Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Man Of Steel Soundtrack - Sculptural Percussion - Hans Zimmer

Another insightful mini-doc about Hans Zimmer's much discussed score for MAN OF STEEL?  Yes.  I guess it is the eve of award-season.

This time the focus on Chas Smith's incredible sound-producing-sculptures, which Zimmer put to fairly stealthy use in his score.  Did you have any idea such unique instruments were employed?  I surely didn't.  Of course, this idea isn't new for Zimmer, as he utilized some of Diego Stocco's handiwork in SHERLOCK HOLMES to great musical-effect.  The employment of the "Experibass" and other creative wonders shine quite brightly in Sherlock Holmes, but Smith's instruments seem to have been invisibly infused or encoded into the DNA of Zimmer's score this time.

"It's just a sound, but it hits an emotional chord." -  Hans Zimmer

Can't argue that point, but I have to wonder if waves of deep, dark, atonal sounds are what one might use to accurately define Superman.  To be honest, I'm not sure where these instruments come in to play in the original score.  My best guess is that they are tucked away in those pieces representing Krypton or perhaps Zod and the unending, climactic battle.

While Zimmer's comments are surely intriguing on their own, director Zack Snyder's comments truly baffle.

"We tried to make the movie look like it was made by people...When you make a movie that is so visual-effects-heavy, there is a danger of the computer taking over the movie...and that's what we were trying to avoid.  And I think that, musically, it does the same thing." - Zack Snyder

I don't know, but the members of an orchestra are usually human.  Come to think of it, the sound of a traditional, symphonic orchestra is quite human, too.  Perhaps it's a little boring, but writing music, skillfully and passionately performed, has managed to convey human-emotions very well for centuries.

There's little doubting Chas Smith's craftsmanship here, but, as Hans Zimmer mentions, he samples these instruments and manipulates them for use in the final score.  In the end, I'm not sure how definable or recognizable Smith's contributions are.  By simply listening, I have, until now, been completely unaware of their use in the MAN OF STEEL score.  Oh the other-worldly-qualities certainly come through, but these are sounds that composers have been creating, by 100% synthetic means, for years now.  Why go to so much trouble where the net result is hardly discernible as something special...something out of the ordinary?

Other than showing us later just what lengths were taken to create such soundscapes, I'm not sure I understand the point.  Having Chas Smith, along with his amazing instruments, on stage to record in concert with the other instrumentalists would lend more credence to Snyder and Zimmer's approach of making Man of Steel feel like it was "made by humans."

So what do you think of Hans Zimmer's use of these instruments in the Man of Steel score?  Are you impressed?  Did you honestly discern their use as you listened to the score?  (Come honest).

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