Regarding “Two Steps from Hell”

For those who never heard of “Two Steps from Hell“, allow me to introduce them to you. They’re a music production company in Hollywood that employs some classicaly-trained musicians to write operatic music for movies — although their main market is writing music for… movie trailers. As a side job, they also release full-length albums with great success. Their two albums “Invincible” and “Archangel” are some of the most-sold among contemporary classical works.

Their music is interesting. If you take these songs individually, they sound pretty good. They are all very catchy, epic, and can make some people feel like they’re the intellectual ones in their bunch, listening to cooler music than Foo Fighters. But it’s an illusion.

These albums are a great example as to why most people today don’t listen to classical music: because it’s a language from another time. It does not mirror our modern life. Music has this magical ability to describe feelings that we might have hidden deep inside us about the world we live in. When we listen to a piece that well-describes our life today (musically, not lyrically), it can evoke certain feelings that otherwise remain indescribable.

And that’s the problem with “Two Steps from Hell”. These guys are good copy-cats of the golden age of Opera. They studied what modern people find cool about opera/classical music when they cursory listen to it, and then they compress these few elements together in 2:30 minute pieces. Each of these pieces are a copy of each other in reality. Listening to these albums offers absolutely no variety. It’s from one high note to another, resulting in a shallow result at the very end.

Don’t get me wrong. These musicians know how to write very catchy classical music, they’re unquestionably talented. They have an uncanny way of providing the goods, and duping the common listener into thinking that they’re listening amazing, modern classical music. But what they listen to instead is a smart algorithm, a recipe. Over and over again.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my desire to see a kind of truly modern electronic-based “classical” music. I provided some examples from artists that touch this hopefully-upcoming sub-genre, but I think I should provide one more example, which is a piece that’s closer to what “Two Steps from Hell” do (more operatic that is). This is what the talented musicians at “Two Steps from Hell” should be doing. THIS is the kind of “classical” music (witch-house in this case) that can work today (use headphones to spot the differences). THIS is modern classical music, and not a wanna-be. THIS speaks TODAY.

1 Comment »

Ivan wrote on January 25th, 2012 at 2:20 AM PST:

My favourite ‘modern’ composer is Max Richter. Much of his music has been used movies, mostly non-mainstream, of which Watz with Bashir is perhaps the most famous.
Here is a meditative example of his work:

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