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 Posted:   Aug 4, 2013 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   Doc Loch   (Member)

To me Steiner's music sounds like a score FOR a KING KONG film, whereas Barry's (as is often the case for me with Barry) sounds like a John Barry score IN a KING KONG movie. In other words, if I had heard a lot of other Steiner scores before seeing/hearing the 1933 KONG I might not expect it to sound like this, but if I heard a lot of other Barry scores before the 1976 KONG it probably sounds pretty much like what I would have expected. That's still very high quality, but it doesn't feel to me like it challenged Barry the way the original challenged Steiner. Or maybe it's just that it was earlier enough in Steiner's career that he hadn't yet fallen into a pattern.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 1:12 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

but if I heard a lot of other Barry scores before the 1976 KONG it probably sounds pretty much like what I would have expected.

Nailed it.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 1:48 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

So you don't think Max Steiner's score sounds like Max Steiner? Funny, because I think it does.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 1:57 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

It doesn't sound as much like standardized Steiner as the Barry score sounds like standardized Barry. Many of Steiner's soaper-attached scores do sound like standardized Steiner.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 2:08 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

King Kong has been graced by wonderful scores over the decades. None of them are trash in my opinion.

For me the Barry score is a superb listen on CD. The score works so well within the movie. Barry created a gorgeous, exciting and emotional musical landscape that enhanced and elevated the film.

Barry composed many fine scores and this is one of his best.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 2:09 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

DP

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 2:48 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

In acting, people talk about character actors and method actors.

If I understand the definitions correctly, character actors turn up with a personally distinctive acting style and the method actors apply method to be different each time. I believe that would make actors like Michael Caine and Sean Connery 'character' actors, while Marlon Brando is 'method'. (But of course, that doesn't mean 'character' actors don't have any flexibiility and it doesn't mean 'method' actors have no personal style.)

Whether I've understood the definitions of those phrases correctly or not, I believe a distinction like that exists not only in acting but in music.

John Barry would be the 'character' composer, the composer who brings a personally distinctive style. Max Steiner would be the 'method' composer.

Thing is, there's nothing in that which makes a method actor inherently better for a role than a character actor. See, whilst it seems obvious on a simplistic level to admire the method actor's ability to be a chameleon, there's a depth to the character actor's mastery of his particular character which often makes it perfect casting. And people can fall in love with that character.

There's a lack of logic in equating "John Barry turned up to King Kong with a distinctive style" and "therefore it is an inferior score".

It is ultimately irrelevant whether a composer turns up as a character composer or a method composer. What is relevant is whether the score works. Both the Steiner and Barry scores work very well indeed. Especially when you remember they are completely different films with completely different narrative intentions.

The 1933 film, for me, is too superficial. It's just about the thrill and spectacle. The 1976 is much deeper emotionally, albeit let down in other ways. And I think the music plays out the same. There's less emotional depth to the Steiner score, although it is more complex and impressive as music for exotica, thrill and spectacle.

But I'm not interested in arguing that Barry is superior to Steiner or vice versa. In fact, I'm sick to the death with geeky obsessions with lists, rankings and whose dad can beat your dad. I'm just arguing against the notion that Barry's score is either trash, doesn't work, or is inferior just because it's "John Barry".

Cheers

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 4:19 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

To me Steiner's music sounds like a score FOR a KING KONG film, whereas Barry's (as is often the case for me with Barry) sounds like a John Barry score IN a KING KONG movie. In other words, if I had heard a lot of other Steiner scores before seeing/hearing the 1933 KONG I might not expect it to sound like this, but if I heard a lot of other Barry scores before the 1976 KONG it probably sounds pretty much like what I would have expected. That's still very high quality, but it doesn't feel to me like it challenged Barry the way the original challenged Steiner. Or maybe it's just that it was earlier enough in Steiner's career that he hadn't yet fallen into a pattern.


For me, John Barry didn't really settle into his final phase until around 1980, and even that's a pretty superficial interpretation. If you look at his filmography during the 1960s there's an astonishing variety of films and styles on show. To use Stephen's (very thought-provoking) analogy, I'd say that JB was a method composer at that point in his career, and developed into a character composer from about the mid 70s to the early 80s.

Other interpretations are probably available!

TG

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 4:34 AM   
 By:   follow me   (Member)


For me, John Barry didn't really settle into his final phase until around 1980, and even that's a pretty superficial interpretation. If you look at his filmography during the 1960s there's an astonishing variety of films and styles on show. To use Stephen's (very thought-provoking) analogy, I'd say that JB was a method composer at that point in his career, and developed into a character composer from about the mid 70s to the early 80s.

Other interpretations are probably available!

TG


Yes. My interpretation would be that Barry was a clever combination of method and character composer for most of his career! His scores often sounded like Barry while at the same time they sounded completely new, fresh and surprising. Just listen to his spy-scores: Bond - Palmer - Quiller. All Barry, all completely different! Even in the 80s he was able to compose VERY different scores: Jagged Edge and Out Of Africa, Until September and The Cotton Club, Body Heat and The Living Daylights. He may have become a "character composer" in the 90s, but even then he composed scores like RUBY CAIRO or Indecent Proposal, which - to my ears at least - sound quite different.
And KING KONG? I have always thought that this is a Barry score that sounds like nothing he had done before or afterwards.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 6:24 AM   
 By:   jeremy_johnson_7   (Member)

John Barry's 76' score is my favorite.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 11:32 AM   
 By:   John Bender   (Member)

Stephen and Peter, really enjoyed what you fellows have said. Pete, your praise for John's KONG reminds me of just how fortunate all Barry fans are. A capacity to succumb to his unique command of the idiom is truly a great blessing for any film music connoisseur - the many and varied rewards of his oeuvre are sublime. And Stephen, your mini-essay is impressive and enlightening. The acting metaphor is brilliant and I am only pissed I didn't think of it. I've saved it and intend to share it (hoping you don't mind). As you indicate to force a qualitative contest of the work of these two men is ridiculous. The differentials of time, place, cultural evolution, individual histories and more are enough to make clear that such games can have no value. / Of a lighter note it is a curiosity to me that Steiner fans in particular, and Golden Age fans in general, seem to be (generally speaking) of a noticeable type. I can usually spot a Golden Age fan a mile away, and usually I'll be right! For instance, if there happen to be one or more individuals wearing a bow tie in any random room full of soundtrack collectors odds are high that they will be among the Golden Age aficionados. Other Golden Age fan tendencies: politically or at least socially conservative, appreciate classical music, fan of theater and musicals, as regards classic horror will be pro-Universal as opposed to Hammer, tend to be single, well read - and most likely will not be wearing basketball shoes or DAWN OF THE DEAD tee shirt. (As for me I do wear basketball shoes, I am devoted to Hammer, and I would not be caught dead in a graphics/printed tee-shirt.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 12:27 PM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Of a lighter note it is a curiosity to me that Steiner fans in particular, and Golden Age fans in general, seem to be (generally speaking) of a noticeable type. I can usually spot a Golden Age fan a mile away, and usually I'll be right! For instance, if there happen to be one or more individuals wearing a bow tie in any random room full of soundtrack collectors odds are high that they will be among the Golden Age aficionados. Other Golden Age fan tendencies: politically or at least socially conservative, appreciate classical music, fan of theater and musicals, as regards classic horror will be pro-Universal as opposed to Hammer, tend to be single, well read - and most likely will not be wearing basketball shoes or DAWN OF THE DEAD tee shirt. (As for me I do wear basketball shoes, I am devoted to Hammer, and I would not be caught dead in a graphics/printed tee-shirt.)

Some of that applies, some doesn't (Personally, if all Tea Party politicians and supporters dropped dead this very second, I'd be delighted). Pro Universal and pro Hammer!

It's just that Steiner's and Webb's scores [for Mighty Joe] (and, to a lesser extent, Scott's) are much more detailed and individual than Barry's score, which, while it has some lovely moments [and the usual number of smooth Barry themes], is just another Barry score.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 12:35 PM   
 By:   mildcigar   (Member)

is just another Barry score.

WTF?

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 12:58 PM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

..........Barry's score, which, while it has some lovely moments [and the usual number of smooth Barry themes], is just another Barry score.
---------------
Hilarious!!

Just like Papillon is just another Goldsmith score and Spartacus is just another North score ?wink

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 1:22 PM   
 By:   Timmer   (Member)

It's just that Steiner's and Webb's scores [for Mighty Joe] (and, to a lesser extent, Scott's) are much more detailed and individual than Barry's score, which, while it has some lovely moments [and the usual number of smooth Barry themes], is just another Barry score.


roll eyes lol big grin

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2013 - 1:40 PM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

It's just that Steiner's and Webb's scores [for Mighty Joe] (and, to a lesser extent, Scott's) are much more detailed and individual than Barry's score, which, while it has some lovely moments [and the usual number of smooth Barry themes], is just another Barry score.


roll eyes lol big grin



Just shows how high JB set the bar

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2013 - 12:01 PM   
 By:   John Bender   (Member)

"Personally, if all Tea Party politicians and supporters dropped dead this very second, I'd be delighted." - You don't get Barry, but when it comes to politics you have clarity, wisdom and enlightenment. Real world implications: You can drive the car but I'm in charge of the CD player.

 
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