Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by aviazn

  1. Absolutely agree, crumbs. I think the maturity of Rey upon arrival is reflected by her theme not being merely a motif or melody or a signifier, but a piece with multiple elements and lines. And Williams hammers that home by making the very first time the theme appears in the film essentially a full, concert-suite-level statement—not doling it out bit by bit and developing it over the course of the film as he so often does. The theme arrives fully developed, as does Rey as a character. I can't remember any other JW character theme—especially a prominent one in Star Wars—that gets such a full treatment in its very first appearance (well, aside from Luke's theme).
  2. Article in the Berkshire Eagle: And a cute anecdote about his own changing societal views:
  3. I was thinking of action scenes, but you’re right, I’d forgotten about the battle before The Resistance and TR8R!
  4. To me, action or chase scenes that have large unscored sections (and then often have music kick in at a crucial point) is part of the DNA of Star Wars, its rhythm and pacing. And it’s an intentional choice by Lucas that has been lost in the sequel trilogy. It’s not just ANH, with Yavin and the Vader/Obi-Wan fight. Think of the parts of ESB score that Williams wrote and Lucas and/or Kershner trimmed away (Luke/Vader fight, and at a stretch, the piano figure at the beginning of the Hoth battle). Or all of the ROTJ speeder chase. The beginning of the pod race. The asteroid chase in AOTC. Obi-wan on the lizard with Grevious in ROTS. These sequences that are all visuals and editing and sound, to me, are just as much of a cue that I’m watching a Star Wars movie as the score. I wish we had more moments like those in the sequel trilogy, but it seems Abrams and Johnson have a hard time saying no to JW. Which, of course, I can hardly blame them for.
  5. LA Phil killed it in Seoul. I’ve heard nearly all the pieces on the program with JW and the Boston Pops within the last six years or so, and Dudamel and the LA Phil gave by far the better renditions. Sounded great too, especially considering they were playing amplified in a gymnastics arena. Agreed on the Adagio! Thought there was much more shape to this performance, and I definitely prefer Dudamel’s interpretation to the OST.
  6. Here's hoping Dudamel and the LA Phil pull this one out as an encore on their Asia tour of the "Celebrating JW" program.
  7. There obviously is nothing that can match the experience of a live concert, with the energy of a live audience. Having said that, I attended multiple concerts with JW and the Boston Pops when I lived in Boston a few years back and in each one found the tempos Williams chose in some pieces to be significantly slower than the original recordings. Of course, it’s all subjective, and it’s certainly not unheard of for conductors to relax tempos as they get older. But they were significantly slower to the point where I felt they were quite sluggish, and would definitely prefer the original recording. The most memorable performance of any Williams piece I ever heard live was of the Close Encounters suite with Osmo Vänksä and the Minnesota Orchestra—and I’d take that performance, as subjective as any live piece is—over any of the recordings.
  8. While I'm really glad to see these JW reevaluations from classical critics, what has begun to annoy me is that they all seem to think his music boils down to reviving the stylings of the old dead white guys in the classical canon and never acknowledge the tremendous (and innovative) influence of jazz on his music. It's as if jazz is just one of those styles that he "does" when films call for it—just like he can "do" Jewish music and "oriental" music—rather than being woven into the DNA of his writing. They've at least moved on from saying he is recycling Holst and Wagner to saying that he recycles them with consummate skill, and now cite those influences as markers of seriousness. But that is still all they seem to hear, which points to a lack of diversity in their ranks and also fails to identify what so often makes his neoromantic writing feel fresh and exciting. I'm reminded of what Yo-yo Ma told Tim: I wish JW would talk more about this part of his inner life.
  9. I don’t think Solo would have been elligible even if it had been submitted on time. You can try to weasel your way around some of those disqualifying criteria, but with Powell clearly being the sole “submitting composer”, I think there’s too much Williams in it for him to be elligible.
  10. I think it’s some of the things you mentioned that make it seem more “generic”—the orchestration being not particularly dense and the lack of a lot of harmonic motion in the main theme, especially, gave me a first impression that it sounded like someone else’s take on Star Wars music. In that sense, it’s more within the realm of what many other film composers would be capable of producing if asked to deliver Star Warsian music. If I’m being honest, if you played the first 15 seconds for me and told me that it was a generic demo track from an aspiring film composer’s personal website, I’d have believed you. Nevertheless, I agree with everyone who’s said this is an unexpected treat, and how lucky we are to be getting new and revisited JW Star Wars music at such a rate.
  11. I admit, I quite enjoy Tyler’s package for Formula 1. It’s probably just because I now associate it with F1, one of my favorite things in the world, but what can I say? It’s my favorite thing of his that he’s done since Children of Dune.
  12. Reposting this excerpt from a New Yorker piece by Russell Platt, which which I agree wholeheartedly. Even if Williams' influence isn't heard in classical new music in terms of his gestures or techniques, the level of accessibility to which so many composers aspire these days is undoubtedly influenced by his music:
  13. One of my favorite JW piano performances. Listened to it on the Tanglewood lawn under a perfectly clear summer night sky. Just magical. Continued here:
  14. Not only is it a fabulous arrangement, but I think it’s reached the pop culture saturation point where it is the definitive arrangement, the one most people think of when (if) they think of Anything Goes. Not sure if this has been posted before but there was this neat nugget in an old interview with the Dancing With the Stars music director:
  15. This was unseen by me, but apparently, during last night's Sunday Night Football game, in the middle of the Packers and Aaron Rodgers' 20-point second half comeback against the Bears, lead commentator Al Michaels compared Rodgers to John Williams. Nice to see the appreciation from his NBC colleagues.
  16. Love this clip from that ESB documentary—not for the actual performance, but the extroverted way he manages the LSO in rehearsal. Like trying to make a high school band behave. "Alright here it is, gents. Settle down boys." Seeing him work to keep them in line, it's a little bit easier to imagine him getting truly exasperated and walking off the stage in a huff over discipline issues, as in the famous Boston Pops meltdown. It's also fun to see the total command and efficiency he displays in rehearsing it on the sound stage—managing the brass section's endurance, working a particular bar and using it also to set levels at the same time.
  17. Completely agree with this. TBH War of the Worlds is my favorite Spielberg film since E.T.
  18. The melodic contour does remind me of the sample from the Mad Men theme.
  19. Yes, if we can count that restatement of the theme—which of course comes before the "soft harp ending" proper—then it's no contest to me. Otherwise, I'd go with The Last Jedi, with its two harp lines—or at least, it's mixed that way, on opposite ends of the stage. I love the unexpected dissonances in the first arpeggio, and then the way the second one resolves them harmonically but ends on the dominant, not quite finishing the figure.
  20. Clearly, it’s the Star Wars saga as a whole, for better or worse. If I had to pick just one, though, I would argue Empire as well. To me, that score ticks all the objective criteria for a magnum opus because it’s where he first found that full-bodied, colorful action voice for which he would become best known. A New Hope is full of those temp quotes and consciously classical idioms. It might be sacrilege, but to me it’s the least Star Warsian of all the Star Wars scores. Even looking beyond the obvious temp stuff like Dune Sea/Rite of Spring and Rebel Blockade Runner/Mars, you can tell Williams was drawing on the familiar everywhere in that score. When I hear Leia’s theme, I hear Tchaikovsky. When I hear the imperial theme, I hear Stravinsky. But when I hear The Asteroid Field, I hear John Williams. Pure, unadulterated Williams. Same with Han and the Princess, and Hyperspace, and the medical frigate Finale. By comparison, even ANH material like Here They Come or the Battle of Yavin—impactful though they may have been—feel like mere prototypes for the kind of multi-layered writing he would do in Empire.
  21. Saw the film this weekend completely cold, having read nothing about the score beyond Jon Burlingame's Variety story earlier this year. I don't know if it was because I had low expectations for the film overall, but I was pleasantly very, very surprised by how good it was, and the role that JW's themes played in it. I'm not at all surprised to learn that he spotted the entire film before writing it—it fit it too well for it to be otherwise. Going into it, I did have the impression that JW's Han theme would be something more "abstract", something for Powell to draw on and reference, as if it had been part of the material from the original trilogy. I expected it to have some prominent appearances. But I hadn't quite expected it to be the core of the score in quite the way that it was, and for JW's stamp to be all over the film as much as it was. There were times when I must have had a stupid grin on my face in the theater because I realized that JW must have actually written the cue, or Powell was directly lifting from something he'd written (like 3:48 and 4:12 in Reminiscence Therapy or, as previously noted, 1:15 in Dice & Roll). And I have to say, the A theme is so catchy that it's the first time I've come out of the theater humming a new JW theme since War Horse. On its own, The Adventures of Han is a good, slightly convoluted concert piece (and I'm still really not a fan of the intro or the false ending). But as a thematic contribution to the fabric of a brand new Star Wars score, it feels like an incredible gift. I was skeptical enough of the entire enterprise of a Han origin story that I didn't expect JW and Powell to deliver as they did. Between this, TLJ, and TLJ's isolated score, what an incredible six month span of Star Wars music we've just had.
  22. Han, no contest for me. RIR still makes no sense to me—I'm not a fan of either of the themes, I don't like how they're mashed up, and I find the ending to be very weak, almost cringeworthy. I find the ending (and opening) of Adventures of Han to be almost as weak (makes me cringe in a Mutt-like way), and it's not the sort of piece that perfectly encapsulates and develops the theme. But I really, genuinely enjoy the meat of the material. It feels like JW wrote the themes, had some killer ideas in mind for action cues, knew he'd never get the chance to see them on the screen, and slapped them all together as a demo reel/humblebrag for Powell.
  23. Sure, that's totally legit. But all great art has internal connections that emerge beyond what the author consciously intended. These connections I'm not so much interested in as leitmotives—with some sort of intended narrative function or signal to the audience—than I am as recurring sequences in the genetic material generated in the compositional process. I'm not saying the appearance of a stripped-down version of the Jedi Steps in Holdo's Resolve is meant to be a leitmotivic connection—I'm just saying that a stripped-down version of the Jedi Steps melody appears in Holdo's Resolve. And that at Holdo's big moment when the Resistance escapes, Williams chooses to harmonize the desperation theme for the first time in the same way as the Jedi Steps. Whether it's a coincidence in terms of leitmotif and narrative, it's not coincidence in terms of the compositional mindset in which he's approached the ST. These intervals and chords were clearly on his mind, and that's part of how he writes music that we all recognize as Star Wars-ian. To me, it's not just the equivalent of writing dialogue like "Run!" or "lightsaber" repeatedly, it's more like the equivalent of adopting a narrative voice. If it were just gestures that could be copied and imitated, we wouldn't need Williams to write Star Wars scores. Williams said he didn't actually come up with the idea of counterpointing them until he actually wrote the TFA end credits suite. The line between intent and coincidence isn't always so clear…
  24. Coincidence or not, the connection is there! Just because Williams didn't intend for it to happen doesn't stop it from deepening the links between the scores. I think of it like the connection between Rey's theme and the Force theme, which Williams seems to have realized only after he wrote it. Here's another one along the same vein: Whether intended or not, the desperation/Holdo theme is a variation of The Jedi Steps. You can hear a stripped-down version of the Jedi Steps melody as counterpoint in the low strings at 1:59 of Holdo's Resolve.
  • Create New...