old-style grandiosity

If you, like me, are excited by the prospect of the upcoming Beowulf movie — if Neil Gaiman’s description of it as “blood and mead and madness” sounds about right to you — then you might want to check out the clips from the score that are available online. (YouTube clips, alas — not audio files. Oh well.)

Three notes into the first clip, I thought, “this sounds old-style.” And it lived up to that expectation. I don’t mean it as an insult; I mean that I immediately thought of Lawrence of Arabia and similar kinds of movies. Mind you, I love a lot of more modern scores, but this one has a grandiosity that’s really appealing. If the clips are representative of the whole thing, I will certainly be buying this one.

And in the meantime, I can look forward to the movie.

(Non-gratuitous icon post, btw. I’ve been meaning to get me a horn icon for a while.)

0 Responses to “old-style grandiosity”

  1. khet_tcheba

    Oh, I like. I’m not a huge Silvestri fan, but this sounds like some good work from him.

    • Marie Brennan

      I get the impression from that brief article that Silvestri’s gone downhill in recent years.

      • khet_tcheba

        If you take a look at his IMDB listing, there’s not much to speak of score-wise that he’s done in recent years. He put together some really great scores back in the late 80’s (Back to the Future, Flight of the Navigator, The Abyss, etc.), but hasn’t written much of note since then.

        Van Helsing is memorable, effective, and quite catchy. Otherwise, of the recent movies on the list that I’ve seen, I cannot remember a single one making any impression on me whatsoever. Then again, the things I listen for don’t necessarily define a “good” score. Zimmer and the Media Ventures machine are accused of writing the same score for every single movie they work on (which is probably more or less true on a technical level) and for changing (or “corrupting,” if you’re a Zimmer-hater) the way modern movies are scored, but I like the visceral quality of the music despite it being less than revolutionary these days.

        Silvestri is accused of recycling old motifs, but I honestly don’t pay enough attention to him in particular to notice that. I could probably peg other composers doing that, but not Silvestri. My issue with him is that his themes are neither moving (in ANY way – not necessarily in the HELL YEAH LET’S GO KILL SOME _______S way) nor memorable. I don’t notice them and they don’t noticeably affect me. I’m not sure I could quantify a GOOD score, but I’m reasonably certain that those are signs of a bad one.

        • Marie Brennan

          Yeah, Van Helsing is the only one of his I have, and I got it because of the hyper little guitar riff thingy (okay, I just woke up, my musical vocabulary is still in bed). Everything else he’s done that I’ve seen has pretty much just washed over me without leaving an impression.

          I think every composer in Hollywood starts recycling themselves eventually, though. With the amount of work a successful one does, it’s probably inevitable. Then again, the great classical composers probably recycled themselves when they were cranking out Piano Concerto Number Ad Nauseam: In Honor of My Paycheck.

          • khet_tcheba

            Oh, no doubt they do. Particularly if you’re one of those composers who develops a very specific style by which you sell your services (Elfman and Williams, for example). And as classical and film music are more or less the fine art of ripping off the guys who came before you in a new and exciting way, it’s not as if it’s completely unacceptable.

            Being more of a listener than a composer or performer, I’ve always been baffled and slightly awed at people who can just WRITE music – particularly on demand and on a time schedule. I mean, how does that work? Baroque is more or less mathematical, so I can see how you could have literally hundreds of works under your belt, but anything else? It does not compute. As much as I may criticize this or that composer, I certainly couldn’t do what they do even on an off day.

          • Marie Brennan

            Oh yeah. I utterly do not grok the process of composition, even more than I do not grok the writing of poetry. I’m partially handicapped by my memory and my ear: if I sit down at the piano to dink around, within two minutes whatever I’m dinking will have turned into something I know. (In fact, it’s a hobby with me, figuring out how to play things by ear.) I don’t know how to utilize that/get past that and turn it into something new.

          • khet_tcheba

            My piano dinking does the exact same thing, though it doesn’t stop me from dinking (picking out tunes on the piano is a lot of fun even when you don’t really know what you’re doing). I am convinced that there is no original music in my soul.

            We studied Persian classical music in one of my college classes, and I remember thinking that the series of dastgahs and gushehs theoretically making up a finite set of everything that could ever be written was a lot more up my alley. I guess that just goes to show how little I know about western musical theory, though. I’m sure that, with a lot more background in theory and composition, it wouldn’t seem quite so much like impossible magic or divine inspiration. Of course, that could be my ignorance showing yet again. *g*

  2. calico_reaction

    I keep forgetting about the Beowulf movie, but I’m looking forward to it. 🙂 Thanks for the tip about the score!

  3. cheshyre

    BTW, when I went to see Harry Potter the other night, I saw my first poster for the Beowulf movie.

    It’s being released in IMAX 3D.

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