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THE LAST JEDI - OST Album MUSIC Discussion (No Movie Spoilers)

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3 hours ago, Score said:

Speaking of minor-key versions of major-key themes, and viceversa, what do you think about the fact that Rose's theme begins exactly with the major-key version of the Force theme (6 pitches and even the rhythmic feature of the triplet)? As far as I know (without having seen the movie yet), Rose is not a Force user at all, and I was very surprised when I read that this is a "new theme".

 

I must admit, I don't hear it as connected to the Force theme, though it may look like it is on paper. The Force theme has never been played in a major key, but more importantly, shifting its first note to the strong beat rather than the pickup distorts its identity virtually beyond recognition. And the triplet rhythm in Rose's theme I hear as part of a larger pattern in Star Wars themes of ending opening ideas with an ornament of some kind in a faster rhythm as it occurs not just here and in the Force theme, but in March of the Resistance, Anakin's theme, Leia's theme, the Rebel Fanfare, etc. I'm more in the camp of hearing it as an analog to Anakin's theme since the major key and first three notes are rhythmically exactly the same way, and to the same harmony, so the relationship strikes one immediately.

 

48 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

The use of the Force Theme in TLJ is pretty close to how its used in TESB, where it features a lot in the underscore for the Degobah scenes. Often alternating between Luke's theme and Yoda's.

 

I agree. The Ahch-To scenes of course parallel those on Degobah. The Force theme in the Degobah scenes is scored for woodwind combinations with the tremolo strings as accompaniment. There it makes sense because the Force is being described as something mystical, positive, a source of hope. In TLJ, Luke has entirely soured on everything to do with the Force and the Jedi, so I rather like the horn statements, well-trod as they may be, since they add that forlorn and negative quality into the mix. And as I said before, these Ahch-To statements are harmonically varied as well. So when Leia tells the group to follow Poe instead of her near the end, and we hear the Force theme end its first half with its original harmony, it shines through like the beacon of hope it is portrayed as being.

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3 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

I must admit, I don't hear it as connected to the Force theme, though it may look like it is on paper. The Force theme has never been played in a major key, but more importantly, shifting its first note to the strong beat rather than the pickup distorts its identity virtually beyond recognition. And the triplet rhythm in Rose's theme I hear as part of a larger pattern in Star Wars themes of ending opening ideas with an ornament of some kind in a faster rhythm as it occurs not just here and in the Force theme, but in March of the Resistance, Anakin's theme, Leia's theme, the Rebel Fanfare, etc. I'm more in the camp of hearing it as an analog to Anakin's theme since the major key and first three notes are rhythmically exactly the same way, and to the same harmony, so the relationship strikes one immediately.

 

I agree about Anakin (I wrote a post about that a few seconds before you replied :D ), it also reminds of Yoda's theme. It's just all of them: Force, Anakin and Yoda. For a character that has nothing to do with any of them! However, there are a few instances where the Force theme gets the rhythmic shift exactly in the same way during the Battle of Yavin, although the context makes it not so crystal-clear as in this case.

 

 

 

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The Cave is fantastic! Didn't like it at first but it's got some fantastic dissonance in it, which is a refreshing contrast to the bombast elsewhere in the score.

 

The score is definitely darker and more pessimistic than the more hopeful, fluffy parts of TFA. There's nothing that really matches the lightness of You Got A Name or Rey Meets BB8. Would've been nice to have another Lunchtime type track, but that seemingly only exists in the score's complete form.

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I've a sneaking suspicion Bill Ross might have conducted some of the heavier action material, Fathiers, Escape or Battle of Crait.

 

Unless Williams just decided to rest for a few sessions due to his back, which is possible.

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The other day a realization -- and not a happy one -- hit me:

 

Has anyone thought that JW might be not-so-subtly telling us something with this quote from "The Long Goodbye"?

 

 

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Having listened to the album a few times and seen the film once, my initial impression is...not great. There are some strong moments, but overall this probably the weakest John Williams Star Wars score in my view. The main reason is there was far too great a reliance on existing themes and cues. There are so many characters in the Star Wars universe, that the impression I got was JW (or perhaps Rian) was using every excuse he had to lean on music that had essentially been written for the previous 7 films. "Oh this scene involves Leia, let's essentially cut-and-paste from her concert theme. And now the Resistance is fighting, let's do the same for them. Oh look, Leia is talking about Han, we'll have to use their love theme." And some of the pasted material doesn't really make much sense (I won't say which to avoid spoiling anything). As many have pointed out, the end credits piece is hopelessly scatterbrained.

 

The best piece is by far "The Rebellion is Reborn" which is very strong. The best new theme is the one for (I think?) the Resistance that shows up in "Rebellion is Reborn." Although I think it might have been better suited to represent the prequel's Republic - it sounds very regal and tragic to my ears. And I must say, the fact that JW is able to lean on his preexisting work is a testament to the incredible library of themes he has developed over the decades. He could have easily written a passable score without creating a single new theme.

 

I was not blown away by TFA, but at least there was a fair amount of newness and cohesion there. Maybe TLJ will grow on me overtime, we'll see. My hope is that this is more a result of Rian Johnson's direction than JW's (lack of) inspiration with the saga. If so, perhaps Episode 9 will be more inspired.

 

And for the record, I love the prequel scores and think they easily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the original trilogy.

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Its one that is based on the composer's self proclaimed (and very vocally so) desire to base each new score in the series predominantly on new thematic material, which - for the first time - doesn't apply to this score.                                                                                                                                                     

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12 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Its one that is based on the composer's self proclaimed (and very vocally so) desire to base each new score in the series predominantly on new thematic material, which - for the first time - doesn't apply to this score.                                                                                                                                                     

 

So if Rian tempts the film with a loads of Star Wars music that means automatically Williams wasn't inspired?

 

Hmmm.....

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4 hours ago, indy4 said:

There are so many characters in the Star Wars universe, that the impression I got was JW (or perhaps Rian) was using every excuse he had to lean on music that had essentially been written for the previous 7 films. "Oh this scene involves Leia, let's essentially cut-and-paste from her concert theme. And now the Resistance is fighting, let's do the same for them. Oh look, Leia is talking about Han, we'll have to use their love theme." A

 

To be honest, that was the impression all the post '83 scores gave, starting with 'Phantom Menace'. The worst end title: a crown that belongs to the incredibly uninspired 'Revenge of the Sith'. In comparison, TLJ is Top 5 material.

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3 hours ago, Stefancos said:

So why do you assume the number of new themes is proportionate to the level of inspiration from the composer?

 

Thats a very flawed method of trying to establish something like that.

 

Because as a composer, you have the ingrained desire to create something new, otherwise you wouldn't be a composer. And this applies for any art.

 

But you wouldn't know, of course. A flawed method is you trying to figure out how artists work. It's like watching a chimp trying to open a bottle of wine with a corkscrew.

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But film music isn't just an art, and its not a musical form where the composer has 100% solo imput.

 

Any chance Williams followed the temp track when it comes to reusing old themes simply because that's what the director required him to do?

 

I don't see how it is a definite judgement on the composers level of inspiration.

 

The sheer energy of the score would suggest to be Williams certainly was inspired during this project.

 

 

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Nonsense, how can one tell how involved or how much of a desire Williams has to create new themes? Aside from no new identity for the First Order, I would say that the film didn't need a hundred new themes.

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5 hours ago, Stefancos said:

 

So if Rian tempts the film with a loads of Star Wars music that means automatically Williams wasn't inspired?

 

Hmmm.....

 

Where the hell did I say that?

 

And even you "blame" Rian Johnson for the rehash that is a large part of this score, it doesn't change the final product.

 

2 hours ago, Arpy said:

Nonsense, how can one tell how involved or how much of a desire Williams has to create new themes? Aside from no new identity for the First Order, I would say that the film didn't need a hundred new themes.

 

You can find creatives ways to write new thematic material to keep the score fresh. You can write new themes for existing characters that are derived from the existing themes but are nevertheless separate, signaling the character's transformation, of which this film had a lot; Finn, Poe, Luke and even Rey and Kylo could all have had new themes to co-exist with their pre-existing ones, to signal the development of their character.

 

Think about The Two Towers: on paper that fim didn't require much in the way of new themes, everything that's new about it are Rohan and the Ents, but Shore wrote over a dozen new themes, giving two new themes to Gollum, who already had a thematic identity, giving the Uruk Hai two new themes, etc...

 

In Wiliams' catalogue, how may new themes did Revenge of the Sith really require? Really, the only new character to require thematic material is Grievous. But he wrote a lament for Anakin's fall to darkness, which he derives from "Across the Stars" so the assocations of that melody carry over to the new one, he wrote a motif for the duel, a motif for Mustafar which he wove into the duel material, etc...

 

With each score in this series and others, Williams always stressed that "90% of the thematic material is new" or something like that. Always. And that's understandable: composition is a creative process and how creative are you really being when you're just rehashing existing material? To see him all but abandon this rule with this sore is disheartening.

 

Even if Johnson made him do it (which I believe may be the case) that doesn't change nor excuse what we got.

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All TLJ did for me was make me go back to the prequel trilogy soundtracks, and make me realize how underappreciative I was at the time. Not for ROTS, that was always my favorite of the 3, but certainly AotC. That finale gives me goosebumps. All the finale of TLJ does for me is make me say "This again?"

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I certainly hit my quota of deep male guttural choir for Sith characters, and Binary Sunset. Seriously, stop trivializing this cue by rehashing it ad nauseam.

 

AotC was demolished at the time for using the Imperial March in the final scene because "it made no sense". But suddenly, recycling stuff across the board is ok apparently.

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The bass singing I'm okay with. There really wasn't too much of it here, or in The Force Awakens for that matter, and I generally love deep men voices. I actually wished Williams will have set it even lower, into the oktavist register, which would have been a neat new color for Star Wars.

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2 hours ago, gkgyver said:

Because as a composer, you have the ingrained desire to create something new, otherwise you wouldn't be a composer. And this applies for any art.

 

The number of new themes is far from the only measure of originality. A lot of great 20th and 21st century music does not have a strong thematic base.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

 

With each score in this series and others, Williams always stressed that "90% of the thematic material is new" or something like that. Always. And that's understandable: composition is a creative process and how creative are you really being when you're just rehashing existing material? To see him all but abandon this rule with this sore is disheartening.

 

Even if Johnson made him do it (which I believe may be the case) that doesn't change nor excuse what we got.

What we got was another first rate score, one which displays a technical proficiency and talent that is rare. What we got was a score with as many new, well-integrated identities as Williams and Johnson saw fit, not the fans.

 

I guess we'll have to wait another decade before we can have the discussion about how TLJ was a misunderstood score like RotS was a decade prior...

1 hour ago, gkgyver said:

All TLJ did for me was make me go back to the prequel trilogy soundtracks, and make me realize how underappreciative I was at the time. Not for ROTS, that was always my favorite of the 3, but certainly AotC. That finale gives me goosebumps. All the finale of TLJ does for me is make me say "This again?"

What about the rest of the score, as a whole? Surely one's preference isn't solely based on the virtuosity of a finale? The message at the end of TLJ was built on the same yearning and inspiration for something larger that is present in Binary Sunset; in the case of TLJ that's the return of the Jedi and Luke Skywalker's legacy. Who knows what Williams could've wrote for the finale, but could you fault him and Johnson for the poetic use of that theme again? 

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Actually, I love that the Force theme is used a lot in this installment. It reminds he of how Across the Stars was a thematic foundation of AotC.

 

 

47 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

True, but this score is coming from a composer that has been known to base his scores on thematic material, especially for this series. Williams is the first to take pride in the size of his catalogue of themes.

 

Indeed, but the trend in Hollywood has for years been scores which are less thematically based, to the benefit of more prevalent rhythmic patterns and harmonic progressions. It's not unlikely that JW to at least some small degree has been affected by this.

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Oh, he absolutely is. Ever Since Attack of the Clones he has been gravitating from longer melodic ideas to shorter, more rhythmic ideas - both as leitmotives and as set-specific pieces of music (think: Chase through Curoscant). In that sense, his scores to these sequels are closer to his prequel work than to his work on the first trilogy, although ultimately each trilogy really has its own "sound."

 

I think that, besides temp-track love, that's the reason that made for some of the near-quotes from Revenge of the Sith. Its the last Star Wars score he wrote prior to The Force Awakens, and it really wasn't that long ago.

 

54 minutes ago, Arpy said:

What we got was a score with as many new, well-integrated identities as Williams and Johnson saw fit, not the fans.

 

Sadly, three themes aren't "many new, well integrated identities."

 

42 minutes ago, someonefun124 said:

How many new themes did Williams need to write for TLJ to compete with the existing themes?

 

As many as was needed to create an original score. Williams did it once, he can do it again. Far be it from me, of course, to suggest that he should discard the existing themes a-la Anakin's, but still I would have liked to have seen more original material that what we're given. Much more.

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56 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Sadly, three themes aren't "many new, well integrated identities."

 

Who are you, the Filmtracks guy? 

 

Also i don't see how these 'many well-integrated identities' are more than wishful thinking, as Williams writing for these blockbuster movies has changed dramatically since the 80's and the score wouldn't change an iota just because other similar themes (how could they be anything but...?) were employed in the same dramatic situations. The only real problem at this point is that the force theme has been badly overused since TPM and it cheapens TLJ's effectivity - here a new tune could have helped, but alas....

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5 hours ago, crumbs said:

Fuck, I can't wait for all these self-proclaimed know-it-alls, who clearly know better than Rian Johnson and John Williams on how to score a Star Wars film, to discover that Williams himself approved of and wrote all these returning ideas.

 

Like, fuck, what would John Williams know about writing Star Wars music? The guy clearly has no fucking idea!

 

Thank fuck we have the armchair critics on JWFan who know better.

 

This fuckin this!!

 

 

1 hour ago, Arpy said:

FFS, and TLJ isn't original? 

 

 

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I could never believe to see finnish comedy series KUMMELI hear in JWfan!! It's brilliant though.

 

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2 hours ago, Arpy said:

FFS, and TLJ isn't original? 

 

 

unnamed_(2).gif

 

TLJ is original, but about 75% less original than every other Star Wars score.

I just want to stress that nobody ever said TLJ was either a bad score or not original at all. What some people say is that it's a dissapointing effort for John Williams and Star Wars.

People really need to stop blowing every critical opinion towards this or any JW score out of proportion.

 

And I also want to point out that technical proficiency does neither have to result in a great score, nor in great originality, nor in great music in general. And quite frankly, I refuse to count technical proficiency as a great bonus or addition to this score, because it's John Williams, who is more technically proficient on autopilot than 99% of all other composers.

 

Your argument boils down to "It's a new Williams score, so that's enough".

Fine.

If that's enough for you, good. It isn't for me.

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Anakin's Theme, DOTF, Qui-Gon's theme, the Trade Federation March.  Off the top of my head, that's it (unless you count, like, chanting whisper voices for Maul, or the Escape from Naboo action music which repeats/is tracked later on).  The Flag Parade was written as a concert piece, but it never reappears.

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The scatterbrained term could be applied to all of them. And i find at least the minor mode training motif in TLJ  dramatically strong enough to be counted as a worthy entry. Be that as it may, the theme counting seems overly pedantic to me, important are how successful those are applied to the movie and i just don't see how this was the case, force theme indulgence aside.

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It's not the lack of new themes that bothers me. It's the reliance on music that is pasted directly from old cues. consider ROTS, which used the force theme a lot but in very interesting ways IMO. Or the set pieces (ie ROTS opener) that don't introduce many new themes but are still different than previous music we've heard. Instead of just tracking in TIE fighter attack.

 

which is not to say there is no new music in TLJ - there's just less. Some of it is good, some is not 

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19 hours ago, Alex said:

Would love to watch JW composing music for one of those big action sequences 

 

I want to hear him play through his sketches for those things! And the original theme arrangements. 

 

9 hours ago, Arpy said:

Everytime a track from the last two scores is uploaded on YouTube, there's that obnoxious comment that questions why there's no Duel of the Fates or how nothing compared to it.

 

Happily staying away from that shit. In general I think I've kinda had my fill of other people's opinions on new Star Wars music and old man Williams after TFA. And I don't feel like this score has added much to that discussion, anyway, positive or negative.

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2 hours ago, Stefancos said:

How many new recurring themes did TPM have? 3 or 4?

 

Duel of the Fates, Anakin's, Darth Maul's, Qui Gon's, Jar Jar's, The Trade Federation - that's more than enough for a Williams' score. Here, there's three motifs, and maybe another one hiding somewhere but I doubt it.

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