Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Soundtrack Chat

Inspired by Ari Marmell's recent livejournal entry (see here: http://mouseferatu.livejournal.com/) about James Horner's Troy score, I'm posting this little soundtrack question: Are special effects killing soundtracks? This isn't aimed at Troy but rather at the newest Star Wars trilogy. All three movies had sub par scores (in my opinion) from John Williams. Think about this. Williams is responsible for a bevy of fantastic scores from Indiana Jones to Superman to Jurassic Park to the original Star Wars trilogy and so much more. Why would the latest trilogy's score not be up to the challenge. From what I've read, Lucas tweaked with the films until the very last second--tweaking the special effects, naturally, because he has that power. Nothing wrong with this, of course. It's a director's right I guess. But what does this do to the soundtrack? I'm betting that Williams never even saw bits that made it into the movie long after he finished scoring. Especially Episode I where bit of tracks are actually recycled. I was severely disappointed.

So what do you think? As big-budget special effects movies increase their technological development, will the soundtracks to them suffer? Maybe my whole reasoning is off here but I'd like to see some evidence.
Edit: Oh, and Happy 4th everyone!!!! I'll be staying indoors for most of the day; pehaps getting out for a short hike despite the heat and humidity. Hope everyone remains happy and safe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


George Lucas is insane. That is really the only explanation. Most of the music you hear on John Williams' released soundtracks doesn't appear in the film as written. Lucas and his music editor sliced and diced the score to pieces after it had been recorded, placing snippets here and there to cover mistakes or quiet spots between CGI shots.

Williams is undoubtedly a master of his craft. If you wish to place any blame at all, toss it at Lucas.

Generally speaking, effects have always been the bane of the composer's existence. Either they are dialed up too loud or are simply non-stop during sequences where music should be more involved. This, in my opinion, has created a stronger emotional disconnect within audiences. No longer do they want to go see a film more than once. Why should they? The emotions that music evokes in an audiece is now simply a soundscape. Atmosphere has overridden melody as the chief component of a "score." The beauty of this technique, however, is that soundscape CAN keep up with the effects and has, in effect, become an integral part of it!

11:28 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Good lord, no, I wasn't placing any blame on Williams here. I hope the age of "soundscapes" passes quickly. Most scores should stand up to repeated home listenings and not just be the harmony to explosions in a film. When did special effects take over soundtrack duties I wonder?

11:44 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Here's an interesting review of "Revenge of the Sith" that touches on a lot of the things you mentioned.


There are other CGI-heavy films that have great scores. Marco Beltrami (a Goldsmith protege) wrote a great score for "Hellboy".

I agree that a lot of what hurts the newer SW scores are Lucas's uhhhh... idiosyncrasies as a director.

12:43 AM  

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