For my work, I’m often focused on continuous improvement — and the silver lining of broken processes means there’s always room for improvement. On the one hand have you ever met those people for whom 99.9999% just isn’t close enough to 100%?
Can more optimization be too much of a good thing?
But what if you are one of the many Americans who doesn’t pass their time with baseball at all? Well, he doesn’t stop there. His premise is that this mechanical optimization has penetrated all sorts of aspects of American culture, including mass media in terms of music and films. And for those of us indie creators, that’s certainly a trend to study.
In fact, if you want to get into music, I’ve been watching musician/producer Rick Beato’s YouTube channel for the past few weeks and goes into a music theory version of why music doesn’t sound as interesting (briefly touching on the risk-averse nature of music labels these days).
There was an online discussion of the upcoming ultra-HD release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and conversation, quite naturally, turned to the iconic score by composer Jerry Goldsmith. Now, Goldsmith loved “esoteric instruments” as this article points out — and for the noise of V’Ger, he came up with a bizarre 18-foot long stringed instrument that has a bass dynamic range that just feels otherworldly.
I couldn’t remember the name of the instrument, but Mr. Edwards, as both a lover and producer of film scores, knew it: The Blaster Beam.
Not only that. This singular instrument has been used recently for another score.
The whole article is a long and excellent read — and I tend to agree with Mark Evanier in that there doesn’t seem to be much for me to individually add about my own personal connections to Sondheim’s work.
However, one thing that has become evident to me with the outpouring of articles and anecdotes this past weekend is how many people have such specific connections to Sondheim and his work… as if each and every one had their own personal relationship with him.
We can talk about a central goal of art being to touch people — and for great artists being able to touch a lot of people, but for an artist to make such a singular impact to so many individuals with such specificity?
That’s an artist who has given the world gifts on a scale that cannot be understated.
Sondheim lived a long and enormous life, died old and accomplished and loved at ninety-entire-one years of age. His death should feel neither cruel nor unexpected. But it does. I am still living in the world that he built, and cannot imagine it without him. What a hideous thing it is to live in a world without Stephen Sondheim. What an enormous piece of luck it was to have been alive at the same time as him.
Finally, I’ll link to this video of frequent Sondheim collaborator Bernadette Peters singing one of his best-known songs that, once you’re watching the show it’s in, you realize contains multitudes.
Someone posted about Bobby McFerrin earlier this week (who many people still know best from his song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy“) and that made me think of this short video where he shows how humans naturally think in musical terms:
If you like the video above, it’s part of an overall talk that is just delightful in a geeky sort of way (which I’m biased towards anyway.
A significant factor on why I believe it should be ranked so highly is because of the episode-specific music composed by Sol Kaplan. Viewers may recall the original series re-used a lot of music cues as a cost-cutting technique. The fact that they don’t do so here underscores (pun intended) how a composer can really bring a story alive.
Composer Shem von Schroeck has an hour-long video that goes into the music and the episode in depth. The first 10 minutes are discussing and demonstrating some of the themes Kaplan uses. The next 50 are a special annotated version of the episode itself, highlighting which music is used when. It really gives you an appreciation for how much art and craft goes into composing for the screen.
I posted yesterday about Marvel movie music, which I found interesting since –while I’ve collected movie soundtracks since I’ve been little, I haven’t gotten around to getting any of the Marvel soundtracks. (Though I do remember the Avengers “fanfare.”)
One recent soundtrack that I have gotten, however, is Game of Thrones, composed by Ramin Djawadi.
So, I talked about comics and Captain Marvel specifically so far this week… and that got me thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and then I thought of “Every Frame a Painting’s” critique of Marvel’s movie music.
I know I’m not the only one who grew up collecting movie and TV soundtracks… and the opening themes of many works retain an almost Pavlovian response on me (and I’ve also tested this on my kids in the name of parent science: the Fraggle Rock theme still works).