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John Powell's Score (and John Williams' Han Solo Theme)

Discussion in 'Solo' started by srg, May 26, 2018.

  1. srg

    srg Force Sensitive

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    OK, time for some (spoiler!) thoughts on the score. Here are my impressions after one viewing and approximately 2 full listens to the soundtrack...

    I dig John Williams' theme for Han. It's quite minimalistic. It'll take some getting used to, but I can already tell it's good. I expected something more pronounced, but, after all, it's an "in-the-making" version of the character, so a rougher theme is quite fitting. Melodically, it reminds me of Poe's theme. The arrangement on the soundtrack ("The Adventures of Han") is great, some very cool sounds created with certain instrument combinations. The theme was used very well across the film, you can definitely feel its dominating presence.

    Moving on to the proper score by John Powell - I have to say that, I'm not entirely happy with it. The main reason is the general style. It's a much more modern-sounding score than we're used to. Most notably in the percussion department. It's very typical for contemporary film music. There's a percussion pattern filling the space virtually all the time and it sounds so... again - typical for today's music. Example: "Meeting Han" around 0:48 mark. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like constant beats like this. They got boring.

    It's pretty clear that these compositions were crafted using computer mock-ups, I feel like there's stuff that gives it away. I'm not saying it's a bad thing in itself, not at all. I just cherish the classical Star Wars sound of Williams' and Giacchino's work and I'm not fond of the departure in Solo. For example, the ending of "Flying with Chewie." This is not Star Wars music to me. I keep bringing this up, but I don't feel like Star Wars music has to be redefined to keep being fresh. There's so much you can do with the traditional vocabulary and using new stuff as addition, not basis.

    The Bulgarian ethnic choir used in reference to Enfys Nest (for example in "Marauders Arrive") is a perfect example of a new, fresh element that can work with the traditional sound seamlessly. It was a really good addition. I love the sound of these voices. Powerful melody and primal vibe, which corresponds with Enfys very well. Definitely one of the highlights of the score.

    "Lando's Closet" is actually a very nice love theme hidden under a goofy name. ;) I really like it.

    "Reminiscence Therapy" is a cool medley of old themes. Always nice to hear these. It was very effective in the movie, brought nostalgia where it absolutely fit.

    A couple of weird decisions when it comes to Empire in the music. First of all, there's a statement of ANH Vader's theme in the "Train Heist" track. Didn't notice it in the film, but I imagine it must have been there for the range troopers or the probe droids. Either way - quite random. It was used perfectly in Rogue One (bacta scene). Secondly, Powell used the Death Star theme (well, the Death Star "chord") on that star destroyer shot during the Kessel Run. Again, weird choice, since it's clearly a Death Star thing. You can extend the meaning of a theme, but at some point it becomes a stretch. I think even a brief statement of the Imperial March would be better in this case.

    I'll keep listening to the soundtrack, obviously. I will probably find more stuff to appreciate in it. It's definitely too early for final judgement. Huh, after I saw Rogue One for the first time, I felt totally underwhelmed by the music and now I consider that score a masterpiece... I also consider it far superior to the Solo score at this point.
     
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  2. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Jedi General

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    @srg Agree in principle with everything you've said. I need a couple viewings to let the whole score sink in....I usually use one viewing to purposely listen to the score and all its nuances.

    Did you catch how they turned the Imperial March into the background music for the recruiting video on the TV in the background?
     
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  3. DailyPlunge

    DailyPlunge Force Sensitive

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    I thought the music stood out more during the first viewing compared to Rogue One.
     
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  4. Messi

    Messi Force Sensitive

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    I really enjoyed the music theme of Enfys Nest and her gang.
    The choir is a direct link to Ennio Morricone's music. Specially the spaghetti westerns from the 60's. Also the shot of "confrontaion" of Nest gang x Beckett gang its a homage to the spaghetti westerns as well.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. BML87

    BML87 Rebel Trooper

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    Listening to it right now (after I a saw the movie last Wednesday). During the movie I have to say that the music was more prominent than the music of Michael Giacchino for Rogue One. Although I agree that the music of Giacchino was more in the style of Williams, of course when you think about it, the story of Rogue One took place just before A New Hope. Anyway, I own a lot of soundtracks by John Powell, I really like his work and the positive vibes it gives me when he opens up all registers during action scenes. The same goes for Solo, I really felt that the action scenes were amazing with his music. I agree it doens't sound like Willams, but it's a stunning score nevertheless. I'm going to finish my listining now and perharps return with a more detailled opinion.
     
    #5 BML87, May 26, 2018
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  6. Madmartigan

    Madmartigan Rebel Commander

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    Really loved the score. Love how use OT tones in important moments. John Williams notes increases always the magic of images. Insane.
    Surprised in train chase by the chorus. They give epicness in the best action scene on the film (and one of the best action of the last years).
    Hilarious duo in Dryden ship.
    I need to listen it with calm but the first reaction is a really good score that fits perfectly with what we see.
     
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  7. McDiarmid

    McDiarmid Force Sensitive

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    Solo music scrores are outstanding and taking in to account how it was utilized for giving the atmosephere to the particular scenes it is in my opinion the best Disney era Star Wars soundtrack so far .

    Its is one more thing that when you all compute in builds a picture of a film that has been made with care and love for Star Wars.

    Enfys Nest score is a love on a first sight( for me) .
     
    #7 McDiarmid, May 26, 2018
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  8. srg

    srg Force Sensitive

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    Yeah, sounded like the Imperial March in major key. But I might be wrong, because I couldn't hear it clearly enough. It was something like this, I think:



    I'm not a fan of the idea of using known themes as source music. It kind of breaks the fourth wall.

    Btw. it just occurred to me that we'll probably have to wait for some "unreleased" tracks (from a FYC album) longer than usual, because previous films premiered closer to the Oscars. Let's hope Powell will share something sooner. I guess the Maul cue is going to be a popular request.
     
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  9. Pawek_13

    Pawek_13 Jedi General

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    It definitely was the Imperial March in major key. It has been already used in Rebels during a parade for the Empire Day.
     
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  10. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Jedi General

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    Hey @tm0910196 need you in on this score discussion, based upon your knowledge and expertise
     
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  11. Jedi MD

    Jedi MD Force Sensitive

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    I will have to wait until I see the movie again to be able to comment on the score. Typically for me on first viewings, the music does not stand out to me. However, on repeat viewings it does tend to stand out more.
     
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  12. BML87

    BML87 Rebel Trooper

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    Nice catch! Do you think they used the same arrangement for Solo? I guess it should be mentioned in the credits, will check it when I’m going to watch it again.
     
  13. srg

    srg Force Sensitive

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    Score credits from John Powell's Facebook:

    [​IMG]

    But it doesn't seem to be full, because the Bulgarian ethnic choir (from Enfys Nest's theme) isn't mentioned. It was in the credits.

    As you can see, there are some composers credited with additional music. Personally, I prefer when one person does everything, I don't like when I can't be sure who's responsible for a given element in the score. ;)
     
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  14. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Jedi General

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    Hey @srg that's a nice list on the left.....but the PICTURE ON THE RIGHT!!!! Yeah baby!!!!! Wooo Hoooooo!!!!!!
     
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  15. tm0910196

    tm0910196 Guest

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    Such is the Zimmer Effect on film scoring, for good or for ill. Although, even Giacchino and Danny Elfman use additional composers. You just never hear about them. Hans + the Remote Control guys are really upfront with it.

    In my experience, though, the influence of additional composers, even on Hans Zimmer's scores, is most often overblown. I've come to realize it's usually the principal composer until proven not, and I don't worry about it anymore.
     
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  16. srg

    srg Force Sensitive

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    Sure about Giacchino? I've never heard about anybody associated with him. And if nobody heard about them, why assume there are some helpers? :p

    But you know what I mean, right? If, for example, I see all the tracks are officially labeled with Powell's name, I would expect them to be 100% Powell. I like the comfort of knowing who I am crediting for certain stuff. And when I see there are multiple composers involved and I don't know what was their exact input - then it feels iffy. I also find it impressive when the music is a brainchild of one person (same goes for writers/directors - I always like when there's one person behind it all). But that's a bit of a different issue.

    Yeah, Zimmer is like super notorious for this stuff. Credits on Pirates soundtracks are crazy. Some of my favourite tracks from Dead Man's Chest had some significant input from Zimmer minions and for the longest time I attributed all of it to him.
     
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  17. tm0910196

    tm0910196 Guest

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    Oh yeah, I get what you mean. And I'm not saying the additional composers do nothing. I am saying, a lot of the time, the core of a piece for a given scene is still the main composer. Typically, at least in Remote Control scores (like Solo!) the main composer starts the cues that additional guys end up finishing or adding onto later. A common misconception is that the composer writes the themes and then goes on vacation for cues where the additional guys' names are listed. And that's rarely correct. That's what my point was. :) I get being a bit disappointed when you learn that the main composer didn't necessarily handle some highlight himself. lol.

    And yeah, you're right about Dead Man's Chest. Geoff Zanelli did the Tia Dalma/Calypso theme from POTC 2 and 3, and also the Spanish mlitary theme from 4. He also did tons of arrangements throughout the franchise, especially for the first movie. There's a reason he became the composer for the latest film.

    As for Giacchino, never was hyperbole, wasn't it? I guess I meant, the common misconception is that Giacchino does everything himself, like Williams, and that's not totally true. One guy who helps him a lot is Chris Tilton.
     
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  18. srg

    srg Force Sensitive

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    Personally (and I'm speaking from a musician's perspective, so maybe I'm biased), I just don't get that mode of writing. I mean - I know it works, especially on the Hollywood scale, but I wouldn't feel comfortable in such a joint creative process. I can't imagine not wanting to be responsible for every single element of the music during the writing process. I also find it... less respectable when there's a ton of ghost composers who don't even get a clear credit. Yes, yes, the role of additional composers is usually relatively small and the primary composer probably deserves the credit when he gets it, but I pay attention to details and I feel like I deserve to know who's to blame for that little thing that I don't like. Or that little thing I love.

    By the way, sorry if I came across like I was arguing or something. I was just emphasising in my previous post. :p I know we're on the same page.
     
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  19. tm0910196

    tm0910196 Guest

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    No, no. I totally get it. And I agree. If I were a composer, I wouldn't want to use ghostwriters, and I wouldn't want to be a ghostwriter. Unless you specifically lay out what they worked on, it feels slightly dishonest to me.
     
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  20. Sargon

    Sargon Rebelscum

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    Is that even any different than popular music though? Because every top 40 song or album has tons of people responsible for the music that never get credit.

    The film industry works like this for the most part. I can only speak for the actual production, not post or pre, but I used to be in the Cinematographer's Guild, and I have very few actual credits, like on screen or print. Most of the crew doesn't get credit. A lot of them--in key roles, like camera operator and focus puller--will only work on a film for a few days or weeks, and there is no record of their involvement beyond the production company's payroll department and the call sheet, and they have an impact in how the finished film turns out.

    (Judging by the endless list of VFX credits it looks like VFX doesn't have this issue; but on the production side the actual crew list would be just as long as any Marvel/Disney VFX list)
     
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