glass notes
Pop Quiz No.4

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In my ongoing series on how certain pieces of music both past and present bear similarities to the music of Philip Glass, I present to you pop quiz No.4. 

Here is an example of what is pretty obviously a film score from the past 10 years.  Personally this is a composer I don't really care for much and I'll leave it at that.  To me things like this are at best categorized as parody…I wonder how this guy makes a living working on the largest of movies while other more original and artistically inclined composers don't get at shot at the largest canvases.  I can just picture the director of this film exclaiming to this composer "Perfect, you're a genious!"

Pop Quiz 4

The first to guess the right answer gets a nice Christmas gift…a copy of the new recording of Maria Bachmann performing the Glass Violin Sonata.

13 thoughts on “Pop Quiz No.4”

  1. IMO, James Newton Howard is a very fine composer, who’s written a lot of music I really love.
    Richard, I think your criticism is a bit off this time.
    And this particular track, well, unlike something like an opening to ‘Fringe’ sounds neither like tribute/parody (which, by the way, is kind of how I view Carter Burwell’s “Burn After Reading” score nor plagarism. He’s using appagios arpeggios, and it’s really his right.

  2. Usually I tend to agree with your opinions, Richard, but I also think James Newton Howard is a fine composer. Just listen to his scores for animated movies such as ‘Atlantis: The Lost Empire’ and ‘Dinosaur’. And I believe his scores for Shyamalan’s movies are really good.

  3. You guys are entitled to your opinions. I just dont think much of him. He gets a lot of work, and some scores like the Village are better than others (you could argue the Villages model was the Glass violin concerto)…but in my opinion most of it isnt any good. And writing in the style is heavily indebted to a certain composer in the case of this track.
    Its an oddity of our time I think: with Wagner whose influence was ubiquitous, at least everyone acknowledged it and him. In this case, JHN and others that I cite not only frequently dont list Glass as an influence, they actually take opportunities to say something bad about him. (Im looking at you John Adams).
    There is a question of pastiche versus originality. As with many other composers of both concert music and film scores, JNH does a rock score here, a modern score here, a jazzy score here. Philip Glass can only write in his original voice. In other words, Philip Glass never DOES Philip Glass, he IS Philip Glass. Inasmuch, if I wanted to listed to jazz I would listen to Miles Davis and not a film soundtrack with imitation Miles Davis; if you want a Philip Glass sound for a movie, hire Philip Glass.

  4. Interesting this discussion.
    Recently I listened to two very good soundtracks, for The Social Network and Gorbaciof, an Italian film that I do not think it will be seen abroad. Teho Teardo is the soundtrack composer.

  5. hey Proman,
    Dont get me wrong, I mean clearly if I had the Lady in the Water soundtrack that means I own it and have listened to it. Hans Zimmer is good. I dont look for intricate musical ideas and orchestration in his music, but rather with for example both the Dark Knight and Inception, he took one ultra-basic idea and made it the musical identity of the whole film. With Inception is was the obvious Piaf horns which crescendo which worked so perfectly he should win the Oscar. And with the Dark Knight, it was the electric cello playing that Joker sostenuto thing (which by the way is almost exactly the opening of the Ligeti Cello Concerto.). The most through-composed soundtrack which he did which I love is the DaVinci Code, which had its own structure and logic which Zimmer worked with. Its really great.
    Anyhow, it speaks to the differences between all these fields. Hans Zimmer doesnt need to have structure of any kind in order to write a great film score. He and JNH, have never orchestrated a single thing in their lives. Zimmer leads his sort of composer collective in which he doesnt necessarily write even 60% of any given score. But then he gives credit to his collaborators and people get huffy about that being somehow artistically impure…I have a lot of respect for Zimmer – and actually compared to JNH I think hes Mozart.

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