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 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 3:15 PM   
 By:   Maestro Sartori   (Member)

Often, we can hear a piece of music, even brand new, and know who composed it by the thematic style, and choice of instruments used in the piece.

John Williams is fond of French horn, Bernard Herrmann strings, etc. This is not all-inclusive. I wanted to open the door for sharing and FRIENDLY discussion.

What are your favorite composers prone to using most in their scores, and how does that technique define their sound and style? How have our favorite composers departed from their "usual suspects" and given us music from a completely different vein?

What are your thoughts?


....and here we... go!

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 4:39 PM   
 By:   Maestro Sartori   (Member)

28 views and no responses.



So, your favorite composer is Jarre and score is Ghost?

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 4:47 PM   
 By:   Adam B.   (Member)

Well, it is Saturday night and your thread was just posted an hour ago. Give it time. smile

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 4:58 PM   
 By:   Dimitrius Maximus   (Member)

James Horner = French Horns, voices

IMO, how he wrote and orchestrated the use of voices with other instruments, even a full orchestra, was breathtaking. Even when the voices were synthesized. He just had such a unique approach when it came to how a voice or voices (choir) could influence a scene, an audience, etc. I know other composers have used voices in their scores, and I think Horner has been the only one to use them in such a way that, maybe, one would not expect. Not in all cases, but in most. His use of the French Horn(s) has (and continues to be) always been another trademark. I don’t know if he played it, but he has spoken of his admiration for the instrument in several interviews.

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 5:37 PM   
 By:   johnonymous86   (Member)

I also notice a lot of xylophone in both Williams and Elfman.

Also, Goldsmith loves his solo trumpet--First Blood, LA Confidential, The Mummy, Chinatown--a lot of his more introverted themes feature a solo trumpet on the reprise.

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2019 - 6:21 PM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

Elmer Bernstein loved -- nay, was obsessed with -- the Ondes Martinot. Barry Gray got a lot of mileage out of that instrument as well.

Herrmann loved the harp, assigning it much solo work (and of course scored for nine of them in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef).

Jarre was fond of the zither.

Delerue loved the accordion.

Goldsmith loved the Yamaha DX7 during the 1980s.

Horner went through a heavy shakuhachi period during the 80s.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 7:18 AM   
 By:   William R.   (Member)

Maurice Jarre made almost constant use of EWIs in his electronic ensemble scores. Mancini also showed a preference for the EWI in the last five or so years of his career, when he wrote a series of synths-plus-strings scores.

But Bernstein and the Ondes Martenot has to be the most visible example. Bernstein took an instrument that had previously been known only by those in the musical cognoscenti and applied to every possible dramatic situation. In the 60s and 70s, hearing an Ondes in a score was a big deal (Jarre and Richard Rodney Bennett were probably the two most prolific users before Bernstein); by the 80s, it was being used in the likes of Spies Like Us.

Bernstein himself seemed to sense that he was overusing it (I don't know how much of this was due to his alleged relationship with the performer), as his scores during the early 90's completely ditched it. He brought it back with The Good Son and used it thereafter in a much more judicious way.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 7:53 AM   
 By:   BrendonKelly   (Member)

James Horner = French Horns, voices

IMO, how he wrote and orchestrated the use of voices with other instruments, even a full orchestra, was breathtaking. Even when the voices were synthesized. He just had such a unique approach when it came to how a voice or voices (choir) could influence a scene, an audience, etc. I know other composers have used voices in their scores, and I think Horner has been the only one to use them in such a way that, maybe, one would not expect. Not in all cases, but in most. His use of the French Horn(s) has (and continues to be) always been another trademark. I don’t know if he played it, but he has spoken of his admiration for the instrument in several interviews.



James Horner, at the BAFTA Conversation in April 2015, said he used to play French horn. This would explain both his love of writing for the instrument and the frequency it appeared in his scores. I am no musician but it certainly sounds like he was an expert at how to use it.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 8:02 AM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Ennio ....among many....

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 8:47 AM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

Vangelis - Yamaha CS80
Jan Hammer - Yamaha DX7
David Foster - Synclavier
Trevor Rabin - Electric guitar
W G Snuffy Walden - Acoustic guitar
Mark Isham - Trumpet

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

I’m tempted to mention John Williams’s affinity for solo flute. He did after all write a concerto for the instrument. Time and time again he gives the eloquent solo voice to the flute. E.T and Witches of Eastwick come to mind in particular. He also clearly favored the trumpet especially in the heyday of Maurice Murphy.

I always think of Jerry as a solo trumpet guy. The main theme of Alien alone should be qualifying.

Elfman? Celeste.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 10:06 AM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)


Bernstein himself seemed to sense that he was overusing it (I don't know how much of this was due to his alleged relationship with the performer), as his scores during the early 90's completely ditched it. He brought it back with The Good Son and used it thereafter in a much more judicious way.


It can be a beautiful instrument...but I'm thankful Bernstein did not use it in Devil In A Blue Dress or A Rage In Harlem!

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 10:12 AM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

In the 60s Barry used the cymbalom on Ipcress File, King Rat, Quiller Memorandum, Thunderball, and others; in the 70s The Persuaders.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 10:27 AM   
 By:   jurassicmaru   (Member)

JERY GOLDSMITH: trumpets, synth, + one unusual instrument
JOHN WILLIAMS: extremely versatile and balanced but French Horn is his go-to and for a time he used rubber mallet on gong effects a lot, and timpani. Also, woodwinds frequently appear in his action music.
DANNY ELFMAN: choir and saxophones but even this sort of feels like it’s relegated mainly to his early scores and has become a stylistic stereotype more than anything.
JAMES HORNER: He seemed to use the anvil a lot in his earlier scores and choirs.
HANS ZIMMER: Taiko drums

What Hans Zimmer does NOT use is woodwinds. I think his synth background works against him here because woodwinds usually need to keep moving and that’s easier to understand if you’re classically trained. Also woodwinds can make a score sound old-fashioned and “classical” if used poorly so he probably doesn’t bother.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 11:14 AM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)

Piero Piccioni's signature instrument was the organ (and in its various incarnations, like the Hammond organ, the church organ, etc.) ... and used within divergent genres such as comedy, erotica, suspense, etc.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 12:22 PM   
 By:   William R.   (Member)


It can be a beautiful instrument...but I'm thankful Bernstein did not use it in Devil In A Blue Dress or A Rage In Harlem!


According to Richard Kraft, he tried to sneak it into a cue in Three Amigos, of all things, but John Landis vetoed it during the session.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 12:46 PM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

Alexandre Desplat uses those piping, high flutes and that low, throbbing electronic bass ostinato in virtually every score he's written.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 5:37 PM   
 By:   Maestro Sartori   (Member)

Thank you all so far for responses...

Now what I'd like to know is how the use of those particular instruments defines their style... what would call the style of say Bernstein with the Ondes Martinot, or Williams with his French horn and solo trumpet.

Why doesn't Zimmer use woodwinds? Is iti because synthing them is easier to control?

Good stuff so far.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 6:17 PM   
 By:   MRAUDIO   (Member)

Morton Stevens:

Clarinet, sometimes in threes.
Shaker
French Horn

Simply wonderful!:-)

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2019 - 11:11 PM   
 By:   jurassicmaru   (Member)

Thank you all so far for responses...

Now what I'd like to know is how the use of those particular instruments defines their style... what would call the style of say Bernstein with the Ondes Martinot, or Williams with his French horn and solo trumpet.

Why doesn't Zimmer use woodwinds? Is iti because synthing them is easier to control?

Good stuff so far.


I think Zimmer doesn't use woodwinds primarily because he doesn't know HOW to use them as he was not classically trained. This wonderful John Williams piece comes from the Prisoner of Azkaban score:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY3hSSE0wr8&feature=youtu.be&t=24
The story behind this, from the liner notes, is that Williams composed this himself and gave it to the flautist in advance because he was concerned that it was too crazy and complicated to learn. It was, but the flautist was very experienced and was able to pull it off on the first take. I can not imagine Hans Zimmer ever being capable of composing this because he does not have the knowledge and experience to write anything like this for woodwinds.

There's kind of a general sense that woodwinds like to move (as you hear in this example) and that requires A LOT of knowledge and experience to write for, otherwise woodwinds just sound clunky. Which is why Zimmer's synth background hinder him and explain why he tends to stick to programmatic rhythms and large, blocky chords of horns and strings like he'd play in 80's synth bands.

The other reasons to a lesser extent would be stylistic clashes: woodwinds tend to be very soft in an orchestra and Zimmer style is more about conveying power, hence the heavy percussion and horns. Woodwinds also add a lot of color and Zimmer doesn't compose things with complex storytelling that requires color, he tends to compose things for a general mood or rhythm. Along those lines, woodwinds CAN have a tendency to add a more "classical" sound to music and hence "dated", and Zimmer is all about the so-called "modern".

The only times I can think of when Zimmer uses "woodwinds" are Jade's theme in The Rock, but that's kind of a typical "lyrical" use of solo woodwinds which is pretty basic to write for - that writing could also be on strings (and is).

But I don't think Zimmer would be caught dead using bassoons, clarinets or oboes.

To answer your other question:

Jerry Goldsmith: Is "psychological": his synths are focused on brutal, emotional action, his "interesting" instruments tend to get into the "fear" factor (Planet of the Apes, Alien, Star Trek), and trumpet is his lone protagonist/character
John Williams: again, truly versatile so I don't think he has one thing - but his french horns tend to be very noble or lend scope to action.
Danny Elfman: whimsical, magical, quirky - but I think this is also an earlier stereotype.
James Horner: Anvil for brutal action and choir for sense of wonder.
Hans Zimmer: Power. He basically layers octaves of everything for a thick sound.

We might want to ask the question of why certain instruments might be used, which gets into orchestration techniques.

 
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