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Shazam! Theme, thoughts?

mouse

Active Member
Thought it was pretty similar to Batman too. Definitely going back to the roots of massive themes which is kind of cool
 

storyteller

Senior Member
Yea, maybe too many things in one main theme piece, well-suited as an entry for the next @mverta 's Unleashed masterclass. :grin: Hope this is not shaping up to be another dramazone thread (@AlexanderSchiborr
), but I'm quite curious about the structure of this piece...

So:
• 0:00 The intro is kinda an intro, kinda the theme (?) (or like a version of the main theme?)

• then 0:23 a bridge/transition? (or is this some theme?)

• then 0:41 it switches to some Holst/Star Wars-like thing (?)

• then 1:03 again some kind of an intro/the theme (?) or again some other variation on the main theme?, but it overall sounds rather different again, 1:19 this part in a variation on the 1:03 part (honestly I don't know what this part is doing there)

• then there's finally the main theme, after we are nearly 2 minutes in (I think this is the main theme, since it sounds heroic and like a full theme. But feels undermined by the fact there are maybe too many different proto-themes/variations on the main before this, not counting various bridge sections).

But my main problem here is, it's not even 10 seconds and the melody is shaky already, take a listen with me:

1:48 the main idea, ok, perfect, 1:54 a repetition of the melody, slightly altered, and it only repeats the first half of the theme (now altered), but twice? and that second repetition is actually different, then 2:01 a new closure of the theme, but for some reason it's repeated twice?!, 2:08 the main theme again, in the strings this time, but wait! It's not the repetition of the main idea we heard at 1:48?! I must say, it's rather frustrating to listen to this melody... It bounces around, but does not solidify what we are told is the main idea.

Even the director said they were going for a Williams-like thing. But this is not how Williams writes theme melodies, when I listen to Superman , Indy, Journey to the Island, Jurrasic, Potter, Star Wars, Rey, Fawkes, what have you, the exposition, repetition, flourishes, it's all precisely structured, and even when the melody is quite long, he always! repeats the main idea as is!, that's one of the reasons why those themes work and why those melodies make sense, because they are not messy but well structured. All those extra and magical things Williams does atop of that is something he can afford to do because he can write music that is so fluent that those things fit there perfectly without breaking the flow of the music.

• 2:15 this is like a B section to the theme, the melody is in strings, it develops the theme, but again, the repetitions do not reinforce the melody (feels kinda aimless again)

• 3:00 the first intro thing returns, is developed into a melody of its own... (for some reason...)

• 3:23 it all turns into something all over the place that uses motifs from the 1:03 second intro/theme thing.

• 3:36 it all turns into another Holst-like thing, used the first intro theme and ends.


Overall, there are motivic similarities, but the phrases themselves are really wonky and the piece has weird structure. Is this a film cue or really the main theme? Since it feels like a cue, like it follows something on the screen, does not feel like a concert piece, there are some superfluous and prolonged parts that feel like "what's the point?".
I wrote this over 3 days to get a better perspective on the piece, but then I compared it to some Herrmann, Horner, Goldsmith and Williams themes and this melody itself is quite all over the place and messy, to put it straight. The main idea at 1:48 is very solid, I like that theme a lot, but the composition around it feels like it drifts too much.

Also it doesn't have that fluidity the golden-era compositions have.

And the orchestration does not feel Williams-y. It definitely feels way closer to being a Remote Control production. Maybe even due to that slightly strange mix. But Williams' orchestrations are way leaner, precise and agile.
And I don't think he uses woodwind runs in the 1:11 manner.


So how do you feel about this piece? I agree with @josejherring ...It "just" lacks focus. But this "lacks focus" is actually about the core of writing orchestral music. There's this very strange edge where it all breaks... the way golden-era guys have weaved their phrases and written something complex and sometimes insanely intricate that makes sense in the moment and over a long period of time, and just a slight lack of that skill make a composition feel clunky and disjointed. At least that's how I feel about it. So many times when listening to Horner's Star Treks, Goldsmith's Rambo II or jeez, Dvorak's symphonies, I'm like, how did he for the love of god got from this part to that part so incredibly flawlessly without breaking anything??? Like these guys can do abrupt things that feel completely fluid. :roflmao: Whereas things these days feel abrupt while they are trying to be fluent. :laugh:
I think your assessment is spot on.. much more in-depth on the analysis of what he is doing. I enjoyed reading it.

I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. The part that bothers me the most about the theme is that I cannot remember it after the number of times I’ve listened to it. With Rey’s theme, I left the movie theater humming it, recognizing it was a new Williams masterpiece of a theme. With this one, I’m just... well... unable to hum along with any of it after numerous listening. (But again, it is passable. I’m not trying to berate the effort because I’m sure BW poured his life into creating this theme and he deserves some congratulations on it).
 

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
I can't wait for this score to come out, pre-ordered real quick!! :D
When I saw someone share this piece and I read the name Benjamin Wallfisch I knew it was gonna be fantastic. And I wasn't dissapointed.
After the fantastic piece he wrote under the pseudonym Ben Lasker for a production music library in 2013 (link to piece) I was dying to hear more JW style adventurous orchestral escapades by him.

Listening to the Shazam main theme track I also could've busted the pseudonym just by ear. Many very particularly similar harmonies and orchestration.

I'm just so fascinated and humbled by amount of skill in the 3 pieces that have been published already. Such a madly effective and virtuous handling of the orchestra. A true Magnum Opus. And I can just hear Benjamin saying mentally: Oh, you want heroic adventurous dramatic orchestral madness? YESSS! I'm gonna pooouurr it all over you, wait for it!!

If I ever see him n the street somewhere I'll just say nothing and bow in front of him.
Need a hidden camera to film his reaction though. :roflmao:
 

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
But something to add - I love the piece overall a lot, but I'm not hearing a really memorable and clear theme. Maybe it becomes clearer listening to the whole score.
I can live without it though. :)

And I'm not sure what to think of the sound. Something is weird about it somewhere around 500 - 1500 hz... the mix sounds great in terms of sonic dimension. Very wide. But there are some odd resonant frequencies through out. It sounds like a great mix that is being played back in a weird room.
 

fiestared

Vintage -but- not obsolete
I'm really digging the classic superhero adventure writing with this so far. I don't mind the effectiveness of the ostinato driven action we hear often with action films, but I did enjoy this piece quite a bit. What are your thoughts on this style of writing compared to other soundtracks for similar films? Any other recent films with this style you could link, I would greatly appreciate it? Thanks.

Here is what Shazam means to me
 

kevthurman

Active Member
Yea, maybe too many things in one main theme piece, well-suited as an entry for the next @mverta 's Unleashed masterclass. :grin: Hope this is not shaping up to be another dramazone thread (@AlexanderSchiborr
), but I'm quite curious about the structure of this piece...

So:
• 0:00 The intro is kinda an intro, kinda the theme (?) (or like a version of the main theme?)

• then 0:23 a bridge/transition? (or is this some theme?)

• then 0:41 it switches to some Holst/Star Wars-like thing (?)

• then 1:03 again some kind of an intro/the theme (?) or again some other variation on the main theme?, but it overall sounds rather different again, 1:19 this part in a variation on the 1:03 part (honestly I don't know what this part is doing there)

• then there's finally the main theme, after we are nearly 2 minutes in (I think this is the main theme, since it sounds heroic and like a full theme. But feels undermined by the fact there are maybe too many different proto-themes/variations on the main before this, not counting various bridge sections).

But my main problem here is, it's not even 10 seconds and the melody is shaky already, take a listen with me:

1:48 the main idea, ok, perfect, 1:54 a repetition of the melody, slightly altered, and it only repeats the first half of the theme (now altered), but twice? and that second repetition is actually different, then 2:01 a new closure of the theme, but for some reason it's repeated twice?!, 2:08 the main theme again, in the strings this time, but wait! It's not the repetition of the main idea we heard at 1:48?! I must say, it's rather frustrating to listen to this melody... It bounces around, but does not solidify what we are told is the main idea.

Even the director said they were going for a Williams-like thing. But this is not how Williams writes theme melodies, when I listen to Superman , Indy, Journey to the Island, Jurrasic, Potter, Star Wars, Rey, Fawkes, what have you, the exposition, repetition, flourishes, it's all precisely structured, and even when the melody is quite long, he always! repeats the main idea as is!, that's one of the reasons why those themes work and why those melodies make sense, because they are not messy but well structured. All those extra and magical things Williams does atop of that is something he can afford to do because he can write music that is so fluent that those things fit there perfectly without breaking the flow of the music.

• 2:15 this is like a B section to the theme, the melody is in strings, it develops the theme, but again, the repetitions do not reinforce the melody (feels kinda aimless again)

• 3:00 the first intro thing returns, is developed into a melody of its own... (for some reason...)

• 3:23 it all turns into something all over the place that uses motifs from the 1:03 second intro/theme thing.

• 3:36 it all turns into another Holst-like thing, used the first intro theme and ends.


Overall, there are motivic similarities, but the phrases themselves are really wonky and the piece has weird structure. Is this a film cue or really the main theme? Since it feels like a cue, like it follows something on the screen, does not feel like a concert piece, there are some superfluous and prolonged parts that feel like "what's the point?".
I wrote this over 3 days to get a better perspective on the piece, but then I compared it to some Herrmann, Horner, Goldsmith and Williams themes and this melody itself is quite all over the place and messy, to put it straight. The main idea at 1:48 is very solid, I like that theme a lot, but the composition around it feels like it drifts too much.

Also it doesn't have that fluidity the golden-era compositions have.

And the orchestration does not feel Williams-y. It definitely feels way closer to being a Remote Control production. Maybe even due to that slightly strange mix. But Williams' orchestrations are way leaner, precise and agile.
And I don't think he uses woodwind runs in the 1:11 manner.


So how do you feel about this piece? I agree with @josejherring ...It "just" lacks focus. But this "lacks focus" is actually about the core of writing orchestral music. There's this very strange edge where it all breaks... the way golden-era guys have weaved their phrases and written something complex and sometimes insanely intricate that makes sense in the moment and over a long period of time, and just a slight lack of that skill make a composition feel clunky and disjointed. At least that's how I feel about it. So many times when listening to Horner's Star Treks, Goldsmith's Rambo II or jeez, Dvorak's symphonies, I'm like, how did he for the love of god got from this part to that part so incredibly flawlessly without breaking anything??? Like these guys can do abrupt things that feel completely fluid. :roflmao: Whereas things these days feel abrupt while they are trying to be fluent. :laugh:
The secret to getting from place to place (in the western tonal tradition) is preparation. Taking advantage of a person's expectations to deliver an experience with a balance of relative predictability and yet enough intrigue to keep them listening. It's not so much how the material is written but how it is structured and ordered with other material.
 

Consona

Senior Member
Saw the film yesterday. Well, I'm into the Snyder stuff and the whole MCU and post-Snyder DCEU stuff bores rather significantly, with that said, I thought this was quite fine, felt way more genuine than most of those half-assed comicbook films we get these days. I'm sure people in general will totally love it, it was a fabulous family movie.

The score itself... You can hear Wallfisch is really trying to do all those old-school/Williams-y things. The harmonies are more colorful than what we get in the modern films, he definitely works with themes in the old-school way, changing everything based on what's going on on the screen, the Shazam theme is fine... I haven't heard the full soundtrack yet, so I can't judge the individual pieces, but this score at least felt good in the cinema, rather than "please stop this loud nonsense already or I'll just leave the screening" I got from something like MI Fallout. :laugh:

@storyteller Some Williams' themes are truly incredible masterpieces, yea, Rey theme included. I don't think Wallfisch used him Shazam theme to its full potential in the film, mainly due to the fact @mverta pointed out in some of his classes, films these days are really fast paced, there's no room to let the music sing. I think that's what happened here. I was paying attention specifically to that and every time there was the theme, there was no room to let it breathe.

But overall, this soundtrack felt like a step into the right direction.
 
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rpaillot

Active Member
Yep sounds very good. Its a good change from the " world is going to be destroyed, i'm a depressed superhero" mood.

The mixing sounds a bit compressed / bass heavy but thats the way orchestral scores have to sound nowadays.
Because we have been used to the modern approach from RC, and going back to pure orchestral mix of the 80-90s is not possible. Music has to compete with heavy sound design and also it has to sound "loud" and without compression, distortion, its not doable.
But I think thats a nice mixing. its a good crossover between the old school way of mixing and the more modern approach.

2:00 to 2:06 I think I hear some bits of David Arnold too :D ( independence day )
 

ChrisSiuMusic

Senior Member
It sounds like old scores mashed up. As much as I would like to see a return to the style I have now listened to this 3 times today and couldn't sing you the tune right now. That didn't happen with JW scores...
I'd have to agree; the only theme I can really recall after listening a few times is the short motive at 1:48. The orchestration and production are wonderfully done!
 

Tice

Active Member
I really love this flavor of music for super heroes. Or for adventure movies in general. I even outright miss it. But I do feel that this movie does a few things that make it fall just short of the mark.
For this kind of theme to work, it has to be used a LOT, and not be snowed under in orchestration, or the mix between music and the remaining sound in the movie. A theme like this needs to shine center-stage for it to really work. And to be able to humm it within a first time viewing of the movie, you'll need to hear it a lot within a single viewing. Themes like this should draw attention to themselves in every way. Be endulgent in the great feel that they give, despite any notions of cliché. Do what the Japanese tend to love doing: Take the cliché and crank it up to 11. Endulge!
This soundtrack has all the orchestration of that 80's super hero movie way of composing, but it takes more than that for it to really shine.
 
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