Danny Elfman meets Ennio Morricone

Posted by · 12:37 pm · December 6th, 2009

Hans ZimmerThat’s what I’ve decided the Hans Zimmer score for “Sherlock Holmes” is.  I’ve been listening to it all weekend.  The themes present in that brief snippet we led off yesterday’s Oscar Talk are felt throughout in different ways, but mostly I keep getting a spaghetti western homage.  Specifically, the mandolin picking of Morricone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” score gets a bold tip of the hat, mixed with a jaunty rhythm that just puts a smile on your face.

I know when I brought this up last week a number of people thumbed their nose at Zimmer, and that’s fine.  I get the animosity to an extent.  But even with the homages, this is a pretty substantial, creative piece of work, in my book.  And I can’t be pegged as being in the tank for bombast because my favorite score of the year is probably still Mark Bradshaw’s subtle work on “Bright Star.”

I thought I’d offer up the first track on the “Holmes” score, a bit called “Discombobulate.”  Have a listen and tell us what you think:

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53 responses so far

  • 1 12-29-2009 at 11:34 pm

    Jim_gator said...

    I’m just an average moviegoer with some background in music. I came across this site because I was serching for any comments regarding the similarities with Zimmer’s score for “Sherlock Holmes” and Morricone’s score for “Once Upon a Time in the West”. While watching the movie last weekend, I immediately was stricken with the theme music used when Holmes was “afoot”. There appears to be more than a little borrowing from Morricone’s “Farewell to Cheyenne” and “The First Tavern”. I could only find sample plays from Amazon, but I think that there is enough to make a comparison…specially to “The First Tavern”.


  • 2 5-31-2010 at 7:18 pm

    Pamela Curry said...

    As an aspiring Director, I once lurked at a wanna be composer’s group. Some of these replies remind me of those.

    I’ve just watched, er, listened to Sherlock Holmes about 20 times. The music and music editing was very appropriate for that particular film. The point, irregardless of how good or bad the work by Zimmerman is in musical terms, what matters to the film is how it works there.
    In fact no one element should be greater than the whole, particularly in film.

  • 3 12-15-2010 at 4:56 pm

    Dame Edna said...

    With Zimmer, there’s a perceived lack of integrity among many, as well as a perceived damage done to the art of film composing, to anyone who’s paying close attention. Zimmer’s style is “de facto” because he multiplies his resources by using many apprentices, and thus saturates the market with “his” scores. Usually you’ll find he has a relatively indirect inspirational hand in most these scores, if you read enough interviews with the studio. Composing the themes, and farming the work out to his apprentices, he can have a consistent voice and work on more films. The chosen style is one that seems tailor made for group work, being that it is simple and repetitive. A solo composer can’t compose that quickly, and even if they had apprentices working under them, they would get less even results if they wrote unique music. John Williams and Danny Elfman are relatively slow, since they are doing all their own composing, and write in uncommon styles. And when there has been additional music for these two, they credited in more than the secret cue sheets that nobody has access to. An example is Music by William Ross, Themes by John Williams. Or Music by Danny Elfman, Shirley Walker “Charge of the Berserkers”

    To contrast Zimmer, no former famous film composer was ever able to be so prolific in their number of credits, because they did not use so many other composers so frequently. So, it’s de facto by design. It’s standardized. Some call it revolutionary. I call it a coup. What happens is everything is so standardized that difference seems wrong to the layman. Test audiences are not challenged in anyway, and studios get the music with fastest possible turnaround and most predictability. It’s purely economic, and not one bit artistic, much like the trend of name directors being robbed of their formerly established final cut privileges. Creative rights matter. Composers need a union like Writers, Directors, Producers, etc.