Howard Shore, Reminiscent of Gustav Holst?

Discussion in '"The Fellowship of the Ring"' started by Hirila, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. Hirila

    Hirila 2009 - life is great

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    Guys, I need your help.
    I'm having this discussion with a friend, whether Howard Shore wrote all his music alone or whether he took a certain piece as inspiration.

    As many of you may know, When John Williams scored Star Wars, he took the music of composer Gustav Holst and fit it into his work.
    The piece is called "Die Planeten" or "The Planets". Williams used the first part, called "Mars".

    When watching the films of LotR (all three of them) I thought I heard in the music a likeness to another pieces of that, called "Jupiter".

    Unfortunately I have neither the soundtrack to the films nor the original Holst series with me.

    If anyone of you does, is interested in music, and has a good hearing for music and melodies...
    Please listen to the music and tell me, if you think my theory is right or wrong.

    As for the film parts where to look for the Holst-theme, I memory might deceive me in this, but listen to the Saruman-theme, you know, the scene where they show that hole in the ground in front of Orthanc.

    Thank you so much.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2004
  2. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

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    I am no musician, but I am fairly familiar with Holst's The Planets and I enjoy Shore's soundtracks to the LOTR films. I do not ever remember being struck by any similarity between the two. I will listen to the parts you mention (I have CDs of both) to see if anything strikes me. In the meantime I would suggest a change in your thread title. I believe you can do this through an edit. Being inspired by another work while creating one of your own is not the same as "copying" the original. Many artists are inspired by other artists work, that does not mean that their own work is not original. Characterizing such inspiration as "copying" is highly inflammatory.
     
  3. Hirila

    Hirila 2009 - life is great

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    I hope you can forgive me when I let the title stand as it is.

    Just being inspired might lead to something that doesn't sound like the "original". In the case of Williams, it is very easy to hear the likeness, and it is official he was inspired by the work and "copied" it, though of course he changed it a bit. But still it is there.
    I have the feeling Shore might have done the same.
     

  4. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    I know something about music, having been a performing musician all my life, and having a formal education in it. I'm familiar with The Planets, and with the melodies in the Jupiter movement, and nothing in Shore's music reminded me of anyone in particular except perhaps Wagner in certain spots, and that was deliberate, Shore even said so. Other film composers — John Williams to name one, definitely cribbed from the orchestral "special effects" of other composers such as Holst, Stravinsky and Prokofiev.

    Shore has written in many styles for many films and always seems to be his own man as it were. But I would say that almost all film composers have, at one time in their training, studied the 19th-century orchestral masters to find out how to handle the orchestra.

    The books they most likely studied were Rimsky-Korsakov's book on orchestration, and the Berlioz/Strauss book, as well as the score to The Planets (and the scores of all the Russian orchestral masters), which is the basis of inspiration for a good many film scores. In fact, were it not for the Russian Romantic masters and some of the early modern English composers (Holst, Britten, Vaughan Williams), I daresay that today's film scoring simply wouldn't be what it is.

    Lotho
     
  5. Hirila

    Hirila 2009 - life is great

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    Hmmm..... Seems like I was wrong.
     
  6. joxy

    joxy Registered User

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    That's not possible. You cannot do it through an edit or any other way. I tried with one of mine and the webmaster confirmed
    it is not possible. The only way I found was to have it deleted by the webmaster, which is possible, and start again.
    "highly inflammatory"? What words, even stronger than those, have you saved up to use when something is REALLY bad?!
     
  7. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

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    Accusing a composer (or an author) of copying another's work (as opposed to being inspired by it) is akin to an accusation of plagiarism. I cannot think of a more serious charge to make against an artist (in regard to their professional output). Even saying that a person's work is bad (in terms of quality) doesn't come close. It is a highly inflammatory accusation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2004
  8. Gothmog

    Gothmog Lord of Balrogs Staff Member

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    In point of fact it is quite easy to change the title of a thread. You just ask a Mod to do it for you. :)
     
  9. Hirila

    Hirila 2009 - life is great

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    Why do I have the feeling I am the cause of that silly discussion?
    Okay, I just used the word "copying" because it described best what I thought had happened. "Inspired, " I felt, wasn't strong enough.
    So sorry if my lack of knowledge of the English language has caused any offense.
     
  10. Gothmog

    Gothmog Lord of Balrogs Staff Member

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    Please read the actual title that Hirila put to this thread.
    You will note that it is a Question not an Accusation.
     
  11. Greenwood

    Greenwood The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil

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    Hirila,

    Don't worry about it. Your response made it clear to me that you were not being intentionally provocative. My post to you was just to point out that your wording could be taken as accusatory.

    joxy is another issue. ;)
     
  12. Rangerdave

    Rangerdave He's Back!

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    You guys are right, the title of the thread can be considered accusitory.

    Therefore I have taken liberty to make a small, but possibly usefull change. I hope this does not offend.



    Thank you

    RD
     
  13. joxy

    joxy Registered User

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    :) Copying note for note would obviously be beyond the pale.
    In some contexts, with the implication "copying the style of", the idea could approach a compliment. There seems to me to be a fair amount of "copying the style of" Wagner in these films. Also the Shire theme shares notes with a hymn tune: coincidence probably, but possibly a copy -which, imho, would be no big deal, no great criticism of HS. Composers "borrow" themes all the time; do they always acknowledge them - if the original or his estate is still in action, of course - and does it matter?
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2004
  14. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    I would be interested to know — as one musician to another — exactly what technical elements there are in Shore's score that you term "Wagnerian."

    Lotho
     
  15. joxy

    joxy Registered User

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    I didn't "term" any "technical elements" of anything, so the question is redundant. I may have a little of the musician about me,
    but nowhere near enough of one, to be familiar with more than the simplest of those elements.
    When I'm watching the films and the heavenly choirs burst into sound, I'm transported at once to Bayreuth. As a great composer once said - was it Rossini? - Wagner has some great moments, and some awful quarters of an hour. I haven't decided yet which
    of those two aspects of the "style of Wagner" - the words I actually used - Mr Shore's efforts remind me of.
    Does "leitmotif" count as a technical element? If it does, Shore, like countless others, follows Wagner, and uses it effectively.
     
  16. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    Hi Hirila,

    I think I can speak to this. I was a performing musician, and my formal education is in music (although I'm sure that we have music lovers here with an equally deep and valid knowledge).

    There are some scores and some composers who are the direct ancestors of today's film scores, Gustav Holst probably being one of the most influential — many argue that is the most influential. His score of The Planets contains devices of orchestration that I'd say virtually every modern film composer has used in one way or another, especially sci-fi pix. Earlier composers who have influenced film scoring are Berlioz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Richard Strauss and Wagner. All these men contributed to the development and the sophistication of the modern symphony orchestra (and by that the film studio orchestra), orchestration and orchestral effects. In fact RK wrote a book on orchestration that is still used today, and there's a book on orchestration written by Berlioz that was expanded by Richard Strauss, and that is still in use today.

    As to Shore: he is a musical chameleon, as is John Williams — this is a necessary skill — (in a good way!) that of being able to write in any style at all (if you've seen movies he's scored, you know what I mean), but the LOTR score shows him in his original voice, and deliberately choosing to write in a style that is at once both 19th-century and Wagnerian, but using dissonance and very modern orchestral effects (a la Ligeti — if you ever watched the film "2001" you've heard Legeti's music used with great effect) with seamless ease.

    The "Saruman/Orc" theme you referred to is written in 5/4 time, that is, it has 5 beats to the measure, and gives a unique rhythmic structure to any music that is unmistakable. That's the meter that Holst used in the "Mars" movement in "The Planets." (Perhaps that's why the one reminded you of the other.) It isn't used very often because the musical interest is hard to sustain because it "limps!" In fact the only other piece I can think of is a movement in 5/4 in one of Tchaikovsky's symphonies.

    It isn't often I get to talk music any more; I hope this discussion will continue!

    (Cyrillus — I just discovered your fascinatingly instructive post after writing my own. I hope we'll get to do some music discussion!:) I also was a music publisher, which included music engraving.)

    Barley
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2004
  17. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    See you Monday!:D

    Barley
     
  18. Encaitare

    Encaitare Registered User

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    Interesting conversation! It seems there are a lot of musicians here; I'm planning to major in music performance and education in college.

    Barliman made a really good point about the 5/4 meter of the Orthanc music and "Mars." It just makes it sound so skewed, and automatically builds up tension because it doesn't sound all neat and balanced like you'd expect.

    As for "Jupiter," I'll listen to it and see if I can find any similarities.

    However, I have heard "the Planets" described as the sort of sound that all movie composers seek to achieve -- and it is. It's dramatic, intimidating, beautiful, and mysterious, invoking many emotions as you listen. You can almost see the armies rushing into war as you listen to "Mars," and little fairy-creatures floating about as you listen to "Neptune." Amazing stuff right there.
     
  19. Barliman Butterbur

    Barliman Butterbur Worthy Keeper/Bree Roué

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    And what will you do after college? And are you an instrumental or vocal major?

    The "Jupiter" movement is in a triple time (I believe, at least part of it — it's been quite a while since I heard it), not at all like the "Mars" movement.

    That's because he (all unknowingly and unintended) set the bar — with "The Planets" — for a great many of the orchestrational techniques that subsequently found their way into films.

    See if you can find the Leonard Bernstein recording. He does it con molto schmaltzando (that's the instruction in the score and parts of the chaser music of "Finian's Rainbow":D) if you like a schmaltzy version, but Sir Adrian Boult does the most definitive interpretation.

    Barley
     
  20. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I learned that the Fellowship theme, basically the Main Theme of TLOTR, may have been borrowed from the end of the first movement of Sibelius 3rd Symphony, but other than that I don't know.
     

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