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John Williams' DRACULA - MUSIC ONLY discussion

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Hello!

The thread for the Varese Deluxe edition has become full of shipping updates, customs complaints, arrival notices, booklet questions, and other sorts of ancillary stuff.  I wanted to have a thread for ONLY discussing the MUSIC on the set (well, the entire score in general, whether it be via the OST, the new set, or the film itself).

 

I'll start by quoting some of the only posts about the music itself from that thread, and we'll go forward from there!

 

By all means, continue to post about everything else in the original thread, I know everyone is excited to get it and display their copy, etc.

 

 

On 11/10/2018 at 5:20 AM, publicist said:

In tandem with 'The Fury' it is often cited as rare example of Williams doing (operatic) horror (leavened with romance here) and how it's a shame that he didn't do it more often. I disagree, as familiarity breeds contempt (The BFG is the most current example of that) and it's exactly that special status in the maestro's oeuvre that distinguishes both (instinct probably led him back to some of the characteristic traits in Harry Potter's darker corners). The best thing about the new Varése - lavish packaging aside - is the sound: what a relief it is to bid farewell to the awfully pinched sound of the old cd, which now sounds like a proper late 70's Tomlinson recording - thankfully the new mix leaves that sound well enough alone, only sprucing it up discreetly.

 

The old MCA release is familiar enough, so on to the stuff previously missing. While there is still a lot of riffing on Dracula's theme, some interesting things happen with (and beyond) it. 

 

1. Main Title & Storm Sequence (Film Version) 5:19 > the already released storm sequence now with the proper film opening, which gives a more thunderous reading to the second phrase of the Dracula theme, with '25. Main Title & Storm Sequence (Alternate)' featuring the old LP main title but with a shortened 50 second alternate of the rolling deep basses, ending on a sudden shock chord (different film cut?)

2. Meeting in the Cave 3:32 > Dracula 'calls' Mina from a cave after he has been shipwrecked, evocative sequence, same as CD, some orchestral detail heard for the first time here

3. A Quick Change 1:32 > film version of Dracula getting up from his coffin and attacking Renfield (introducing the curved middle part of the main theme as menacing rhythmic figure), Williams swiftly edited this together with two more cues as 'Abduction of Lucy' on the old LP

4. Dracula Appears :56 > belongs to tail end of 'Quick Change' but is interrupted by a cut to Lucy's party in the film, swirling strings illustrate the arrival of Dracula's coach, with one of the best examples of dramatic mickey-mousing ever, when the steps fall out the coach and Williams' hits each with one sinister chord from the orchestra

5. Casting a Spell and The Visitation 4:35 > Mina's 'doomed' theme is introduced when Dracula hypnotizes her, jumping to the long wordless later scene, very well shot, btw, when  Dracula crawls the walls to Mina's room to finally claim her. Obviously cut, as the cue is even longer here.

6. Give Me Your Loyalty 1:23 > the old opening of 'Abduction of Lucy' when Dracula secures Renfield's services, with a short bustling tail-end for a glimpse of village life, a rare relief from the oppressive mood of the rest.

7. Jonathan Pays a Call 3:05 > short variation of village life rhythmic figure when Harker goes to visit Dracula's castle, this is more scene-specific illustration music that could be cut.

8. For Mina 2:23 > like old cd

9 . The Dining Room 1:24 > the main love story begins here, with Kate Nelligan's Lucy visiting Dracula's spooky premises for dinner, her entrance into the great candle-lit dining room made into a show piece for product design and Williams presenting some bewitched woodwind variations of Dracula's theme before the...

10. First Kiss 2:08 > things get more urgent here, with Dracula seducing Lucy, Williams giving it a soft ostinato push midway that faintly recalls the final rescue in 'Poseidon Adventure' or 'Seven Years in Tibet' before foreboding darkness takes over.

11. Dracula Meets Van Helsing 2:44 > very well-shot scene of Olivier and Langella meeting at Mina's foggy graveyard site, scoring the count's mysterious allure with Van Helsing not-yet-able to confront his bête noire, though by now it has been established that we are dealing with an intrusion form the netherworld which Williams pinpoints from the human's POV with a sly variation on the old Dies irae chant.

12. Grave Trampling and The Asylum 1:14 > more dramatic variation of the Dies irae when a horse pinpoints a grave with an undead, sounds exciting but could be cut as this material is better dramatized in 'Van Helsing's solution' later on

13. Night Journeys (Film Version) 5:20 > the movie's set piece - it has many but this is Maurice Binder taking over, folks - when Dracula and Lucy finally make love in a montage firestorm of reds and blacks, musically walking in Wagner's footprints (Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde). Intercut with Van Helsing's group trying to find vampires underground, the scene shows Dracula entering Lucy's room and gently taking her. This happens after all elements of the story have been well established, but interestingly Williams scores Dracula's entrance like a first-time occurence, still kind of spooky but less menacing than Mina's taking, a clear sign that he intended the scene to be a stand-alone piece. Watch it with the music off, the decision to score it like that is completely arbitrary but it works! When the montage starts there is a heralding brass call magnificently announcing Lucy's abandon, the ensuing romantic chaos (Dracula's theme twists and turns like a mad eel after the 03.10 mark) resolving in a thundering Wagnerian resolution of the Dracula theme that surely belongs to the 70's most boldest scoring choices. Thus, it was replaced with '26. The Love Scene (Extended Version) 4:40', though leaving the first part of version 1 intact for the movie - Williams wrote a more sweetly romantic opening (clearly citing Wagner) - and replacing the later half with a more straightforward reading of the main theme. 

14. Mina Impaled 1:47 > When the undead Mina is found in the mine shaft underneath the asylum, she dies through her father's hands in a rather violent scene which Williams scores with cool 70's staccato piano (the opening of 'Bat Attack')

15. Van Helsing Confronts Dracula 3:16 > more of 'Dracula Meets Van Helsing', not a terribly important cue on its own

16. Van Helsing’s Solution 3:07 > elaboration of the Dies irae material for Mina's flogging and mayhem at the asylum

17. Into the Crypt 2:20 > more spooky graveyard music, cut from the movie - though it is one of the rare instances that refrains from using Dracula's theme, it is not terribly necessary

18. The Attack 1:25 > second part of the old MCA 'Bat Attack', probably best enjoyed in that cut.

19. The Night Visitor 2:17 > rising dramatic cue for pre-vampire Lucy trying to seduce Harker, on the old MCA probably by virtue of being one of the few Dracula-less bits

20. Waiting for Dracula 2:32 > chilly shots of the asylum on the cliffs at dawn with Dracula in wolf-ish form approaching, with a cool watching-and-waiting variation on his theme before... 

21. The Capture of Lucy 3:04 > more dramatic urgency after Dracula kills Renfield and breaks through the walls of Lucy's cell, taking her in his arms through the misty woods to escape with the help of a quintessential Williams brass fanfare playing counter to Dracula's theme (again!)

22. To Scarborough (Film Version) 2:48 > another Williams stable, the self-contained scherzo for a coach hunt. This is the MCA version in vastly better sound and a few seconds of overlaid organ chords to punctuate some action shots of Van Helsing and Harker in fast pursuit of Dracula's coach.

23. Dracula’s Death (Extended Version) 4:04 > more elaborate version of the finale on the ship to Varna, with a middle part cut from the MCA album that includes the killing of Van Helsing. In truth, the cut helps the cue as it goes straight to the chase with the rolling basses after 01:31 finishing Dracula off when he is hauled out into the sun and the score desperately fights with him before a broad rising brass gesture closes the chapter.

24. End Titles 3:32 > no big late 70's picture could do without: like so many Williams'ses from this period, this coda is the final say on the main theme with its hands-down best reading, first as plaintive oboe solo as Dracula's coat flaps over the sea, then as full-blown string adagio before quietly dying down on the oboe again. 

 

And thus, this adventure long in the making i finally over. And it seemed worth the wait. If you can't stand Dracula's theme, this release still isn't for you...

 

On 11/10/2018 at 11:20 AM, Amer said:

Thanks. Can you distinctly feel the difference in the new remaster of the OST on disc 2? 'Curious about that one. What I want to do is listen to OST first in this fresh new remastered sound because the old Varese cd left such a bitter taste because of its pinched andmuddy sound. I want to re-experience the OST afresh and then proceed to the expansion. 

 

On 11/10/2018 at 11:28 AM, Jurassic Shark said:

It's a significant improvement. Less muddy lows, and the highs are actually there!

 

On 11/10/2018 at 12:01 PM, publicist said:

It sounds OK but less good than the OST. I only kept 'Bat Attack', pity about the chorus on 'Night Journeys' but i'm not bothering with one more version for 3 seconds of choir.

 

On 11/13/2018 at 3:48 AM, Jurassic Shark said:

A significant improvement over the OST CD. Less muddy lows, and the frequency spectrum is greatly extented upwards. Now it doesn't sound like your stereo is confined in a coffin when listening to the OST.

 

On 11/13/2018 at 7:52 PM, Taikomochi said:

I wish I could have sex as satisfying as the build up in "The Love Scene (Extended Version)." 👌

 

On 11/14/2018 at 11:41 AM, Obi said:

On the "Meeting in the Cave" at 50 secondes... this is the Wojciech Kilar theme :o

 

On 11/14/2018 at 12:01 PM, King Mark said:

I  prefer The Love Scene to Night Journeys

 

On 11/16/2018 at 7:58 AM, Seth said:

This score really is a bit unique in his work; I think it's wrong to call it a horror score, though there are elements that could fairly be called that. I think this might be the best performance he got from the London Symphony in those years; it's near the top, at any rate. The brass and low strings are the standouts for me. The orchestra just sounds huge on the remaster. I wouldn't imagine it was exceptionally large in actuality, but it sounds absolutely massive here and I love it. I'm continually amazed, listening to Williams' scores from 77-83 (or 84, depending on how much mileage you get out of Temple of Doom--I'm not that fond of it), at the amount of clarity and attention to detail in his orchestrations. The monothematic approach is obviously unique when compared to something like the Star Wars trilogy or Superman, but he does so many things with the theme that it doesn't ever get tiresome or boring. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but I think Dracula helps shed some light on how he got from Star Wars to Empire, compositionally speaking. Anyway, those are just some thoughts after playing it through a couple of times. I have no doubt that it will reward repeated hearings. Everyone involved should be pleased with their work here, as it's a pretty spectacular release.

 

On 11/17/2018 at 7:29 PM, karelm said:

Listening now, wow, this music is so gorgeous!  Makes me almost what to see the film.  I hear a tip of the hat to Herrmann in quite a few places yet firmly JW.  For example, close voicing in the expanded low winds is very Herrmannesque.  Also lots of sequences (repetitions of motifs that are modulated).  It's a beautiful and operatic score.  I would say more lyrical than Star Wars, Close Encounters.  Almost every few seconds repeats a motif but arranged beautifully and still developing.  Star Wars, CEOTK, etc., have many moments of aural texture.  It is still firmly routed in JW's vernacular. 

 

On 11/17/2018 at 7:56 PM, Taikomochi said:

The music is very prominent in the film, and one of Williams’ most effective in-film. It’s an interesting take on Dracula too. This is a case where I’d strongly recommend seeing the film to compare the score against.

 

On 11/17/2018 at 9:48 PM, Taikomochi said:

I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, though maybe I just missed it - Has anyone noticed the little motif that plays in "Meeting in the Cave" at 2:37 and again in "Casting a Spell and The Visitation" at 4:00.  Not sure if there are other occurences or not.

 

20 hours ago, Brundlefly said:

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud that no one here has ever been whining about the combined "For Mina" on disc 1, not even mentioned it in a negative way. 

 

15 hours ago, Incanus said:

I am completely OK with these assembly decisions if we just have all the music and those combinations are not too glaring or jarring. This is helped further by the fact that I don't have a particular connection with the film or know it inside out.

 

15 hours ago, crumbs said:

Yeah not knowing the film makes me pretty ambivalent about these changes. Besides, MM always ensures the cues have clean openings and closings so they can still be separated by anyone who wants to sequence them chronologically. 

 

The important thing is we just get all the music. If Williams asks for a few sequencing changes as a compromise of that, fine by me. Better than the bad old days where we got microedits and cues dropped entirely. 

 

 

9 hours ago, Luke Skywalker said:

Grave trampling and the asylum is the one where the strings bleeds from one cue to the other, impossible to separate. SO when I added the score to itunes, i said myself to leave mina and this track as they are and didnt bother anymore.

 

8 hours ago, TownerFan said:

I'm completely okay with this decision, as it flows perfectly almost like a concert piece. Same goes with the combination of "Grave Trampling" and "The Asylum", as they're both based around Van Helsing's motif. Curiously, in the film "Grave Trampling" segues directly into "Night Journeys", but Matessino preferred to keep that cue isolated and imho it's the right choice.

 

8 hours ago, Luke Skywalker said:

If that's the case.... I would have put grave trampling segueing into the film edit of night Journeys, and then add the original full night journeys isolated as a bonus track ..

 

7 hours ago, publicist said:

What a horrendous Frankenstein stitch that would have been (musically speaking).

 

7 hours ago, TownerFan said:

As heard in the film, it doesn't sound that awkward, though. But I prefer how MM handled the presentation on the disc. I think it's one of those cases where being slave to the film presentation would be pedantic.

 

6 hours ago, publicist said:

I hate it when obvious set pieces are shoehorned with unrelated cues just because of a movie edit. Another reason why i avoided all the Star Wars releases after the Arista set.

 

2 hours ago, ChrisAfonso said:

I also noticed this during my first listen today. Like you said, it's also noticeable, but quieter, on the disc 2 version of the track, so it seems to be a recording artefact (?). It certainly looks strange on the spectrogram (top track, directly before 3:32):

 

dracula 1-1 spectrogram.png

 

I tried to edit it out, which seems to work rather well (the cut time not really noticeable because there's a slight rall.):

Original: https://picosong.com/wXa4N/

Fixed: https://picosong.com/wXa4x/

 

Other than this minor nitpick, awesome set so far - this score's a completely new discovery for me (apart from the End Credits, which blew me away when I heard it for the first time in London, and maybe even prefer to the original recording - I liked the slower, more freeflowing interpretation :))

 

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I think it is a significant improvement over the 90s Varese CD.  Something weird happened when they made that CD, the sound got all muddy and pinched.  The actual LPs from 1979 sound fine.  The new OST remaster sounds more like the LP did.

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I haven't done a comparison.  Other than popping Night Journeys over into my main playlist in place of the (Film Version) that's there by default, I really only listen to disc 1.

 

I don't find his OST program to be a particularly good one, it omits too many of the highlights I enjoy

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I love Disc 1 - Track 2. The high strings are make me think of 'The Walls Converge' from Star Wars. And then in the same track, the cool muted horns/ trombones with percussion and low piano sound like it could be some seedy part of Mos Eisley. Makes me smile each time I hear it. 

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36 minutes ago, Jay said:

There's a lot of little similarities in this score to material he'd compose for his next score, the Empire Strikes Back, too

 

Track 4 "Dracula Appears", about 20 seconds in sounds a lot like the motif used  that closes out the Carbon Freezing scene.  It's a great cue that mickey mouses the action of the steps unfolding from the coach and Dracula's feet descending.  It's got a bit of that Raiders Nazi menace to it.

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51 minutes ago, Jay said:

There's a lot of little similarities in this score to material he'd compose for his next score, the Empire Strikes Back, too

 

I hear Empire all over this one too.  I love having all of this music.  You can really track a lot of his creative and musical ideas.  It's incredible.  

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53 minutes ago, Demondm810 said:

 

I hear Empire all over this one too.  I love having all of this music.  You can really track a lot of his creative and musical ideas.  It's incredible.  

This.  Are there any other golden age JW full releases we are missing?

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5 hours ago, Jay said:

There's a lot of little similarities in this score to material he'd compose for his next score, the Empire Strikes Back, too

 

Ive always said that too. The dark moody brass clusters reflect some of the turmoil music from the Bespin sequences.It [Dracula] has that same rich jagged rich tone that was in EMPIRE.

6 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Speaking of The Fury, I'm not that impressed with the sound on the score recording.

 

 

If you compare the two the sound difference is like day and night. THE FURY sounds remarkably well.

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1 hour ago, Jay said:
  • Some older, incomplete, problematic, should-hopefully-be-re-done-from-scratch-by-Matessino-some-day expansions of
    • 1977's Star Wars
    • 1978's Superman: The Movie
    • 1980's The Empire Strikes Back
    • 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • 1983's Return of the Jedi
    • 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

 

STAR WARS sounds fine to me and its my go-to version. Although I cant say much about the recent Shawn Murphy redux. I should expect  SUPERMAN to get a new remaster via new high res transfer using the 6 track mag stems to coincide with this years 40th Anniversary. As MM clearly indicated that he wants to do this for 'future proofing' it in Tim Burden's Superman discussion/ interview. Hoping to see this in the Black Friday batch from LLL (unless its this very title which got postponed to next year as hinted by MV)

 

TEMPLE OF DOOM, LAST CRUSADE, EMPIRE and JEDI all need that 'from scratch' restoration.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

What's your impression about the sound quality on disc 1 vs disc 2? I haven't done a thorough comparison, but I have the impression they sound quite similar.

 

disk 1>>>>> Disk 2 at least on my headphones

 

so you can't really put Disk 2 tracks to replace Disk 1 tracks like night Journeys

 

My Favorite unreleased tracks:

1)Van Helsing's Solution

2)Grave Trampling

3)Love Scene Extended

4)Capture of Lucy. This is a great action cue

 

 

I don't REALLY care that some tracks were combined in non chronological order, BUT I wish they weren't . Because now I know the set is not CC. People would  freak out if this is done in the next expansion of  Indiana Jones or Star Wars 

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2 hours ago, King Mark said:

 

 

 

I don't REALLY care that some tracks were combined in non chronological order, BUT I wish they weren't . Because now I know the set is not CC. People would  freak out if this is done in the next expansion of  Indiana Jones or Star Wars 

As though that matters, since people will find ANY reason to complain about the latest releases. At least that'd make it easy for them!

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1 hour ago, Stefancos said:

Was this done to ensure a better listening experience?

Yes. It is a bit like the Close Encounters where the disc 1 contained the listening experience although here Mike didn't provide separate tracks for the combined cues on the second disc.

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4 hours ago, The Five Tones said:

Just finished listening through CD 1. Considering the age and particulars of the master tapes (Night Journeys, indeed) this is an HEROIC restoration.

 

I haven't read the booklet yet - was Night Journey in a particularly bad shape?

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9 hours ago, Amer said:

STAR WARS sounds fine to me and its my go-to version.

 

It's not complete, though.

 

 

9 hours ago, King Mark said:

My Favorite unreleased tracks:

4)Capture of Lucy. This is a great action cue

 

Most of "The Capture of Lucy" was on the OST album, the final 2 minutes of track 4 "The Abduction Of Lucy".  Only the first minute was unreleased until now.

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You mean 12M2 End Titles bars 52-72 (source: your spreadsheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRtrG_j5LEL5dTl9Ehw0aHE4IUm9AgofiJ8I-RXnVIJlski4kmPR6qLSWVPiUW_ltSaC79ZEZ9OYzl7/pubhtml), which most would probably count as an alternate, since it was replaced with a used and released insert, 12M2x?

 

What's the source for the early versions never having been recorded, Matessino's SE notes?

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20 minutes ago, Holko said:

You mean 12M2 End Titles bars 52-72 (source: your spreadsheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRtrG_j5LEL5dTl9Ehw0aHE4IUm9AgofiJ8I-RXnVIJlski4kmPR6qLSWVPiUW_ltSaC79ZEZ9OYzl7/pubhtml), which most would probably count as an alternate, since it was replaced with a used and released insert, 12M2x?

 

Right.

 

Quote

What's the source for the early versions never having been recorded?

 

The sheet music.

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I've heard mockups of all the unreleased and unrecorded stuff from the sheet music, can't remember if any were posted publicly or not

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11 hours ago, Jay said:

 

  • And finally, no expansion of any kind for
    • 1984's The River

 

There's also Monsignor from 1982, which I believe has not yet been expanded.  Intrada's release was a reissue of the LP program, right?

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5 hours ago, Holko said:

You mean 12M2 End Titles bars 52-72 (source: your spreadsheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRtrG_j5LEL5dTl9Ehw0aHE4IUm9AgofiJ8I-RXnVIJlski4kmPR6qLSWVPiUW_ltSaC79ZEZ9OYzl7/pubhtml), which most would probably count as an alternate, since it was replaced with a used and released insert, 12M2x?

 

5 hours ago, Jay said:

Right.

 

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16 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

I haven't read the booklet yet - was Night Journey in a particularly bad shape?


No, that was my confusing metaphor for the underworld journey of the masters, being neglected and presumed lost one way or another all this time.

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21 hours ago, Holko said:

You mean 12M2 End Titles bars 52-72 (source: your spreadsheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRtrG_j5LEL5dTl9Ehw0aHE4IUm9AgofiJ8I-RXnVIJlski4kmPR6qLSWVPiUW_ltSaC79ZEZ9OYzl7/pubhtml), which most would probably count as an alternate, since it was replaced with a used and released insert, 12M2x?

 

What's the source for the early versions never having been recorded, Matessino's SE notes?

I just have a question... Maybe out of subject 😉 :

Is there a place to find "all" or "some" of the Williams scores' comparison spreadsheet?

 

Thanks

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1 hour ago, Holko said:

We've been bugging Jay for quite some time to collect his spreadsheets in a separate topic!

They should be in the menu among "Complete Score Analysis" and "Expansions" and stuff like that on the main page.

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On 11/20/2018 at 11:05 AM, Amer said:

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE? I thought it had everything on the RCA 2cd set. whats missing?

 

I want Cantina Band #2 without the fadeout and the original start to the end credits, personally. I can't think of anything else for that score. The main coup would be the improvement in sound quality, I'm sure.

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On 11/20/2018 at 8:40 AM, Jay said:

 

 

Most of "The Capture of Lucy" was on the OST album, the final 2 minutes of track 4 "The Abduction Of Lucy".  Only the first minute was unreleased until now.

 my bad. It must have sounded so much better  I thought it was a new cue

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How bloody good is Van Helsing's Solution?! I've never seen the movie but just hearing this cue conjures such dramatic and vivid imagery. Just genius writing from Williams.

 

The more I listen to this score the more I realise how crucial it is as a 'bridging' score in his oeuvre. There's so many hints of ideas he employed on other scores around the same era. I continue to hear fragments of Star Wars, Jaws 2 and Close Encounters with each listen.

 

It's hard to believe he was really only finding his feet as a composer when he wrote this; I reckon most modern-day composers would kill to have one score this good in their career!

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