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Datameister

Star Wars credits segues, and why they've started to suck

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So one of my favorite musical moments ever is the transition from "The Throne Room" into the ANH end credits. Such ebullient energy. Such a perfect musical "happy ending." It just makes me glad to be alive. The precession becomes broader and louder with that final V choir chord, with a subtle and perfectly executed slargando, and then we're off into the magic of the end credits, still in the same key.

 

For ESB, Williams took a different approach, as dictated by the much darker and less celebratory finale. But still, the transition into the credits is a satisfying one, owing largely to the IV-I cadence sort of half-hidden in there.

 

Years later, TPM goes way out there with a finale that builds and builds and builds until giving us the odd relief of a tritone leap from A major to E major, but it totally works. And then Williams followed that up with the glorious final moments of AOTC, a return to the classic V-I cadence with a spectacular horn soli arcing over it. Absolutely wonderful.

 

So what the hell happened with the other films?

 

ROTJ has the distinction of having had its final moments scored twice - and both times strangely. Yub Nub's isolated choir ending is not awful, but I don't much like it either. Victory Celebration is even weirder; Williams either forgot what key the credits were in or really did want a beat of silence before the credits, as heard on the SE release.

 

Then we've got ROTS. I was devastated by this one. At the time, it was going to be the last Star Wars movie ever. Appropriately, Williams took us back to the beginning with a great reprise of Binary Sunset - and not even verbatim, but wonderfully adapted for this subtly different scene. Everything's great...right up until the horribly jarring jump from V (E major, roughly) to a new tonic of Eb. What the hell? If EVER there was going to be an authentic cadence, it needed to be here! This moment needed finality! Instead, it's like...surprise, movie's over, here are some credits!

 

But whatever. That didn't end up being the last film and in the years since, I've kinda gotten used to it. Kinda. Whatever. So here comes TFA to right all wrongs, to bring balance to the Force. Gonna be a great ending, right?

 

Nope.

 

This time, for the first time in Star Wars history, we get a quote of a previous finale - the ROTS one. Well, except then it starts to change. So we're fixing the mistake, making a better segue, right? NOPE. This one is almost weirder. Maybe. Totally unsatisfying, totally surprising, totally not the sort of musical exclamation mark you want at the end of a movie.

 

What happened here? These could have been easily avoided. For instance, for ROTS, do the Binary Sunset material in F minor instead of G minor. Just one tone off. Then your final chord forms a beautiful, satisfying authentic cadence with end credits starting in F, not Eb. Use the ascending trumpet triplets as a transition back to the usual key for the Rebel fanfare, and we're good. So easy!

 

Am I crazy?

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Interesting. I agree with you that the transition in ROTS was stilted, but the TFA modification of it fixed everything, I thought. If you were looking for an authentic V-I cadence it's not that, but the harmonic rhythm and trajectory felt right to me. I can't qualify it further.

 

It is pretty embarrassing, though, that the crash cymbals are half a beat off on the downbeat of the end credits. I think it's an editing issue, not a performance one.

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I'm kinda hoping it gets changed on the Bluray for something more stable, but I doubt it. A classy, slow reverse tracking shot moving away from the silhouetted figures atop the cliff, for example (like the final shot in ESB tracking backwards away from the Rebel Fleet).

 

There's a good reason you shouldn't use wipes from completely opposing types of shots (ie. a shot with extreme movement into static credits). The 3D only enhanced the problem, with two radically different focal points transitioning into each other.

 

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I suppose it didn't necessarily have to be an authentic cadence, Henry - ESB and TPM do just fine without one. Harmonically I just think it's such a weird transition for the start of the credits. Anywhere within the film itself, that sort of chord progression could be used successfully. But the transition into the credits has to have a sense of finality to it, and for me, it just wasn't there at all. Even with a cliffhanger ending, I want the music to scream, "Movie's ending...come back next time!" Instead, I'm getting, "Oh, movie's over now."

 

I'm getting used to TFA like I did with ROTS, but still.

 

As for the final shot, crumbs, yeah, I would love to see it replaced, though of course it won't be. I'm just imagining a static shot with Rey framed at far right and Luke at far left. Simple, classic, iconic. Props for trying a moving final shot for the first time since ESB, but they should have realized it didn't work. (And frankly, I don't really love the final shot of ESB, either. I really like ending with a static shot of the characters, as the other films do.)

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If you lined up all 7 film's final shots, TFA would definitely be the odd one out.

 

ESB at least had the traditional "family photo" shot as the film's penultimate shot (as Luke, Leia and the droids gaze upon the distant galaxy).

 

ending+shots.png

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1 hour ago, crumbs said:

TFA's transition was jarring when I first saw it (the film's bizarre final shot didn't help!) but I've gotten used to it after listening to the track 200-odd times.

 

I cannot get used to the final shot.  What were they thinking?  That shot spoiled the moment for me a bit.  Oh well.  At least the transition music is good.

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I could easily overlook that shot even if it were used earlier in the scene. Maybe a little out of the norm, sure, but it really only becomes a big problem as a final shot. It has neither a sense of finality nor a sense of cliffhangerlike suspense. If anything, I associate this sort of aerial maneuvering with an establishing shot.

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I do really like the way it subverts our expectations of the melody by jumping down an octave and then going through all those uncertain, haphazard ascending lines. It's literally just the couple of messages when it transitions into the credits that's a WTF moment for me.

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i guess we disagree. i thought the music transition was spectacular.

 

If they didn't have the drone camera zoom out i probably wouldn't miss it, but no complaints for the music in that scene.

 

 

Quote

This one is almost weirder. Maybe. Totally unsatisfying, totally surprising, totally not the sort of musical exclamation mark you want at the end of a movie.

 

"Rey, these are your first steps."

for me the completion (finally!) of the force theme was exclamation enough.I think it handles the modulation better than ROTS did, maybe because the melody stays in motion instead of reaching an arrival point. I always get goosebumps when the bass walks down to flat VI in the second part of that phrase; and in this one he sweeps the music onward while you're still feeling that sensation, unlike ROTS where (I felt that) he lets it subside before the abrupt modulation.

 

It worked for me.

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I've thought about this myself. It's certainly a point relating to "musical satisfaction", but the outright jollity of the now iconic credits splash is an obvious issue in that regard - when tonally the narrative of the storyline at a given point in the series clashes against the "happy ending" of the originally intended Throne Room/credits handover. 

 

Basically, none of this is really Williams' "fault". If anything, I'd say this is simply more a case of Datameister's perhaps subconscious desire for "happy" musical endings - because he has been conditioned to expect the celebratory cue once the movie is over. 

 

I do agree with him nonetheless though that sometimes the segues are rather jarring. 

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14 hours ago, Datameister said:

Then we've got ROTS. I was devastated by this one. At the time, it was going to be the last Star Wars movie ever. Appropriately, Williams took us back to the beginning with a great reprise of Binary Sunset - and not even verbatim, but wonderfully adapted for this subtly different scene. Everything's great...right up until the horribly jarring jump from V (E major, roughly) to a new tonic of Eb. What the hell? If EVER there was going to be an authentic cadence, it needed to be here! This moment needed finality! Instead, it's like...surprise, movie's over, here are some credits!

 

You know, music did evolve over the centuries.  Did you ever hear the massive climax of Shostakovitch's Symphony No. 5?

Where after great tumult, the music stands still through a series of increasingly dramatic progressions as it holds at the point of maximum tension of C# waiting for a massive D major resolution (@ 49:24) through the end of the piece.

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10 minutes ago, karelm said:

 

You know, music did evolve over the centuries.  Did you ever hear the massive climax of Shostakovitch's Symphony No. 5?

Where after great tumult, the music stands still through a series of increasingly dramatic progressions as it holds at the point of maximum tension of C# waiting for a massive D major resolution (@ 49:24) through the end of the piece.

 

Exactly. 

 

Didn't we have this exact conversation before?  I just don't get it, I guess.  ROTS, ROTJ (original version) and TFA have great transitions.  Very exciting and crafty. 

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1 hour ago, Taikomochi said:

Sorry everyone, I was not single to begin with.  I think I will have leave you in the friendzone.

 

Bullshit. If you love someone, sex with other people doesn't affect that love. As long as it's something agreed on with both parties, of course. Modern times are not monogamous, it's a stupid notion for starters.

 

So let your love with 2234 blossom! 

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Datameister, I agree with you on the original trilogy and the prequels (we already had a discussion about ROTS), but not about TFA. I think it's a very powerful resolution, it rectifies the misdeeds of the ROTS ending.

 

However, it is definitely a strange one and, as so many other aspects of this score, it surprised me greatly. The final chord before the Eb explosion of the end credits can be called Cm6 in first inversion, or equivalently A(dim5)7, that is, Eb - G - A - C (with Eb in the bass). Now, if anyone had told me that JW had ended his score in this way before I could hear it, I would have thought "Oh no, another weak ending like in ROTS". However, the trick works (at least for me, but apparently also for others), and I think it has to do with the orchestration, the specific realization of that chord in the orchestra. The crescendo in the brass section is very dramatic, due to the clashing G and A, as well as the jump from C to HIGHER (not lower) B flat, which is heard in the top voices.  

 

From the strictly harmonic point of view, the effect is, in my opinion, a sort of "distant relative" of the resolution D major (on C pedal) - C major at the end of E.T. , and this is how I explain to myself why it works. The analogous here would be F major (on Eb pedal) - Eb major. The actual chord differs only in having G in the place of F, and the result is somehow similar. In both cases, the "standard"  resolution would be to the 5th grade (G major in the case of E.T., Bb in the case of TFA - try to play it!), but the resolution to the 1st grade works as well and it has a certain flavour to it.

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14 minutes ago, Michael said:

 

Bullshit. If you love someone, sex with other people doesn't affect that love. As long as it's something agreed on with both parties, of course. Modern times are not monogamous, it's a stupid notion for starters.

 

So let your love with 2234 blossom! 

 

2234 is already trapped in the friendzone forever, sorry.

 

ewApvwH.jpg?1

 

Also I didn't notice the Maxim watermark until after I made this, however quickly.  Guess some people get off to Superman.

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We don't need John Williams anymore! We have so many better composers here in this forum.

 

"Missed opportunity" "lost his magic" etc.. of I hate these comments and I hate the negativity of certain posters. 50 Oscar nominations, not so bad...

 

 

p.s. I noticed funny thing; any of his Oscar winning scores are in my top 20 list:eh:

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11 hours ago, karelm said:

 

You know, music did evolve over the centuries.  Did you ever hear the massive climax of Shostakovitch's Symphony No. 5?

Where after great tumult, the music stands still through a series of increasingly dramatic progressions as it holds at the point of maximum tension of C# waiting for a massive D major resolution (@ 49:24) through the end of the piece.

 

That's just glorious! Would that sort of moment work as a transition into a credits cue of a Star Wars film? Hell no. But in this context it's wonderful.

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Allow me to be perfectly transparent, TheGreyPilgrim - I know this conversation is completely subjective, based entirely on emotional reactions that will vary depending on our individual prior experience, education, personality, and taste. I readily accept that my opinion on this is no more valid than any of yours and really, it doesn't offend me one bit if everyone has a very different reaction to the passages in question. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, especially on something as subjective as this.

 

That being said, anyone who likes the end of TFA is a dickhead!

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