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Irresponsible Speculation

On a couple of occasions the past several weeks I’ve felt obligated to weigh in (once on the FSM message board, once on Facebook) on discussions about ghostwriters/orchestrators.

Stories about who-actually-wrote-what are fascinating, and I find them irresistible myself.

What I don’t like is when people simply repeat rumors, or speculate without evidence. (I’m not going to state the recent examples, because I don’t want to perpetuate them.)

No doubt I’ve been guilty of this myself. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about James Horner’s use of orchestrators, based on an interview Neumation Music did with J.A.C. Redford.

But you’ll note I tried to be nuanced and comprehensive—and abstain about specifics when I didn’t know what I was talking about.

In the Horner blog piece, I mentioned I heard a DAT of Horner at piano demoing the rough contours of a cue for Troy for his orchestrator—because I did! That was real.

We know comprehensively who did what on Star Trek: The Motion Picture—because fans and scholars have examined the physical sketches and orchestrations.

When people say “I heard so-and-so really wrote [that score],” or “he had a lot of help from [arranger]”—and it’s just guessing or repeating gossip...that stuff goes into people’s heads and it bounces around for decades.

It drives me crazy.

By all means people should investigate these matters and report them responsibly. But short of that...please choose your words carefully.


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It drives me crazy too!

I remember being rather irked as a teen, when a jobbing session musician I knew wanted to "burst my bubble" and told me "John Williams didn't actually write the score for Star Wars. He just wrote the themes, and Billy May wrote the actual score". Of course anyone with a modicum of knowledge about John Williams would have known that was crap. (In fairness, I should add that the person who told me this was a rookie at the time — he later went on to work *for* John Williams on one occasion!)

But it’s a shame that people need to persist in spreading misinformation, whether it is professionals suffering from sour grapes, or “academics”…

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