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Ghost Canyon

Title - The Magnificent Seven (Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Artist - James Horner & Simon Franglen

I first saw the 1960 John Sturges film when I was seven (yep) years old. It was a seminal moment in my life. I instantly fell in love with the Elmer Bernstein score and it hooked me on movies and their soundtracks for life. Now, at age 58, I followed the development stages of this new 2016 version with some doubt and trepidation.

For this film music fan, how was anybody going to possibly be able to attempt to score a new version of a film that to me represented one of the top 5 music scores ever written? Even the great Maestro Bernstein had never attempted to top himself, choosing only to recycle his own original score through the previous three sequels.

When it was announced that the late James Horner had "gifted" director Antoine Fuqua with the genesis of this new score before his most untimely death, I was thoroughly intrigued and not a little bit doubtful. James Horner had a very mixed track record as far as I was concerned, with his share of high quality and original work with scores to "Cocoon", "Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan", "Sneakers", "The Mask of Zorro", and "Field of Dreams".

Just as often however, he seemed to lapse into certain idiosyncratic tropes and and fall back on his own bag of musical cliches that allowed one to instantly recognize his work because of their obvious similarities. I came to this new listening experience with equal amounts of high hopes and pessimistic doubt.

I am very happy to report that I love what Horner and collaborator Simon Franglen came up with for this score! The ingenious musical choice to incorporate the main rhythmic component of Bernstein's main theme throughout the score with only percussion and bass ostinato to represent the 'Seven' was brilliant.

Elsewhere he chooses to go his own way on the melodic and character leitmotifs so as not to invite any comparison or competition to Bernstein's score. The Horner/Franglen collaboration does not invite the same stand-alone listening experience as the 1960 score, but I am quite sure that it will serve the film well and look forward to revisiting it often. It also serves as a fitting valedictory statement from James Horner. We will miss you. [LC]

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