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Favorite short musical moments in Williams scores?

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There was a thread once where we were saying themes that get a concert arrangement or something like that, and I mentioned that melody

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00:20 - 00:25 of this clip (4:58 on "T-Rex Rescue and Finale"). The trumpets hold a long note while the rest of the orchestra continues the chaos around it. It's a brilliant example of how instrumentation and composition mirror the tension of the visuals perfectly. 

 

While I'm on this video, 1:36 (6:14 on the soundtrack) has potentially one of my favourite short Williams moments of all time. I can't even describe this one. It's pure genius. Watch/listen and enjoy.

 

EDIT - I could literally pick out dozens of moments from this same sequence. Truly a powerhouse run of film and music.

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On 1/6/2017 at 9:30 PM, Disco Stu said:

 

Sooooo goooooood. 

 

What isn't so good is that terrible microedit! :lol:

 

Particularly given that I was lucky enough to first hear the cue in complete form, listening to the OST version is always very jarring!

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I always loved those few seconds when the orca was seen leaving the dock through the jaws window.  Don't know why but as a young kid, that musical fragment really resonated with me and gave me goosebumps up until the 0:29 shanty theme.

 

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0:38 to 1:04 of Ride To The Nazi Hideout from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

This moment isn't terribly remarkable when listened to individually: it's just a great rendition of Indy's theme. However, when you listen to that part through the lens of the entire Raiders album, you appreciate this moment immensely more. 

One of Williams' many great talents is his ability to not only create great and memorable themes but to also very sparingly utilize them throughout the course of a film to maximize their effectiveness within the film and their service to the film's characters and story. The score to Raiders is a perfect example of that, specifically in the usage of Indy's theme. We are first introduced to Indy's theme at the start of the film when Jones is attempting to run away from a bunch of angry natives:
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Flight From Peru

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From 1:03 to 1:16 we get a little snippet of Indy's A-theme cut quickly off by whirling bout of strings, horns, and woodwinds before diving back into Indy's A-theme once more from 1:24 to 1:31 before devolving into another mass of clustered strings (with Indy's B-theme softly coming in on the horn at 1:40, followed by another brief spurt of Indy's A-theme at 1:56). Right from the very start, Williams is conditioning us with the expectation that throughout the film we will receive musically: 

  • A brief snippet of Indy's theme     ...before transitioning into... 
  • Something else entirely                ...before (possibly) transitioning into... 
  • Another brief snippet of Indy's theme

Bottom Line: If we hear Indy's theme, it's only going to be for an instance before moving on to something else. This is the formula.

 

Such restraint with such an incredible is I think quite admirable. And, for most of the score, Williams stays true to that idea. As the film progresses, we only really hear Indy's theme in short bursts.
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Washington Men / Indy's Home

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Quiet and subdued rendition of Indy's A-theme starting at 0:38. 
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A Thought For Marion / To Nepal

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Brief and frantic snipped of Indy's A-theme from 0:53 to 0:58. 

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The Fist Fight / The Flying Wing

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Snippet of Indy's theme at 4:03 which stalls out at 4:12 before picking up again from 4:16 to 4:21. 

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The Desert Chase

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Played during the scene where Indy goes after the Nazis who are now in possession of the ark, Williams skillfully balances the score between tense action Nazi music and Indy's theme. Again, the point being that we still only really get to hear Indy's theme in these very segmented brief intervals.  Even though this is the most we've gotten of Indy's theme thus far, it still hasn't been a continuous playing of the theme, but rather the theme is broken up into little pieces. You get the idea.


0:00 - 0:30 Action music
0:31 - 0:45 Short fragmented rendition of Indy's A-Theme

0:46 - 0:54 Action music
0:55 - 1:04 Indy's A-Theme
1:05 - 1:17 Action music

1:18 - 1:26 Indy's A-Theme
1:27 - 1:29 Brief musical tangent
1:30 - 1:35 Indy's A-Theme

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Ride To The Nazi Hideout

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So when we finally get to the moment I started this post with, we have been conditioned throughout the entire score thus far to expect only a small playing of Indy's theme. Within the context of the film, we're at the film's ultimate low point. The Nazis have just taken the ark off of the ship Marion and Indy were sailing on, in addition to also taking Marion as well. Indy's location is unknown. So when we the viewer are shown that Indy, at this point the only thing lying between the Nazis and them using the ark for destruction, is in fact on the German sub in pursuit, we naturally get a playing of Indy's theme. It starts out at 0:42 with the most blaring and triumphant rendition we have heard thus far, and the expectation is securely in place almost subconsciously that the theme will fade out or transition into something else around 0:56 just as has been done throughout the entire picture. Instead, the theme's playing intensifies and instead continues to a triumphant conclusion. The result is, for me, one of the great mergings of picture to sound. Just as the sailors on board the ship are cheering for Indy to succeed, we too are rooting for the hero as well. Williams has waited out almost the entire film for a moment deserving of such a rousing rendition of the theme, and it's because he waited until this moment to fully unleash the theme that the scene plays as effectively as it does. It's one of those moments where Williams makes you want to just get up out of your chair and cheer for the good guys. And that's why it's one my favorite short Williams moments. Hopefully that made sense. Sorry for spewing.

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Great post @Cerebral Cortex! Some of the embeds don't seem to be working, however, just so you know.

 

That is indeed a wonderful cue/scene. At the LTP concert I went to last summer it was a major chills-and-thrills moment. 

 

My favorite part might be the build up to the theme statement, actually. I love how the sailors are just looking over the water, and we hear the soft but driving optimistic force of the B theme, and then finally my very favorite bit of the cue -- the expectant bit of pure joy that we hear as the sailor points and says "There!" and we see Indy climbing on. It has such a wonderful seafaring, joyful sense to it, reminiscent of Jaws.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Will said:

Great post @Cerebral Cortex! Some of the embeds don't seem to be working, however, just so you know.

 


Thanks for letting me know! Fixed.  

 

9 minutes ago, Will said:

That is indeed a wonderful cue/scene. At the LTP concert I went to last summer it was a major chills-and-thrills moment. 

1

 

OOOooooooh, mama! I can't imagine experiencing that at a LTP concert! That must have been fantastic. 

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13 hours ago, karelm said:

I always loved those few seconds when the orca was seen leaving the dock through the jaws window.  Don't know why but as a young kid, that musical fragment really resonated with me and gave me goosebumps up until the 0:29 shanty theme.

 

 

It really is a perfect score.  Maybe I'm just being grumpy but it sometimes seems the young up-and-coming Williams fans don't give it the respect and adulation it deserves.  Sure, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park are amazing, but this is where it all started!

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15 hours ago, Will said:

Holy crap - what kind of drugs was he on when he wrote that?! :lol:

 

Might be the most terrifying music I've ever heard!

 

(Are we sure Williams wrote that and it's not taken from the stage musical?)

 

It's actually quite funny when taken in context within the whole musical. :D

 

But yeah, that long screaming bit does not appear in the stage musical (there's only a few bars of drums + clarinet before Tzeitel sings "Here's my wedding present...").

 

(listen from 4:42)

 

Williams really did a terrific job in transforming the original Broadway arrangements and orchestrations into a score fit for a motion picture, not to mention his excellent solo violin piece/cadenza which plays during the opening credits. 

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The American Journey suite is just so absolutely awesome all the way through. Basically everything I love about JW is there.

 

Here are some particularly great moments from the first movement:

 

So much "inevitability" in that brass melody.

 

I remember the first time I heard this recently, I was already completely hooked after that segment!

 

 

Some absolutely kick-ass action-y writing here. All the brass counterpoint is amazing. And that xylophone!

 

 

Sublime, and again, and, most of all, the ending of the trumpet bit is totally "inevitable" -- that's the best way I can put it.

 

 

Since (yes, BloodBoal) I'd heard the last movement before listening to the rest, it was extremely emotional when the melody, one of Williams' most gorgeous, I think entered ... and then when the "epic" four-note theme entered with that awesome brass counterpoint. 

 

 

And then that counterpoint melody gets a glorious moment to shine:

 

 

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I'm sure it's been mentioned before in this thread (at least, I would hope so), but the part where Indy swings across the chasm in "In the Idol's Temple" is a top short musical moment for sure. It was expanded and also awesome in "Indy Rides the Statue", but the experience of it was somewhat different.

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This theme is so awesome. I was humming it on and off for hours this afternoon (I was actually listening to a different recording - on Spotify):

 

 

So uplifting! And it's a totally "hell yeah!" moment when you consider that the opening of the concerto is a little meandering - you're hoping for something clear and satisfying, and boy do you get it. 

 

When I heard the rest of the first movement (I did listen to the rest as well) for the second time ever (having not liked it on the first listen a while back) I really loved it. It was like an energizer drink (or it may have just felt that way because I had just eaten quite a few chocolate chips right before and was on a sugar high LOL). 

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That bit seems to be inspired by Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra":

 

 

Though as usual Williams makes everything more "in your face"...

 

My favourite bit from that track is the transition from Vader's theme to the window crash at 1:10. The music throws you into chaos, essentially.

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In Williams concertos and similar works, based on my somewhat limited experience with them, moments of harmonic delight are often much shorter and harder to find than in his film scores.

 

As such, this one only lasts about two seconds, but it's still lovely. I've had it running through my head all afternoon.

 

 

I imagine the previous 30 seconds of music underscoring a birds' soaring flight (particularly 11:53 and what follows), and this moment being when it gracefully touches back down in the forest. 

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15 minutes ago, Will said:

In Williams concertos and similar works, based on my somewhat limited experience with them, moments of harmonic delight are often much shorter and harder to find than in his film scores.

 

 

Keep listening, sharpen your ear, and this will change.

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It must just be a very different "language" that you have to get used to. 

 

It's similar to the reason why classical harmonies don't often click with me (at least on first listen).

 

In Williams concertos, the music always feels to me like it's reaching for something, but never getting there, leading to an unsatisfying experience. There's not the same easy-to-love "resonance" (it's hard to describe). 

 

It often feels like it's kind of "too high-pitched" (again, hard to describe!) and twisting and turning away from where I want it to go. 

 

I assume as you say it's something you can get used to, and at some point you won't find those harmonies lacking. In fact, even just a few more listens to some of these recently have made me appreciate them more. 

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On 3/7/2017 at 3:25 PM, Richard said:

Agreed. At the very least, it's the single best cue he's composed, in nearly sixteen years. 

 

Yes. It's a top ten, maybe even top five track for me.

 

I also love "Journey to Rouge City", which has a similar feel. 

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I love love love that syncopated (at least I think that's syncopation) "di-duh" figure at 8:58 (I was listening to Escapades recently on the new CD on Spotify). It's a classic Williams-ism and one of my very favorites, often appearing in his terrific action writing (at least I think it's a version of the same figure - I'm no musical expert). 

 

Example of an absolutely kickass use in an action cue:

 

 

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