There was a
nineteenth century composer named Anton Bruckner who was, to my
mind, one of the worst composers who ever lived, yet is revered by
some as a late romantic master.
vastly grandiose, his works are a tempest in a teapot, all
If you are forced
to listen to a Bruckner symphony you'll be subjected to the
trumpets going "Ta Da Da Da Da Da" every ten seconds as
if the cavalry had finally come to save John Wayne.
It all sounds
like music, surely. But it never adds up to anything worthy of the
Thus Bruckner was
insecure, to say the least.
constantly joke about his revisions to his symphonies, in his own
time and now.
It is said that
when friends made criticisms of his work, however gentle, he would
brood and sulk, and then make the change that the friend
You think the
trumpets should play that tune more often? You think the last part
is too long? Okay, I changed it.
Given the fact
that Bruckner's music was so bad in the first place, it is only
possible to make it worse with changes offered by anyone.
work takes on a Frankenstein-like, stitched together motley quilt
quality with lurching, endless transitions and, as mentioned
above, the constant blaring of trumpets as if we were imprisoned
in a cheap Boris Karloff film.
I mention all
this because, as a person who watches countless films, it suddenly
occurred to me what bothers me about film music, with very, very
few exceptions, is the same thing that bothers me about
All film music
and any commercial musical product, be it a Broadway musical or a
pop CD, is essentially created by committee. There may be one
composer, but everyone weighs in on what the music to the film or
show should be, from the producer, director, start and editor.
This dilution of
creative force makes the music into less than what it could be,
sort of like Velveeta, which is and isn't cheese.
And this is true
of pop music, where you can hear the composer trying to make
something that sounds "commercial," killing any originality
they had in the first place.
The film composer
has always been a willing slave of the director and producer, not
the creator of grandly original musical thought.
If you really
listen to almost all film music, with your eyes closed, it barely
sounds like music at all, but some tinny, treacly stream of
psychoacoustic musical babble designed to get the viewer feeling
the "proper" emotion.
My favorite films
are those that really don't use music much at all.
offended by clucking bassoons and comic music telling me that the
actor in front of me is being funny.
If that actor
were so darn funny, I wouldn't need your clucking bassoons.