatto eighth notes and simple harmonic scheme. But my goodness it fell flat and died before the cue ended. The score from there just got worse. I went to Rotten Tomatoes to see how the (franchise) film was received and sure enough the first review I read put the knock on the 'cliched' score.
It's a horridly annoying trend that I know some very notable composers feel very frustrated by, and have been sucked into. The problem is that imitators (again often not the fault of the composer) often get the production nearly on (rarely even that, HZ's scores sound uniquely colossal in a way I haven't heard before) but without the heart and substance. My psychology education still leaves me frustrated at the predictability of human nature, particularly when it comes to money: "We can't take any risks on this movie because what if it doesn't make money?", despite the fact that no notable film was ever the result of carbon-copying trends, at least as far as I can tell.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
It's a shame to be sure. I don't understand wanting a watered-down score derived from Composer X either. The film's aren't interchangeable (or shouldn't be) so why would the score be?

A film I worked on relatively recently had so much meddling from so many quarters that both the director and composer were neutered on what they had agreed upon. It was a brilliant hybrid score with fantastic grooves and custom synth sounds everywhere. The orchestral sections were very well done and interesting as well. A fight developed between producer and director with the producer (with final cut) saying he wanted a Desplat-style score. Everyone including the composer was let go with the final score ending up a very poor version of the original score. Not remotely Desplat. Go figure.
 
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Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
It's a shame to be sure. I don't understand wanting a watered-down score derived from Composer X either. The film's aren't interchangeable (or shouldn't be) so why would the score be?

A film I worked on relatively recently had so much meddling from so many quarters that both the director and composer were neutered on what they had agreed upon. It was a brilliant hybrid score with fantastic grooves and custom synth sounds everywhere. The orchestral sections were very well done and interesting as well. A fight developed between producer and director with the producer (with final cut) saying he wanted a Desplat-style score. Everyone including the composer was let go with the final score being ending up a very poor version of the original score. Not remotely Desplat. Go figure.
I'm utterly baffled at this. I really don't understand that sort of mindset.

It reminds me of corporate bosses who are convinced that threatening their employees and using scare tactics are most effective at motivating them, despite overwhelming evidence coming from people far smarter than them that it's ineffective.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Everyone in proximity to the film thinks they know better it seems. It is indeed a corporate process with approval needed from a number of folks. That means the composer can get stuck in 5 different rewrites based on 5 different opinions (that is hardly an exaggeration.) So you can have a composer with artistic aims subject to a sensibility that is more akin to knitting a sweater. What happens in this sort of grind is exactly what you would expect: people are worn down. In the end you could have satisfied 4 of the 5 people and then the 5th pulls the plug.
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
Everyone in proximity to the film thinks they know better it seems. It is indeed a corporate process with approval needed from a number of folks. That means the composer can get stuck in 5 different rewrites based on 5 different opinions (that is hardly an exaggeration.) So you can have a composer with artistic aims subject to a sensibility that is more akin to knitting a sweater. What happens in this sort of grind is exactly what you would expect: people are worn down. In the end you could have satisfied 4 of the 5 people and then the 5th pulls the plug.
That sounds utterly horrid. I have no idea why people put up with it or why the industry (what an awful word) commonly persists in such a ludicrously inefficient manner. To see noteworthy and capable composers like Danny Elfman and Patrick Doyle talk about directors who trust their choice of temp music more than the composer they're paying to score the film is utterly bizarre. Why not save money and use library music, or buy the rights to existing music? Why bother with music at all? I really hope the game industry isn't as bad all over, from the sounds of it it's liberating in comparison, depending where one works.
 
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Dave Connor

Senior Member
That's a story of one film at one studio. That will change depending upon the director, composer, studio-head of music and producer(s). In any case it's true that since the advent of the mockup, the process has changed with far more people able to hear the score and approve the latest cues or not. With people at the top of the profession such as certain director/composer combinations, I'm sure they won't tolerate numerous voices chiming in on their process and even have the boundaries clear in their contract. In the above story, I know for a fact that there was a handful of people weighing in even though the composer and director were perfectly happy with the score.
 
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ctsai89

Poem of Ecstasy
That sounds utterly horrid. I have no idea why people put up with it or why the industry (what an awful word) commonly persists in such a ludicrously inefficient manner. To see noteworthy and capable composers like Danny Elfman and Patrick Doyle talk about directors who trust their choice of temp music more than the composer they're paying to score the film is utterly bizarre. Why not save money and use library music, or buy the rights to existing music? Why bother with music at all? I really hope the game industry isn't as bad all over, from the sounds of it it's liberating in comparison, depending where one works.

I know for a fact that most composers who went to college to get at least a bachelor degree in "music composition" don't wish to put up with it. Only about 25% or much less of these people eventually went the film score route with money and fame in their mind but most importantly the ones that succeeded have a passion for analyzing films in general. And some of these people have tried to become film score and knew it was a horrid experience and tried to warn the composers who didn't know this fact. Over time, you hear so many bad experiences that you eventually just wanted to embrace your own artwork, forget trying to become a film scorer one day. Also this was kind of back in the day before 2010 where sample libraries weren't thriving yet, you probably had to write the score, get it recorded by real players to sound good enough, fit it to film, try to get approved by your director and then find out he/she isn't satisfied with it, then redo. Nowadays it's much easier to re-write because of the technology we have on our fingertips.
 
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