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Everything posted by Loert

  1. Loert

    I Found It: Fanfare for Dukakis

    It sounds like Williams just gave up after the 50 second mark.
  2. There's a fun experiment you can do with this at the piano. Play a major or minor chord in the right hand e.g. C major or C minor. Now, in the left hand, put your hand on a major or minor chord one semitone above and one semitone below the right hand. So, for instance, with C major in the right hand, you place your left hand on B major or Db major. Now pick one of the notes in your two left hand chords. This is now your bass note - play it with the chord in the right hand (so e.g. C major in RH, with D# in the bass from the B major chord). Now do this multiple times for different chords. Voila! You have become John Williams.
  3. It's interesting that you talk about Williams "masking" dissonances, as if Williams was trapped into employing dissonances which he then tried to cover up by choosing the right instruments (probably not what you meant, but it sounds that way!). Of course, the opposite is really true - Williams mixes in the dissonance himself. However, rather than drawing attention on those very dissonances (as, for example, Boulez might...or "concert" JW might) he tends to treat dissonance as something like musical seasoning; to spice up what would otherwise be fairly dull, consonant music. One of the ways he does this is to do what sounds like "covering up" dissonance using the orchestra, which I guess is what you allude to. But, of course, this is just an illusion really. Every note you hear comes from the composer's pen, whether or not in the end they sound as if they are appearing out of nowhere, or as an "accident". So what is JW's favourite spice? When it comes to brass, It is undeniably the minor 2nd interval between the 7th and 8th degrees of the scale (i.e. B-C in C major). JW would sooner jump off a bridge than not use this dissonance in a fanfare. Listen to the one that plays when Yoda raises the ship in TESB, which is in E major: Now, somebody with an "untrained ear" might be surprised to know that when they are listening to the above, they are also listening to this: https://picosong.com/whnva These are the 7th and 8th degrees of the E major scale: D#-E. JW uses a lot of this sort of dissonance in the E.T. flying theme (in C major): Listening to this, one might naively think that the accompanying horns at the start are playing simple major chords (C-E-G, or 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees). But in fact, they are playing "add2" chords, i.e. chords with the 2nd degree added (D), so there is a dissonance between the C-D and the D-E. Later on, JW employs his beloved 7th-8th dissonance, at 0:20 (F#-G) and 0:25 (G-Ab). These dissonances on their own sound like they belong to a horror movie, not a feel-good family movie (though I grant that E.T. does contain some horrifying bits...). But when played by the brass in a certain range, these dissonances take on more of a "colouring" function, and you might miss these dissonances if you don't pay attention. However, take away these dissonances, and you take away an integral part of the whole. This is what I mean by JW using dissonances as "seasoning". Now for something entirely different. Listen to the prologue music of HP1, when Dumbledore does...whatever he does: Listen to that last chord at 1:15. Can you hear "it"? I made a mockup of this portion some years ago, where "it"'s clearer; listen to the high register from 0:17: https://picosong.com/whnWd Williams here is using the winds to apply a purely "colouristic" effect to the brass chord in the foreground. This is what the wind chord sounds like on the piano: https://picosong.com/whnvw This is what the brass chord sounds like on the piano: https://picosong.com/whnv3 By the way, Williams here is essentially recycling a technique he used in another film, TPM, where he used a similar wind chord. However, that time he used it in a much more dramatic manner, less as a purely colouristic effect (listen to the chord at 3:28 and pay attention to the high register): Finally, I want to go off the track a bit (though I hope it's still relevant) and close with some music from another composer who was a master at "masking" dissonances via orchestration, a composer who greatly influenced Williams and other Hollywood composers - namely, Korngold. His opera "Das Wunder der Heliane" closes with the two lovers making their way into heaven through the pearly gates, being welcomed by the sound of singing angels. But if you listen to it, there's a distinctly bittersweet tone coming from the orchestra: It's almost like the angels merely represent a "sheen" of something that is filled with sadness and sorrow. The reason is that the orchestral accompaniment is in fact full of dissonances - try playing some of those chords which fall on the downbeat. There are instances earlier in the opera where Korngold plays a major chord on top of a minor chord, though it's barely audible the way he orchestrates it.
  4. I've been listening lately to the ROTLA score (in preparation for the LtP concert on Saturday!), and of course I happily came across "The Map Room: Dawn", which is probably my favourite 'religioso' Williams track. It's just got a perfect build-up and dissolution: Anyway, one of my favourite bits from the track is the women's choir starting at around 3:22. The way it just seems to hover and then disappear into the air, like a ghostly apparition...perfect. However, lately I've been reading up on counterpoint in music, and since the choir is clearly acting as a contrapuntal line against the high winds, I was interested in finding out what notes the women's choir was actually singing. Because they seem to fit so well and naturally with the main melody, and yet there's something...spookish about them. Something a little out of place, which makes it hard to figure out the notes that they're actually singing. So I decided to take a look at the original score...and what I found surprised me, to say the least! This is what the original handwritten score has written down: This is what it sounds like on piano: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18637418/maproom1.mp3 Now, this is a classic example of a contrapuntal line below a main melody. It fits harmonically, goes in contrary motion to the main melody, is stylistically similar...all perfect. A+ goes to Mr. Williams. BUT THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU HEAR IN THE RECORDING!!! You can tell this immediately from rhythm, because the choir at the Dm chord (bar 4) sings a single note in the recording, not two notes like in the score. In fact, THIS is what you hear: And this is what it sounds like on piano: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18637418/maproom2.mp3 The choir part is singing an entire measure ahead of the orchestra! And, honestly, compared to the previous excerpt, it sounds horrible on the piano, like a two-legged cat walking across the keyboard. So how interesting is it, that when the choir sings these exact same notes against the woodwind and trumpets on the original recording, it doesn't sound so ugly at all? It actually sounds...kinda heavenly? I'm intrigued by how this came to be. My guess is that: the choir was recorded separately from the orchestra, and the beat counting got cocked up somehow, so when the orchestra and choir was put together the notes were out of sync. But I don't actually know if the choir was recorded separately... It is also possible that the copyist cocked up the sheet music for the choir, and had a bar missing somewhere. But surely Williams would've picked up the error, in both cases? So what if Williams instinctively suggested at the recording sessions that the choir should sing a measure ahead? Or somebody else with a deep knowledge of the orchestral score? Could he have predicted that the music would still sound so good, to the point that nobody would even consider a mismatch between the recording and sheet music used for the sessions, despite the fact that what the choir is singing doesn't go with the orchestra at all, tonally speaking? There is of course the possibilty that Herbert Spencer cocked up and misread Williams' original sketch, but that doesn't seem realistic considering that the choir in the original score appears to be a textbook example of a contrapuntal line in the first place. It's strange...and yet fascinating. If simply nobody picked up on it in the recording sessions, then I guess it's a happy mistake. But if this was a conscious decision on Williams' part, then I guess you could say he's got musical balls of steel...and that he's a genius. I suppose it just goes to show that, sometimes, musical theory cannot predict when the greatest beauties in music might appear. What do you guys think? (and has anybody noticed this before?)
  5. © Recording of the Century
  6. I wouldn't be surprised if he's forgotten about the whole thing.
  7. The "Forest Scene" from Franz Schreker's DER FERNE KLANG (9:53 - 14:49) is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music I've listened to in recent memory: I just love the constancy of the rising chords set against a constantly-shifting key center. It gives the climax at 12:53 a truly "force-of-nature" kind of feeling.
  8. After a lengthy period of intense research and discussion, scientists from institutes across the globe backed by multi-national corporations have arrived at the consensus that the best version of Rey's Theme is to be found in the final minute of "The Scavenger":
  9. First thing that comes to mind is ALIENS.
  10. It probably would've sounded more like this: https://picosong.com/w8meg
  11. 0:00 - 6:04 is probably what Williams would have sounded like if he were writing action music 150 years ago (especially from 3:19).
  12. I love the "chirping" section starting at 14:39. In the Ansermet recording you can clearly hear the bells doubling the decending chromatic strings, which sounds so unusual it's almost like it represents some sort of hallucination (at 12:33 and 13:03):
  13. I recently visited the Troldhaugen museum (Grieg's summer villa in Bergen) and became inspired to learn this piece. A pianistic gem if there ever was one!
  14. I would wait to listen to the score in the film if I knew that I would be watching the film soon after its release, which was my case with TFA. But with TROS I don't plan to watch the film until well after its release. So it's straight to the listening room!
  15. I've been obsessed with Temple of Doom ever since I listened to the complete score!
  16. Maybe I'm the only one but I feel like Williams was asked to write a piece of music that was 5 mins long, only it ended up being 4 mins and Williams thought to himself "Let's just cut the tempo a bit to make up for the lost time!"
  17. A marvellous performance of the jaw-droppingly stunning piece that is Liszt's Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude:
  18. Loert

    John Williams: Unpopular Opinions

    John Williams' film music sometimes feels like it's been "packaged" too much, like he's handing over some music which has been wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a pretty red ribbon rather than the raw music itself. I wish Williams would let his hair down once in a while (like in his concert works).