Hans Zimmer’s music for “The Da Vinci Code”

June 6, 2006

Hans ZimmerMike Brennan has a smart and thorough review of his take on Hans Zimmer’s music to the Da Vinci Code. He compares motives in the movie to other scores. (Hell, we composers quote ourselves consciously and unconsciously all the time.) Brennan calls the music “tragically beautiful.” He admits at the end that he hasn’t yet seen the movie and as of today (June 6, 2006), he hasn’t updated his article.

“Cues” (little or long pieces of music that accompany a scene in a motion picture) are different creatures when listened to alone as opposed played with film and in my view whether a cue works as concert music or a cut on a CD is a secondary matter: the first importance is to serve the scene.

For decades composers have churned out millions of notes to accompany chase seens or war battles and such. These notes compete with shooting and horse hooves and explosions and screaming and — well, sometimes we composers wonder whether we might just be working too hard. Sustaining or texturally acitvating a chord is much easier than churning out streams of 32nd notes. Had I scored this film, I would have left you with a tune you would never forget. I came away with no tune in this picture. To me it was an effort of a tired or burned out composer. Zimmer is a talented composer and is at the level he could almost do “anything” and people would like it or at least go along with it. In “Da Vinci Code” we get miles and miles of block chords that float by one after another. The mood he sets is fine but it could have been so much better. The movie was pregnant for a dialog between the sacred and the profane, but instead we get warmed over Borodin and robbed of any great tunes.

Take a sabbatical Hans. Turn down a few movies, recharge your batteries. Write some music for voice and piano; no synthesizers. Then compose a string trio. Then a clarinet concerto. Then a piano sonata. THEN, go back to composing film music. See you in two years.

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