Hollywood classic film soundtracks have always been the banner and monument of modern music. Generations of film scorers have injected the soul of music into each film work, making the film’s emotions richer and fuller, and making every moving picture imprinted in the hearts of the audience.
When it comes to Hollywood soundtrack masters, people first think of three soundtrack giants: John WIlliams, Hans Zimmer, and the protagonist James Horner. James Horner may not be a household name in China, but his works are well-known to the public: the theme songs of “The Years of Love”, “Titanic”, “Brave Heart”, “Avatar” and “Beautiful Mind” Or the soundtrack works, can be called classic works of music and pictures.
James Horner was born in August 1953, and his birthplace-Los Angeles, California, USA is the location of Hollywood. It seems that he has forged a special bond with Hollywood from the very beginning. When he was young, he had already begun to receive music training, and he learned piano at the age of 5-it can be said that Horner’s life-long connection with music began. At the age of 10, he came to the UK with his family to receive a strict classical music education, and then entered the Royal Conservatory of Music. Major in composition. It was during this period of residence in the United Kingdom that Horner was exposed to Irish music and was deeply touched by it, and he became indissoluble with it. From his later soundtrack, he can hear a strong Irish style. As he said: “I am a follower of Irish music. I love its melancholy atmosphere and eternal quality. I am different from other composers because I don’t see soundtrack as a job, but as an art.” It is this special musical charm and attitude towards film scoring that laid the foundation for Horner to become a world-class film scoring master.
Because of James Horner, Irish music has been spread all over the world, allowing more people to understand and fall in love with this genre. It can be said that Horner and Irish music are mutually successful. In the 1970s, the young Horner returned to the United States, first received a master’s degree at the University of Southern California, and then went on to further his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and obtained a doctorate in composition theory, and then stayed on to teach at the school. After an unsuccessful career in musical theatre creation, Horner decided to leave academia and come to the film industry to become one of the few academic film scorers in Hollywood. Most soundtracks in Hollywood are either halfway through, or they are interested, or they are forced to do so. Horner’s special academic music learning experience has brought a significant impact on his future film soundtrack creation.
James Horner in his youth
James Horner has slightly curly black hair and always smiles. He doesn’t look like a master. But just like this, Horner, who has no grandeur, became the winner of two Oscars for music, two Golden Globe music awards, and three five Grammy Awards, and he also became a master of film scores that swept the world in an era.
Horner made the soundtrack for the film “Lady in Red” in 1979 and has since started his film scoring career. In 1986, he composed the song “Somewhere” for the cartoon “American Rat Tan” produced and released by Universal Pictures. This movie tells the story of a little mouse named Pfeiffer and his family separated when immigrating to the United States. In order to find his family, he wandered around and encountered various difficulties, but he persevered, finally overcame obstacles and reunited with his family. “Somewhere” is what Pfeiffer sings when he misses each other with his sister at night. The tune is quiet and melancholy, which makes the listener feel pity for Pfeiffer’s loneliness, and at the same time feel the warmth and warmth of the family’s memory and miss. meaning. This soundtrack won Horner’s first Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
In 1989, a film describing the Civil War “Glorious Battle” became a milestone in Horner’s music history. Horner infused this historical film with delicate and beautiful warmth, and thus won his first Grammy. Trophy. In 1994, “The Years of Love” was released. The film tells the story of a father and three sons living in the vast grasslands of the western United States. The father was a military colonel who was tired of war and brought his family to live in the western mountainous area. However, the departure of his wife forced the father to raise three children by himself and grow up slowly, and the differences in the three children’s personalities gradually became apparent. : The boss is loyal and earnest in doing things; the second child is wild and unruly, yearning for freedom; the third child is an idealist. The boss brought back his fiancée Susanna after graduating from college. It was this fiancée who broke the peaceful life of the family…It can be said that the success of the film cannot be separated from the soundtrack of James Horner. For such a poetic and beautiful film, Horner gave the film the most expressive melody with his favorite Irish music, which is closely integrated with the theme and plot of the whole film, which is unforgettable. . In the first theme, Susanna and the boss return to the western prairies. A soft piano piece tells us about the legendary experience of the three brothers’ joys and sorrows; and when the large-scale symphony plays the main theme of the film, it highlights the western prairies of the United States. The magnificent, vast and long-distance temperament also highlights the deep and magnanimous father-son love and brotherhood between these men. The sincere emotions conveyed by the music can’t help but burst into tears. In this film describing an ordinary family in the United States in the 20th century, Horner’s soundtrack is always full of compassion. Even the soundtrack of the war scenes with rain of bullets and gunfire is full of affection, swaying a light of love for the ruthless years. . The main melody style of the film is changeable, from quiet and elegant, warm and emotional, to magnificent and turbulent, to generosity and passion, each melody is meticulously crafted, layered, and exciting.
James Horner’s film soundtracks always have a preference for Irish bagpipes. He combines traditional symphony with national music, making Irish national music the music of the world and attracting attention, which can be called a classic example in the history of soundtracks. In 1995, the epic Scottish war film “Brave Heart” produced by Paramount Pictures was released. The film tells the struggle between William Wallace, the leader of the 13th-century Scottish rebellion, and Britain. Horner used the sad and ethereal Irish bagpipe to blow the extraordinary life of the Scottish national hero William Wallace. The beginning of the story is a green hill. Horner wrote a short symphony in the academic style as the overture, which opened the whole story. When the sad and beautiful Irish bagpipes are played solo, it not only exaggerates the oppression and humiliation suffered by the Scottish people and Wallace’s tragic experience of losing his father, but also makes people feel a grand epic atmosphere. The theme of the film is love and heroes. The theme music that expresses love is faint and sad, and there is a yearning for freedom in it. It seems to tell us that no matter how bad the surrounding environment is, the flower of love still blooms. When the wide range and melodious Irish bagpipes and string music are played in ensemble, the theme of love is particularly sorrowful and lingering. And when the beloved girl is hurt, the people of Scotland who have been grieving for a long time fought against Britain under the leadership of Wallace. The brave Wallace became the hero of the people of Scotland. Just as the two armies confronted and the war was about to break out, the majestic hero theme song slowly played on the vast expanse of the battlefield…
The love of life and death under the disaster made the love of “Titanic” (1997) reverberate, and the theme The song “My Heart Is Eternal” has become a phenomenal work sweeping the world. Although this piece of music is only presented at the end of the film, the main melody of the song runs through the entire film with different forms of soundtrack, whether it is the melodious Irish bagpipe blowing, the lyrical singing of the Norwegian female singer Celine Dion, or even the Titan The symphony during the sinking of the Nickelodeon can be seen in “My Heart Eternal”. Its main theme is sad but not gloomy, and it sets off the romantic and solemn emotional tone of the film appropriately. Especially when the main melody of Jack and Ruth bid farewell to each other, it became an elegy for lost lives and an ode to eternal love. Horner used electronic tones in some soundtrack passages, and used an orchestra to tell the theme of the music, blending sorrow and romance with grandeur.
For a soundtrack creator who is good at romantic poetry, the musical depiction of action scenes may be a shortcoming, but Horner tried to use a large-scale symphony to set off the tense and frustrated action scenes in “Apollo 13” (1995). The effect is just right. This creative style continued in later films such as “Titanic” and “Perfect Storm”. In 2014, Horton provided the soundtrack for the Sino-French co-production film “Wolf Totem”. Set in China in the 1960s, the film tells how men and wolves respect each other and live in harmony on the endless grassland. Horner once again interprets a story of a different style with a tragic and magnificent tune.
James Horner’s special musical experience is destined to make his soundtracks unique and unique. He is good at combining modern tunes with traditional tunes, Eastern and Western music. This combination is of epoch-making significance. Therefore, Horner’s film soundtrack is internationalized, nationalized and diversified. He picks up the music elements of various nationalities in the world, and makes independent and delicate musical language interpretations of the theme of the film. The soundtrack is like the soul of the film. Although it cannot be seen with it, it is like a shadow, lingering in the minds of the audience for a long time. .
Horner used a rich variety of musical elements in the film’s soundtrack. As an academic musician, he uses symphony as the background color of the entire soundtrack, coupled with various instrumental music, styles and performance forms that fit the key of the film, presenting a magnificent, magnificent and poetic long atmosphere; in symphony A melodious solo whisper in unison, I don’t know how many movie characters’ legendary lives have been told.
Although many people mentioned that Horner always thinks of Irish genre, he has been constantly pursuing innovation and injecting fresh blood into film soundtracks. In order to match the development of the film’s plot, he will add novel musical elements, such as synthesizing some special sounds with an electronic synthesizer, thereby creating a unique sound effect atmosphere. At the same time, he also tried to use new technology and computer software to inject new vitality into his best traditional symphony and write a new chapter for the development of film soundtrack.
James Horner, the legendary and talented Hollywood soundtrack master, was killed in a private jet crash in June 2015 at the age of 61. He used humanistic epic works and magnificent and tactful music to show a broad mind and compassionate feelings. Horner’s work has become exquisite, but his glorious and glorious life will become an eternally bright star in the history of film soundtracks.