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New Book: John Williams's Film Music: Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Music Style

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Being neoclassical and past-oriented, he is seen--either consciously or unconsciously--as regressive and conservative. Inversely, Morricone and other modern-style, future-oriented composers who challenged traditional rules are seen as progressive and revolutionary--hence necessarily better, when ideology is confused with style.

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That's a bit of a simplification. A lot of Williams's writing is not only as modern, but often more modern that Morricone's. While Morricone's brand of modernism was routed in 50s Italian serialism (Maderna, Nono, Berio, Dallapiccola etc.), Williams's drew from a high modernist language, shared by John Corigliano, William Kraft, Jacob Druckman and other American contemporaries.

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I'm sorry to say I don't understand the choice of the photograph used on the cover. Very unfortunate to say the least.

Hmm I sort of agree with that.

BTW, according to a facebook user, the physical version is already on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

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I think it's a great photo to represent Williams, unless I've missed something like a half eaten pizza behind him or the maid's reflection?

I'd much rather see him working than a silly promo shot (Y)

I can't understand at all what is 'very unfortunate' about it??

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It's unfortunate because many people still buy books based on the cover and this particular picture will not make anyone buy this book. It won't help them notice it and it won't help undecided buyers to make their choice.

I assume the content of the book is of great interest. If so the cover does not give it justice. This is a good picture to use inside. Not on a cover. Sorry about that.

I'll still buy it.

Hell, I'll buy two to be forgiven.

Though I don't like the cover.

But I said that already.

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Can't wait for this - it's about time!

One question maybe the author can answer - According to Amazon the UK version of the book is about 80 pages shorter than the US version - is it shorter in content, or is the format just different?

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One question maybe the author can answer - According to Amazon the UK version of the book is about 80 pages shorter than the US version - is it shorter in content, or is the format just different?

The UK version was produced by Laurent Bouzereau.

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Can't wait for this - it's about time!

One question maybe the author can answer - According to Amazon the UK version of the book is about 80 pages shorter than the US version - is it shorter in content, or is the format just different?

Hello. thanks for your inquiry. It's just a mistake on the Amazon.UK website. The book is of the same length all over the world. Cheers.

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It's unfortunate because many people still buy books based on the cover and this particular picture will not make anyone buy this book. It won't help them notice it and it won't help undecided buyers to make their choice.

I assume the content of the book is of great interest. If so the cover does not give it justice. This is a good picture to use inside. Not on a cover. Sorry about that.

I'll still buy it.

Hell, I'll buy two to be forgiven.

Though I don't like the cover.

But I said that already.

Interesting comments. I'm not a marketing person, but I gather that any JW fan or anyone interested in film music would buy a book with "John Williams's Film Music" on the cover regardless of the photo on the cover, and seeing Williams's face wouldn't add much to it -- inside the book there are 12 photos were you can see the face. To those who are not interested either in film music or in Williams, seeing his face (probably an anonymous face to them) wouldn't have added much to entice them into buying the book. Personally, I liked the photo because it's intimate (it was taken by Williams's wife at home) and you can see all the old-fashioned tools that Williams, as a neoclassical composer, uses for his creations: paper, pencils, pens, stopwatch and the piano. The piano is an upright piano, yes, and I find this detail in the picture even more fascinating if compared to the photos taken in the sci-fi studios of modern high-tech composers surrounded by computers and midi devices. JW can work his magic even with an upright piano!

Thanks! Will this touch JW's work that is not related to movies, and how different it is from his more neoclassic movie scoring?

No, I'm sorry it doesn't. As the title says, the focus is on John Williams's Film Music.

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It's unfortunate because many people still buy books based on the cover and this particular picture will not make anyone buy this book. It won't help them notice it and it won't help undecided buyers to make their choice.

Yes, since the market for John Williams books is overflowing.

People making this purchase are probably seeking it out, or something like it. The cover photo does not appear to be a serious deterrent in that regard.

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It's unfortunate because many people still buy books based on the cover and this particular picture will not make anyone buy this book. It won't help them notice it and it won't help undecided buyers to make their choice.

Yes, since the market for John Williams books is overflowing.

People making this purchase are probably seeking it out, or something like it. The cover photo does not appear to be a serious deterrent in that regard.

Ok, first of all, to seek something out, one has to be aware it's out there. Reaching people with no money spent on marketing is incredibly difficult. This means that one who publishes a book really can't afford to miss a sale after having caught a potential buyer's attention for even a mere fraction of a second.

Anyone who has ever tried to sell something, anything, knows how hard it is. Publishing a book costs money. Selling books is more difficult now than ever in the past fifty years (except cooking books, it seems...). Few people get rich doing it. Granted, no one will get rich by publishing a book about John Williams. Yet, one would try to sell as many books as possible if only to recoup their investment and because every writer wishes to be read by as many people as possible.

A book about John Williams is a niche project. It appeals to so few people that one would start by trying to reach all of the hardcore fans. For instance, we are on a John Williams forum, do you really think everyone here will buy it? Of course not. That's how difficult it is.

Then, having hopefully reached the hardcore fans (who are the easiest to reach, the easiest to convince to buy the book and the ones most likely to learn of its existence by accident while surfing the web), one would try to reach a wider circle of people. Music lovers, film lovers, Star Wars fans, etc... John Williams does enjoy a notoriety of sort even in the general public. Not everybody would recognize him on a photograph but the face would be familiar to some. Familiar enough perhaps so they would check the book, read the back cover and eventually decide to buy it for themselves or for a loved one. Every sale matters.

A cover photo is extremely important to try to reach as many people as possible. While searching the web, the title will attract people's attention but a bad photo will turn some away.

In a bookshop (as long as these still exist) and also on a web page, people will notice the photo first if there is one. A human face is something the human brain recognizes from afar and reacts to. A smiling face is even more engaging. In that respect, this is like in real life when one meets another person and this can transform into a sale. That's regardless of whether the casual buyer actually recognizes the person in the photograph upon first seeing it. (See above)

A photograph like the one on the cover of this book is not recognizable from a distance or in small size on a website page. It takes a moment to decipher the photo. Some people will miss it entirely because while their brain is trying to decipher the photo (this happens in the fraction of a second) their attention won't turn to the book's title. In fact most won't even notice it. Look at a bookstore's shelf and check for yourself what grabs your attention and what doesn't. And once your brain has discarded something, most times it won't give it a second chance or a second look.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, some do and some don't. Good ones certainly do.

People, if you decide to publish a book, please help your potential buyers find it. Make it as easy for them as possible. There are some people who will never notice your book who would have loved to own it. Some of these people would not only have bought the book for themselves but they would also have recommended it to their friends and on forums, in time generating more sales. Why take the risk at all? Why not put all chances on your side from the start?

Personally I wouldn't have purchased the book - or now the two copies of the book - if I hadn't written these posts. The reason is that the photo is unappealing. Right or wrong, the natural reaction to an unappealing cover is that it may be hiding an unappealing or amateurish content.

Now I hope this book sells out whatever the print run is because whatever the content is, it is a worthy and gutsy endeavor which I fully support in principle. To this effect, having bought my two copies, I will post a review in a few weeks when I have read it.

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Well, there's a cost issue too. Sometimes, existing promo pictures cost a lot of money to use on a book cover like this. Even more if you want to have some film photo/artwork, like STAR WARS. I'm assuming that a niche book such as this, on a relatively small label, doesn't have the budget to go very 'lavish' on the cover.

It is my understanding that this photo was donated personally from the Williams estate?

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Well, there's a cost issue too. Sometimes, existing promo pictures cost a lot of money to use on a book cover like this. Even more if you want to have some film photo/artwork, like STAR WARS. I'm assuming that a niche book such as this, on a relatively small label, doesn't have the budget to go very 'lavish' on the cover.

It is my understanding that this photo was donated personally from the Williams estate?

yes, it was. Well, you can't please everyone, I'm sorry.

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I just finished the first section, about the classic Hollywood style. I'm really enjoying the read so far--learning lots of interesting stuff about the history of film music. I can't wait to delve into the JW section!

Question for Emilio: could you give us any more info on that great picture of Leonard Bernstein with JW in the first photo interlude? I see it's from the BSO's "Harvard Night" in 1989...anything else you can tell us about it?

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Hi! Thank you very much. I don't have much more info about that. Annually the Pops host a Harvard night where musicians that are Harvard alumni take part in the show (e.g. three years ago Yo-Yo Ma played some music from Memories of a Geisha). I gather that in that 1989 Harvard night conducted by JW Lenny took the stage to conduct some music selections, but I don't know what selections.

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Hey Emilio, I think I saw you leave the Boston Symphony Hall stage entrance a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to shout out 'hi', but you were quickly gone. I was standing outside, waiting with the crowd. You're so lucky to get a backstage pass and meet the man himself.

Incidentally, plans are now underway to get my own Williams book published. I haven't written it yet, but wheels are put into motion to get the money and resources I need. It will be more biographical in nature (but also analytical).

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Incidentally, plans are now underway to get my own Williams book published. I haven't written it yet, but wheels are put into motion to get the money and resources I need. It will be more biographical in nature (but also analytical).

Sounds great! I've been waiting for that for a long time, haha.

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Hey Emilio, I think I saw you leave the Boston Symphony Hall stage entrance a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to shout out 'hi', but you were quickly gone. I was standing outside, waiting with the crowd. You're so lucky to get a backstage pass and meet the man himself.

Incidentally, plans are now underway to get my own Williams book published. I haven't written it yet, but wheels are put into motion to get the money and resources I need. It will be more biographical in nature (but also analytical).

Hi Thor. Sorry I missed you in Boston: probably that was the night I met with JW to give him a copy of the book. Best wishes for your book: can't wait to see it published!

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Sounds like an exercise in cliche. I could have written this in my sleep.

1) Mr. Shark, I wish I could possess your amazing ability to judge a 260-page book by its title and a few lines of synopsis, it would save a lot of reading time! By the way, if you could have written such a book in your sleep, then why didn't you do that?! You would have spared me a great deal of labour.

Buh-yooo-tifully said! I'd read a book by anyone who could snap back at silly snark so effortlessly! :D

Can't wait to read this. This has to be the result of an enormous amount of effort and research on your part. JW certainly doesn't make it easy to do this kind of thing (as Thor has also attested). I gave some consideration to a book that would've been both a biography and a moderate musical analysis of John's influence on the medium, particularly through the years of his "Golden Age." It was actually Mike Matessino who encouraged me to take careful measure of the mountain I'd be attempting to climb, given the man's reticence to be interviewed or studied in any sort of close fashion. While I think it would've made a fascinating project, I also think Mike probably saved me many years of headaches.

I've ordered your book, and am looking forward to receiving and reading it. (Y)

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I finished the book today. I found it a really enjoyable and interesting read, and highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in John Williams' career, from an historical and artistic perspective. There's also a variety of sources cited that I'm excited to try and find--I would love to explore certain quotes and topics more, and I'm glad the book provides articles titles, etc!

There's also some clever interpretations of pieces of Williams' works, and a controversial argument about Hans Zimmer and modern film music (which I did not entirely agree with--still a great read!).

Excellent job!

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Interview with Emilio Audissino:

http://www.wpr.org/listen/599536

John Williams is one of the most renowned film composers in history, the creator of the scores for Star Wars, the Indian Jones, ET—the Extra-Terrestrail, Jaws, Superman, and legions of others, with 49 Academy Award nominations to his credit. And yet his music hasn’t received a book-length study in English until now. Author Emilio Audissino will explain why Williams is so important to the history of film music, taking us through the golden age of Hollywood, the turning points of Williams’ career, and his revivial of the classical Hollywood movie style.

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How many of you got the book? Is there anything new I didn't know and should know?

I've read everything about Johnny in the net and know all of his music by heart. Conrad Pope's comment seemed

very promising so I might purchase this.

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Every serious JWFan should buy and read this book. Emilio's work is truly the first major study of Williams' music and its central role in film music, both from historical and aesthetic perspectives. All the important points of Williams' style are thoroughly discussed and analyzed, probably for the first time with such a serious (and unbiased) approach. The scholar language found in several sections may put off some people, but it's actually handled with an educational tone (also, the footnotes and glossaries will help you a lot through it). It's my personal opinion that the approach Emilio chose is truly the best way to deepen and enhance Williams' artistry and musical heritage, so in this sense I hope this book will become a cornerstone for future publications about this towering giant of contemporary music.

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