I’m listening to a lot of scores right now – meaning I’m writing. They never lose their beauty, but the playlist – after three years of musing on the same list – does need to be refreshed. (That was an exaggeration.) So I went to my tried and true composers: Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman.
Note: I cannot for the life of me get TN’s “Home Movies” composition from Corrina, Corrina. And it’s making me homicidal.
Anyway. So, everyone knows that my obsession began with James Horner. (Everyone knows that.) When I was little, I used to watch The Land Before Time ceaselessly and couldn’t understand why that movie made me feel so strongly, unlike other kid movies. As I got a little older, scores from things like Legends of the Fall and Braveheart had the same effect. It just caught my heart in a vice grip. Finally, sometime before high school, I looked at the backs of these movies and found the commonality. (And then hounded my band director for four years until he finally ordered a James Horner piece, which I played until I passed out – which. was inevitable. 1st chair woodwind. James Horner. Right.)
So, tonight, as I was thinking of how strange it is that I don’t really listen to JHorner while I write, I decided to look some up.
They are the trio of geniuses, no one disputes this. (No one disputes this.) But this is kind of how it breaks down – and I wouldn’t even say this if I didn’t know that you all are committed and convicted admirers, as am I.
Hans Zimmer is lovely. And is also the Samuel L. Jackson of film scoring (a phrase which I hate and which, in my opinion, has this trifling connotation as though these pieces are just ditties of the pop culture machine, because ppl are idiots and don’t realize that the same thing that made ballet great is what makes films great — yeah, how do we recognize the genius of Tchaikovsky and not…right). ANYWAY. So HZ is Samuel L. And that’s cool. Sorta. He’ll score anything, which results in fun movements in unlikely films and then a smattering of unexpected beauty in films that don’t deserve it.
Thomas Newman is more discriminating, I think. I typically find him where the tone of the writing matches the deceptive simplicity of his work. Nothing could replace him in any of his films. (They are his films. He makes them.)
James Horner. I’ve restarted this sentence like seven times. How do you say. When only epic and equally heartbreaking will do. James Horner. It is also why I can’t write to his work. It takes over me, I can barely hold my neck straight. Some people call them chills, but it’s just a cooling sensation that starts somewhere in my chest, grows through my arms and up the back of my neck (this happens with the music of all three) and then with JH, it continues up through the surface of my skin. Le sigh. I can’t really explain it more clearly than that.