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ymenard

John's underscoring masterpiece

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We always talk about his grandiose themes, leitmotives, etc..

But what is John Williams' underscoring masterpiece? It's a very important reason why we listen to his music, not just the big stuff, but the stuff in-between it (eh), the incredible and unique underscoring for quieter moments, dialogue scenes, etc... They aren't necessary calm, or simple. He has matured in style, and turned into contemporary music with age, often dissonent, atonal.

So which of his score is? :|

There is Artificial Intelligence, with it's mature and intelligent underscoring, often very emotionnal, very "Ligeti" in style yes but it's the obvious Kubrick influence. Sometimes feels like Philip Glass too.

But there's also this big giant... E.T. Every single moment of the score, when it's not blasting you with those amazing themes, is _as much_ beautiful as the rest. The simple harp... the fragility of his music.

Yet again, some would say The Empire Strikes Back. The way John blends all those leitmotives and twirls it with orchestration that still amazes me after all those years. It's like during the Bespin escape sequence... how he builds tension (during that moment with Boba Fett bringing Solo to his ship, and when Lando frees them).... it's magical.

So for you, which one is?

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Not to sound repetitive, but As The Water from Memoirs of a Geisha. Also, in TPM, I love that little moment, when Nute Gunray says to the droids "Process Them". It's just so wonderfully evocative.

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One of my favourite pieces of underscore recently has been David and the Specialist from the A.I. Promo, with the beautiful thematic rendition in the middle. (I call it that because I don't know A.I. well enough to know what any themes stand for)

I've also found The Separation of the Family from WotW very significant recently. The whole score actually I highly appreciate because I saw the movie on the day of the July London bombings last year, and all those associations of human loss run rampant.

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The three examples ymenard provides are excellent, especially A.I., one of John's most sublime efforts. I'd like to add a few others to the mix, the first being Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It may not reflect totally on the CD, but this is one of the most beautifully understated and subtle scores that Williams has ever written. It's thematic development is brilliant, something totally ignored by the OST, and it really evokes the emotional canvas of the beautifully realized film. The music is married so effectively to individual scenes, that their effect can be so emotional and perfect that the viewer may not be able to easily identify why. Scenes that come to mind: The Expecto Patronum scene with the Boggarts: the ethereal chorus and oboe rendition of the Window of the Past theme is perfect. Another small moment would be the bats flying in the woods between scenes, scored with a beautiful woodwind motif. And another one of my favorites is the scene in which Harry and Sirius look at Hogwarts together after the Shrieking Shack scene. These are only a few moments in a score full of amazing underscore.

Ted

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A.I. springs to mind with its evocative and athmospheric underscoring. Williams uses very brilliantly his thematic material and creates also beautiful non thematic moments.

Revenge of the Sith has some wonderful thematic and non thematic underscore. Brooding darker stuff and wonderfully malevolent and nervous material.

Presumed Innocent. Williams uses the theme is such a clever way to imply the main character's obsession to a woman by repeating the main theme ad infinitum. Quiet soft music that just repeats and repeats. It the end there is the great moment where the music leads the audience astray by implying that Harrison Ford's character commited the murder. Brilliant. psychological underscoring.

Prisoner of Azkaban is truly a master piece and contains so many great underscore moments alongside with the great thematic set pieces.

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A.I. springs to mind with its evocative and athmospheric underscoring. Williams uses very brilliantly his thematic material and creates also beautiful non thematic moments.

Revenge of the Sith has some wonderful thematic and non thematic underscore. Brooding darker stuff and wonderfully malevolent and nervous material.

Presumed Innocent. Williams uses the theme is such a clever way to imply the main character's obsession to a woman by repeating the main theme ad infinitum. Quiet soft music that just repeats and repeats. It the end there is the great moment where the music leads the audience astray by implying that Harrison Ford's character commited the murder. Brilliant. psychological underscoring.

Prisoner of Azkaban is truly a master piece and contains so many great underscore moments alongside with the great thematic set pieces.

I agree totally with everything you've said here, Incanus. You and I are two of the few proponents for the brilliance of Presumed Innocent, or so it seems.

Ted

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Lots of good stuff (especially AI and HP:PS/POA) has been mentioned so far, but I thought I would expand on Star Wars - all of them. Just one random example from each score:

TPM: that noble horn fanfare when the submarine thing they are in surfaces in Theed.

AOTC: Yoda and the Younglings. Just beautiful.

ROTS: Scenes and Dreams. I love ATS, the foreboding in the music (particularly when she says "Ani, I'm pregnant), and then the Grievous stuff. I am not sure why people do not like "Grievous speaks to Lord Sidious"; I find it to be a wonderfully rhythmic, harmonic and dramatic cue

ANH: Tales of a Jedi Knight is pretty awesome

ESB: The whole of the Cloud City sequence is scored to absolute perfection

ROTJ: Alliance Assembly. A jaunty little cue, with some nice theme action near the end

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Star Wars.

True, true. I think a lot of people forget that even these big movies have great soft and effective underscore to go along with those quiet or suspenseful moments. Sure, the bombast is popular and what most of the movie-going public remembers, but the underscore...my god, the underscore....great stuff. Same thing with Superman: The Movie.

Tim

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i think the thread is for entire scores not just individual underscore cues.

I think the answer is scores that you don't tend to skip tracks,that you tend to have complete DVD score rips that you actually listen to and you can't live with some underscore cues beeing unreleased.

The Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

E.T.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Hook

HPPS

HPPoA

A.I.

The Phantom Menace

Revenge of the Sith

K.M.

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I always thought that Saving Private Ryan was a very subtle, and very brilliant, underscore. I remember hardly even noticing the music during the film because it was so perfect with the visuals, and then when I bought and listened to the soundtrack, I remember thinking, "holy mother of crap, this is absolutely gorgeous music. How did I not hear this?" And that's the very nature of a good filmscore, is it not?

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First, I want to say that this is a great discussion topic. Now for my picks (my apologies in advance for sounding cheesy):

Empire of the Sun (absolutely exquisite movie - the score enhances the drama perfectly)

Jurassic Park (evokes a sense of mystery and excitement - pure adrenline rush)

E.T. (the way in which the themes are hinted at in the beginning and build to a climax in the finale is pure genius - the in-between cues are beautiful listening experiences)

Amistad (ethnic and emotional - the quiet rhythms are absolutely soothing)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a more mature score for a more mature movie in the series)

Stepmom (subtle, but effective, brilliantly capturing the human emotion in the story)

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Home Alone is nicely scored. The fanfare at the stair sledding and the tuba at chopping down the tree just define the mood of their respective scenes.

I just remember seeing Hook as a child, and, though I didn't appreciate the movie at the time, I still remember knowing the music, both theme and score, through and through.

I just love the score to The Terminal! "The Fountain Scene"? Delightful!

I must say my favorite has been, is, and will always be Jurassic Park. Everything about it drives me. The score fits not only so well with the movie, but it having been engrained so long into me, it defines me. I should say, I am defined by it. I don't know how, but that's what I think. I'm a little biased.

~Conor

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Um, hello?

Stanley and Iris?!

What wonderful themes - all with just woodwinds and a string sections. Some tpt solos and a few horn pads.

Did I mention the themes?!

A wonderful example of his jazz influence in orchestral writing.

My favorite "under rated" score!

Jason

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But what about "Journey To The Island"? The first sighting of dinos, and then when the audience finally sees the Brachiosaurus? Is that weak? In my opinion, it is majestic and beautiful. Then, immediately following that, after the whole T-Rex thing, they "march" into the main visitors' center. How tender is "A Tree For My Bed" and how mysterious yet gentle is "Hatching Baby Raptor"? Does not "Remembering Petticoat Lane" set the tearful, ice cream-eating scene so well? Yet also how tense are the scenes out on the island, such as "Dennis Steals The Embryo" and "High-Wire Stunts." All I'm saying is that, even though many of the tracks could be considered as 'themes' more than straight underscore (though most are in fact underscore in one form or another), I think they are very well suited to the scenes in the film. Of course, it all comes down to what they mean for one person individually.

~Conor

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Well,Journey to the Island is a Williams classic of course and the first half of the JP album is good to great,but then there's some uninspired underscore I find.I don't like the cues Dennis Steals the Embryo,High Wire Stunts,Remembering Petticoat Lane,Jurassic Park Gate,Eye to Eye and T-Rex Finale all that much.

K.M.

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Um, hello?

Stanley and Iris?!

What wonderful themes - all with just woodwinds and a string sections.  Some tpt solos and a few horn pads.

Did I mention the themes?!

A wonderful example of his jazz influence in orchestral writing.

My favorite "under rated" score!

Jason

no I didn't post this, nor do I agree with it.

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Um, hello?

Stanley and Iris?!

What wonderful themes - all with just woodwinds and a string sections.  Some tpt solos and a few horn pads.

Did I mention the themes?!

A wonderful example of his jazz influence in orchestral writing.

My favorite "under rated" score!

Jason

no I didn't post this, nor do I agree with it.

But I do. What a wonderful straight-to-the-heart score. It reminds me of the day when I was a fan of Williams.

----------------

Alex Cremers

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Sleepers is also an under rated Williams score and contains great under score as well as some great centerpiece moments.

Saying the Rosary, Learning the Hard Way, Sleepers at Wilkinson, The Trip to Wilkinson are all effective and haunting under score moments.

Of course there are those classic Williams moments on the album like the Reunion and Finale, Hell's Kitchen and the energetic Football Game. Reunion is particularly lovely since after all the doom and gloom of the rest of the album it shines bright and clear at the end singifying hope. The flute solo is so delicate and optimistic and amazing.

This score is severely over looked but it is genuienly different and wonderful Williams score.

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Well,Journey to the Island is a Williams classic of course and the first half of the JP album is good to great,but then there's some uninspired underscore I find.I don't like the cues Dennis Steals the Embryo,High Wire Stunts,Remembering Petticoat Lane,Jurassic Park Gate,Eye to Eye and T-Rex Finale all that much.

K.M.

Don't you start trashing my favourite Williams score :angry:

Maybe you don't like them because they're supposed to be unsettling like the movie?

:| High Wire Stunts

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Well,Journey to the Island is a Williams classic of course and the first half of the JP album is good to great,but then there's some uninspired underscore I find.I don't like the cues Dennis Steals the Embryo,High Wire Stunts,Remembering Petticoat Lane,Jurassic Park Gate,Eye to Eye and T-Rex Finale all that much.

K.M.

Don't you start trashing my favourite Williams score :angry:

Maybe you don't like them because they're supposed to be unsettling like the movie?

:| High Wire Stunts

JP is one of the best action scores of the 90's. Take out the two main themes and you still have a great score. The tension, the horror, the awe and wonder, the majesty. It's got it all! From the demented miracle of Hatching Baby Raptor to the amazing action cues at the end of the film. The absolote tear-jerking melody of My Friend, The Brachiosaurus and the how-cool-is-that march into the JP complex after they get off the helicopter. The wonderful jazzy suspended chords that make up the melody in Dennis Steals The Embryos. The coolest brass fanefare ever when the T-Rex roars at the end and the banner floats in front of him. Goose bumps, people!

For a while JP was too haughty for me. The action stuff was so freakin' busy - I just couldn't follow all those notes! :) But that was when I first started listening to Williams. Over time I've come to learn the language he speaks and it opened up a whole new world of musical understanding.

As a composer I've got the conductor score and still learn from JP on every new project I'm working on. Though I must admit my failure to appreciate it in the past was due mostly to my inability to be able to process and thereby "understand" what Williams was doing in the action pieces. It was like "Oh, another Williams action cue - skip, please! Let's listen to Escape/Chase/Saying Goodbye again."

I think that is probably the problem a lot of people have with Wiiliams "sounding the same" all the time or just being "too busy." They can't understand the language he's speaking - like the way a foreign language "sounds the same" to me.

No offense intended to those who don't like JP. :)

Jason

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But I do. What a wonderful straight-to-the-heart score. It reminds me of the day when I was a fan of Williams.

----------------

Alex Cremers

:roll:

Yet you still continue to post here.

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Another note -

Whenever I listen to ANY music I can't help but analyze it and pick it apart in my head - especially film score stuff. Even the most dissonant and evil cues don't really get to me anymore. I'm too busy studying it as it plays.

However, I distinctly remember listening to the action stuff from JP (and a lot of his other "busy" suspense writing) and skipping over it after a minute or so simply because it wasn't pleasant for me to listen to. It unnerved me and made me uncomfortable, which is exactly what Williams was trying to do.

Bravo, Maestro!

Jason

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Jason, to which conductor's score do you refer? Is there a Jurassic Park Hal Leonard Signature edition? I don't think that I've found that one. Please let me know if there is a way I could get a hold of the score to any of the music from the movie. Thanks.

~Conor

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But I do. What a wonderful straight-to-the-heart score. It reminds me of the day when I was a fan of Williams.

----------------

Alex Cremers

:roll:

Yet you still continue to post here.

that was my post.before I just settled for a :wave:

k.m.

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But I do. What a wonderful straight-to-the-heart score. It reminds me of the day when I was a fan of Williams.

What a sad life you must lead.

Morlock- who is fan of JW in every incarnation, who likes every single score monetioned above, and something from every JW socre he's heard save Sabrina

Morlock2- who thinks Stanley & Iris contains some of the warmest and lovliest music JW's ever composed, and thinks the main theme is one of his most beautifully orchestrated pieces JW's ever written. I melt every time the strings take over from the piano at 2:30....sigh........

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Jason, to which conductor's score do you refer?  Is there a Jurassic Park Hal Leonard Signature edition?  I don't think that I've found that one.  Please let me know if there is a way I could get a hold of the score to any of the music from the movie.  Thanks.

~Conor

It's the full conductor's score from the recording sessions. Check my trade list of scores and you'll see what I mean.

Jason

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Although it's a score I rarely listen to (apart from the sublime "Arlington", of course) I think that JFK has some very effective underscore. Those snare drums...!

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Although it's a score I rarely listen to (apart from the sublime "Arlington", of course) I think that JFK has some very effective underscore. Those snare drums...!

Oh yes JFK is a underscoring master piece. The music has a wonderful presence in the film.

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