Howard Shore versus John Williams

Discussion in 'Music' started by Juan L, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. Juan L

    Juan L Agent

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    O.K., I forgot what thread I read it in, but somebody had mentioned that ITO, Howard Shore was the new king of "modern" movie soundtracks. I myself am really big on John Williams and that comment caused me to go back and listen to some of his older stuff, namely "Star Wars", and discovered that it was even better than I remembered! While I do recognize Shore's recent achievement (the LOTR trilogy), let's not forget that Williams has done some really incredible work on that "other" trilogy. One of the main reasons for my love of John Willams is his longevity. IMHO, he is the equivalent of the Beatles! I'm curious to read what others may think. Maybe I'm the one that's gone over the edge!:b

    Thanks in advance,

    Juan
     
  2. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    He very well may be the next big thing, but the LOTR trilogy music is the only really notable music that he has written, AFAIK. Shore and Williams do have something in common; they didn't really hit it big until they were about twenty years into their profession. According to IMDB, Shore has been composed music for films since 1978, and Williams started scoring films in 1959, but didn't hit it big until Jaws in 1975 and Star Wars in 1977. So for now, Williams is definitely better than Shore.
     
  3. rinaldo

    rinaldo Auditioning

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    The fact,that Williams has composed music for movies for a longer time doesn´t make him better in the first place.I really admire both ,but I have to say, that Williams music is placed more into the foreground than Shores music usually is.Shore has composed brilliant music for "Silence of the Lambs", "The Game" or "Philadelphia",he has worked with brilliant directors like Fincher or Cronenberg as much as Williams did with Spielberg.The fact ,that You don´t think of Shores music in the first place after leaving the cinema is the special gift of a film composer, giving the movie a specific atmosphere and a musical structure ,You´ll remember less easily than other music maybe .But it´s not less brilliant therefore .Think back to the opening scene of "Silence of the Lambs" .Do You just see something or do You hear the music,too?? Well,I do.
     
  4. Juan L

    Juan L Agent

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    It's not just the quantity, but the quality as well.[​IMG] What really blows me away about Williams is his list of really good movie soundtracks:
    Jaws
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Superman
    Star Wars
    Empire Strikes Back (my personal fav)
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    E.T. (his last truly geat score IMO)
    Return of the Jedi (the beginning of the end)
    Shindler's List
    Jurasic Park
    Saving Private Ryan
    Catch Me if You Can (terribly underrated)
    Now don't get me wrong, the guy does have some snoozers (Patriot anyone?), but who doesn't know the themes to many of the above mentioned titles. That, IMO is the mark of true geatness, when you not only have the adoration of the hard core movie nut, but the critics and the general public as well.

    Juan
     
  5. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Juan, have you heard Williams's score to Hook? Some regard it as his best ever work, because it really displays his range.
     
  6. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I would personally give the edge to John Williams. One of my favorite soundtracks is Born On The Fourth Of July. It only contains about 25 minutes of score music, but is very haunting. It features a great trumpet player, Tim Morrison, who is also featured in JFK and Saving Private Ryan.
     
  7. Juan L

    Juan L Agent

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    Thomas,

    You know it's funny that you mention Hook, because I was watching that particular movie the other day and the first thing that jumped out at me was the score (go figure). I guess that I have developed a personal bias toward Hook, as I've read that Episode II has what is in effect the same soundtrack. But it appears that a full, personal investigation is in order.[​IMG]

    Marty,

    I can't believe I forgot to mention Born On The Fourth Of July! I saw that movie in a double feature with that Chuck Norris classic "Hero and the Terror". You're right, this soundtrack is soo haunting (in a good way).

    Juan
     
  8. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Yes, there is a bit of the love theme in Hook, but just a bit. I don't see that many parallels between the scores for Hook and AOTC.
     
  9. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    Shore, like Williams, has also borrowed off his past work. Listen to the music at the end of Dogma. I believe it is when "God" (aka Alanis Morrisette) appears. This music is the same exact theme underlying the Rivendell theme in FOTR right after Frodo awakens and goes exploring the 'dell.

    But I don't mind too much, it's a beautiful bit of music. In addition, Shore added some nice vocal arrangements over top of his borrowed music (played on strings) that made it much more layered and complex.

    Though Williams' work is more comprehensive and consistent, Shore's work on LOTR deserves a lot of credit. He performed a difficult task of creating music that simultaneously achieve two goals: 1) expressing the emotional spectrum of the narrative and 2)evoking cultural and historical perspectives of Middle Earth. He used different musical approaches (scale structures, chord progressions, time signatures, etc.) for each specific culture, as well as employing instruments characterist to each race. He developed numerous musical themes that interrelated as the story and characters interrelated. And he did all this while performing the main duty of a movie soundtrack: conveying the emotional drama of the story.

    Did anyone else notice how the Gondor theme in ROTK was first forshadowed two years earlier when Boromir made his speech at the Council of Elrond? That's planning ahead! Shore played around with his themes quite a bit, orchestrating them with different instruments and different arrangements depending on the cinematic context. And the fact that he composed, orchestrated, conducted, and recorded over 10 hours of extremely complex music in three consequtive years of work on LOTR is a monumental achievement.

    But Williams' themes are more fun to hum, I'll give him that.
     
  10. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Kinda hard to compare a guy who was been writing iconic scores for 3 decades to a guy who only just got well known in the past few years. Course, sometimes it is breaks like this that make you well known and help you have a chance to be iconic.

    I do have to say that Shore did an amazing job. I'm not sure Williams would have done as well, considering how uneven he's been lately. (I thought his Harry Potter score was pretty mundane...)

    Jason
     
  11. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    Agreed. Shore's achievement with the LOTR rivals Williams' work in the original trilogy, or pretty much any other 3 movies Williams has scored. But JW has an near-incomparable body of work in film music, rivaled only by Korngold, IMO. Shore is going to have to consistently deliver high-quality music for an extended period to be mentioned with the likes of JW, Korngold, Hermann, Rosza, etc. But, damn, the LOTR music is the best score in decades!
     
  12. Juan L

    Juan L Agent

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    Jason,

    I also agree with you as far as the LOTR trilogy is concerned. Shore's work is great (I have The Two Towers playing right now). My question is in response to a thread that I had read somewhere (damned if I can remember where) where many were calling Howard Shore the new king of modern composers (or something like that). Which made me wonder if had been missing out on any of his work prior to the LOTR trilogy. My movie watching tastes do tend to lean toward the fantasy/sci-fi/action genre, which leaves a lot to be desired as far as character development and musical scores are concerned. This, IMO, is what makes Williams' and Shore's work are all the more remarkable. They have transcended their respective genres. FWIW, Shore's work in the LOTR trilogy, is the only other movie music (other than Williams) that has made the very hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention! I was just curious to find out if his complete body of work had indeed come to rival that of Williams', with the LOTR trilogy being the cherry on top.

    Juan

    BTW, hey Jan, good to see someone from out here in the (909).[​IMG]
     
  13. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Well, you can check my profile pic to see which film composer I prefer. [​IMG] But I don't want to suggest that I'm not a fan of Howard Shore's work for the LOTR movies. I think Two Towers is my favorite score out of the three. It's simply magnificant. However, and I may get pounced for this, I dare say that if it was wasn't for Williams and in particular his stellar work on Duel of the Fates, the use of choral music in film scores might not have been so prevalent recently, especially in LOTR. I think with Duel of the Fates Williams really opened up a lot of people's minds about choral music(including mine!).

    Star Wars scores aside, Williams' body of work is amazing. He is a veritable fountain of musical creativity. Just when you think you can pigeon-hole him into a usual style, Williams will produce a sensative and beautifully haunting score for A.I. Or for that matter The Patriot..


    Oh I'd hardly consider it a snoozer. I think it's a very beautiful and touching score. His use of the violin is wonderful.

    Williams has scored movies that most people have forgotten but his music remains timeless regardless of how well-known it may be. One particular piece I listen to a lot is a track called The Days Between from his score for the movie Stepmom. Simply beautiful.

    Hook is very much a John Williams classic score. Don't let the subject matter or the movie make you think otherwise. As a matter of fact I picked up the Hook soundtrack after I had read people gushing about it having not seen the movie for a long time. I totally fell in love with the score and as a result I picked up the movie and it's one of my favorites.

    What else...I could go on and on and on, Close Encounters, E.T., the Indy trilogy, Jaws 2 now that's another underrated Williams score I like, Superman, his beautiful piece Across the Stars for Episode 2, the list goes on...

    Howard Shore has created some wonderful music for the LOTR movies but Williams simply has a huge catalog of film scores, most of which are permanently ingrained in our psyches. After meeting the man back in 2000 I remarked to my gf at the time something along the lines of "he's a god!" because to me he is. The God of Film Scores. My biggest dream is to direct a movie and have Williams score it. [​IMG]
     
  14. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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    ..
     
  15. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Hey now, don't forget Hans Zimmer. He has an incredible range. He scored The Last Samurai and Something's Gotta Give, both of which were great, even though he didn't write much for SSG beyond the theme. Driving Miss Daisy and Pearl Harbor (even though he wasn't the only one that wrote music for it) contain some of his best non-action music.

    Also, Don Davis wrote absolutely amazing music for the Matrix trilogy. He also wrote a string quartet piece for the Hollywood String Quartet (Quartet No. 2, "Wandering"). Here's what Daniel Cariaga of the Los Angeles Times had to say about it:

    "There is nothing tentative or haphazard in Davis' 'Wandering,' but there are haunting qualities of yearning and melancholy through its three continuous movements. The composer, orchestrator for James Horner and Randy Newman, calls this, his second string quartet, an 'essay in introspection.' It is highly compelling."
     
  16. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    There are a lot of great composers doing Film Scores. Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, John Williams, Don Davis, James Horner, etc. They all have their ups and downs. Horner seems to be stuck in his Williams phase where everything sounds alike. Currently, I probably prefer Zimmer over the others, but who will I like in 5 years? That I don't know.
     
  17. ChrisC

    ChrisC Extra

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    I have to say I'm biased toward John Williams, I really enjoy his style. Ever now and then you can tell his inspiration for some of his music. Listen to the first 60 seconds of Mahler's 3rd symphony, it definately reminds me of the music in the last scene of Star Wars Episode IV, where Luke, Han and company are receiving their medals.
     
  18. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I would actually compare Williams to Goldsmith[I can't believe noone mentioned his name]especially for his range and that he's still around and compose. oh and it's spelled "Rozsa",I've seen his name misspelled on many publications,I wonder why.
     
  19. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I think Williams' score for AI is possibly his best work, and it didn't even get a mention in Juan's arms-length list of great & memorable scores. He has a pretty great track record.

    The first family of film composers is definitely the Newman's, though: Alfred, Lionel, Thomas, Randy

    Regards,
     
  20. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    I'm not sure Williams' use of choir in 'Duel of the Fates' is as influential as was hinted at. After all, 'Carmina Burana' has been pilfered from for years, and, often, by Williams himself.
     

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