I have a question, (seems most suitable for this topic). How much of the final score is actually written in by JW? For example, his wealth of exquisite scalic flute passages that can be found in almost all of his conventional scores (most prevalent to me in E.T) - are they all written in directly by him, or do his orchestrators add some of them? I only ask because that has to be one of my favourite aspects of JW orchestrations; the sublime woodwind parts that are completely unique to his style. That and the glockenspiel
The others are correct when they say that it's all Williams. When working on a film score, he indeed writes an average of 1 or 2 minutes a day, sitting at the piano with a pencil and a sheet of eight-staff sheet music sketch paper. The sketches include or imply 99% of the information found in the final score, including every note of the flourishes you're talking about. Now, in order to be able to write at a sufficient speed, he does use some shorthand and so forth. For instance, those flourishes and scales and runs usually end up using nearly the entire woodwind section, with octave doublings and voicings that are pretty straightforward. Williams will typically write out just a single octave with the direction WIND above it, allowing the orchestrator for that cue to divide it all up appropriately. It's not that Williams isn't capable of doing this on his own - on the contrary, he does his own orchestration when time permits. It's just that there's a fair amount of nitty-gritty stuff like that to do in a short period of time, stuff that's more about technical expertise than creativity. In other words, no matter which of Williams' orchestrators takes care of a given cue, it's still gonna end up sounding the same, because all the information is there (in some form) in the sketch.
Now, there are occasional exceptions. But it's usually pretty hard to know whether the changes were made by the orchestrator or by Williams making a suggestion after the sketch was finished. And those changes are typically pretty minor.
You know I also heard John Williams MIGHT compose the music for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2... if his schedule allows it. Let's pray it happens, people! I think it really might. Maybe Yates will let him score an early cut!
Williams has used straightforward cluster chords to wonderful effect, but I think that what wanner251 brought up is much more common in his work. Williams likes to make the dissonance a little more subtle by expanding tone clusters and polychords and whatnot over perhaps several octaves, resulting in some very interesting tonalities. It's both exhilarating and frustrating to study passages like these, because when you play through what's written in the score, it sounds so right, but it's so hard to figure out why.
Y'know, Thor should be proud of me...this is one of those soundtracks that I really appreciate more as a whole than as a collection of tracks. And I use the word "soundtrack" intentionally here, because I've only seen the film once, and most of my familiarity with the music is thus through the excellent OST. I tend to listen to this album straight through, or at least in long chunks, rather than as single tracks scattered amongst other shuffled bits of music.
That being said, the parts of "Plowing" used in the trailer are just sublime, and I think the music for the dash across no man's land is a really fascinating blend of Williams' normal approach with an almost Zimmer-like style. Argh, it's seriously so hard to pick favorites from this score, though. It really works best as a journey, not as any isolated cue.
This is an interesting topic. I'm listening to Home Alone a lot these days (holiday season), one of my favorite scores. There are so many variations of the celeste sound in there, and I've always been curious what's synth and what's not.
I think we can be quite confident that there's very little or no real celeste in there. Perhaps if we get complete sheet music, I'll be proven wrong, but consider HP:SS, which only has one minor passage (as far as I know) that calls for real celeste.
One logistical thing I've wondered about is whether the orchestra can hear what Randy's doing on his keyboard as they play. They'd have to either use speakers or headphones, and I figure the former is right out...anyone have any insight on this? From that video, it's clear that he's playing live along with the orchestra, in any case.