1. Didja accidentally blow through the whole, "We're using our real names" thing on registration? No problem, just send me (Mike) a Conversation message and I'll get you sorted, by which I mean hammered-into-obedient-line because I'm SO about having a lot of individuality-destroying, oppressive shit all over my forum.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. You're only as good as the harshest criticism you're willing to hear.
    Dismiss Notice

James Horner UCLA Guest Lecture (1992)

Discussion in 'On Horner' started by Chris Morphitis, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. I like how honest he is about the process and the reality of working with directors.
  2. Yeah, he was way more candid that I thought he would be. He rips into James Cameron in particular.

    It's also interesting to hear him lament on how hard it is to generate new ideas after studying a lot of classics and developing a "signature" sound.

    Great find.
  3. Definitely! I'm honestly glad people are willing to speak about directors candidly in the appropriate setting (it's not like he was declaring this in some sort of public statement). I think young minds are often deluded about the realities of working in Hollywood.

    It's also refreshing to hear someone who composes with such an unadulterated commitment to music -- Hollywood just happened to work well for him as well as provide him the chance to work with real orchestras. He's spot on about academia too, from the sounds of it.

    Re: Signature sound. I do imagine that's difficult as one tends to have a particular "sound" one gravitates to. But what I've also noticed is how many times I hear people say "I don't have time to listen to music, I just write it". Inevitably these people stagnate. I mean you can honestly delve deeply into a handful of classical works for your entire life, but the artistic side of me is repulsed by the idea of not continually trying to explore new music (at least, new to me).
    George Streicher likes this.
  4. I have such mixed feelings about the guy. He is complicated.

    One hand... he was born into the theater and obviously is a master musical storyteller and very smart guy.

    On the other hand, the amount of blatant plagiarism, and then being a pompous douche bag trying to hide the obvious makes him
    hard to be taken seriously.

    The "Brian Tyler" of the 80's if you will.

    That said.....thanks for posting. It was great to watch the video
  5. The "pompous douche" I have heard about while working with session players. What plagiarism? I'm curious.

    You forgot "The BT of the 80s with composing chops"
  6. Oh. You are in for a big surprise.
  7. You need to get Mike's James Horner class quickly!
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  8. #9 Rohann van Rensburg, Feb 10, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
    Haha I quite like his musical storytelling so I think I will. He did bring up an interesting idea about self-plagiarization in that lecture.
    (Edit: Oh man, he sure did like Prokofiev. Probably a good illustration as to why it's good to transcribe a wide variety of composers)
  9. I am just a hobbyist regarding composing, probably more a customer than a composer. So I am always willing to learn more about composing and composers and about their work. A couple of years ago (2013) James Horner received the Max Steiner Award in Vienna (Austria) and I had the pleasure to see him live on stage and also had the opportunity to watch him in the crowd (by chance, I am not a stalking guy ;)). He was such a overmodest person that I can hardly believe that he was a
    Quite contrary to Alexandre Desplate which received the same award three years later (2016). He appeared to be affected and arrogant. Apart from that I love either compositions!
    I do not want to pick a quarrel, I just wonder what you mean writing
    Any concrete examples would be appreciated! I am very much interested in any examples. My interest applies to differ between inspiration and a plagiarism.

    p.s.: sorry for my bad English, it is not my mother tongue
  10. Sure.....I mean....where to begin. Look, I like Horner overall. It's sort of like thinking Led Zepellin never ripped off songs.

    You can make a case he (like Zepellin) improved them. But the thing with Horner was he put so much energy in denying, and trying to hide.....what was obvious.




    Perhaps this author sums up my feeling the best:

    But, as is always the case with Horner, there’s an elephant in the room, and that’s the classical music references.

    Throughout his life, James Horner was dogged with accusations that he regularly plagiarized classical scores, and self-plagiarized his own prior compositions for other movies. Entire articles have been written about this – whether he did it or not, why he did it, whether it was justified or not – but the bottom line is this: Willow does indeed reference both his own prior scores, and several classical pieces. Anyone with a functioning set of ears can spot these references a mile away. They are completely clear and obvious. Willow’s theme is a slightly-altered version of the first movement from Robert Schumann’s 1850 Rhenish Symphony No.3. Elora Danan’s theme contains an almost unaltered reworking of an old Bulgarian folk song, “Mir Stanke Le,” also known as the “Harvest Song from Thrace”. Some of the Nelwyn ‘travelling music’ is clearly inspired by Edvard Grieg’s “Arabian Dance” from Peer Gynt. Some of the choral writing is similarly inspired by the third movement of Bela Bartók’s Cantata Profana, also known as “The Nine Splendid Stags”. At the end of the day, in order to appreciate Horner’s music, you simply have to acknowledge that this was something that he did, and move past it. No music exists in a bubble, and every piece of music written is a culmination of its composer’s prior experiences and influences. I came to terms with this element of Horner’s musical style long ago, and I am now content to simply enjoy and experience the music as it is presented to me.

    quoted from https://moviemusicuk.us/2018/05/24/willow-james-horner/
    Martin Eder likes this.
  11. Re: Pompous douche -- I think this was in reference to how poorly he treated members of his orchestras at times.

    And regarding plagiarism, he really did very little to hide references to classical pieces. Some are phrases ripped straight out of i.e. Prokofiev (frequently, it seems). The problem with this is that one can transcribe and learn something, forget where one learned it and then write what you think is reasonably original, and it turns out it's not. I hope I never end up doing that, because I could see it being an easy problem.
    That said, the fact that this happened with a number of phrases or melodies does nothing to discredit his ability to tell a story with music.
    Martin Eder likes this.

  12. I have to say I do regret saying this. First, I like to think we all have shortcomings, and the positive is what is remembered after we are gone.

    Second, I am sure he was loved by many, and he was simply in a very competitive industry. Stress and emotions all make us ....well ...hard to be around.

    Finally, not the first or last bold creative type who was difficult to work with.

    Upon reflection, I was out of line to say this. My mistake.

    I don't remember the exact details, but there was a pretty well-known story that had a lot of people calling him
    James "Please Don't Call Me Jamie" Horner

    Perhaps someone here knows the exact details, as I can only vaguely recall.
    George Streicher likes this.
  13. Maybe Horner was just like one of us, but a bit more clever and resourceful? I wouldn't call him a douce bag, as I actually respect the way he was both learning and scoring Hollywood movies at the same time. Pretty clever if you ask me!

    Composers through the years have taken others themes and ideas and utilized them in their own work. Many composers borrowed folk music and made it their own (Tchaikovsky (quartet 2nd mv), Stravinsky (FIrebird Dance of the Maidens), Mussorgsky (Great Gates of Kiev)). Yeah, maybe Horner borrowed entire chunks of orchestration a bit more, but hey, can you think of a better way to learn orchestration? I'd like to try doing this myself. But Horner took it further and added his own permutations and got paid while he was doing it. I challenge anyone here to pull that off!

    George Streicher likes this.
  14. Yes, that's back-breaking. There's no denying. Thank you for opening my ears on this, Doug.
    But I still love his music ;)
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  15. Horner - in my opinion - was a "Superstar - Storyteller". What I don't hear a lot of people talk about is his Dad, who won two Oscars.
    He grew up around story-telling. Sort of "born to do it". I can't help but think all those years being on set and just the conversations he must have had with his Dad, made him 'IT".

    Horner had his finger on the pulse of the audience. No doubt about it. And he took many risks. So he definitely should be remembered as one of the greats.

    The thing that really made him notorious, and the reason for my douche-bag comment, was not that he took other people's music.
    It was a combination of him doing that, and then really being cut-throat and gossipy of just about every other composer, and being a drama queen to work with.

    Troy is the most famous example, but he went after people like Goldsmith too.
    As I alluded to, there is a famous story of his tantrum during a recording session that labeled him James "Please Don't Call Me Jamie" Horner.

    As an analogy, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Led Zepellin. But Jimmy Page is a tough one for me, and even more extreme than Horner.
    Same thing: Took others music, denied it many times, then was .......just a tough dude to respect how he treated a lot of other people.

    I don't think any of that (Horner or Zep, or the long list of unsavory behaviors of a lot of famous composers) should detract from our appreciation of their music.

    But again, I do regret and would like to retract the douche-bag comment.

  16. As you should!
  17. Yes, I agree (and I love Zeppling too). However, I think our obsession over who borrowed from whom, has become unhealthly along with our extensive laws protecting copyright for the life of the composer + 70 years or more. This makes not only borrowing from composers but simply studying their works difficult. And obsession over ownership of 4-note riffs or "groove" is really a crippling turn. We are quickly becoming a society that encourages consumption and doesn't encourage creativity. Call me paranoid. For example, try to find me an example of the original version of Tchaikovsky's Overture in F (1864 version). The last recorded version (on vinyl) used to exist on YT, but no longer does because some jackass gave it a copyright strike. 156 years old, and yet no student can hear a performance of it due to our vigilant copyright laws. And no, you can't buy the record (or ten karma points if you can tell me where).

  18. Totally agree. Twice in my life ( I have no idea why they decided to ask me) I have been approached by law firms asking me to be an expert witness over a copyright lawsuit.

    Both times I declined.

    Not easy to do when no one would blink an eye over a $500 per hour invoice.

    It's another large topic. I did get a peek into the ins and outs of how it works in court.
    The TLDR summary would be a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (The sample list of questions I might get asked if called to testify under cross-examination were pretty funny.)

    In regards to where you could get the record (Hey I need all the karma points I can get) you could probably get it from this guy.

  19. A true man of virtuous principles! You definitely win some karma points for that.

    The older I get, the less I feel I know. Because now, I know there is so much more to learn! (When I was 19, I was an expert and didn't hesitate to take all the commercial jobs I could get. I would've testified!)

    I have the recording , but I would buy the CD if it were available. I threw out my record player years ago.

Share This Page