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Holko

Favourite short instances of hidden themes/motifs

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As an offshoot of the favourite short moments thread, I'm asking for short segments where the composer intentionally quotes a theme or motif in a special tempo/orchestration that makes it a bit difficult to notice or at least makes you do a double take until you figure out what it actually is.

 

I ask you to refrain from stuff like "Mount Doom's two pitches were part of Smeagol all along" or "this golden fifth interval is from xy", and only include themes or segments that are noticeable and understandable for those of us without 3 diplomas from music theory. :) 

Also I don't think this includes fragmented, budding versions of themes that are intentionally so early on to later grow into the full version.

 

 

This took many, many listens to figure out the strings, then horns actually quote Chewie's theme here! The slow tempo, plus the instrument switch in the middle makes it hard to pin down.

 

 

It took me a while to figure out the Desert Chase brass ostinato is actually the Raiders ostinato, in hindsight making me feel very stupid, since it actually grows into it throughout the piece, but again, the slower tempo and the move from strings to brass got me.

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Flying with Chewie

This inspirational variation of Chewbacca's theme from Solo: A Star Wars Story by John Powell, is my favourite part of the score. The RCP percussion and the gentle gliding of the theme is probably the best of the melody.

 

On the note of Flying with Chewie, I also wanted to point out a small second use of the SW '77 Imperial/Stormtrooper motif (chronologically first, but we all know about the usage in Train Heist). Here it is, really quickly and just the first few notes:

Great thread idea @Holko, although you may want to title it Favourite Variations and Versions from Usages of a Theme, because the "hidden" confused me, unless I'm missing something.

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I think I'm probably imagining it, but during Maz's Counsel, at 0:37, I'm always reminded of Across the Stars by that faint harp. Probably not intentional though.

51 minutes ago, Locrius said:

Han & Leia love theme at 2:14:

 

Isn't that more like the Across the Stars B section than Han Solo and the Princess? Unless I'm not remembering a part of HSatP.

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It's the first 6 notes of the Han & Leia theme, minus the first, pickup note. So 5 notes total. Hidden within the strings, and the chords are (obviously) really weird, but that's definitely what it's meant to be. Coincides with a shot of Leia onscreen, reacting to Han's death.

 

EDIT: Regarding the B section of "Across the Stars", I assume you're talking about the downward chromatic violins, on top? What I'm talking about is the several quicker notes beneath them. Probably violas or something. If you're having trouble hearing it, it's because you're focusing on the highest pitches (the violins) rather than what's buried beneath (the theme).

 

48 minutes ago, Jerry said:

Flying with Chewie

This inspirational variation of Chewbacca's theme from Solo: A Star Wars Story by John Powell, is my favourite part of the score. The RCP percussion and the gentle gliding of the theme is probably the best of the melody.

 

Isn't this one rather obvious, since it's the first major appearance of Chewie's theme proper?

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29 minutes ago, Locrius said:

EDIT: Regarding the B section of "Across the Stars", I assume you're talking about the downward chromatic violins, on top? What I'm talking about is the several quicker notes beneath them. Probably violas or something. If you're having trouble hearing it, it's because you're focusing on the highest pitches (the violins) rather than what's buried beneath (the theme).

 

Wow! Nice one!

 

29 minutes ago, Locrius said:

Isn't this one rather obvious, since it's the first major appearance of Chewie's theme proper?

 

It's not the easiest variant to catch, but the first full appearance (even if still a bit mangy and dark) on the OST starts at 0:07 of the same track.

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I've always liked this mysterious version of part of Yoda's theme, which is its second idea sped up and in a minor key. Appropriately, it plays when Yoda warns Luke about the Emperor's powers and cryptically reveals that there is another Skywalker.

 

 

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By second idea @Ludwig, do you mean this?

Or do you mean 0:59

2 hours ago, Nick Parker said:

 

 

 

Williams also did a nearly identical thing with the Jewish theme in Immolation from Schindler's List. 

I don't really hear the similarity here.

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13 minutes ago, Falafel said:

I don't really hear the similarity here

 

Let that Anakin's Theme statement play out, then listen to the strings in Anakin's Betrayal for about 15 seconds where I posted the timecode. 

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Here is the "Anakin Changes" or Anakin's secondary theme from Episode II

 

 

And here the figure in Anakin's Betrayal:

 

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12 minutes ago, Falafel said:

Are the two descending phrases it supposed to match or is it the actual Anakin melody?

 

The descending phrases. If you listen closely in Anakin's Betrayal (:55) it even has the two-note "walk up" that Williams used a lot to connect phrases in Anakin's Theme.

56 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

I've always liked this mysterious version of part of Yoda's theme, which is its second idea sped up and in a minor key. Appropriately, it plays when Yoda warns Luke about the Emperor's powers and cryptically reveals that there is another Skywalker.

 

 

 

He uses something similar later on in conjunction with Leia or Luke and Leia, yeah? I always considered that to just be a certain type of mystery mode that Williams likes to write in:

 

 

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6 hours ago, Ludwig said:

I've always liked this mysterious version of part of Yoda's theme, which is its second idea sped up and in a minor key. Appropriately, it plays when Yoda warns Luke about the Emperor's powers and cryptically reveals that there is another Skywalker.

 

 

And this very figure develops into the one that introduces (and underpins) the Luke and Leia theme into the score in "Brother and Sister."

 

Adams labels it, aptly enough, "The Brother and Sister motif".

 

6 hours ago, Nick Parker said:

I always considered that to just be a certain type of mystery mode that Williams likes to write in:

 

Yeah, its just part of the way these themes are written. Unlike what @Incanus has pointed out, which is that a fragment of Across the Stars (and yes, one could easily make an argument for this fragment - or the whole second part of the theme, really - being a separate thematic identity) transforms into the Lament theme: That may be Williams most effective thematic transformation yet.

 

I also feel like there are fragments of the Qui Gon funeral music (which itself becomes a general funeral or mourning theme in this episode) are embedded into the lament as well. There are moments, such as 2:53, where you can almost sing along "Madhurah Svepnah, Ghorah-Damah."

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8 hours ago, Falafel said:

By second idea @Ludwig, do you mean this?

Or do you mean 0:59

 

I mean 0:14-0:19, the second short phrase of the theme. 

 

8 hours ago, Nick Parker said:

He uses something similar later on in conjunction with Leia or Luke and Leia, yeah? I always considered that to just be a certain type of mystery mode that Williams likes to write in.

 

Yes, the passage I noted above in Yoda's Death has the markings of a Williams "mystery" mode, as you point out. But in terms of a more direct association both musically and in the scene, it is definitely drawn from that second short phrase of Yoda's Theme. Notice how, early on in the cue, Williams places the passage directly after stating the second short phrase of Yoda's Theme, 2:20-2:50:

 

 

Once we hear the passage this way (i.e., as a transformation of Yoda's Theme) I think it becomes clear that the later one I originally quoted at 5:35 is a sped-up version of the same thing.

 

2 hours ago, Chen G. said:

And this very figure develops into the one that introduces (and underpins) the Luke and Leia theme into the score in "Brother and Sister."

Adams labels it, aptly enough, "The Brother and Sister motif".

 

Yes, though when it appears there, it's slightly different - not a full minor chord being arpeggiated (the bottom note is omitted). And I think that's important because it makes it harder to recognize it as coming from Yoda's Theme, especially since it isn't surrounded by that theme the way it is in Yoda's Death. In this way, one might view the relationships we're talking about as a kind of progression that develops a theme/motif in much the same way that a narrative gradually unfolds. In other words, visually it might look something like this:

 

Yoda's Theme --> Minor-key Yoda (for his mysterious advice) --> Accompaniment to Brother and Sister (for the mystery's revelation to Leia)

 

I think all this shows a keen sense of dramatic development through musical means on Williams' part, meaning that the score isn't just this theme followed by that one, but one that closely follows the discoveries and character changes of the narrative itself. Great stuff.

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45 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

I think all this shows a keen sense of dramatic development through musical means on Williams' part, meaning that the score isn't just this theme followed by that one, but one that closely follows the discoveries and character changes of the narrative itself. Great stuff.

 

Yeah, I always find thematic transformation superior to "oh, I just wrote a new theme." By creating a new theme through the transformation of an existing theme, some of that theme's associative power rubs onto the new theme, so even though its stated for the first time, it feels like we've heard it before.

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17 hours ago, kaseykockroach said:

I left it off my playlist I made of this score, but I still like this cue for its variation of the Indy theme at the end (I'm not used to hearing it in a way that isn't the usual heroic fanfare!).

 

 

That's an amazing rendition of both Indy's Theme and Short Round's theme there.  Awesome stuff!

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6 hours ago, Ludwig said:

Notice how, early on in the cue, Williams places the passage directly after stating the second short phrase of Yoda's Theme, 2:20-2:50:

 

Good point, forgot about that moment. I tend to be very skeptical if not cynical when it comes to "hidden" themes and motifs, but you've convinced me.

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