In response to Hans Zimmer

I don’t generally defend my work against criticism, but it’s not every day that someone like Hans Zimmer takes time out of his day to insult me in a pretentious rant!

Not only did Mr. Zimmer compare our string recordings unfavorably to “student” work and “any sample library”, he said our recordings were “lifeless”, and, based on hearing one example, went on to bash our work on the popular composers’ forum, www.vi-control.net as follows:

1) (Our work represents) “lack of ambition”,

2) I’m seeking to “undercut” the work of orchestral musicians.

3) (I’m failing to) do my “duty as an educator” in helping young composers distinguish between the “ordinary, serviceable, and excellent”.

and that’s just part of it….

I mean… WOW!

How could I possibly respond to this kind of condemnation from such an industry giant?

Let me explain:

I had posted a commercial announcement (w/ permission) on the vi-control forum explaining how we record strings inexpensively without using samples. (Our team of string players carefully overdub multiple tracks from separate home studios on their own time. The resulting individual string tracks are all compiled into a mix, saving composers money while providing performances by real string players.)

Make sense?

In other words, our process is more affordable than hiring a full string section to play live in a big studio, while it offers the possibility of a more “human” result than one might achieve using samples.

Hans dismisses our process as unethical (undercutting orchestras) and bashes our work for lacking artistic worth.

Granted, our methods are new, and deserve to be questioned skeptically. What is puzzling is that Mr. Zimmer found it appropriate to go beyond questioning our methodology, ultimately criticizing me as a teacher, artist, and businessman, after listening to one example of my work.

We promise, in our ad, to provide a “competitive advantage” to composers, by saving them time and money. Mr. Zimmer objects to this language as misleading. He suggests we are commoditizing the musical process, placing money above art. (See this post for some of our marketing language.)

I don’t promise a panacea, but I stand behind the artistry and integrity of our work. Our team works very hard on behalf of every client, because we are passionate about music, about doing our best, and this is why it was so disappointing to hear such strong attacks from the man reported to own a mansion in Malibu.

I invite you to decide based on examples below (and in the sidebar), whether our work is “soulful”, or rather “lifeless” as Mr Zimmer suggests.

The works below include a crazy rock violin solo, a 9-minute loop pedal improvisation on Gnarles Barkley, a tear-jerking tango, and an original orchestral composition . The sidebar contains examples our string section recordings. If you’re not impressed, that’s ok. But I hope you’ll find it in your heart to resist bashing our work, and allow me the satisfaction of making a living as a musician with dignity.

Hans, when you start getting smaller budgets and can no longer afford the big Hollywood orchestras, we’ll still consider taking you on as a client:)

Orchestral Strings-Our players contributed 27 tracks on this piece

“Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley cover

this was improvised live

Jazz Violin – “Southern Exposure”

Rock Violin Solo

The loud, fast, distorted rock solo is not a guitar. That’s me playing my electric violin on “Something’s Gotta Give”, by Hamilton Hardin

Electric Violin + Loop Pedal

Here is another live improvisation. (The loop was created live but the video starts at the solo).

Thank you for Teaching Us

(A Christian Howes composition)

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Christian Howes

The (not so?) funny insults I receive about my violin playing

If you’re tired of fighting with your inner critic, know this:
It’s common for musicians of all ages and abilities to feel anxious and//or have self-doubting thoughts.
I and many of my adult students and colleagues struggle with insecurities. If this applies to you, you’re far from alone.