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Jediwashington

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  1. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from Loert in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Yes - 100% this. He simply writes for orchestra like big bands. The chord complexity you can certainly analyze from a romantic theory standpoint, but it is much stronger of an argument to simply call him a jazz pianist and composer. That being said, I would put him near the top in jazz pianists/theorists, but for a jazz pianist you are mostly using chords to drive interest/complexity/mood/color/shape and less concerned about the individual notes. He's collected hundreds of progressions and modulations over his years that communicate certain moods/emotions and he just uses them at will like a language when writing. One of the other things you will notice about jazz is that they tend to set up a type of dissonance like it's a standard part of that key "world" so to speak. They will then selectively increase or decrease dissonance for effect. You see applied everywhere in E.T. where he essentially writes the whole thing in lydian and keeps the raised 4th and 7th the whole score writing 7th or 9th chords constantly, but pulls back into straight triads in minor keys for the antagonist theme (to great effect!) and increases dissonance and stacked chords to their breaking point leading into big moments. This constant slight dissonance of 7ths/9th allows him to go in two directions and subtlety move to a different mood quickly with lots of options where other composers may struggle to get there as tastefully. It's probably why he likes the ambiguity of open 5ths in melodies so much.
     
    He's intelligent enough to go back and analyze it and write all this out in a book, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually a very difficult exercise for him to do since romantic harmony is not likely to be where his mind is when writing. 
     
    Now, the core question is if he uses orchestration selectively to increase/decrease dissonance. I would say he's gotten better at this as his career progressed and he finesses this a lot more after the Boston Pops years. He speaks of those years as being highly educational from an orchestration stand point. After mastering harmony, melody, and tone centers to create emotions, this has certainly been an area where I see a lot more sophistication the more he writes - especially with his doubling's. I can also usually tell when he's passed something off to be orchestrated by someone else. We can't neglect his ears and taste for balance during recording sessions as well. Recordings done by different conductors or even his own scores recorded by someone else can sound like completely different pieces with less important notes popping out of the texture.
  2. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to The Five Tones in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Really interesting thread. Dissonance is rarely defined very well - in a precise, technical way - by any commentator. I don't personally find basic intervals like diatonic seconds dissonant, or even the kinds of bitonal polychords JW often writes, though they are often heard/spoken of that way. There are probably dozens of definitions to consider, including ones that take pitch/frequency perception into account. Also, accidental dissonance as a result of voicings, mixing, etc. or horizontal dissonance as opposite to just vertical. A historical view on dissonance, i.e. very few examples and almost no bodies of work before 1910 (except say Charles Ives) are dissonant in terms of harmonic language, as opposed to textbook dissonance a la species counterpoint. Certainly JW could be said to hit the mark on many different potential definitions of dissonance, as a passing effect of generally short duration.

    Also, JW is an incredible harmonist; however, I often wish his harmonic language as expressed in his film cues was not so full of tonic major endings/climaxes as they are often inappropriate to the mood or direction of the harmony or at least restrict the potential effect of all the complexity that precedes them. I don't know; I've been listening to him since the mid-70s and maybe I haven't taken the time to think about this point another way. But he seems to treat these cadences as generally off limits for dissonance.
  3. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from ricsim88 in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Yes - 100% this. He simply writes for orchestra like big bands. The chord complexity you can certainly analyze from a romantic theory standpoint, but it is much stronger of an argument to simply call him a jazz pianist and composer. That being said, I would put him near the top in jazz pianists/theorists, but for a jazz pianist you are mostly using chords to drive interest/complexity/mood/color/shape and less concerned about the individual notes. He's collected hundreds of progressions and modulations over his years that communicate certain moods/emotions and he just uses them at will like a language when writing. One of the other things you will notice about jazz is that they tend to set up a type of dissonance like it's a standard part of that key "world" so to speak. They will then selectively increase or decrease dissonance for effect. You see applied everywhere in E.T. where he essentially writes the whole thing in lydian and keeps the raised 4th and 7th the whole score writing 7th or 9th chords constantly, but pulls back into straight triads in minor keys for the antagonist theme (to great effect!) and increases dissonance and stacked chords to their breaking point leading into big moments. This constant slight dissonance of 7ths/9th allows him to go in two directions and subtlety move to a different mood quickly with lots of options where other composers may struggle to get there as tastefully. It's probably why he likes the ambiguity of open 5ths in melodies so much.
     
    He's intelligent enough to go back and analyze it and write all this out in a book, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually a very difficult exercise for him to do since romantic harmony is not likely to be where his mind is when writing. 
     
    Now, the core question is if he uses orchestration selectively to increase/decrease dissonance. I would say he's gotten better at this as his career progressed and he finesses this a lot more after the Boston Pops years. He speaks of those years as being highly educational from an orchestration stand point. After mastering harmony, melody, and tone centers to create emotions, this has certainly been an area where I see a lot more sophistication the more he writes - especially with his doubling's. I can also usually tell when he's passed something off to be orchestrated by someone else. We can't neglect his ears and taste for balance during recording sessions as well. Recordings done by different conductors or even his own scores recorded by someone else can sound like completely different pieces with less important notes popping out of the texture.
  4. Thanks
    Jediwashington got a reaction from SteveMc in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Yes - 100% this. He simply writes for orchestra like big bands. The chord complexity you can certainly analyze from a romantic theory standpoint, but it is much stronger of an argument to simply call him a jazz pianist and composer. That being said, I would put him near the top in jazz pianists/theorists, but for a jazz pianist you are mostly using chords to drive interest/complexity/mood/color/shape and less concerned about the individual notes. He's collected hundreds of progressions and modulations over his years that communicate certain moods/emotions and he just uses them at will like a language when writing. One of the other things you will notice about jazz is that they tend to set up a type of dissonance like it's a standard part of that key "world" so to speak. They will then selectively increase or decrease dissonance for effect. You see applied everywhere in E.T. where he essentially writes the whole thing in lydian and keeps the raised 4th and 7th the whole score writing 7th or 9th chords constantly, but pulls back into straight triads in minor keys for the antagonist theme (to great effect!) and increases dissonance and stacked chords to their breaking point leading into big moments. This constant slight dissonance of 7ths/9th allows him to go in two directions and subtlety move to a different mood quickly with lots of options where other composers may struggle to get there as tastefully. It's probably why he likes the ambiguity of open 5ths in melodies so much.
     
    He's intelligent enough to go back and analyze it and write all this out in a book, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually a very difficult exercise for him to do since romantic harmony is not likely to be where his mind is when writing. 
     
    Now, the core question is if he uses orchestration selectively to increase/decrease dissonance. I would say he's gotten better at this as his career progressed and he finesses this a lot more after the Boston Pops years. He speaks of those years as being highly educational from an orchestration stand point. After mastering harmony, melody, and tone centers to create emotions, this has certainly been an area where I see a lot more sophistication the more he writes - especially with his doubling's. I can also usually tell when he's passed something off to be orchestrated by someone else. We can't neglect his ears and taste for balance during recording sessions as well. Recordings done by different conductors or even his own scores recorded by someone else can sound like completely different pieces with less important notes popping out of the texture.
  5. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from Modest Expectations in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Yes - 100% this. He simply writes for orchestra like big bands. The chord complexity you can certainly analyze from a romantic theory standpoint, but it is much stronger of an argument to simply call him a jazz pianist and composer. That being said, I would put him near the top in jazz pianists/theorists, but for a jazz pianist you are mostly using chords to drive interest/complexity/mood/color/shape and less concerned about the individual notes. He's collected hundreds of progressions and modulations over his years that communicate certain moods/emotions and he just uses them at will like a language when writing. One of the other things you will notice about jazz is that they tend to set up a type of dissonance like it's a standard part of that key "world" so to speak. They will then selectively increase or decrease dissonance for effect. You see applied everywhere in E.T. where he essentially writes the whole thing in lydian and keeps the raised 4th and 7th the whole score writing 7th or 9th chords constantly, but pulls back into straight triads in minor keys for the antagonist theme (to great effect!) and increases dissonance and stacked chords to their breaking point leading into big moments. This constant slight dissonance of 7ths/9th allows him to go in two directions and subtlety move to a different mood quickly with lots of options where other composers may struggle to get there as tastefully. It's probably why he likes the ambiguity of open 5ths in melodies so much.
     
    He's intelligent enough to go back and analyze it and write all this out in a book, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually a very difficult exercise for him to do since romantic harmony is not likely to be where his mind is when writing. 
     
    Now, the core question is if he uses orchestration selectively to increase/decrease dissonance. I would say he's gotten better at this as his career progressed and he finesses this a lot more after the Boston Pops years. He speaks of those years as being highly educational from an orchestration stand point. After mastering harmony, melody, and tone centers to create emotions, this has certainly been an area where I see a lot more sophistication the more he writes - especially with his doubling's. I can also usually tell when he's passed something off to be orchestrated by someone else. We can't neglect his ears and taste for balance during recording sessions as well. Recordings done by different conductors or even his own scores recorded by someone else can sound like completely different pieces with less important notes popping out of the texture.
  6. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to Stefancos in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    Is it laziness or lack of skill?
  7. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to ricsim88 in Masked Dissonance in The Music of John Williams   
    I guess that’s where his jazz background comes into play.
  8. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to crumbs in The Rise of Skywalker score has potentially begun recording   
    He was writing kickass music at 83, then again at 85, then again at 86, so I'm not concerned. It will be sufficiently kickass. And when you consider the musical palette of IX will sufficiently ramp up the dramatic/emotional tone of the action scoring, it's a very enticing prospect indeed.
     
    Williams always saves the most goosebump-inducing cues for the third score in his trilogies.
  9. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to karelm in The Rise of Skywalker score has potentially begun recording   
    5 oscars, 51 oscar nominations, Star Wars I-VII, Harry Potter, Jaws, Raiders, E.T., Superman, CEOTK weren't enough to convince you until TLJ and Galaxies Edge?
  10. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to Richard in The Rise of Skywalker score has potentially begun recording   
    So...its Schroedinger's recording?
  11. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to BrotherSound in The Rise of Skywalker score has potentially begun recording   
    MOTR and a bass part. From top to bottom, most likely: bassoon, horns (3 staves), trumpets, trombones.
  12. Haha
  13. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to Ludwig in New article: Williams "has so far written about 25 minutes of score in about a month" for The Rise of Skywalker   
    So Williams now goes for walks outdoors to solve compositional problems? That's exactly how Beethoven used to work. And Williams is reading the Beethoven symphonies for pleasure. Hmm... Clearly, he's channeling his inner Beethoven for TROS! 
     
    (Btw, would absolutely love to hear a concert orchestral work from Williams whose musical architecture is influenced by Beethoven. Maybe something akin to a Shostakovich symphony. Williams loves 20th-century Russian music anyway!)
  14. Haha
    Jediwashington reacted to Modest Expectations in New article: Williams "has so far written about 25 minutes of score in about a month" for The Rise of Skywalker   
    1. Williams composed 25 minutes in 4 weeks.
    2. A typical Star Wars score requires 5 times this amount.
    3. Williams used to take 8 weeks to compose a Star Wars score. 
    4. Williams said that he labours daily ca. 5/8 of his old time quotas.
    5. Williams also said that his abilities can be considered a constant.
     
    Provided that quality is a linear product of the amount of work times efficiency...
    And with further assumptions that a week equals 7 days and composing speed follows a standard distribution
     
    How good will be TROS?
     
    Well, 4*7*5*5/8 = 87,5 days worth of work, compared to 8*7=56 on a "typical Star Wars score"
     
    87,5 / 56 = 1.5625 => 156,25% good
     
    G-C-G-C-G
     
  15. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from A Ghost From Highwood in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm.
     
     
    Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  16. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from crumbs in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm.
     
     
    Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  17. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from Will in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm.
     
     
    Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  18. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from The Five Tones in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm.
     
     
    Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  19. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from Remco in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm.
     
     
    Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  20. Like
  21. Haha
    Jediwashington reacted to mstrox in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    You can really tell that they ponied up for the London Symphony Orchestra for this one.  It finally has that "Star Wars" sound, for the first time since Disney and Jar Jar Abrams and Ruin Johnson got their hands on Star Wars.
  22. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to BTR1701 in GALAXY'S EDGE - New John Williams composition (2018)   
    I thought it was interesting that comments from the professionals who are involved in recording these cues are similar to the folks here with regard to the sound quality of Abbey vs Sony.
     
    https://www.finalemusic.com/blog/may-the-fourth-spotlight-on-joann-kane-music/
     
    Can you say anything about the difference in working on Star Wars music with an American orchestra in a different studio?
     
    The LSO is a leading, well-established, top symphony orchestra. They play together all the time and they have a definite kind of overall sound and Abbey Road also has got its own unique sound. We’re working with a studio orchestra in L.A. which is a fine orchestra, at Sony, one of the L.A. scoring stages in Culver City. It’s a big room that can absorb a lot of sound. And so there’s a denser kind of feel to the sound the orchestra makes than at Abbey Road – it’s not quite as bright. It’s a slightly different experience.
     
    I also found it interesting that Williams apparently doesn't use an orchestrator anymore, instead sending his sketches directly to Joann Kane, which prepares the scores and parts from the sketches.
     
    Can you describe your workflow on these films?
     
    John Williams writes very detailed handwritten sketches. On the prequels, these sketches went to orchestrators. The orchestrators would write pencil scores and we would copy parts into Finale. But for the past six or seven years, John has just sent the sketches directly to us. We put them straight into Finale. I’ve kind of edited them, checked them out myself, and then we’ve used them at the stage for recording.
  23. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from Bayesian in Ennio Morricone is complimentary but critical of John Williams in his new book   
    The title is Star WARS and a march isn't appropriate?
     
    It's a stylistic choice, and he certainly uses wonder when it's called for in the films. The reality is that Star Wars isn't really about space - it's greek inspired character development that happens to take place " a long time ago in a galaxy far far away." It's why Williams relied so heavily on Wagnerian lite motif because he knew themes would help tie the story together. Scoring it larger than life I think was appropriate as well given the size of the structures the characters are placed in.
     
    Now, I don't doubt that Ennio has a point that Williams chose to go commercial. I don't think given Williams' background growing up on sound stages that you can really blame him for choosing that route - as a young composer you take the opportunities you can get - but I don't think choosing the commercial route is a "bad" thing that Ennio seems to be suggesting. In fact, his work with the Boston Pops and scoring all these big commercial blockbusters with artistry has done a significant amount to advance or at least preserve the acceptance and adoration of orchestral arts - something that is absolutely necessary for the intellectual advancement of the art as well. I think you could even debate that he has advanced the art, but his innovation is not in areas where Ennio excels (e.g. applying innovative forms like using a 6 part fugue in a film), but more nitty-gritty details like jazz harmony, texture, and orchestration. Besides, I think European film makers are much more tolerant of those kind of risks than American studios - especially now.
     
    Having lived in Italy for a while and seeing the massive state support for orchestras/operas and immense pride, I understand why Ennio might not get the need for composers like Williams (though that enthusiasm among youth in Italy is declining as well). I know way too many young musicians and non-trained classical music lovers in the USA who are massive fans of Williams and attribute their initial love of orchestral music to him. While I have no proof of this, after his initial success I think Williams choice to stay commercial was extremely strategic and it's clear that he enjoys scoring films that will be viewed by children/intellectuals and uses every trick in the book to deliver musical "sweets" to this audience as a way to hook them while also scoring tastefully. It's why I hardly care that he quotes or plagiarizes. To suggest that he does it as a cop out or is unaware of it is, frankly, insulting given how intelligent we all know him to be from the cerebral interviews he gives. The only other way to explain it is perhaps temp tracks, but I think its more likely just a creative way to take great bits from musical history and subtlety deliver them to a massive audience with the hope that they'll not only selfishly buy an album, but go to an opera/ballet/symphony (as he is known to do and support often) or listen to more orchestral music. He was good friends with Leonard Bernstein who also is a massive champion of music education, so I wouldn't be surprised if his "commercial" choice was about influence more than money. Just look at his house for petes sake... he's certainly not materialistic.
     
    We have plenty of proof that Williams is talented and innovative when he has the opportunity. Making the choice to confine that creativity to market and share it with more people is a choice he has earned the ability to make. Despite that, I'm still looking forward to seeing the crazy sketches that never saw daylight when we finally see his archives.
  24. Like
    Jediwashington got a reaction from hornist in Ennio Morricone is complimentary but critical of John Williams in his new book   
    The title is Star WARS and a march isn't appropriate?
     
    It's a stylistic choice, and he certainly uses wonder when it's called for in the films. The reality is that Star Wars isn't really about space - it's greek inspired character development that happens to take place " a long time ago in a galaxy far far away." It's why Williams relied so heavily on Wagnerian lite motif because he knew themes would help tie the story together. Scoring it larger than life I think was appropriate as well given the size of the structures the characters are placed in.
     
    Now, I don't doubt that Ennio has a point that Williams chose to go commercial. I don't think given Williams' background growing up on sound stages that you can really blame him for choosing that route - as a young composer you take the opportunities you can get - but I don't think choosing the commercial route is a "bad" thing that Ennio seems to be suggesting. In fact, his work with the Boston Pops and scoring all these big commercial blockbusters with artistry has done a significant amount to advance or at least preserve the acceptance and adoration of orchestral arts - something that is absolutely necessary for the intellectual advancement of the art as well. I think you could even debate that he has advanced the art, but his innovation is not in areas where Ennio excels (e.g. applying innovative forms like using a 6 part fugue in a film), but more nitty-gritty details like jazz harmony, texture, and orchestration. Besides, I think European film makers are much more tolerant of those kind of risks than American studios - especially now.
     
    Having lived in Italy for a while and seeing the massive state support for orchestras/operas and immense pride, I understand why Ennio might not get the need for composers like Williams (though that enthusiasm among youth in Italy is declining as well). I know way too many young musicians and non-trained classical music lovers in the USA who are massive fans of Williams and attribute their initial love of orchestral music to him. While I have no proof of this, after his initial success I think Williams choice to stay commercial was extremely strategic and it's clear that he enjoys scoring films that will be viewed by children/intellectuals and uses every trick in the book to deliver musical "sweets" to this audience as a way to hook them while also scoring tastefully. It's why I hardly care that he quotes or plagiarizes. To suggest that he does it as a cop out or is unaware of it is, frankly, insulting given how intelligent we all know him to be from the cerebral interviews he gives. The only other way to explain it is perhaps temp tracks, but I think its more likely just a creative way to take great bits from musical history and subtlety deliver them to a massive audience with the hope that they'll not only selfishly buy an album, but go to an opera/ballet/symphony (as he is known to do and support often) or listen to more orchestral music. He was good friends with Leonard Bernstein who also is a massive champion of music education, so I wouldn't be surprised if his "commercial" choice was about influence more than money. Just look at his house for petes sake... he's certainly not materialistic.
     
    We have plenty of proof that Williams is talented and innovative when he has the opportunity. Making the choice to confine that creativity to market and share it with more people is a choice he has earned the ability to make. Despite that, I'm still looking forward to seeing the crazy sketches that never saw daylight when we finally see his archives.
  25. Like
    Jediwashington reacted to crumbs in Ennio Morricone is complimentary but critical of John Williams in his new book   
    John Williams is the least of the film score industry's issues, to put it lightly.
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