Augie

Angela Morley about Arranging for John Williams on Star Wars

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This 1997 article blew my fucking brains out. Honestly, I didn't know to what

extent Angela Morley contributed to John Williams' classic soundtracks! Why

didn't she get more credit for that? Read. Consider this as higher learning.

ANGELA MORLEY:

ARRANGER HAS SCORED MANY SUCCESSES

By Kenneth LaFave

Published in The Arizona Republic

When superstar composer-conductor John Williams needs a difficult arrangement made or a new film score orchestrated, he sometimes dials a number in Scottsdale. The phone is answered by a woman with an elegant British accent.

She’s Angela Morley, and you’ve heard her work, whether you know it or not. You’ll hear some of it this week on CBS, when the unlikely combination of chanteuse Patti Lupone and cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform a duet with the Boston Pops on Evening at Pops. Williams leads the orchestra as its conductor laureate. (The show will be seen It 8 p.m. Thursday on Channel 8—KAET.)

Williams had engaged Lupone to sing a John Bucchino song called Unexpressed, a Broadway-flavored ballad from her catalog. But, how to fit in the contrasting classical talent of the evening’s other guest, Yo-Yo Ma? That was the challenge when Williams called Morley. Morley proceeded to boot her computer, grab the mouse and click into place a counter-melody for Ma that lifted the song into an entirely different dimension.

It’s the fate of the arranger to make such major differences while getting minor credit, but that doesn’t bother the 75-year-old native of Leeds, England. “If I can write countermelodies for the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell.” Morley says, pondering, “well, that’s very satisfying, isn’t it? I’m very happy to be in that sort of company.” Bell and Perlman are still other classical superstars who have benefited recently from Morley’s crossover savvy. But a complete list of performers whose music has owed in part to Morley’s arranging or orchestration skills would go on for several feet. She’s penned arrangements for Mel Tormé, Benny Goodman, Julie Andrews and Rosemary Clooney.

She got into arranging after starting off as a saxophonist in World War II England and she branched into film and television scoring. Morley cinematic orchestrations are unavoidable.

“Do you know the scene in Star Wars where Luke goes down into the Death Star trench and the voice says ‘Use the Force, Luke?’” Morley asks, as if anyone would not know the famous moment. That’s my orchestration.” So is the ice-palace music in Superman. (“Lots of sliding glissando’ she says, in a disapproving tone.) And scenes in a parade of films scored by Williams and others, including E.T, The Empire Strikes Back, The Right Stuff, Karate Kid and The Verdict. She has also provided what the film biz calls “source music,” or music that happens in real time within the movie. The Viennese waltzes in Schindler’s List are her arrangements. Ditto the Christmas songs in Home Alone.

Three Emmies on Morley’s mantelpiece attest to the level of her arranging skills. She won in 1984 for the network special Christmas in Washington; in 1987 for Julie Andrews in Concert; and in 1990, again for a Julie Andrews–related project The Sound of Christmas.

Morley had awful luck starting out in music. Three months after her father got her a piano, he died, and the family’s new circumstances meant that the lessons and the instrument disappeared.

Then there was the incident with the anti–musical grandfather.

“At age 10, I had a month-long love affair with the violin,” Morley recalls. “My grandfather, a prankster who didn’t like the violin, smeared butter on my bow and very effectively brought my violin career to an end.”

Against all odds, young Angela insisted on a musical career, eventually taking up the saxophone and playing in some of England’s biggest big bands. At age 26, she put down the horn and turned to writing, and she has never looked back.

After scoring films in England, the success of her music for the 1977 film Water-ship Down encouraged her to make the move to Hollywood, which she did in 1980. That began a halcyon decade of TV work, including background scores for Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest.

A self-confessed refugee to Arizona from ‘The very big, very scary” 1994 LA earthquake, Morley now writes less often than before. “I’ve had my fill of TV and I can’t seem to get any feature films,” she says.

Her most recent passion: the choir of the Alliance Francaise of Greater Phoenix, which she conducts for alliance functions and on two privately distributed CDs.

But when the phone rings and John Williams needs her help, chances are she won’t say no.

I was born at Leeds, Yorkshire in 1924. My parents had a shop that sold jewellery, silver plate, watches and clocks . My earliest musical memory was of sitting on the floor surrounded by records of the bands of Jack Payne and Henry Hall and playing them on our enormous wind up gramophone. My dad played the ukulele-banjo that he used to let me tune for him, using his pitch pipe, to either G-C-E-A or A-D-F#-B. My mother had a contralto voice and sang: ‘There is a Lady Passing By’ and, her favorite, ‘Big Lady Moon’.

When I was eight years old my dad bought a brand new Challen upright, that had pride of place in our over-the-shop Sunday sitting room, and sent me to an elderly lady a few streets away for piano lessons. Three months later, my dad became ill and very unexpectedly died at the early age of thirty-nine. My piano lessons were immediately stopped and never recommenced. They are the only piano lessons that I ever had. A year later, my mother, who had no head for business, sold the shop and we went off to live with her parents.

At age ten, I had a month-long love affair with the violin but my grandfather, a prankster who didn’t like the violin, smeared butter on my bow and very effectively brought my career as a violinist to an end. At eleven, I started to play the accordion, had lessons and won a couple of competitions. A judge from the BBC advised my mother that there was no future in the accordion, and that I should learn a band or orchestral instrument, for instance the clarinet or saxophone. My mother bought me a clarinet at the local pawnbroker’s for one pound ($4 at the time). It was built all in one piece; it was a simple system instrument that was ‘high pitch’ and had a broken mouthpiece. I had lessons on it and started to play in the school orchestra. Several months later, a doting mother bought me an alto saxophone that said ‘Pennsylvania’ across the bell. How could I fail with such an instrument? Quite recently, I was told that it was a cheap instrument made in Czechoslovakia. I started to play, unpaid of course, in a local semi-pro band. I left high school at fifteen and went on tour with ‘Archie’s Juvenile Band’ for ten shillings a week ($2 at the time). On joining the band I was asked to name my favorite band. ‘Ambrose’ I said. Whereupon they all laughed themselves silly and said: ‘What, you’ve never heard of Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey? I confessed that I hadn’t, and my education was taken in hand that very moment as we all headed off to the nearest record shop. I started to take down arrangements from records about this time under the tutelage of the pianist, Eddie Taylor, who was an old hand at it.

World War II started and created a new dimension to my life that was anything but a hindrance. Suddenly, with all the bands starting to lose musicians to the ‘draft’, a fifteen-year-old musician who could sight-read was eagerly sought by every band leader in the UK. Before I was seventeen and a half, I’d gone from band to band in quick succession until I found myself playing lead alto with Oscar Rabin’s Band, still touring alas, but broadcasting and making records too. It was during this period that I graduated from taking down records to writing arrangements for pay. At twenty, I joined the Geraldo Orchestra, arguably the best band in the UK at the time. The Geraldo Band practically lived at the BBC doing several radio programmes a week. The great bonus for a developing arranger was that the band might be a ‘swing band’ on Monday and then be augmented to symphonic size on Tuesday and on other days be various combinations in-between and, sometimes even adding a choir. Since I got to arrange for all these programmes, was there ever a better arranging academy? I doubt that anything like that exists today.

During this period, I started to study harmony, counterpoint and composition with a Hungarian composer, resident in London, Matyas Seiber. I also was an enthusiastic participant in a conducting course taught by the German born conductor, Walter Goehr. Both Robert Farnon and Bill Finegan had written many of the arrangements in our repertoire, and I fell under the spell of both of these great talents and remain, today, greatly indebted to them.

At age twenty-six I decided to give up playing to concentrate on writing. I was busy from the start and three years later, at age twenty-nine, a lot of good things happened to me. I became musical director of the newly launched Philips Records (UK) arranging and conducting every week for all the contract artistes and occasionally for American ones like Rosemary Clooney and Mel Tormé as well as recording several instrumental albums of my own. I started to score films under my own name (I’d ‘ghost’-written two scores the previous year) and I was writing all the cues for a top BBC comedy show: ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ and doing the same, plus conducting, for ‘The Goon Show’ which was probably the most successful BBC radio comedy show of the 1950s.

The 1950s was a very exciting time to be recording, because not only had tape taken over from direct to disc recording and advanced German microphones were in every studio, but stereo had magically added a new dimension to sound. However, these advances had not found their way into film studios and to go to a cinema to hear one’s latest score was absolute torture. I was so depressed by these experiences that by the time I was thirty-six (1960), I started to turn down any offers to score films.

During the 1960s, although I had a very busy and interesting musical life, including doing a lot of recording for Readers Digest Records, writing arrangements for Benny Goodman and scoring some documentary films about art for television, I regretted having turned my back on feature film scoring and tried my best to get back into it. Finally, starting in 1969, I scored ‘The Looking Glass War’ (from a John Le Carré spy novel featuring a very young Anthony Hopkins), ‘When Eight Bells Toll’ (another Anthony Hopkins movie) and ‘Captain Nemo and the Underwater City’. This led to my writing adaptation scores for ‘The Little Prince’ (collaborating with songwriters Lerner & Loewe) and ‘The Slipper and the Rose’ (collaborating with Robert & Richard Sherman). In 1977, I scored almost all of ‘Watership Down’. I was officially credited as the composer of this score but I had taken over the commission from indisposed composer Malcolm Williamson, who had written six minutes of very high quality music that is the first six minutes of music in the film, and who was given the not very satisfactory credit: Additional Music by Malcolm Williamson! In between scoring films I was also a regular conductor of the now, alas, defunct BBC Radio Orchestra and, from time to time, helped John Williams with the orchestration of his scores for ‘Star Wars’, ‘Superman’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

I had been nominated for an Academy Award for ‘The Little Prince’ and ‘The Slipper and the Rose’ and went to California on both occasions to attend the ‘Oscar’ ceremonies. The wonderfully warm and generous way that I was made to feel at home there by my American colleagues and friends resulted in my being rather seduced by the California life style and I soon returned with intention of staying, if not for ever, at least for some time.

I rented an apartment in Brentwood and set about getting permission to work. With this I was soon scoring television at Warner Bros. By 1980, I had bought a house and became futher involved with American TV. In the years from 1979 to 1990, I scored TV films and many episodes of TV series like Dallas, Dynasty, Hotel, Falcon Crest, Cagney & Lacey, Emerald Point, Wonderwoman, Island Son, Blue Skies and McClain’s Law. I conducted at most of the Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros., Paramount, M.G.M., Universal and 20th Century-Fox.

During the summer, I used to write many arrangements for the Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra during the fourteen years that John Williams was that orchestra’s conductor, in addition to helping him with his scores for ‘E.T.’, ‘Hook’, ‘Home Alone’ I & II and ‘Schindler’s List’. I helped several other very good composers with their scores such as: Milklos Rozsa, Alex North, David Raksin, Bill Conti, Laurence Rosenthal, David Shire, Ernest Gold, Johnny Mandel and Pat Williams. I was nominated six times for an Emmy Award for TV composing and won three Emmy Awards for arranging. In addition, I wrote many arrangements for Julie Andrews and Mel Torme and occasionally some for opera stars like Frederica von Stade, Barbara Hendricks and Placido Domingo.

I never really tried very hard to find feature film commissions. In Hollywood your recent track record is all important, and, in my case, on my arrival from England, what had it been? A film about ‘a little prince’; one about ‘Cinderella’ and an animated one (animated films were, at this time, something that children watched on Saturday morning TV) about ‘some rabbits’! No sex, violence, explosions! There had been lots in of those things in my earlier films but they had not been recent or high profile enough to count. In short, I couldn’t ‘get arrested’ as they say.

Big changes were taking place in film music. 20th Century-Fox was the only remaining studio that had a music department head, Lionel Newman, who regularly conducted music scoring sessions. A far cry from the ‘golden years’ of Hollywood when brilliant musicians like Victor Young, Alfred Newman, John Green, Ray Heindorf etc. etc. ran the music departments at all the studios. They had great power on the studio lot and used it to promote and to protect composers in their charge. I experienced this with Lionel Newman. With his passing, music department heads are now, generally, former producers or executives from the ‘pop’ record industry. Another big change has been the coming of synthesizers. Producers long, and understandably, frustrated by their inability to look into what the composer was up to and having to wait until the scoring session to find out what the music was going to sound like, discovered that the composer could make a synth. demo and play it with the picture. The first time I heard about this practice was in connection with the score for ‘The Color Purple’. I heard that it took twenty-seven music writers to create that score and that nothing could go forward to the orchestration phase until the producer, Steven Spielberg, had heard a ‘polaroid’ (synth. mock-up) of a cue and heard it played with the picture. Today, composers are given far less time to write their scores than has been the practice in the past, and to be distracted by the constant requirement to make demos of everything must be a giant headache. To get through some of these assignments must need a constitution of iron, one which, I will freely admit, I no longer have!

Another great frustration for composers is the ‘temp. track’. This is where the director chooses a piece of existing music, very often from a commercial recording of a classical work, which he dubs on to the sound track to accompany an important scene as a temporary measure until a composer is hired to write the original score. Very often the director falls so in love with his temp. music that he can’t be persuaded to give it up and accept the new original music. I remember one extreme example of this: The composer’s drawn expression suggested to me that he hadn’t been to bed for some time. In a weary voice, he told me that a very long cue that we had recorded two days previously, that he had very skillfully composed and that had worked wonderfully with the scene, had been rejected by the director of the film because it wasn’t close enough to the latter’s beloved temp. track! My colleague had now reworked the sketch which he offered me together with the pocket score of the classical work that the director had used as a temp. track. My friend gave me an imploring look that seemed to plead for my complicity as one thief in the night to another, apologetically mumbling:‘You understand what has to be done here?’ I understood, only too well, that I was being required to incorporate the mercifully dead master’s engraved, published notes into the new version of the cue. Only thus would the director be satisfied. The thought crossed my desperate mind that perhaps the plea: ‘I vos only obeying orders!’ might get me acquitted when the case came up. I don’t know if this cue ended up in the released film or whether cautious legal minds had prevailed to protect the company from a possible action by the trustees of the estate of the dead composer, but six months later my colleague won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for this film. As a composer, he certainly merited this coveted award. In his acceptance speech, he was most generous with his praise for all of us who had helped him through this nightmare and, now a free man again, pointedly ignored the director.

In the last six or so years, life in Los Angeles had became less and less appealing to me. As soon as the Cold War came to an end, we had a bad recession in L.A.’s biggest industry, aerospace. Then we had race riots followed by fires, then floods and very great demographic changes caused by immigration. Finally, on Jan. 17th 1994, we had a big, very scary, earthquake only six miles from my house. I decided that I simply had to go and live somewhere else. The ‘somewhere else’ had to be out of California, because there are earthquake faults all over the state. I came and had a look at Scottsdale, Arizona (only one hour’s flight time to L.A.) where there has been no history of earthquakes. I loved what I saw. Several months later, I bought a house here.

Almost end of story. John Williams still seems to like my arrangements. I wrote three in the summer that he recorded with the LSO in London and three more that he recorded in early December conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony with Itzhak Perlman playing the violin solos. I’m very happy to be in that sort of company!

Talking to Howard Lucraft in 1997

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I remember one extreme example of this: The composer’s drawn expression suggested to me that he hadn’t been to bed for some time. In a weary voice, he told me that a very long cue that we had recorded two days previously, that he had very skillfully composed and that had worked wonderfully with the scene, had been rejected by the director of the film because it wasn’t close enough to the latter’s beloved temp. track! My colleague had now reworked the sketch which he offered me together with the pocket score of the classical work that the director had used as a temp. track. My friend gave me an imploring look that seemed to plead for my complicity as one thief in the night to another, apologetically mumbling:‘You understand what has to be done here?’ I understood, only too well, that I was being required to incorporate the mercifully dead master’s engraved, published notes into the new version of the cue. Only thus would the director be satisfied. The thought crossed my desperate mind that perhaps the plea: ‘I vos only obeying orders!’ might get me acquitted when the case came up. I don’t know if this cue ended up in the released film or whether cautious legal minds had prevailed to protect the company from a possible action by the trustees of the estate of the dead composer, but six months later my colleague won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for this film. As a composer, he certainly merited this coveted award. In his acceptance speech, he was most generous with his praise for all of us who had helped him through this nightmare and, now a free man again, pointedly ignored the director.

I wonder who is this composer Angela was referring to?

The first time I heard about this practice was in connection with the score for ‘The Color Purple’. I heard that it took twenty-seven music writers to create that score and that nothing could go forward to the orchestration phase until the producer, Steven Spielberg, had heard a ‘polaroid’ (synth. mock-up) of a cue and heard it played with the picture.

I thought Spielberg disliked mockups? I guess he makes an exception only with Williams.

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Must have been Bill Conti - who won the Academy Award, of all composers mentioned, except Williams, in that era.

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I was actually surprised when I learned that Angela Morley was born a male, and she became a female after a sex-change operation! I didn't know that!

And yeah, she was one of the very best!

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So it seems.

I just wonder how much of the unique, classic Williams sound - you know, everything

between JAWS and TEMPLE OF DOOM, the colors in the orchestration and that

particular musical fabric that seems to be absent before JAWS and after TEMPLE OF

DOOM - eventually goes back to Mr. and Mrs. Morley...

It's not forbidden to use an arranger, of course. John Williams always has his team

of collaborators. Every composer has. It's just strange that she never really got credit

for her material. And we are obviously talking about some key scenes here, with key

music.

I also didn't know that she arranged the source music for Schindler, Hook and Home

Alone. The source music in Schindler is a masterpiece on its own!

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Other than a great arranger/orchestrator, she was also a very fine composer. This CD is a wonderful collection of her best works.

I just wonder how much of the unique, classic Williams sound - you know, everything

between JAWS and TEMPLE OF DOOM, the colors in the orchestration and that

particular musical fabric that seems to be absent before JAWS and after TEMPLE OF

DOOM - eventually goes back to Mr. and Mrs. Morley...

It's not to forbidden to use an arranger, of course. John Williams always has his team

of collaborators. Every composer has. It's just strange that she never really got credit

for her material. And we are obviously talking about some key scenes here, with key

music.

It's the same old same old. When you have a mammoth score like Hook, Star Wars or TESB to be delivered in such a short amount of time, it's obvious you have to employ the skills of several orchestrators. As it has been said many times, Williams leaves no doubts in his sketches, which are always detailed enough to be expanded in full score without adding anything pivotal in terms of color and timbre.

The fact Morley never received official credit in the above-mentioned scores has more to do with burocracy matters or union rules. I'm sure she got a nice check for her services and was pretty fine with that.

Must have been Bill Conti - who won the Academy Award, of all composers mentioned, except Williams, in that era.

Yep. It's quite known Conti was really put into shame by the director for the various lifts on The Right Stuff. And Morley's resume indicates she worked on that one.

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Certainly, Maurizio. That's how it works, internally, on every production. I know the process pretty well

from screenwriting jobs. You have to get ready on time and some stuff gets delegated to certain other

team members - because they do it well (or maybe even better), and they have the time. It's just my

unfounded concern that Morley probably contributed much more than just the icing on the cake.

Call me naive. Up until now I always believed Williams created all these precious score moments single-

handedly.

Anyway, and now for some penguins:

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Well, the various handwritten sketches that surfaced around prove that JW is unquestionably the author of his music. But that's not to take back from his various collaborators who orchestrated and/or arranged for him, which are all amazing people of great musicianship.

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um the article says clearly that she arranged the williams boston pops performances and the likes and she was creduted so in many of those cds. now about film scoring, she does not say any different than conrap pope, etc. so no surprises there.

we all knew most of williams arrangements of other peoples material for film is his orchestrators territory. and i assume that is why we seldom see williams credit on the songs in the end credits and rarely his source cues make it to the osts...

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As fas as I know Williams instructions to orchestrators are very clear. When you look at his sketchs there are very few things that are "open" for the orchestrator.

In the end it's 100% Williams.

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A neat article. Thanks for posting it Augie! :)

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its strange and misleading about the article not mentioning his gender change and previous name. most works they mention you may have trouble finding them because the composer's name does not match...

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I think - when you look back at Star Wars as one of cinema's very first, fully aware RETRO soundtracks,

going back to the traditional, orchestral days to evoke that special old-time-feeling, and not without some

irony there (not unlike the way Michael Giacchino does it today) - Williams used Angela Morley's unique

arrangements on purpose, because he wanted to add these particular colors in the score. The sound of

small, orchestral ensembles from the 50s, a very British sound, by the way, which reminds me also of old

British war movies, which influenced the whole first Star Wars film. And Wally Stott/Angela Morley had

been a part of all these smaller bands and orchestrations.

So he hired her, like a soloist, to nail that specific sound, for certain parts of the score. In order to get

this layer of traditional sound - one of many - just right.

Let's watch the scene again, and listen to Morley's famous arrangement, at 2:04 :

Sounds like old-time radio, like an old 45.

You know? Just like some composers keep hiring a theremin player. Just not THAT obvious.

More from Wally Stott:

Anyway, I recall that John Williams, on several occasions, mentioned Claude Thornhill

as one of his many influences when he was a youngster. The Thornhill Orchestra was

also a part of that big band scene, just a few years earlier than Stott. I think Williams

was pretty familiar with all those 45s.

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I think - when you look back at Star Wars as one of cinema's very first, fully aware RETRO soundtracks,

going back to the traditional, orchestral days to evoke that special old-time-feeling, and not without some

irony there (not unlike the way Michael Giacchino does it today) - Williams used Angela Morley's unique

arrangements on purpose, because he wanted to add these particular colors in the score. The sound of

small, orchestral ensembles from the 50s, a very British sound, by the way, which reminds me also of old

British war movies, which influenced the whole first Star Wars film. And Wally Stott/Angela Morley had

been a part of all these smaller bands and orchestrations.

So he hired her, like a soloist, to nail that specific sound, for certain parts of the score. In order to get

this layer of traditional sound - one of many - just right.

While your thought is certainly fascinating, I think it's stretching things a tad too far. Williams employed Morley (as well as Herb Spencer, Sandy Courage, Arthur Morton and Al Woodbury) simply because they were some of the best around and the one he trusted the most to get the work done in a brilliant and efficient way. Surely the original Star Wars score has a certain British-influenced sound, but it goes as far back as to Walton and Elgar, because that was part of the orchestral tapestry Williams and Lucas envisioned for the film.

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Who knows? It's just speculation.

But, at least to me, the first two SW films often had this almost nondescript, old-fashioned (but

charming) sound to them, which I think was intentionally produced by John Williams, the orchestra

and his team. And with old-fashioned, I don't mean just the obvious "classical" references to the

Late Romantic idiom (Strauss, Wagner), turn of the Century British composers (Elgar, Holst) and

Golden Age Hollywood composers (Korngold). But also to more popular artists like all those

nameless Dancing Band records which will never find their way into conservatory curricula.

Others have tried to imitate Williams by copying a just-classical approach, and failed. I think it's

the combination of the jazz idiom, symphonic orchestra and other pop music influences (mostly

coming from the 40s and 50s) that made him so successful.

One of the most popular score moments of the film sounds, for example, just like an old, rusty

radio orchestra from the 40s to me, totally hamming it up! But it is the perfect sound for a serial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRW2WtQNbn0

All those invisible layers that make a masterpiece.

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Don't get me wrong Augie--I'm following your reasoning and I find it pretty fascinating. I like talking about these things. There's certainly some truth in what you're expressing. I don't know however if this was something completely preconceived by Williams in a kind of intellectual way. I think the end result is more the product of his own gut reaction about what the film told to him and less of an intellectual dissection. He surely always had a connection with US and British 1940s band orchestras, but I guess it's something that is in his blood, so to speak, hence it's part of his vast musical knowledge that inevitably creeps up every time he starts to compose music.

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The last nail has been driven into the coffin of Williams' supposed musical brilliance. His singular voice is the result of orchestrators, arrangers and other unsavory types.

We have been betrayed, we have been so terribly...betrayed.

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Don't get me wrong Augie--I'm following your reasoning and I find it pretty fascinating. I like talking about these things. There's certainly some truth in what you're expressing. I don't know however if this was something completely preconceived by Williams in a kind of intellectual way. I think the end result is more the product of his own gut reaction about what the film told to him and less of an intellectual dissection. He surely always had a connection with US and British 1940s band orchestras, but I guess it's something that is in his blood, so to speak, hence it's part of his vast musical knowledge that inevitably creeps up every time he starts to compose music.

Just the fact that he has some great jazz background is evident in most all his scores. I agree it's part of his blood.

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The last nail has been driven into the coffin of Williams' supposed musical brilliance. His singular voice is the result of orchestrators, arrangers and other unsavory types.

We have been betrayed, we have been so terribly...betrayed.

It can't be...

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Any fans of The Goon Show will know Wally Stott's music, as he was composer, arranger, and conductor for all the classic Goon Shows. Then he became Angela Morley and composed some beautiful film music. I still firmly believe that Morley worked on the Lando's Palace cue from TESB. It sound far more like Morley's music from Watership Down than anything by John Williams! Morley: great composer. Nice article, Augie.

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The last nail has been driven into the coffin of Williams' supposed musical brilliance. His singular voice is the result of orchestrators, arrangers and other unsavory types.

We have been betrayed, we have been so terribly...betrayed.

Oh please. We've already known for years that Mr. Williams didn't actually play all the horns and strings and cymbal crashes on the Star Wars album all by himself.

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Watership Down: Crossing the River (from 1:00 onwards)

Empire Strikes Back: Lando's Palace (first minute only)

They are not the same orchestration or melodies, but I hear Morley's fingerprints all over it! It's a stylistic thing more than a direct similarity.

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As has been pointed out time and time again, Williams' orchestrations are in effect his own: His sketches are extremely detailed, and "arranger" is really misleading when it comes to the work his orchestrators do. This isn't speculation, but pure fact, evident from his sketches.

Angela Morley was certainly a very fine

composer and arranger in her own right, but "Lando's Palace" owes not to "Watership Down", nor to Morley. Rather, both it and a lot of "Watership Down" owe to Debussy and Ravel, by way of Walton. I think it is fair to assume that Williams and Morley share a lot of musical references as well as preferences, also when it comes to orchestral colors...

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Morley said the "Use The Force, Luke" moment was her 'orchestration', not her 'arrangement'. There is a difference. Williams arranged the music for that specific scene through his sketches. Seems Morley, though a fine arranger in her own right, was trying to claim artistic merits that belong to Williams. A lot of people tried to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon at some point, even if their involvement wasn't half as interesting as they claimed it to be.

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Maurizio, I'm getting your point, totally. I think the truth must be somewhere in between,

as great art happens by a kind of alchemy of inspiration and skills. So maybe he didn't

hire her specifically for SW, but, as he knew she could deliver that kind of sound, let her

do her thing (with his material).

Pizxie-Twinkle, thanks for pointing this out. "Lando's Palace" is one of these themes,

yes. I see it! But it was Max Geldray who was the composer on the Goon Show; Wally

Stott conducted his orchestra.

If you think about it, in movies, and in the production of the soundtracks, there must be

almost as many people involved as in the Special Effects department. So maybe this

whole metier is a lot more about team effort ... than we are usually conditioned to think

of it.

Everyone involved leaves his thumb prints all over it. Not just the composer. The choice

of the orchestra makes a difference. The venue were the music gets recorded and its

sound. The principal players. Soloists. The background and training of the choir persons,

orchestrators, arrangers, section leaders, music editors. The guy who brings and performs

the synthesizers. The person conducting the orchestra.

Peace!

I think this letter by Danny Elfman puts it very bluntly. Elfman, in a Oct. '89 Keyboard interview had confessed to having had only a skimpy musical education; most of his savvy as a performer and composer stems from onstage experience as leader of a 12-piece musical/theatrical troupe, the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. This admission had outraged Micah Rubenstein, a theory and composition teacher at Ohio's Kenyon College, whose subsequent letter in the Jan '90 issue accused Keyboard Magazine and Danny Elfman of "glorifying musical ignorance". Here's Elfman's response:

DANNY ELFMAN:

OPEN LETTER

Published in Keyboard 'Magazine, 1990

Although I'm quite used to being attacked by "knowledgeable" people in the music profession, and I rarely find it worth my time to take these attacks seriously, I'm compelled to respond to Micah Rubenstein's absurd and misinformed letter about my musical abilities (or lack thereof).

I have chosen to defend myself this time not only because of the personal viciousness and many inaccuracies of his comments, but more importantly because of the frightening musical elitism that they represent.

As well as offering a personal defense, I wish to speak on behalf of the many musicians, composers, and arrangers who lack formal education, yet persist in an extremely difficult craft with nothing more than some raw talent and a belief in their abilities.

The art of film composition is something I happen to take very seriously. While I would never refer to myself as a wunderkind or a genius of any kind, Mr. Rubenstein, your comparison of a film music composer to Mozart is even more pointless.

Film composition is a unique art with unique requirements. It is not the same as writing a symphony - something I've never professed to be able to do. Film music is written for no other reason than to accentuate the images on the screen, to underline the emotions of the characters, and hope- fully, when we're lucky, to help breathe life into a two-dimensional medium. A film score is not "pure music," and should be judged on its dramatic, emotional, and/or visually enhancing merits.

There isn't any one "correct" way to score a film. Each film is a world unto itself, with its own unique strengths and weaknesses which must be addressed.

While one film may, in fact, call for a full-blown "symphonic" approach, synthesizers may be more appropriate for another. The next may require nothing more than a banjo and accordion duet.

It is an art that requires you to constantly invent creative and imaginative solutions to numerous restrictions and obstacles... and doing it fast.

On the film Batman, as with many films, there were about six weeks to compose more than 70 minutes of accurately timed and often complex orchestral music. Add on top of this any number of changes and rewrites due to last-minute film cuts anu/or conceptual shifts, and the total amount of music can increase dramatically.

Because of this, most composers in Hollywood—yes, even the famous conservatory-trained ones — use orchestrators, music editors, and occasionally conductors to assist them in focusing their creative energy where it will do the most good. The complexity of the task on a huge, high-pressure score can be mind-boggling, I assure you.

On Batman, as on many films, there was a team effort to pull it all together on time, and I'm fortunate to have very talented people on my team. Yes, my orchestrator, Steve Bartek, is very gifted, and did a great job, as did my conductor, Shirley Walker, and the music editor, Bob Badami. Their help was invaluable to me, especially on a difficult job like Batman.

Whether I achieved good, bad, or mediocre results with the music is not the issue here. As with any art, that's a subjective point which will always be up for lively debate and scrutiny. But, having worked my ass off for 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for a month and a half to write that score - and yes, you dumb fuck, I actually wrote it down - I will not sit back passively and allow myself to be discredited for the work I did by an idiot who mistakenly thinks that I lazily hire people to do it for me, or that only a conservatory can produce a real film composer.

I am self-taught, and although that's not something I'm proud of, neither am I ashamed of it. While you, Mr. Rubenstein are incorrect in stating that I studied with Christopher Young or anyone else, you are absolutely presumptuous in assuming that Mr. Bartek and Ms. Walker are conservatory-trained. In fact, Mr. Bartek never attended a conservatory, and Ms. Walker, who in addition to being a great conductor and orchestrator is a fine composer in her own right, never finished college, and considers herself to be primarily self-taught as well.

Furthermore, and more to the point, composers, like writers, painters, or film directors, are able to create their art from their instincts, their intuition—their "soul," for lack of a better word—something that has never been easily taught. Imagination, our most valuable tool, is not, unfortunately, conferred by a degree.

A musical education, although I never had one, is something for which I have great respect. It can, I'm sure, be a wonderful thing, and provide all kinds of invaluable tools with which to work. It is not, however, the only way to acquire tools, or to learn.

I would guess that it wouldn't surprise you terribly to find out that a respected author may not have had six years of formal English literature, but learned by doing-that is, by sit ting down at a typewriter and writing, day after day.

Certainly, you must be aware that there are many film directors—Batman's Tim Burton, for one example—who never attended any film school. Why, then, is it so hard to accept the possibility that someone who works hard can learn to write film music from hands-on experience?

In the past five years, I've had the good fortune of being able to write, and have performed, more than 600 minutes of orchestra music. This probably involved writing some where in the neighborhood of 20,000 bars of music. I know I'm not the greatest film composer in the land—something that I couldn't care less about—and I'm more than aware of my many shortcomings. But after all this, I have learned just a few little things—perhaps even a thing or two not taught in your illustrious music class.

I will admit to getting tongue twisted and saying some pretty incomprehensible things more than once in my Keyboard interview. But I feel that my work, of which I'm proud, speaks for me much better than I can.

Finally, I hope there are others out there who can benefit from my experience—other compulsive self-taught artists who feel driven to test their abilities beyond what anal, closed-minded, self-protective "teachers" like yourself try to convince them they cannot do without their degrees.

—Danny Elfman

Graduate, with honors American College of Hard Knocks

Post-graduate studies, Nose to the Grindstone University

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Wow, i've never seen that letter before...very well said by Mr. Elfman. Do the comments exist that was made about him by the "idiot?"

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One should check out that particular Key Magazine issue.

Or just check out his webpage:

http://www.micahrubenstein.com/

I try to read every Elfman interview. Not just because I'm a fan of his music, but because

he is always - and without formal writing degree - very articulate about what he thinks.

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Augie... you did made peace posting a video that says Angela Morley has Gostwritten for John WIlliams in many films? BAD FORM! :P

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Oh, man, I sincerely hoped that nobody would recognize this.

The thought was to present some sample of her music around

the time Star Wars happened. But you know my attitude as to

borrowing and ghostwriting:

Everything's a remix!

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Williams creates his own sound. Period. :)

When I first learned about Williams (and other film composers) using orchestrators, I was disappointed. Really disappointed, in fact. Not because it diminished the accomplishment of these scores, but because I could no longer attribute it wholly to the talents of this one man. But it turns out that Williams is one of those composers whose sound truly is their own, and not that of their orchestrators. As others have mentioned, all you need to do is look at his own sketches, written in his own hand, to realize exactly how much detail he puts into his work before the orchestrators ever even look at it. Then you consider that he's orchestrated his own concert music in many cases, and even some actual film score cues, and it's clear that he knows exactly what he's doing.

Want proof? Listen to a given Williams score and try to figure out which orchestrator(s) tackled which cues. You can't do it. Williams' orchestrators play an important role in bringing his music to life in a timely fashion, but that role is stylistically transparent 99% of the time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you could keep recording the same cue over and over again, using a different orchestrator's version each time (say, Herb Spencer, Eddie Karam, Angela Morley, Conrad Pope, Alexander Courage, and John Williams himself), and they'd all come out sounding virtually identical. The information is all there in Williams' sketches. The orchestrators are there to translate that information into a form that can be performed by the orchestra...a form that Williams himself is more than capable of creating if he has enough time.

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So basically she/he was bought a beautiful house in Arizona by Johnny to keep the secret of ghostwriting?

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Did Rubenstein ever respond to that awesome slaughtering by Elfman?

Either way, Micah must regret ever saying what he did - since the first page of his name's google results links straight to a copy of Elfman's letter - forever giving him the last word. In the eyes of the internet, Elfman's letter ensures Rubenstein will always look a complete c*nt.

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From a 1989 interview with Pat Hollenbeck, percussionist and arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra, who also orchestrated a few cues on "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade":

"When I got out there I heard these horror stories of orchestrators being handed a page with a title, a key signature and a number of bars and nothing else on it; so orchestrators have developed a mystique as, allegedly, 'the secret composers,' and in many cases it may be true -- but not with John Williams. With him, orchestrating means taking his notes from the little green paper and putting them in the big yellow paper. But it was a tremendous learning experience."

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Williams creates his own sound. Period. :)

When I first learned about Williams (and other film composers) using orchestrators, I was disappointed. Really disappointed, in fact. Not because it diminished the accomplishment of these scores, but because I could no longer attribute it wholly to the talents of this one man. But it turns out that Williams is one of those composers whose sound truly is their own, and not that of their orchestrators. As others have mentioned, all you need to do is look at his own sketches, written in his own hand, to realize exactly how much detail he puts into his work before the orchestrators ever even look at it. Then you consider that he's orchestrated his own concert music in many cases, and even some actual film score cues, and it's clear that he knows exactly what he's doing.

Want proof? Listen to a given Williams score and try to figure out which orchestrator(s) tackled which cues. You can't do it. Williams' orchestrators play an important role in bringing his music to life in a timely fashion, but that role is stylistically transparent 99% of the time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you could keep recording the same cue over and over again, using a different orchestrator's version each time (say, Herb Spencer, Eddie Karam, Angela Morley, Conrad Pope, Alexander Courage, and John Williams himself), and they'd all come out sounding virtually identical. The information is all there in Williams' sketches. The orchestrators are there to translate that information into a form that can be performed by the orchestra...a form that Williams himself is more than capable of creating if he has enough time.

Brilliantly said! And true.

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I think Morley was just jealous and wanted to press forward to the audience to be well respected. As others pointed out, Williams' orchestrators doesn't have any chances to develop their style. The sketches are so detailed so you can transfer it directly to orchestral score sheet. The only thing I know is the Schindler's List source music. It is arranged by Morley, but this is stated by Williams in many interviews (and also in Boston Pops concerts they are written arr. by Angela Morley). Besides, some orchestrators were only copyists.

And I have a bad feeling that Morley made up this story. I never heard that Morley "helped" Miklos Rozsa for his scores. Rozsa had a contract with MGM until 1963, he wanted to orchestrate the scores but due to contract issues he had to take one orchestrator. So he chose Eugen Zador, a friend of him. Rozsa and Zador orchestrated the scores together. After the contract was expired, Rozsa began to orchestrate his scores personally.

Sorry, but Morley lies. I do not buy her story.

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I don't buy the fanboy theory where Morley is concerned. I have no reason whatsoever to question her legitimacy.

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I didn't mean that all of her statements I find incorrect. I believe her that she helped orchestrating Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Superman and others. I find it suspect that she mentioned Miklos Rozsa, because he always claimed that he orchestrated the scores himself and I cannot find anything on the internet regarding the connection between Morley and Rozsa.

If there is a proof (I discover or someone else will discover) then I retract my statement and apologize for false information.

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