With six decades in the game and hundreds of credits to his name, there are few film composers as revered as Ennio Morricone. And there are probably just as few suited to comment on the changing nature of film composition, and the use of music in film. And while I think there’s still plenty to get excited about in the changing landscape (check out On The Rise: 12 Film Composers To Watch to get an idea of the talents that will be paving the way in the future), Morricone has some pointed criticism about the current state of film and music affairs.
“The standard of composition for film has deteriorated. I have suffered a lot in watching many films because of that,” he told The Guardian. And he pointed toward filmmakers who are either afraid of being overshadowed by a strong score, or don’t know to employ it properly.
“There are some directors who actually fear the possible success of music. They fear that the audience or the critics will think the film has worked because there was a very good music score,” the composer said. He also added: “If you have a 20-second music piece, you cannot really express anything … It can just signal maybe a scene change … If you allow it to develop, the music can do its job in telling what is not said and showing what you cannot see.”
Morricone also blames “budgetary constraints” and sees the rise of electronically produced music in movies as indicative of cost-cutting affecting the musical outcome. “Electronic instruments flatten everything. Maybe you can do everything with [them], but the result is quite similar–a kind of standardized music,” he said. “The fact that people today tend to use too many electronic instruments or amateur composers is because they want to spend less money.”
These are real shots fired, and while Morricone perhaps has a point about that scores could perhaps be better utilized, he does a disservice to the next wave of talent by writing off their creative approaches in fiscally prudent times. But it’s definitely food for thought and should stir quite the conversation, so share your thoughts below.