Film Composers: Raiders of the Lost Art?

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Harrison Ford as Indiana JonesFilm scores and classical music. The question is, can the former also be considered the latter. Sort of depends on your definition of “classical music,” doesn’t it? Fully notated music for an orchestra requires the composer to have basic techniques of what I think everyone would comfortably term classical music – things like voice-leading, orchestration, etc. But if that’s all that’s required to call it classical music, then all those Frank Sinatra records with Nelson Riddle would fit the bill. (Hmmm…. “It Was A Very Good Year”? I’ll go for that. But then what about sappy clunkers like “There Used To Be A Ballpark Here”?)

For the vast majority of Americans, the only time they actively listen to an orchestra is when John Williams is conducting it and the horns are drowning out the unearthly shrieks of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Purists may shudder (after all, that’s what purists do), but for those audiences, listening to that music later at home is a kind of classical music experience.

What do you think? If a film score is orchestral and grand, is it classical music? (Even if that means just bad classical music?) What if it’s electronic? Click here to leave a comment.