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The Five Tones

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  1. The Five Tones

    Poll: Favorite JW Concerto and Concerto Movement

    I think it's in essence a genre question, and interesting discussion notwithstanding, somewhat moot. Mozart built a large part of his reputation on a non-concert medium—opera. No one looks down on one part of his oeuvre over the other. Same with Glass—opera, pop crossover LPs and film. Same with Stravinsky—ballet. Once you get away from artificial concerns about genre and more importantly about "high vs. low" it doesn't matter. JW is one of the greatest composers of our era, period. And works like Treesong or The Five Sacred Trees or Soundings or Highwood's Ghost stand alongside the film scores. He has minimized his work in areas he doesn't perhaps excel at, e.g. musical/opera, a good strategy.
  2. The Five Tones

    Poll: Favorite JW Concerto and Concerto Movement

    Easily the Concerto for Cello, but if Treesong were allowed, even more easily that instead. Hard to pick a favourite moment in the CC, but the attacca transitions are exquisite. My favourite movement is the I.
  3. The SEs were incredibly important to me when they came out... not least for the presentation and annotation. Even then, it was clear one should hold onto the 4-CD Anthology set, but not necessarily because of the sound. The audio was fine for my mid-range system back then, and although time has moved on and our ears have gotten used to noiseless high res digital recordings and restorations, and more listeners are headphone listeners or own desktop audio software and we expect more (i.e. the number of owners of the SE who say "it always sounded bad" mysteriously multiplies), I'm good for now. Until Matessino finally gets his chance to create a CC restoration, I will purchase no other releases... even if tempted by the promise of marginally better sound. It will be worth the wait.
  4. The Five Tones

    SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - 3CD Set from La-La Land Records

    I received my copy last week and went through the set in sections - busy schedule, but this guarantees I actually pay attention to every second of the music. It's a different experience altogether hearing this restoration versus the recent ones for CE3K and Dracula, and not really fair for me to compare, if those two scores appear to sound just a little bit cleaner than Superman. It had been 20 and 30 years respectively with no updates for those scores. There must have been real challenges dealing with a 40 year old tape that I can imagine might have had a substantial amount of wear and damage given it was full of razor cuts and splicing tape... and basically neglected for 40 years. The 2008 Blue Box restoration, from 20ish year old tapes, sounded pretty good only ten years ago. But there is clearly so much more bite, dynamic range and overall variety of colour now: it IS the definitive version, and the way the score should be discovered by any newcomer. That storied brass section shines properly at last. I listened to the Fortress alternate before anything else. It was certainly exciting at the peak, if a little 70s weird or draft-y sounding later on. It feels like it's from an alternate score, maybe even an alternate John Williams! So, it's kind of fun to have. Musically, it wasn't the revelation for me of The Dome Opens alternate, certainly not Binary Sunset alternate, and the sound quality is a distraction those two cues aren't affected by. But it survived much better than Botanicus... The Dome alternate sounds better than ever. I like The Mugger alternate better than the revised cue. I never noticed the Mountain theme from CE3K in there before, oops JW. The overly-strong timpani in the Main Title alternate sounds clearer and it's nice to have. The first hour of the Superman score is essential. The second hour isn't quite on the same level for me (exceptions being the concert suites - wherever those fit in the ordering - and Flying to Lois, Turning Back the World and that amazing modulating brass explosion in Chasing Rockets). There is so much excitement front-loaded in the score. It's great to have the original soundtrack remastered, for its familiarity and more concise, composer-intended presentation. There is a bit of choice as well concerning audio quality. The remastered OST presentation appears to have a bit more compression and is just a little flatter EQ-wise. A more formal sound. But it's also not quite as exciting as the score presentation, imperfections and all.
  5. I prefer the original for length and probably nostalgia for the historical colour of the performance and recording. I can hear how it fits into the history vis a vis being pre SW and Supes. First time I'd heard the Lockhart - nice, great sonics, but too long. And I prefer this March over Midway and 1941, which I like again more as nostalgia.
  6. The Five Tones

    Favorite John Williams Chord or Chord Progression

    At the risk of hitting spam level commentary on this thread, was already six years old when I found out about it, I'm finally adding my list of favs, in addition to what I've already posted. First Seance from Family Plot - tritonal/altered dominant chord (pre-echo of CE3K, wordless chorus and all): The Destruction of Krypton from Superman - Lydian mode and "super" major 7th chord with added/stacked tones (relating to the Main Title A theme): More Lydian mode: Far from Home from E.T. - major chord/minor mediant root for the "Call" motif (and all of the harmonic brilliance in "Far from Home," for that matter): Water! from Temple of Doom - chromatic major triads over dissonant bass. Something very Lost in Space about it, but just a wonderfully resonant result and an orchestration/engineering highlight of ToD: Father and Son from Jaws - D major secundal chords over a C bass like something in the deep, also foreshadows End Credits and narrative resolution: The Funeral of Qui-Gon from The Phantom Menace - final sequence of chords finishing with a bitonal sound: A minor over D-flat major, literally the harmonic degree for Vader on top of the chord of rest that begins and ends all the light side themes. Almost as if Williams guessed or knew there would be another funeral two films later and an opportunity to resolve the theme unambiguously: Luke and Leia from Return of the Jedi - the pitches of the upper chords shift back and forth by a semitone while the bass descends chromatically from the sixth degree down to the fourth (and a iv - ii half diminished - V - I cadence). IMO the most tragic, Tchaikovsky-esque sounding theme in the saga. Indeed, there is something incredibly sad about the twins' Force-assisted reunion and good-bye in The Last Jedi: TreeSong - the central harmonic idea, a restive altered dominant chord that only resolves obliquely and ambiguously at the very end of the work: The Mecha World from A.I. - one of the best moments in all JW for me, combining his beloved minor sixth chord with an abrupt modulation to two parallel Lydian/tritonal statements and back again, while still keeping the melody in the original key, and the harmonic rhythm is shaped by the minimalist-textured, metronomic, seven-beat groove: Sean's Theme from Minority Report - mid-statement modulation upward by a minor third, an ancient trick to be sure, but its placement adds elegance here: Opening Title from Catch Me If You Can - This is the ultimate. Those very jazzy, meticulously arranged and voiced, fourth-based chords moving in parallel in even dotted quarter notes against the 3/4 time signature (i.e. playing it "straight" in a jazz waltz). It sounds just like a bridge for this "tune," but in fact Williams is actually, unbelievably, quoting in variation the bridge melody in Across the Stars from Attack of the Clones, which he had just completed earlier that year (2002). Johnny Williams in the house, jazz-quoting himself and flying his own chameleon flag, appropriate to the film in question: Here is the melody I'm referring to, and which is to my ears quite clearly quoted (intentionally or not? come on!). I'm sure someone in the history of JWFan has pointed this out before at least once (if not me already that I'm forgetting): To come back one last time to the half-diminished 7th chord topic which was covered extensively in the exchanges above, I don't think we mentioned this example from the Prelude from Superman. The chord has the same function here as in Princess Leia / Love Theme from Superman / Asteroid Field / Han and Leia / Buckbeat's Flight, which is as the dominant chord. It's somehow Debussyian to my ears, and makes an extended tonal centre out of the half-dim chord, with lots of passing detail:
  7. Williams has expressed admiration for Adams in the past - I wonder what he thought of the concerto. Despite their key differences, the music of John Williams and that of John Adams kind of meets in the middle... not to mention their names. They are both great symphonists who don't write symphonies in name, both evoking America of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, often from similar sonic angles.
  8. The Five Tones

    SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - 3CD Set from La-La Land Records

    Shipped and hanging out in Burbank. My whole life teeters with these LLL/JW/MM releases because I know I'll have to drop everything... whenever it gets here.
  9. The Five Tones

    New Arrangement of Leaving Home performed at the Oscars...

    You can only imagine the looks on the audience's faces if they had been presented with the Crystal theme as the In Memoriam music. Sure, death is mysterious and frightening, but you don't really expect that to the be the musical mood of a memorial, lol!
  10. The Five Tones

    New Arrangement of Leaving Home performed at the Oscars...

    I feel that's a syndrome (not the best connotation in my word choice perhaps) in many of the late rearrangements, esp. Han Solo and the Princess. The added gravitas there seemed entirely appropriate, though it didn't quite complement the harmonic colours of the original. Isn't the chord after the Amaj an Adim7 with suspensions (even soupier)? I hard to turn the sound way up because I heard a D# in the violas and then thought I imagined an F-nat in the bass (me and my Lydian dominant fascination! Of course there isn't an F-nat). Then we get a Bsus4 in the brass (Cmin7add4 overall), returning to the character of the original, but in a rather jarring, expeditious way. Maybe that one progression around A doesn't fit, maybe it was a more anguished touch by way of salute to Margot Kidder. Not exactly referencing her Lois Lane theme, but -- and it's a stretch, I admit -- it does echo a detail in some places of the score where there is a falling maj-min6 in her theme. I say a stretch, but this came to mind immediately:
  11. The Five Tones

    SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - 3CD Set from La-La Land Records

    I studied electronic composition in the analog (tape) days. Razor blade editing with high speed tape machines can result in very precise, undetectable edits (or at least in the context of home audio of the time, unobtrusive edits). But it's destructive editing - by ear! No waveform on a monitor, no undo/redo. If you don't have the time/money - and just think about the budget/pressure/professional standards involved with a major studio motion picture - you have to slice it right the first time, i.e. the only time. I can imagine using a spot backup, never mind have to resort to the backup master, was a cost prohibitive exercise. That said, I can't imagine trying to seamlessly edit a multitrack tape that contained 70-80 (what was the #?) closely-mic'd orchestral players in a live room. I'm familiar with all the places they failed to do so from years of listening to the LPs of SW, CE3K, ESB, Raiders, etc. I'm totally going to follow MM's advice and listen to the alternate Fortress before anything else (incl. pt. 2 of the podcast)... he just had to mention the Binary Sunset alternate.
  12. The Five Tones

    Favorite John Williams Chord or Chord Progression

    It is a IV7 in the harmony, and if you observe the melody in that measure (B-C-D), there is the barest hint of a IV7#11 (i.e. F7 coinciding with the B natural) and Williams’ flair for things Lydian. It’s also a VI of vi as it were, since it cadences on the relative minor (A min). Elements of that particular pitch collection recur in the next two chords: IV – VII7 (F to B7), which yes, in constituting the tritone progression (with a tritone in the melody line as well) makes a typical Williams/sci-fi/fantasy chordal move, though he uses it with subtlety and delicacy here and perhaps in other examples of Harry’s/Family theme. Without going into too too much detail, there is a parallel harmonic move at the end of E.T.'s Flying Theme: vi - II7flat5 - I maj7. Williams certainly loves to flow a series of key changes in his themes. Flying is a notable example. I also love this one: As there is virtually no chord progression structure to the brief main and orbit themes - they are stated over a static tonic major - the key changes provide the harmonic movement in this cue. The modulations seem arbitrary: down a minor third, a tritone, up a minor second, etc., but they enhance the melodic line, and give the music a real feeling of lift, appropriately enough. (There is a single same-key move, the beautiful IV-I cadence at the end.)
  13. The Five Tones

    SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - 3CD Set from La-La Land Records

    I bought the 1978 double LP around late 1980 or early 1981 - after I had already bought Superman II - and played it on the audiophile system we had in our house. I became aware that it was of middling to inferior sound quality, not only relative to SII but on a then state of art the system. I first heard the rough-sounding Arista CE3K vinyl around this time (and Raiders a few months later), so this wasn't a shock. But one usually expected the music on your home stereo to sound at least better than off the tiny mono speaker on your TV which played low quality broadcast feeds, or the tinny little speakers of the day in theatres. Despite the over-compressed/clipped/distorted audio - pre-echoes of mp3s and Soundcloud, lol - I knew Superman was an absolute masterpiece. That opening march was like Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries or Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 (and 2001/Also Sprach Zarathustra which was only a decade old release), but with a modern tempo, chordal profile and pop cultural relevance. It was, is, of my time. I believed an orchestra could fly. It is no small event for me that the original multis have been restored and remixed. The metaphor (hashtag/tagline) and the music are one. And yes, it will be a sentimental souvenir to have that original LP presentation restored. But I really just want the updated film score and precious few newly discovered moments.
  14. The Five Tones

    SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE - 3CD Set from La-La Land Records

    Was completely not paying attention to where this topic was at until an LLL email an hour ago. Talk about last minute (actually, late) order announcement! Ordered!!
  15. The Five Tones

    Why did Williams only score 4 episodes of lost in Space?

    It's iconic, no doubt about it. If I had seen 12-Mile as a child, I don't remember it, but when I did seek out the DVD decades later, I could only hear that cue as the jet pack music.