James Newton Howard
In the summer of 2001, while on a weekend break from summer camp I HAD to get some new music or I'd go bonkers. The problem was that I hadn't seen any new movies with must get music. In desperation at the CD store I picked up the soundtrack to Disney's Atlantis by James Newton Howard without having seen the film or been overly aware of this composer (at the time). I was blown away, and it still ranks as one of my favourite albums of all time.
It was with Mr. Howard's scores that I began this habit of non-scouting film music, and he has rarely let me down.
Overall I'd say he is my overall favourite composer due to his varied range, and lack of easily identifiable style (up until the last couple years). Often with many composers I can identify their music with just a tiny sampling. Howard does have some stylistic trademarks, but he varies his genre and orchestra (you'd be surprised how many composers stick with their comfort range of instruments... I'm looking at you WILLIAMS!) so that you have to listen hard to figure out it is a Howard movie.
Howard's other talent, that definitely fire my imagination cylinders, is for awe music. As in music for things that are extra-ordinary or not of the real world. No one does them like Howard, and he typically has at LEAST one per album.
Now I don't say that in a over the top fanboy way. I mean it simply in his impact on my musical world. I have been listening to Goldsmith music since I was around 5 or 6, and without fail I've listened to him up until the present.
Out of the two greats, himself and John Williams, Jerry never got stuck in a great era. He was just always good. Which I'll admit. Sure his stuff isn't as famous or recognizable as Williams' classics, but unlike Williams, Goldsmith produced great music his whole career. Which is several more decades than Williams.
Harry Gregson Williams
Gregson Williams' talent lies in his ability to steer immense power from an orchestra and hammer home any theme he develops. Which is the other thing about his music I like. There are lots of repeating and catchy themes. If there is something I like in an album is several variations of a good theme.
Which has proven to be Tyler's incredible gift. Thus far many of his mainstream scoring gigs have been for existing franchises, and he slips into their musical skin so effortlessly you'd think he was the original films composer. In particular Alien vs. Predator 2 was a flawless blend of the scores of both original films (and they are not very compatible if you just threw their songs onto your mp3 player and hit shuffle).
So there is an intro to (some of) the artists who have a big impact on me on a daily basis. Sometime down the road I'll probably start looking at genres of score and a few highlight tracks and albums.