Thesis on John Williams’ Composition and Orchestration

Characteristic principles of orchestration and composition of John Williams, by Tomáš Chren

This thesis is mostly an analytical work of the composition of John Williams. Through analysis of mostly film music, I try to discover symptomatic and characteristic principles of his work that have not been much explored before. I look at how he unites film and music together and which narrative functions and means he uses to reflect the picture. I try to find out the meaning of these characteristics and their purpose in films. I examine how John Williams composes, orchestrates his music and try to find the roots why he composes in a certain way to relate to a film. First, I will depict his life, with the milestones and extraordinary events of his life. Then I will summarize his compositional process and the use of orchestrators. Then I come to analysis. To come to my conclusion I will mostly use the orchestral suite scores published by Hal Leonard, which are meant to be used for concert purposes. Since there is no complete score from the movies itself, I’ll try to compare some scores which reflect the picture and examine the correlation between these two media. Through analysis I will look at how Williams structures melody, his use of and combination of instrument groups of an orchestra or even the implementation of the fugue in certain scenes. At last I try to find his inspiration that he drew from. I will lean on books, studies, online sources to set the work of Williams in film music and historical context. The best point of view on the matter can only be from John Williams himself, so I will derive information also from various interviews, events to see and hear what he thinks, how he thinks, what his opinions are about his work, film, film music and his own life.

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