159 – A word about uncredited orchestras

One of my biggest pet peeves is thumbing the liner notes and flipping the jewel case back to front and failing to find a credit for the orchestra. Oh, great, John produced this album, too. Oh, great, John also conduced these cues. Fantastic. How about you tell me who was actually responsible for making these beautiful sounds?

This is most prominent in my Harry Potter selection. I used to have Sorceror’s tagged as John Williams / LSO purely by (mistaken) assumption. I went back, looked, and realized that this was wrong. To this day, Sorceror’s and Prisoner both live with John Williams as the sole credited artist on all tracks. Goblet and Order, thankfully, have the LSO and the Chamber Orchestra of London unambiguously penciled in.

This imbalance has long bothered me, because the purpose of my sticking as close to possible to the urtext of the liner notes has been to faithfully document who was who in the album. It’s not really fair to me (and to my scrobbles) to treat John Williams like a ubiquitous monolith.

Starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I tried something new. I labeled it as Williams (Dudamel) with a ‘”Highly Regarded” Freelance Orchestra.’ The name is taken from a press release describing work on the TFA score. It’s outlandish and unprofessional enough to not be mistaken for something actually given verbatim in the liner notes but satisfactorily descriptive to scratch my documentation itch.

I continued with my three selections from the Nichijou scores. I have volumes 1, 4, and 8 in my collection. The album title is one of those unnecessarily lengthy ones that blow out my player UI when loaded, and it explicitly gives Hungary as their recording location (wow!). Watching the special features on the Blu-rays (that came with my purchase of 1, 4, and 8) corroborated this, but unfortunately I couldn’t discern the name of the orchestra they worked with. At time of writing, Wikipedia retains records of 9 Hungarian orchestras. I found a larger list of 21. Therefore, the final tags are for Yuji Nomi leading “1 of 21 Possible Hungarian Orchestras.” I would be ecstatic to find out which one exactly.

The trend has most recently spilled to Rogue One, tagged as Michael Giacchino (Tim Simonec) with “Enormously Varied Contract Orchestra.” I forget if they were explicitly described as contracted (but I believe they were). The “enormously varied” label comes from the fact that the liner notes actually included a 169-strong roster of the musicians who took part in the score. I gleefully typed them up and saved them as plaintext, but was happy to summarize them as the EVCO (instead of going for the artist gore that I use for operas and Mahler’s 8th).

J39M

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