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Incanus

Score: Lincoln - Album Review & Complete Score Analysis (John Williams)

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Indeed. Plus they are so vain they have to advertise their tasks individually. But I am sure neither Morricone nor Shore sit by the office printer late at night copying the trumpet and violin parts for their next morning recording sessions either.

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Hey Inky is it just me or does track 2 open with the B Section of the American Process theme?

I think I also hear it around 0:50 of track 8

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I don't hear very much resemblance myself between the American Process theme and these two passages but those two moments you mention did catch my ear as being similar but rather in mood than in exact melodic content. I need to take a thorough listen of the album again to check this further though.

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It reminds me of the B section of the theme, not the A section

Can't wait to see the film tonight and finally learn what all these themes represent!

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It reminds me of the B section of the theme, not the A section

Can't wait to see the film tonight and finally learn what all these themes represent!

I have to wait until next year. Darn!

The contour of the B section of the theme does sound like it might be related to those passages but I also hear the connection to several more heraldic yet somber brass passages sprinkled throughout the score, that in Williams' vocabulary relate either to military honor or the state ala Saving Private Ryan and Amistad.

Be sure to bring back a report on the music Jason! :)

Williams' statement that there was more than 90 minutes of music recorded makes me wonder how much of the music from the film does the soundtrack CD hold. After all there is about 53 minutes of original score on the album and the film has 55 minutes of music by Williams' estimate. I would not be surprised if he included some of the unused pieces on the album.

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Oh I will!

I am seeing the movie with my girlfriend so I won't be diligently taking notes in the theater tonight, but hopefully at some point soon after tonight I can... watch the movie again and provide my standard complete cue list and unreleased music breakdown

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Oh I will!

I am seeing the movie with my girlfriend so I won't be diligently taking notes in the theater tonight, but hopefully at some point soon after tonight I can... watch the movie again and provide my standard complete cue list and unreleased music breakdown

Taking notes during a movie date always impresses women, though. You should reconsider.

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Oh I will!

I am seeing the movie with my girlfriend so I won't be diligently taking notes in the theater tonight, but hopefully at some point soon after tonight I can... watch the movie again and provide my standard complete cue list and unreleased music breakdown

Taking notes during a movie date always impresses women, though. You should reconsider.

Muttering to yourself about the secondary themes, alternates and unused music on the CD is a sure way of attracting and impressing women in a darkened theater. Either that works or they'll escort you out for harassing people.

Seriously your efforts are appreciated Jason but first and foremost enjoy the film with your girlfriend.

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It almost feels like he spent months writing music about the man and the legend, recorded a long albums worth of music, then they took 30 minutes of it and placed it into a few scenes and called it a day. None of the long form developments of the themes are in the film, that's all album stuff. Well until the end credits (which was definitely the finale track from the CD, but with the second half shortened considerably).

Almost all the cues in the film had to be a minute or less. Its a very sparsely spotted film.

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The more I listen to this score, the more striking is the gentle and tender nature of the music, Williams really aiming to find the humane essence of the man, finding it more in the reserved yet warm pensive moods for smaller ensemble than trying to glorify or score the icon he has become with grand posturing gestures. Undeniably there are a few of these bigger moments on the album but the general feel of this score is gentle simplicity. A good portion of the praise has to go also to the truly expressive and beautifully emotional soloist writing and most of all performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra members. In their playing even the pauses between the notes come alive.

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I return the compliment. It was interesting to read thoughts of someone, who has seen the movie already, on how the music works in the film. :)

And I have a clarifying question. Does your mention of the theme connected with the amendment correspond with what I call the Freedom's Call theme? You use both in your review.

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It almost feels like he spent months writing music about the man and the legend, recorded a long albums worth of music, then they took 30 minutes of it and placed it into a few scenes and called it a day. None of the long form developments of the themes are in the film, that's all album stuff. Well until the end credits (which was definitely the finale track from the CD, but with the second half shortened considerably).

I still haven't seen the film (it will be out in late Jan here), but it looks like Spielberg and Williams went for a different approach on this occasion. In the EPK interview Williams said he wrote several pieces "just as pieces". Hence this means they probably realized that a standard underscore technique wasn't the ideal choice given the nature of the piece, so they went for a more free-flowing approach, with Spielberg letting Williams "go free" and then picking-and-choosing sections or cues as background music à la Morricone approach. Of course Williams has always been a huge advocate of music applied to pictures with very tight, intimate logic and hearing just the album you can sense how the music is following and accompanying a precise narrative (i.e. it's not random noble patriotic music you can lay down on anything). But the approach is different than, say, Tintin or Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park, where the music MUST follow every tiny bit of action and hit every single visual nuance with stopwatch at hand.

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As I have not seen the film it makes me wonder did any of these pieces recorded "just as pieces" end up on the album, because certain things like Freedom's Call do sound like independent concert suites.

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What a curious instance, where so much of the recorded music is either unused or not composed specifically for any scene. This music makes a damn fine album though. :)

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I probably used them interchangeably.

There is that clip of Williams/Spielberg sitting in the both together letting the dialogue come out. I wonder if there were less held-back version of these themes in moments of the film. Or even more music that was just cut for less-is-more reasons.

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I am sure they tried different things and approaches at the recording sessions and in the end decided, which was best for the picture. Williams writing 92 minutes of music and only about 50 (or less as some reports seem to suggest) making it into the film indicate that this was a challenging project to get right tonally and dramatically through music.

The album may give a very different impression but what I have heard from those who have seen the film, the music is not out to glorify Abe at all (well a few comments of Williams-allergic reviewers aside) but to provide subtle emotional support to the picture, the characters and their words.

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I am sure they tried different things and approaches at the recording sessions and in the end decided, which was best for the picture. Williams writing 92 minutes of music and only about 50 (or less as some reports seem to suggest) making it into the film indicate that this was a challenging project to get right tonally and dramatically through music

From what I understand, the 92-minutes tally refers mainly to the music recorded for the film. As the Chicago Sun-Times article pointed out, Williams made revisions and changes to various cues during the recording process, hence it doesn't mean there are 30 minutes of pure unused material, but more likely a good deal of alternate takes. I guess he and Spielberg tried to find the right balance throughout the actual process. This reinforces my idea that Williams wrote quite a lot of material "away" from the film (or at least without a too strict relationship in terms of sync), maybe using the spotted scenes as "raw" reference points and then re-purposed the compositions during the recording and finally in the dubbing process. It also means that what we have on the soundtrack album is likely a curious mixture of first draft compositions and concert-like extensions.

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Williams wrote quite a lot of material "away" from the film (or at least without a too strict relationship in terms of sync), maybe using the spotted scenes as "raw" reference points and then re-purposed the compositions during the recording and finally in the dubbing process. It also means that what we have on the soundtrack album is likely a curious mixture of first draft compositions and concert-like extensions.

This is what I think happened too.

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Well, I think the movie should have been tightened up significantly. It's kind of surprising more music wasn't in there since it meanders so much. There's a LOT of film there, it's Spielberg and Williams has hardly any moments to shine. I actually feel there were a lot of kinda awkward quiet moments throughout. Not like earlier films, though. More like the kind of awkward Tom Hanks looking in the mirror "Ever feel like you're living in an airport?" in The Terminal kind of moments. Interpret from that whatever you will.

I thought the folksy Reivers-esque "Getting Out the Vote" music was a little out of place. There was an obvious shift towards a more humorous tone in those moments and it almost felt kind of wrong.

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Update: I added a cue list to the main post with comments on how much of the music on the album is used in the film and what remains unreleased.

Film track-by-track analysis of the score will follow soon-ish.

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I think it is indeed fair to say that the Lincoln soundtrack is particularly coherent as a listening experience entirely 'removed' from the film. For me its lyricism suggests that same kind of coherence found in the presentation of musical material for The Accidental Tourist or for Raiders of the Lost Ark, to name just two disparate but equally rewarding listens.

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I entirely agree with you. Williams crafted a very strong listening experience of his musical ideas for the album, that definitely is one of his most satisfying albums in recent memory (alongside War Horse).

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Yes based on the track list of the promo available on the internet it would seem that the FYC album contains nearly all the music used in the film apart from the music from other sources (ie. not Williams) and few tracked or short pieces JW obviously didn't want included on the FYC album. But when you look at the FYC track list it seems that some even more significant (most cues in the film are very short) cues did not make it to the album, at least not if Williams' didn't include longer suites that comprise of two or more consecutive cues.

Do we have track times for the FYC CD yet?

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Very nice review and analysis, Mikko! I enjoyed it very much. You draw out some interesting points, like the Freedom's Call theme providing a link between the public and private side of Lincoln's life - great stuff.

What do you make of so many of the themes starting with a rising broken triad with precisely the same do-mi-so scale degrees? I thought it striking but never had time to fully explore it.

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What do you make of so many of the themes starting with a rising broken triad with precisely the same do-mi-so scale degrees? I thought it striking but never had time to fully explore it.

I picked up on this too. The opening pitches of several themes share the same rising broken triads that you mention. They could either be:

1) An homage/reference/etc to Aaron Copland's writing (particularly Appalachian Spring)

2) A mere coincidence. Keep in mind, Williams says he was experimenting with Lincoln, probably writing and playing around with various melodies. It just happens that they some structural characteristics.

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Very nice review and analysis, Mikko! I enjoyed it very much. You draw out some interesting points, like the Freedom's Call theme providing a link between the public and private side of Lincoln's life - great stuff.

What do you make of so many of the themes starting with a rising broken triad with precisely the same do-mi-so scale degrees? I thought it striking but never had time to fully explore it.

Thank you. :)

And I do briefly touch upon the fact that the themes seem to share a common root, the rising broken triad as you say, but I guess it is either conscious or subconscious way for Williams to link them together and also link them to the American musical vernacular as he hears it.

As I have said numerous times allusion is one of Williams' fortes, to quote recognizable elements in a given musical style while remaining original in the actual content, which is of course a very great asset to a film composer. Even with some nods or homages at Aaron Copland, intentional or unintentional, his themes do bear the instantly recognizable Americana imprint from the first notes. Williams is very humble and unpretentious about his process when he says he doesn't do a lot or any musical research on his work but I think he succeeded in peeling away another layer from his earlier Americana writing to achieve a certain level of simplicity in Lincoln that would address both the time and place of the film and feel familiar and suitable at the same time. Whatever his process is, he in my opinion succeeded in capturing the essential elements of the story and the musical style in his score.

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Very nice review and analysis, Mikko! I enjoyed it very much. You draw out some interesting points, like the Freedom's Call theme providing a link between the public and private side of Lincoln's life - great stuff.

What do you make of so many of the themes starting with a rising broken triad with precisely the same do-mi-so scale degrees? I thought it striking but never had time to fully explore it.

Thank you. :)

And I do briefly touch upon the fact that the themes seem to share a common root, the rising broken triad as you say, but I guess it is either conscious or subconscious way for Williams to link them together and also link them to the American musical vernacular as he hears it.

As I have said numerous times allusion is one of Williams' fortes, to quote recognizable elements in a given musical style while remaining original in the actual content, which is of course a very great asset to a film composer. Even with some nods or homages at Aaron Copland, intentional or unintentional, his themes do bear the instantly recognizable Americana imprint from the first notes. Williams is very humble and unpretentious about his process when he says he doesn't do a lot or any musical research on his work but I think he succeeded in peeling away another layer from his earlier Americana writing to achieve a certain level of simplicity in Lincoln that would address both the time and place of the film and feel familiar and suitable at the same time. Whatever his process is, he in my opinion succeeded in capturing the essential elements of the story and the musical style in his score.

I agree that the broken triads have to do with capturing an American folk style. And I'm glad you raise the point of Williams being original while quoting elements of a style since I think the links between the themes would absolutely have to be intentional with a composer of Williams' stature.

It makes me wonder whether it's something of a Williams fingerprint in some film scores. I've noticed something similar in E.T., where almost all the themes begin with a rising 5th. Again, I could never come up with a good explanation for why those themes should be that way. After all, they represent different things (say, Keys and E.T.). The best I can come up with is that they serve to unify the themes of the film, as if to say "these are all E.T. themes", or "these are all Lincoln themes" or what have you.

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Update: I added a cue to the complete score analysis and cue list as I had accidentally overlooked a piece of music, albeit a short and atmospheric section which I spotted during another viewing of the film. It underscores the scene in the War Department telegraph office, when the fall of Fort Fisher is announced.

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Excellent analysis, Incanus.

I always shed a little tear when Lincoln leaves to go attend to his wife and guests for the Ford Theater. "I suppose it is time to go, though I would rather stay." This scene, coupled with John Williams's phenomenal music, always makes me shed a few tears. Trumpet Hymn is a heartbreakingly beautiful piece.

The final scene of this phenomenal film always has me shedding tears. The Peterson House and Finale really helps to accomplish this. An excellent conclusion to another phenomenal score by the Maestro.

The flashback to Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address up to the end credits leave me shedding some tears every time.

Truly remarkable.

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Thank you JohnnyD. :)

The Trumpet Hymn is such a beautiful albeit short piece, Christopher Martin's trumpet performance projecting such emotion. This coupled with the fact that we the audience know what is going to happen creates a powerful moment of musical premonition that is poignant and bittersweet at the same time. It is like the inevitable parting which you did not want to think about but it inexorably comes. Sentimental yes but what a simple yet effective send off.

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Absolutely spot on, Incanus. Not only that, but you have come to know Mr. Lincoln so personally. You have laughed with him when he told his stories (actual stories he told too), stressed with him when he had to bear the burdens he experienced, etc. This, coupled with John Williams's music...bravo!

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