Smaak, stijl en (on)originaliteit

Afgelopen weekend heb ik de film The Judge weer eens terug gekeken. De filmmuziek van Thomas Newman is valt onder de categorie “beste scores waarvan ik de cd nog niet heb” en ik heb daar dan ook erg van genoten tijdens het kijken.

Tijdens mijn kwartiertje onderzoek vanmorgen kwam ik deze review tegen met daarin een interessante vraag rondom Newman’s stijl en gebrek en ontwikkeling en originaliteit (zelf-plagiaat zo u wilt). Hier maakt de schrijver de vergelijking met The Equalizer van Harry Gregson-Williams.

In my recent review of The Equalizer, I wrote: “before I listened to the score, and before I saw the film, I knew exactly what this score would sound like, based purely on the name of the director, the name of the composer, and the genre of the film, and I was right.” In the case of The Equalizer, this was a negative thing, because that score was written in a style I generally don’t care for. In the case of The Judge, I could say exactly the same thing. If you have heard any of Thomas Newman’s pleasant drama scores over the years – The Help, Saving Mr. Banks, going all the way back to things like The Horse Whisperer and even Whispers in the Dark – then you will know exactly what this score sounds like. Gentle, intimate string writing. Quirky struck and plucked percussion items. Appealingly warm orchestrations. It’s all really agreeable and charming, and anyone with an affinity for Newman’s style will find it much to their liking. But, having criticized Harry Gregson-Williams for his unoriginality, can I then turn around and praise Thomas Newman for writing music that is just as unoriginal, but which I find more to my taste?

Zijn conclusie aan het eind is dan ook als volgt:

Much of The Judge plays like a Thomas Newman Greatest Hits album, and although I find this music very enjoyable to listen to, to I have point it out as the album’s major drawback. If I’m not letting Harry Gregson-Williams get away with it for The Equalizer, I can’t let Thomas Newman get a free pass either.

De muzikale familie Gregson-Williams

In dit interview komt een leuke vraag voorbij waarin Harry Gregson-Williams iets prijsgeeft over de plaats van muziek in zijn jeugd en het ouderlijk gezin.

What was the first instrument you learned how to play and what would you say is your favorite instrument to write for, play?

I learned music since I was probably four. By the time I was seven I was shipped off to a boarding school, which was a specialist music school. So where some people would have an hour and a half of biology, an hour and a half of math, etc … my day was centered around music. Learning to read, to write, and sing music. I had all of the other lessons to get through high school, but they were very much secondary. So I could read music probably before I could read words at the age of 7.

My brothers and sisters all played musical instruments. My sister played the clarinet and I would play along with her. I played many instruments, but my main instrument was the piano – and I sang. Now it doesn’t really apply in a movie like The Equalizer where I didn’t use woodwinds at all, but on a movie like Shrek or countless other scores that I’ve done – often when I’m orchestrating a passage that may be sensitive, romantic, or has got some deep feeling in it- there will be a clarinet somewhere. And that probably goes back to my childhood and just making music with my brothers and sisters.

Nowadays I’m primarily a keyboard player. I have a lot of electronic equipment in my studio in order for me to make the demos that I make. Like all symphonic composers in the world I have a sampled orchestra. I have all the sounds at my fingertips.