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This month in the Monthly Showcase we are featuring the Land Before Time III.  Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in that topic.  Additionally, there is a new fanfiction prompt challenge for the months of April and May, please check out this topic for more information.

James Horner: Music Thief?

action9000

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Allow me to direct you to this forum:
http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/showthread.php?t=3951

A number of people are talking about the composition work of James Horner (the composer of The Land Before Time's original music).  An interesting comment was made by one of their members:

Quote
"His older material was less self referential and more plagiaristic of lesser known classical pieces like Prokofiev's 40th Anniversary Cantata (for Red Heat), Bartok's Wooden Prince (for The Land BEfore Time), Charles Ives' Unanswered Question (wolfen), Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (Star Trek 3), Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky (Enemies at the Gate), John Adams' Grand Pianola Music (Sneakers, Beautiful Mind, Bicentennial Man), Prokofiev's Ivan the Terrible (Glory), Schumann's 3rd Symphony (Willow), and sadly I could keep going on.....

It's sad because I think Horner is a skilled musician who just happens to be bereft of any original music ideas. He's a great dramatist though and scores like Braveheart, Rocketeer, Spitfire Grill, Field of Dreams, and such all reflect this. I just wish he wouldn't goshdarn rip so many other composers off....."


Where it states that "The Land Before Time" was, at least in part, a ripoff of Bela Bartok's "The Wooden Prince" is where I want to draw our attention to.  I have found some audio clips from "The Wooden Prince" to test this for myself.  They can be found Here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000001GG...v=glance&n=5174

Check out the demos of the various parts of "The Wooden Prince".  The only two I see that could potentially be argued as similar to the LBT score have to be the intro and the First Dance (tracks 4 and 5), at least according to my ears.  Perhaps if I were listen to the entire piece of music (as opposed to the 60 second clips), my mind would change, but I was unsuccessful at finding even MIDI files of the entire piece.

Track 4 mainly reminds me of "The Great Migration" (the opening theme)
Track 5 mainly reminds me of what I shall call Ducky's theme (the musical theme that plays when Ducky is first seen hatching).

These ties are rather vague, however.

It looks to me like there may be a hint of truth to the arguement that Horner plagerizes classical composers, but I sincerely believe that the music fans on that forum are reading between the lines just a bit too much.  With the amount of music available in the world, it is very possible to accidently "plagerize" an existing work without even knowing.   Their arguements on the forum show a large number of examples where Horner has done something similar.  I refuse to say that he plagarized any work, however small amounts of borrowing very likely took place.  Where does one draw the line between borrowing and plagarizing?  

Any thoughts?


Malte279

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Quote
These ties are rather vague, however.
Almost completely imperceptible as far as I'm concerned.
I don't have any reason to defend Horner if indeed he did plagiarize (as I don't know him personally and it wouldn't demote LBT in my opinion even if it did turn out that he copied music elsewhere). However, those clips I heard sound very different to me one would need something more similar to that to found an accusation such as plagiarism on.
Where to draw the line between "being inspired by" and "plagiarizing from"? Not too easy to answer, but with the huge amount of music that has been writen already I think that one or two identical tacts (can't be fixed by numbers) are as much plagiarism as the one I'm commiting when I write the word "plagiarism" (hey, I did not invent that word! :lol).
Horner does plagiarize from his own music though. Whenever I watch a movie I can almost instantly tell if the music is from him. Titanic, Braveheart, LBT, Glory, Enemy at the Gates... there are always striking similarities, but not to the degree that I would think "can't he think of anything new?".


Petrie.

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I'm not sure what these people were trying to say as I see no similarities just by listening to those clips.  The second one certainly has an oboe but its not written like Horner's hatching theme.  I won't stop listening to this just because others feel that its plagarized in some way.  Composers sometimes have a habit of sharing themes between scores (I've heard Willow and LBT have some similarities) but you can't be charged for copying your own work.  :lol:


WeirdRaptor

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Oh, for the love of...! Why must people fling mud like that. I have to say that I only heard loose similarities here. Its possible that Horner was inspired by the Wooden Prince, but that's about as far as it goes.
"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." -Gandalf


Littlefoot1616

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Ditto that WR. If anything, I'd say it was more of an inspirational link (if that at all) but it's not a complete rip. I mean c'mon...there are plenty of so-called "artists" out there who gain fame by blatently taking melodies from previous tracks and adding their own lyrics to it. Horner's stuff is original and just coz of some loose beats of a bar sounding similar to something else doesn't automatically make it a rip. Owh-wey! Some people! PMSL :rolleyes:  :D


Threehorn

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I agree with you two above it all that takes is to listen to some music get a mind blowing idea to create their own music that not even near the same of music they listened to.

I've listened to some music and even listened to them I make my own complete different tunes while well lol singing to myself lol. just some things that I like to do without anyone listening. even humm my own songs even though they might forgotten the next day don't bother me just something I do while no one else is listening :)


action9000

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I found another shred of evidence that perhaps Horner was inspired by other well-known works.

http://www.vsl.co.at/en-us/67/3920/4699.vsl#

Click the track labelled "Peter and the Wolf - The Hunters by Sergej Prokofjew " and play it.  It contains a number ofelements, including the some stylistic elements, similar to Foraging for Food (when the 5 dinosaurs start on their journey, all together) on the original LBT soundtrack.

[EDIT]
(BTW if you are looking for some interesting instrumental music, check out other music on the site I linked to.  I found a huge collection of interesting music on there.  There are many sections, which can be accessed in the top menu bar on this site.)
[/EDIT]


Petrie.

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That's certainly closer than the last sample people were claiming, but there's nothing wrong with inspiration.  People credit that all the time and use it to create their own works in all sorts of fields.


Malte279

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I'm quite sure though that once I read on a page about an official statement from Horner according to which some of his LBT music was inspired by Peter and the Wolf. I'll check out if I can find the page again.


action9000

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I'm quite sure though that once I read on a page about an official statement from Horner according to which some of his LBT music was inspired by Peter and the Wolf.
That sounds very reasonable.

Quote
I'll check out if I can find the page again.
I'd love to see this if you do find it. :D


Petrie.

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Artists are known to inspire themselves too. :p

Yeah Malte, if you can find that page, that would be great.  :yes


action9000

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Here's a link to another discussion forum
http://www.moviemusic.com/mb/Forum1/HTML/008049.html
The first couple of posts involve brief discussion of the LBT soundtrack.  The second post comments that it's a "Clone of Peter and the Wolf". :P:
If you read further down, someone made this comment, similar to what we mentioned before:
Quote
the opening is nearly 100 percent idential to the opening of Bartok's ballet "The Wooden Prince")
It looks as though a few people recognize this similarity. I see where they're coming from to an extent.  I really need to listen to the entire Opening of the Wooden Prince someday to help me understand it.


Malte279

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I've been looking for that webpage I was refering to, but I didn't find it. Maybe it does no longer exist. It seems like ages since I saw it. There were plenty pages though where people related Horner's music to that of other musicians and also accused him of "self-plagiarism", meaning that he repeatedly uses many of his own creations for various soundtracks. That much I think is true to a certain degree. It is relatively easy to recognize when a soundtrack has been written by Horner. Doesn't make the music any worse to me (maybe I didn't yet listen to enough Horner soundtracks to be fed up with any of his themes ;)).
On Mr. Horner's own page I didn't find any reference to other artists or even to the soundtrack of LBT.


Fluppy

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I didn't get a chance to listen to any of the samples, but I agree with you guys.  There's only so much you can work with after a while, and eventually people will end up using others' melodies on accident.

I've noticed one theme from An American Tail making it into LBT, but I'd have to listen to the American Tail soundtrack again to figure out which one.  I think it's part of the Main Title.


Petrie.

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^ I don't think he reused American Tail themes in LBT...I've got both, so I've listened to both, and there aren't any real similarities between the two.  Since they were released practically back to back, I couldn't imagine Horner pulling that off since many were sure to notice.  Now 20 years down the road, maybe, but not back to back works...


Ducky123

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Please excuse me for reviving a 14 year old topic but I wanted to discuss this and realized there are some really good points for reference in this thread  :^^spike

I was listening to this fantastic recording of Peter and the Wolf just now (the narrator is brilliant!) [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw[/youtube]

Note, how at

17:15
19:54
21:30

short portions of the soundtrack sound eerily similar to our beloved LBT OST. Personally, I can't blame him if Horner really did copy those parts because they're strikingly effective as this brilliant piece of musical storytelling shows. (listening to this made me very nostalgic for various reasons). I just thought it was cool and most members nowadays likely aren't aware of this.  :)littlefoot
Inactive, probably forever.


GreyLizard226

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I’m not surprised. There was this one movie I saw some years ago with music by Horner, and during one scene, the music in the background sounded so similar to the tune of some pop song that I was like, “What’s that song doing in this movie?” and then the music changed and I realized it wasn’t the song at all. And I was like, “Wow, how did JH get away with that??”

But it’s only normal that modern composers are going to be inspired by existing pieces of music. James Horner was one of my all-time favorite composers, mainly due to his work on LBT, and while he may have drawn some inspiration from  existing pieces of work, he still created masterpieces that no one else can call their own, and he’s far from the only composer to be guilty of “plagiarism”.


LittleDas75

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I don't think it's plagiarizing and more so homaging. 
I love the Yellow Bellies.


LittleDas75

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Also it could just be a major coincidence that they sound similar.
I love the Yellow Bellies.


aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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I thought this thread was going to be about how Titanic originally had a bunch of Enya's songs while courting her as composer (most notably "Book of Days" in the wide establishing shot of the oceanborne ship), but then usage negotiations fell through so Horner composed a bunch of strikingly-similar replacements to fill the gap.