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Modest Expectations

How long did it take John Williams to compose his scores?

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23 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

Didnt he do TESB in 4 to 6 weeks?

 

The spotting sessions were done in late October/early November 1979. The score was recorded in late December 1979.

So, he wrote the score in a couple of months.

 

49 minutes ago, Modest Expectations said:

And I also remember that there were scheduling problems in 2002 for example. How much time did Williams have then?

 

From what I can remember...

Attack of the clones: October 2001-January 2002.

Minority Report: February 2002-May 2002 (if I'm not mistaken)

Chamber of Secrets: May 2002-July 2002 (recorded in September, possibly Williams continued working until then)

Catch me if you can: I'm not sure about this one, but I'd say from July/August 2002-September/October 2002.

 

The "problem" was that he had to start writing "Catch me if you can" before September (when Chamber of Secrets had to be recorded) to meet the deadline. 

 

About Star Wars, Williams started writing in early January 1977 and recorded in early March 1977. So about 8 weeks. 

 

 

I'd say, depending on the project, Williams writes a score in about 2-4 months. Knowing that he writes about 2 minutes a day, working about 6 days a week, that means he will need about 10 weeks to write a 2 hour score. Add to that a few days for the spotting sessions, and a couple of weeks for the recording sessions. Plus, the time he needs to create the themes BEFORE he can start writing the actual score.  

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Or the time for traveling that is never mentioned, as all those guys like JG, JW and JH recorded for decades in the UK far away from Hollywood, with jetlag and so on. A someone who travels often i can relate to this additional burden quite well.

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6 hours ago, Modest Expectations said:

1973 - The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing - 2 weeks (source: Thor), under 7 days (source: Richard)

 

Actually, Richard was correct, not I. Rereading the liner notes of the album (providing the liner notes are correct), it does indeed say '40 minutes of music in less than a week'. That's just batshit crazy. And for that level of quality! He probably wouldn't have managed that if it weren't for the experience from his TV days, which often had those kinds of schedules.

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Afair, 'Rosewood' was done in a 2 week timespan, too.

 

One thing to consider here is of course that these dates are very relative. People read that in a throwaway comment but what those dates entail isn't clear. The pure writing process? Writing and recording? Spotting? Mixing? 'Troy' seems to have been the most insane undertaking when from Horner actually taking on the job till the film was delivered to cinemas (you can't cheat on that date) wasn't much more than 14 days for over 100 minutes of score?

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34 minutes ago, publicist said:

Afair, 'Rosewood' was done in a 2 week timespan, too.

 

One thing to consider here is of course that these dates are very relative. People read that in a throwaway comment but what those dates entail isn't clear. The pure writing process? Writing and recording? Spotting? Mixing? 'Troy' seems to have been the most insane undertaking when from Horner actually taking on the job till the film was delivered to cinemas (you can't cheat on that date) wasn't much more than 14 days for over 100 minutes of score?

 

Yes, I think that's one of the most extreme examples. He had two weeks for ALIENS too, if memory serves (as opposed to his promised 6 weeks), but that's less music than in TROY. But writing "Bishop's Countdown" overnight; that's just insane.

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Horner was on 'Aliens' much longer, though and probably had done some homework on it, it was just the continuing edits that prevented him from locking his score.

 

In one of Yavar's recent Goldsmith podcasts Goldsmith was quoted as finishing 'Air Force One's 8-minute piece 'The Hijacking' at 3 in the morning, inferring he did it in one day, which is also quite an accomplishment.

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1 hour ago, publicist said:

'Troy' seems to have been the most insane undertaking when from Horner actually taking on the job till the film was delivered to cinemas (you can't cheat on that date) wasn't much more than 14 days for over 100 minutes of score?

 

In the case of Troy, there were actually two additional composers helping JH.

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32 minutes ago, BrotherSound said:

 

Four months for HP1, according this article: http://www.jwfan.com/?page_id=4573

 

The Teaser came out 8 months before the film and already had Hedwig's theme fully orchestrated. So I am thinking he had atleast 8 months. If he wrote the music 2 months before they cut the teaser then that gives him a full 10 months before the release of the film.

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16 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

 

The Teaser came out 8 months before the film and already had Hedwig's theme fully orchestrated. So I am thinking he had atleast 8 months. If he wrote the music 2 months before they cut the teaser then that gives him a full 10 months before the release of the film.

 

It’s possible he was thinking of more themes, but he wouldn’t be working on actual cues until after the spotting sessions. And a lot of that time in between would have been occupied by A.I.

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True. I am saying that his main theme was done down to the orchestration, and since it is used a lot in the first movie, he would have much of it already done, just a matter of copying and pasting.

 

I think as early as June or July he was already presenting the concert suite of Hedwig's theme.

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I also read somewhere that he wrote some more HPSS music, possibly parts of the children’s suite, in London while waiting to fly back when air travel had stopped in September 2001. 

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2 hours ago, BrotherSound said:

 

It’s possible he was thinking of more themes, but he wouldn’t be working on actual cues until after the spotting sessions. And a lot of that time in between would have been occupied by A.I.

Don't the spotting sessions typically happen before trailers?

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JW wrote the teaser music (kinda early version of Hedwig) based on his memories of the book, not the movie which was nowhere near complete enough. Remember, teaser, not trailer.

6 hours ago, Montre said:

I also read somewhere that he wrote some more HPSS music, possibly parts of the children’s suite, in London while waiting to fly back when air travel had stopped in September 2001. 

The last two days of the recording sessions were September 11th and 12th, so the revised HWW ending, unrecorded until the Chamber sessions, is the only candidate I guess, if true.

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2 hours ago, Holko said:

JW wrote the teaser music (kinda early version of Hedwig) based on his memories of the book, not the movie which was nowhere near complete enough. Remember, teaser, not trailer.

The last two days of the recording sessions were September 11th and 12th, so the revised HWW ending, unrecorded until the Chamber sessions, is the only candidate I guess, if true.

They recorded on 9/11 and 9/12? Those must have been extraordinarily surreal sessions for everyone involved.

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On 9/10/2019 at 2:24 AM, Bayesian said:

They recorded on 9/11 and 9/12? Those must have been extraordinarily surreal sessions for everyone involved.

 

Yep. Bill Wrobel’s rundown of the cues of HPSS also confirms that they had sessions on 9/11. Interestingly enough, the other big score of that year, Howard Shore’s Fellowship of the Ring, was also recording on that same day. In New Zealand, if I’m not mistaken. 

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On 9/12/2019 at 4:54 AM, Montre said:

Howard Shore’s Fellowship of the Ring, was also recording on that same day. In New Zealand, if I’m not mistaken. 

 

Not London?

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Wasn't FOTR recording at the same time in a different studio at Abbey Road? I vaguely recall reading about the composers visiting each other's sessions.

 

Howard and Williams were certainly both inspired at the time, that's for sure.

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Fellowship was recorded in London and New Zealand. I could be wrong, but I thought I remember reading that at this time they were recording in New Zealand. I would love to think that they were both in London at the same time though, so if that’s true that would be pretty cool. 

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The NZ sessions were earlier in the year, they scored Moria and an early version of Breaking of the Fellowship for the Cannes sneak peek presentation mid-2001. The Moria cues were never rerecorded in London, but the rest of the score (and as far as I know all of the other 2) was done there, including a redo of Breaking of the Fellowship.

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Correct.  All done in London except for the NZ material for Cannes.  Watford Town Hall, Air Lyndhurst, Henry Wood Hall, and Abbey Road were all used with the greatest bulk taking place at the first.  Jim Ware or Doug would know for sure what was going on where on a given date though.  I'm pretty sure I've read the account of the Fellowship sessions on or right after 9/11, somewhere.

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One thing I've struggled to understand with schedules is that if a replacement score can physically be written in a week, and yet 'normal' scores are done more in weeks/months, what's changing between those two schedules? Is the composer receiving tons of help for a short schedule?

 

Especially given that replacement scores often seem to have the usual alternate takes and are generally equal in quality, I'd be curious as to what's different that allows the score to be completed in days rather than weeks.

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44 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

Especially given that replacement scores often seem to have the usual alternate takes and are generally equal in quality, I'd be curious as to what's different that allows the score to be completed in days rather than weeks.

 

A host of sleepless nights and a blatant disregard for wellbeing.

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22 minutes ago, Dixon Hill said:

How old are you?  Are you from America?  All due respect but perhaps if you're a younger person who was geographically removed from it it's hard to understand.  I'm pretty far from a flag waving God bless the USA type who will get indignant at the suggestion that it's not a "big deal" but I was blocks away from what was happening in Manhattan, I knew people who died, and you'll have to forgive me if it continues to loom in my life as a "big deal."  Fuck's sake. 

Yeah, it’s hard to fathom where that comment comes from. First, it’s not like the federal government forces us all take a three minute silence on 9/11 or anything. After 18 years, people mark the tragedy in their own ways, if they mark it at all. In my neck of the California woods, this past 9/11 passed with no visible evidence of people making any kind of “big deal” out of it.

 

Second, if the “big deal” comment instead means why do people still think it was such a significant event, well, consider that this terrorist act was completely unprecedented. Four planes and almost 3,000 innocent deaths across multiple places in less than 2 hours and no one knew at the time whether it could have been forty planes and God knows how many deaths by the end of it all. It was terrifying. It also happened to fundamentally change our approach to transportation security, national security and foreign policy. Not to mention that it ramped up a spate of terroristic activity around the world that continues to this day and shaped an American military response that’s cost us a trillion dollars so far and the loss of many thousands of service members’ lives. We will continue to live in the shadow of that unspeakable event for a long time to come. So, yeah, it’s a big fucking deal.

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