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Do we have more of his modern stuff?

I really do enjoy the "random" that Williams adds to his action cues, like the brass when Indy starts to fight Dovchenko, or those flute/xylophone runs that he tends to use a lot.

That is the most irritating and gaudy aspect of his modern music.

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Regarding your classifications, why do you consider ostinati as a modernist characteristic when that's been around for hundreds of years and does seem to be to be a category in itself since he does it so often as a way to deal with action scenes. It also just doesn't sound modern.

While the origins of ostinati lie in folk music, it was at the turn of the 20th century when they truly became part of the language of classical music.

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Do we have more of his modern stuff?

I really do enjoy the "random" that Williams adds to his action cues, like the brass when Indy starts to fight Dovchenko, or those flute/xylophone runs that he tends to use a lot.

Can you post some examples? I haven't listened to KOTCS in ages, and don't have much desire to.

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The Brass, or the xylophone?

the xylophone has been there from the beginning, though not in the amount you hear in his latest scores.

It may have been there from the beginning, but at times, Williams implements it to such an extent and with such impertinence that the result simply makes me nauseous.

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Maybe if, instead of a xylophone, he would have your skull being played on Star Wars VII. With hard mallets.

I'm not alone in finding Williams' modern xylophone outbursts obnoxious. And I hate the sound of that instrument when someone pounds away on it. Not everyone likes every instrumental colour. Calling me an asshole because of that makes you an even bigger asshole.

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I love the xylophone, but I would agree that Williams started to overuse those woodwind/xylo/piano flourishes in his action music as the 2000's started to roll around. It's a musical element whose effectiveness tends to be inversely proportional to how often it's used.

For examples of Williams using the xylophone to brilliant effect, I would cite JP's "Cartoon Demonstration", the percussion feature during the chess game in HP:SS, and numerous moments in ESB, such as during the Battle of Hoth and in "The Asteroid Field."

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For examples, what I like its about 2:12 and on from Ants!

1:17-1:29 from Pursuit of the Falcon

0:18 from Flying Wing/Fist Fight

0:30 Saving Willie

Just things that sound like (in my mind) some brutal boxing match. And most of these scenes are to that effect.

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JW seems to be mostly out of his xylophone/flute hit phase. There are barely any in KotCS, and I don't think there are any in Tintin or War Horse right (and of course not Lincoln)?

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KOTCS has some instances of it. Tintin mostly steers clear, and War Horse avoids it altogether. One of the reasons why I like War Horse so much is that the action music feels truly fresh in Williams' oeuvre.

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I'd say Williams' modern action music is his most original stylistic tendencies. I haven't heard any other style like it, in film music or in the concert hall. At least, not anything written before Williams' created the style in Jurassic Park.

You have a lot to learn......young one!

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I'd say Williams' modern action music is his most original stylistic tendencies. I haven't heard any other style like it, in film music or in the concert hall. At least, not anything written before Williams' created the style in Jurassic Park.

You have a lot to learn......young one!

Huh?

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Damn, I love this thread! These tracks are what drew me to film scores in the first place, even before I knew what a soundtrack album was, I'd watch a scene over and over again just to soak in the sonic lemonade.

It's an unfortunate reality that a lot of JW's best action cues remain unreleased. Nothing gets me more excited than discovering a "lost gem" from a classic JW score. Thank you gaming community.

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Now just a damn minute! "gaming community"? I'll have you know that I've never played a computer game in my life. I did. however, like to watch my friends play the original Tron light-cycles arcade game in the early 80s. How we all laughed...

So, Mr.K., what would you say are JW's best unrealeased action cues?

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I once mentioned on another thread how much I loved the Dracula score (Wojciech Kilar), and someone pointed out that yes, it's a great score, but some of the action sequences are mediocre at best. Which I thought was true, and made me appreciate a master like JW even more. I think we might underestimate how hard it can be to write music that sounds exciting, and with action, but not sound cheesy, or overdone. Again, JW rises to the top of the heap. It seems that action cues can really set apart the men from the boys in terms of composers...if they can do great action cues, they must be pretty good. :).

As pointed out here, there are so many great action cues from JW (jurassic park and war of the world come to my mind first), but I think personally the dessert chase from Raiders, could be the top for me....amazing, classic treatment, really set the bar high for music and movie action sequences in general.

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Now just a damn minute! "gaming community"? I'll have you know that I've never played a computer game in my life. I did. however, like to watch my friends play the original Tron light-cycles arcade game in the early 80s. How we all laughed...

So, Mr.K., what would you say are JW's best unrealeased action cues?

I'm an 80's kid too and don't play either, but those that do have found a treasure trove of cues- especially those from Lucasfilm games. The game designers have open access to the complete recordings.

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I'd say Williams' modern action music is his most original stylistic tendencies. I haven't heard any other style like it, in film music or in the concert hall. At least, not anything written before Williams' created the style in Jurassic Park.

You have a lot to learn......young one!

Huh?

Exactly!

I'd say Williams' modern action music is his most original stylistic tendencies. I haven't heard any other style like it, in film music or in the concert hall. At least, not anything written before Williams' created the style in Jurassic Park.

You have a lot to learn......young one!

Huh?

Exactly!

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Okay, so I was listening to T-Rex and Finale and one of my music major friends told me that it was atonal. But isn't there a difference from being atonal (no key) than simply going from key to key? I'm no music..ologist like some of you fantastic people here, but how would you exactly describe Williams action music.

I know we classified it a bit earlier, so this isn't about the "swashbuckling" melody driven stuff like Asteroid Field, Tie Fighter Attack, Scherzo for Motorcycle and orchestra, etc, I mean stuff like the Snow Battle, Escape from the Karaboujan, T-Rex and Finale, Rescuing Sarah, and so on.

I know sync-points with action (like a punch or so) have something to do with it, but I think I need a better understanding since I seem to recall in some other board saying Williams' action music isn't atonal and is very carefully constructed and thoughtout?

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Okay, so I was listening to T-Rex and Finale and one of my music major friends told me that it was atonal. But isn't there a difference from being atonal (no key) than simply going from key to key? I'm no music..ologist like some of you fantastic people here, but how would you exactly describe Williams action music.

I know we classified it a bit earlier, so this isn't about the "swashbuckling" melody driven stuff like Asteroid Field, Tie Fighter Attack, Scherzo for Motorcycle and orchestra, etc, I mean stuff like the Snow Battle, Escape from the Karaboujan, T-Rex and Finale, Rescuing Sarah, and so on.

I know sync-points with action (like a punch or so) have something to do with it, but I think I need a better understanding since I seem to recall in some other board saying Williams' action music isn't atonal and is very carefully constructed and thoughtout?

In his action music JW uses a lot of extended harmonies (often in clustered chords), chromatically altered chords, bitonality, mode mixture and orchestrational tricks like aleatorism, but essentially most of his music is basically tonal. See the other threads about JW's use of chromaticism and writing techniques.

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Are there any specific examples of Williams using aleatorism? According to google, it's "by chance", so what does that mean exactly? I'm sure you all know more than me.

I think I saw on a Lost World thread that certain woodwind runs are made using aleatorism or allowing the performers to adlib, like in the random parts of Rescuing Sarah.

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Are there any specific examples of Williams using aleatorism? According to google, it's "by chance", so what does that mean exactly? I'm sure you all know more than me.

Some examples of aleatoric techniques that Williams uses:

- Instructing the pianist to hit "lowest cluster." This is by far Williams's most frequently used aleatoric technique. It means using one's palm to hit all white and black notes in the octave of an 88 key piano. If the pedal is down, it creates a gong-like sound - if it's off, it's a dark, metallic thud. Either way it's a very percussive effect. Most credit its development to Henry Cowell.

Some examples -

Very beginning of "The Idol's Temple" from RAIDERS.

0:!3 in the "The Visitor's" from CE3K.

0:48 in "The Shark Approaches" from JAWS.

0:12 in "The Wampa's Lair" from EMPIRE.

0:21 in "The Shoebridge Headstone" from FAMILY PLOT. Low white note cluster.

5:03 in "Eye to Eye" from JP. No pedal here, but marcato ^ accents overhead. Combined with "huge bass drum."

- The opposite of this is "highest cluster." Due to the highest strings of the piano having very little sustain, there are usually exclusively for clinky jabs.

2:48 and 4:09 (here also combined with lowest cluster attacks) "Jedi Master Revealed/Mynock Cave" from EMPIRE.

6:54 from "T-Rex Rescue & Finale" from JP. Combined with low clusters.

2:53 in "The Island Prologue" from TLW.

- "As fast as possible" (or AFAP) figures. A series of pitches are written out in sequence, and the players are told to either play them as fast possible, play them in random order, gradually increase speed, or slowly play them out-of-sync with the rest of the orchestra. Williams mostly commonly writes this for cellos and basses or harp, but can also be applied to low winds, piano, trombones, horns, trumpets, and high winds.

0:18 and 0:58 in "Han Solo Returns" from ROTJ.

0:41 in "The Clash of Lightsabers"

1:10 in "Ludlow's Demise" from TLW. Trombone figure.

2:17 in "The Trek." Low winds double tonguing chords AFAP in a Morse code-like pattern

Tonnes of other examples here - others can fill this in

- Cluster glissando. Basically a tone cluster that either slides to a designated higher or lower cluster, or to the lowest or highest possible pitches on the instrument. Usually played by strings, but sometimes horns, trombone, synth. With high winds, Williams usually just writes "shriek to highest pitch."

4:34 in "Eye to Eye" from JP. Strings and synth.

2:49 in "Rescuing Sarah" from TLW. 4 Trombones and 6 horns "rip" to highest pitches.

1:04 and 1:36 in Drawing the Battle Lines/Leia's Instructions from EMPIRE

Picc/flutes shrieks throughout "The Compys Dine" from TLW.

- Behind the bridge technique on strings. Usually violins. This is where the player bow on the other side of the bridge, creating seemingly random pitches. What you're hearing are the highest partials of each string.

0:52 in "The Compys Dine,"

When Donovan super-ages in TLC. Here the violins are playing pizzicato behind the bridge.

- Harmonic glissando. This is a usually for violins, but refers to all string instruments. Almost always touch four harmonics (the player lightly stops whatever note is a fourth above the one playing) - these sound two octaves higher than written. The glissando means than the players slide the notes up and down ad lib.

1:01 in "Bait for E.T." Violins and violas slide around harmonic cluster (D-Eb-F#-G-A).

2:42 in "Pre-Crime to the Rescue" from MINORITY REPORT. No pitches indicated - these entirely up to the players.

0:11 in "Rescue from Cloud City/Hyperspace." Love this effect - double basses doing the same thing, creating a ghostly, almost electronic sound. Also violins harmonic gliss on the first down beat of this cue, marking Vader cutting off Luke's hand.

- Piccolos shrieking at highest pitches

03:52 in "Searching for E.T."

0:31 in "Dracula's Death"

and etc.

Listen to Lutoslawski's Venetian Games. One of the earliest examples of aleatoricism, and quite similar to the kind found in Williams's oeuvre. Another recommendation is John Corigliano's score for ALTERED STATES. Corigliano is a big influence on Williams's avant-gard

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Personally, I'm old school. I like the action music from the 80's, when the "boom-tzzz" meant something other than just a rhythmic tool. It feels to my ears as if at some point in the 90's, Williams got bored telling musical mini-stories and became content with just writing awesome music.

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His earlier action music does tend to be somewhat more storytelling-oriented, I agree. There's more of a straightforward musical narrative going on, rather than a barrage of devices intended to underline the...actiony-ness of it all.

I still think there's plenty of great Williams action material from the last few decades, but some of what he wrote in, say, the early 80s is just on a whole 'nother plane of existence.

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Personally, I'm old school. I like the action music from the 80's, when the "boom-tzzz" meant something other than just a rhythmic tool. It feels to my ears as if at some point in the 90's, Williams got bored telling musical mini-stories and became content with just writing awesome music.

Oh definitely. When I listen to the chase scene from E.T or The Flying Wing, I can play out the scene in my head, especially since I love when Williams treats a theme to fit the scene (like a "troubled" version of Indy's Theme when he's in trouble).

Thanks for all the insight Prometheus! What I want to ask about his technique concerning actual figures that aren't aleatoric.

Stuff like

T-Rex And Finale -

2:42- 2:50

4:08-4:18 or so.

Escape from the Karaboujan 0:34-0:40

1:10-1:16

Battle of Hoth

5:17-5:36

Ants!

2:16-2:21

2:28-2:47

Rescuing Sarah

1:27-37

Jango's Escape

1:34-1:38

And so on. I'm more focused on the random interjects of the orchestra. Any idea on that?

It's usually made by the brass. I've never heard any composer do stuff like that.

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Personally, I'm old school. I like the action music from the 80's, when the "boom-tzzz" meant something other than just a rhythmic tool. It feels to my ears as if at some point in the 90's, Williams got bored telling musical mini-stories and became content with just writing awesome music.

Oh definitely. When I listen to the chase scene from E.T or The Flying Wing, I can play out the scene in my head, especially since I love when Williams treats a theme to fit the scene (like a "troubled" version of Indy's Theme when he's in trouble).

Thanks for all the insight Prometheus! What I want to ask about his technique concerning actual figures that aren't aleatoric.

Stuff like

T-Rex And Finale -

2:42- 2:50

4:08-4:18 or so.

Escape from the Karaboujan 0:34-0:40

1:10-1:16

Battle of Hoth

5:17-5:36

Ants!

2:16-2:21

2:28-2:47

Rescuing Sarah

1:27-37

Jango's Escape

1:34-1:38

And so on. I'm more focused on the random interjects of the orchestra. Any idea on that?

It's usually made by the brass. I've never heard any composer do stuff like that.

Those are all completely tonally written. Harmonically they are not even so interesting, it's all about the syncopic rhythmic pattern, and the orchestration is used to emphasize the rhythm. E.g. in t-rex rescue, the passage is basically in Em, with alternating Em and Fm7(#5) chords in the low and high brass. The low brass is written in close harmony so it sounds very clustered, almost percussion-like. The high strings and woodwinds play chromatic counterpoint lines that stress the repetitive metre shift of 2/4 and 3/4, adding to the panicky, jerky rhythm, as if 'out of breath'. One of Williams coolest action cues ever written IMO :) Similar writing techniques can be found in Stravinsky and Bartok.

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Thanks so much MSM! I see now that a lot of the brass figures are syncopated and/or very rhythmic !

Has anyone every analyzed T-Rex Rescue and Finale? I'd love to know the theory behind it (expressed simply of course). I know that Williams will first start out in one key then move up or down in thirds (Escape from Naboo, Hyperspace) but I'm not sure that this is the case for T-Rex .

Im asking because I've always loved his style of action music and would love a way to understand it for my own style, as a step away from my college composers who do action music like Zimmer.

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Thanks so much MSM! I see now that a lot of the brass figures are syncopated and/or very rhythmic !

Has anyone every analyzed T-Rex Rescue and Finale? I'd love to know the theory behind it (expressed simply of course). I know that Williams will first start out in one key then move up or down in thirds (Escape from Naboo, Hyperspace) but I'm not sure that this is the case for T-Rex .

Im asking because I've always loved his style of action music and would love a way to understand it for my own style, as a step away from my college composers who do action music like Zimmer.

It'd be great to analyze...but it would cost a lot of time. Yes Williams' action writing is generally quite ingenious, although some people dismiss it sometimes as 'generic Williams'. I think we are a bit spoiled when it comes to Williams' music.

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NOTE: Please forgive me - and correct me! - if I use any terms incorrectly in this post. Also, I reserve the right to use different enharmonic spellings for notes whenever I feel like it, so there!

"T-Rex Rescue and Finale" starts with a cluster chord (F# G A Bb C Db Eb) in the strings, piano, and harp. These are notes of an octatonic scale (i.e., the intervals alternate between semitones and whole tones). At the same time, muted trombones play a chromatic figure that ends on Db. In the next measure, the horns take us down a fifth to F#, creating a weird, temporary sort of resolution through what could be heard as an implied authentic cadence.

These first two downbeats are both punctuated by musical effects. The first measure is just a swipe of something metallic on a gong. The second measure is more complex - it involves a stroke on a musical saw, a strong downbeat that percussionistically blends trombones with pizzicato strings and timpani, and an ascending figure in the woodwinds and piano. That figure starts out ascending by sixths, kinda tracing out an EmM7 chord, but then the top notes are C F# G Ab...not sure what to make of that harmonically.

Anyway, after the horns hold that F# for a measure, the carnivore/raptor theme begins to play over and over again. For my money, Williams has actually pulled sort of a "truck driver's modulation" here. If the F# is acting kind of like a tonic for the first two measures, now we've gone up a semitone to the key of Gm for the carnivore theme. (The theme does get briefly doubled a tritone up by the woodwinds and strings, followed by a second doubling that's a minor sixth up from the tonic. Kind of a bitonal device for a theme that already doesn't have that strong a tonal center.) Meanwhile, there's another octatonic cluster chord going on in the strings, which eventually glisses up to an Ebm add4 on the downbeat.

Now the carnivore theme has stopped, leaving the woodwinds to sustain a dissonant chord in its wake. That chord is kind of like...Cdim, but bookended with an E at the top and at the bottom. You could look at this as yet another octatonic cluster chord, just broken apart into different octaves. The trombones join in a moment later, continuing this octatonic framework. There are also little punctuated chords in the bass clarinets and piano, and those mostly fit into that scale, too. These various cluster chords next get passed from section to section, with a few random notes from the brass thrown into the mix occasionally.

Next comes...you guessed it...an octatonic cluster chord! While that chord is held, muted trombones offer a few staccato snarls. Then the carnivore theme returns once in the low strings, and this time, it fits perfectly into the octatonic scale used for the cluster chord. So does the quick violin harmonics gliss. The cluster chord crescendos to take us into that pounding timpani rhythm, which basically takes place in Dbm, with more octatonic stuff going on. Funnily enough, the cluster chord right before this passage sounds a bit like Dbm. So when the music moves into the following Dm passage, it feels natural, like we were already there.

This is fun! More hopefully to come. Biggest takeaway so far: octatonic scales, octatonic scales, octatonic scales! Especially with cluster chords! Very Williams. And straightforward, satisfying chord progressions that are partially obscured in layers of complexity.

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Personally, I'm old school. I like the action music from the 80's, when the "boom-tzzz" meant something other than just a rhythmic tool. It feels to my ears as if at some point in the 90's, Williams got bored telling musical mini-stories and became content with just writing awesome music.

You are Alive!!!

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NOTE: Please forgive me - and correct me! - if I use any terms incorrectly in this post. Also, I reserve the right to use different enharmonic spellings for notes whenever I feel like it, so there!

"T-Rex Rescue and Finale" starts with a cluster chord (F# G A Bb C Db Eb) in the strings, piano, and harp. These are notes of an octatonic scale (i.e., the intervals alternate between semitones and whole tones). At the same time, muted trombones play a chromatic figure that ends on Db. In the next measure, the horns take us down a fifth to F#, creating a weird, temporary sort of resolution through what could be heard as an implied authentic cadence.

Cool post :) Isn't this basically a so-called alpha chord? It's F#dim7 mixed with Gdim7... I think it's heard throughout Eye to Eye as well (haven't checked, just by ear)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octatonic_scale#Alpha_chord

I still think octatonic cluster fits the bill better, since what we've got here are secundal not triadic chords.

BTW, I interpret the passage from bars 7-11 of March Past the Kitchen Utensils (0:20 to 0:30 of T-Rex Rescue and Finale) as multilevel clusters that derive from the same octatonic collection (C-Db-Eb-E-F#-G-A-Bb) - blurred by a foreign pitch collection (F-G#-A). First you've got C-D#-F#-C-D#E in the winds - then Williams cleverly takes the C-D#-E pitch set (0-3-4) and has the transposes that down to F#-A-Bb for the muted trombones, while still keeping within the octatonic collection. Likewise with fibre muted horns joining in with Eb-F#-G.

Now Williams pulls the master stroke and throws in another 0-3-4 in the form of F-G#-A in muted trumpets - like a tearaway from another (possibly octatonic) collection. This adds an atonal edge to this wall of sound.

The final flourish is a tone pyramid in winds and synth electric piano - but it keeps within the original C-Db-Eb etc. set.

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Huh?

Not that your post isn't clear, just for anyone to see the chords visually might be insightful.

I always got to rack my brain when you post something...;)

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I'm not sure if it comes under "action music" but...I played "Planting The Charges", the other day. WOW!!! What a constantly evolving piece of music!

By turns loud and magisterial (the reveal of The Glass Tower, in all its blazing glory), low and cunning (the meeting on floor 138), spiritual (the shot of the man praying), and tense (the shot of the clock - intercut with shots of the characters - as it counts down to the explosions).

This covers just about all JW bases, and remains IMO, one his very best long-form pieces.

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