Favourite sci-fi/fantasy composer?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by AntonyF, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Film
    Howard Shore
    John Williams
    Harry Gregson-Williams

    TV
    Bear McCreary
    Greg Edmonson
     
  2. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    Film
    John Williams
    Jerry Goldsmith

    Not very original choices, I'll grant, but I can listen to a Williams or Goldsmith score on CD from beginning to end without losing interest. Very few other film composers stack up.

    TV
    Barry Gray
    Ron Grainer
    Murray Gold
    Angelo Bandalamenti

    Barry Gray's scores for Gerry Anderson were always fun, memorable, and hummable. Ron Grainer wrote the two all-time best TV themes for Doctor Who and The Prisoner; if he never wrote anything else, that would have been enough. Murray Gold not only composed the two best-ever updates to the Grainer Doctor Who theme, he also has composed music for the series that IMO is on par with the best of Williams and Goldsmith. And Bandalamenti is here because of his terrifying score for Twin Peaks which is still capable of inducing nightmares.

    Alex
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    You might not like McCreary's scoring, but comparing his work to the sonic wallpaper that characterized the worst years of the Rick Berman era is just wrong. But it's obvious what you're really after is a more traditional swash-buckling space opera score as was found in the original series. And I can understand being underwhelmed by McCreary's work with those expectations.

    Still, you must at least enjoy "Prelude to War" and a few other select tracks, no?
     
  4. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm in the middle ground. I don't find his work dull or lifeless in the slightest, but it's far, far from being original or different. McCreary just knows who to steal from, and how to steal well, and his choices are distinct enough from the typical space opera bombast that they're altogether welcome.

    However, the best tracks I've heard by McCreary so far (working through the series) were tracks I honestly had to look up to make sure he was actually the one who wrote them. Which I guess is also a backhanded compliment on its own.

    There is an enormous difference between the bland nothing Berman espoused and the Glass-like minimalism McCreary has used. For instance, the latter calls attention to itself, which is the antihesis of Berman's 'wallpaper' strategy. I certainly would not consider the use of such music to be a tin ear - if anything, it's refreshingly attuned, if I may extend the analogy to an awful pun - but YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  5. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    Christopher Franke for B5.

    And just to *really* date myself, Robert Cobert for the original Dark Shadows.

    Jan
     
  6. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah. Thinking movies, I completely forgot TV. Another vote for Franke here.
     
  7. QuasarVM

    QuasarVM Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Colbert was an excellent composer...so was Barry Gray (Space:1999)...

    But as great as many composers are -- including John Williams -- none have impressed me like Jerry Goldsmith.

    The man was phenomenal.
     
  8. darkwing_duck1

    darkwing_duck1 Vice Admiral

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    Like Berman-Trek, nBSG has 99.9% "drone" for a score. Nothing stands out, nothing makes you sit up and take notice. "Minimalist" doesn't really do Bear's music justice...it's just irrelevant noise.

    Like I said, the only tracks that I really enjoy are ones like the end of "Final Report" and the series finale where he adapts Phillips.

    They add NOTHING to the material. They're just drums and drone and "filler". Good film/tv scoring is supposed to support what the viewer is seeing, adding emotional depth and tone and Bear just doesn't cut it.

    There is an enormous difference between the bland nothing Berman espoused and the Glass-like minimalism McCreary has used. For instance, the latter calls attention to itself, which is the antihesis of Berman's 'wallpaper' strategy. I certainly would not consider the use of such music to be a tin ear - if anything, it's refreshingly attuned, if I may extend the analogy to an awful pun - but YMMV.[/QUOTE]

    Obviously it does. Not only do I find it flat and uninspiring, but, as stated above, it completely fails to accomplish the primary mission of tv/cinema music: to support the visuals and dialoge by adding emotional texture to the material.

    Put it this way: put up the nG theme and have a random person listen to it. Then put up Phillips. More people I would bet are going to recognize Phillips over nG because it has resonance and an appropriate tone and is memorable.
     
  9. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A lot of Bear McCreary's score can be described as minimalist. In fact, that's a pretty exact term for music such as that concluding "Pegasus" - it's a musical style, not an insult. Irrelevant noise, however, it's certainly not. Now, McCreary is actually fairly eclectic in his choice of musical styles, but for the sake of conveinence and in consideration of your arguments I'll address minimalism for the rest of this post (which is if nothing else a major constant in nuBSG's musical approach).

    Minimialist composition in film is, as Glass himself noted regarding Koyaanisqatsi, detached. It accompanies a work, but does not try to manipulate you into a certain emotional state. It's evocative rather than instructional. A whole 'nother approach, basically, but one that can be very stimulating. It's also nothing new, as there's been minimalist composition in film for decades (Mishima, another Glass work, is one of my favourite film scores ever.)

    Now I can understand why that isn't someone's cup of tea - minimalism is something I find people tend to either love or loathe, there's little middle ground - but it's far, far from failing a principle purpose of film music. McCreary's just following a tradition of music you don't care for, which is fine.

    So, what is the principal purpose of film music, if I had to define it? Rather blandly, to accompany a film. Preferably they should fit together rather well, and in BSG's case mission (largely) accomplished from what I've seen, though McCreary has mistepped occasionally.

    Hey, no argument there. Stu Phillips' original theme is very, very hummable. McCreary's... is simply, well, not. But each match their respective series and their tones expertly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  10. MeanJoePhaser

    MeanJoePhaser Admiral

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    Basil Poledouris and Ron Grainer, probably the only composers I'd listen to outside of watching a show or film.

    I find John Williams' most famous scores excessively irritating in large doses.

    MAD Magazine in the late 70's had some bit like "2.5, the average in miles travelled to avoid hearing the STAR WARS theme music."

    Alan Silvestri also did Predator's score, at least as mermorable as Back to the Future's.

    Randy Edelman deserves a nod for the overly reused music from Dragonheart and Brisco County Jr., plus MacGyver's classic theme music.
     
  11. darkwing_duck1

    darkwing_duck1 Vice Admiral

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    I think it's safe to say that I'm firmly in the latter camp...and that we'll just have to agree to disagree.:)
     
  12. QuasarVM

    QuasarVM Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't like understated scores. I like loud pompous and over the top full tilt bombastic orchestration for each and every scene!

    And even the slow scenes should be orchestral pieces that could almost stand alone...

    Yeah...!

    Sonic Wallpaper Sucks.
     
  13. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    Although a bit exaggerated, perhaps, Quasar makes a good point. I've been disappointed in many soundtracks where the music just becomes muzak. Lots of the early Doctor Who was like that, and many films have scores that are so dull it makes me wonder why they bother with a soundtrack.

    Now I personally don't demand constant bombasticness (bombasticity?) in my movie/TV music. But there have been plenty of examples of excellent film scores where even incidental music has character and evokes the mood of the film. Ignore Celine Dion for a second and James Horner's score for Titanic is wonderful to listen to (even if it gives deja vu to us Enya fans). Star Trek TMP has bombastic passages, but it also gave us Ilia's Theme, which is still one of the most lovely bits of "quiet" film music ever written. Leia's Theme from Star Wars is much the same. And Murray Gold's "Girl in the Fireplace" theme from Doctor Who is the TV equivalent.

    My favorite film and TV soundtracks are those you can listen to beginning to end over and over. Some of the early John Barry Bond soundtracks are like that. The soundtracks to the Prisoner definitely (though in that case much of the music was stock music). The new BSG has had some wonderful work, though I find McCreary's reimagining of All Along the Watchtower works better playing behind a scene than listened to standalone. And the 2 volumes of Twin Peaks soundtracks (vol 2 came out years after the first) are extremely successful in invoking the feeling of the original series. You don't even have to have ever seen the show.

    Alex
     
  14. QuasarVM

    QuasarVM Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    :lol: Yeah, I was exagerrating a little. You know, it really depends on the pacing of film...and the subject matter.

    Something like The English Patient doesn't really need a bombastic score for example...

    If you haven't heard the scores to The Wind and The Lion or Rudy then those are good examples of the kind of scores I like...soft when necessary and loud and upbeat at other times.
     
  15. The Comedian

    The Comedian Captain Captain

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    John Williams wins, obviously, for sheer magnitude.

    But Goldsmith, Horner, and Shore can hold thier heads up proudly.

    And McReary gets the prize for the composer to watch.
     
  16. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    I haven't read the whole thread, so can't be sure, but would be astonished if anyone has suggested this chap, even though his music defines Science Fiction for me:

    Paddy Kingsland: Composer for the second run of the radio Hitch Hiker's, and the TV version (and also seven early 1980s Doctor Whos). Alien (ie, monotonic synthesised) but also humable, and atmospheric.
     
  17. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have no idea what this "random person" you speak of would do, and honestly I don't care. What I do know is that I find the theme from the original series to be another example of a dull anthem-like tune, the kind I really don't care for. I disliked "Colonial Anthem" on the season 2 soundtrack, and I always skip it when I listen to it. IMO it sticks out as being too different in style, and not in good way, and mars an otherwise wonderful OST album. It was only a bit later that I learned that it was actually the theme from the original show (I was too little when I watched BSG TOS and it was too long ago to remember).

    Now, Bear McCreary's BSG soundtrack is something that both 1) works wonderfully within the show - in many cases it gave the poignancy and epic feeling to the scenes, as much as the acting or the writing did (sometimes a lot more than the writing did); but it also 2) works wonderfully on its own. I could listen to the BSG soundtrack album all day long.

    And, while I don't know about your "random person", a friend of mine who had never seen BSG heard me play a Youtube video with a BSG track - I think it was "Gina Escapes" - and asked me what it was, because she liked it a lot.

    And if you're going to make those kinds of comparisons, here's another one: a DJ in a club I sometimes go to (he mostly plays darkwave and EBM) likes to play the Main theme from the new BSG. I don't think he or any other DJ would want to play the theme from the original show (but who knows... just like you and your "random person", it is impossible to prove).


    BTW, besides BearMcCreary, I also enjoy the work of Angelo Badalamenti and Michael Giacchino.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    My girlfriend, who has never watched a single episode of either GALACTICA, is always intrigued by the eclectic selection of music on the soundtrack album for the new show. "That's an interesting album. What are you listening to?"

    She's usually amazed to be reminded that it's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!