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Ludwig last won the day on October 9 2022

Ludwig had the most liked content!


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    Musicological Treasure Hunter

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  1. I think that one of the things that makes Williams' music so incredibly rich is that he's able to cultivate the various aspects of music individually and, in doing so, come up with something that has new elements but that also retains something of what he's done before. So the rhythm of Luke's theme is basically retained in Across the Stars, but the melody, harmony, and orchestration are of course all different. Yet you can still hear the resemblance. Or the harmony of the Force theme underpins the first half of Rey's theme even though the melody, rhythm, etc. are all different. And again, though subtle, the connection can still be heard. I think it's kind of the same thing here. He keeps the harmony the same (that was a perfect example - he uses a min(add#4) right at the start of The Battle of Syracuse!), but changes the other elements from his older action scoring. So the harmonic rhythm in Syracuse is very slow (one chord for a very long time!) but in his classic action music, he would usually change the chords far more quickly. And maintaining interest in the Syracuse cue is based very much on the ever-changing ostinato and layering melodies overtop of that, as well as using unusual instrumental combinations to create a unique orchestral timbre. So harmonic rhythm really slows down here, and I think that allows for a much different approach to scoring action that can highlight things other than the harmony, and create something that sounds new but not completely disconnected from what he wrote before.
  2. Yes, and he continues to use these techniques now, too! This is the moment from The Dial of Destiny where Indy and Helena slide down the pool of water into Archimedes secret chamber. Could have been written for a Star Wars score from 40 years ago - the chords, spacing with the semitone spaced out to a major 7th, chromatic planing of those chords, and of course for the last chord, the leap up of a minor 3rd, a common octatonic move! While his action scoring as a whole is now certainly different than it was back in the day, it's good to see he hasn't abandoned such effective techniques. Without even seeing the scene, it just seems to scream "oh no!", the last chord almost being like the musical equivalent of shouting "aaaaah!".
  3. Yes, but I think you need to be a paying member for that. At the free level, I think you can watch excerpts of it on their site after the event. You can see the different levels here: https://scoringarts.com/membership-join/
  4. For those interested in film score analysis, I'll be giving a virtual guest talk on harmony in John Williams' action music. The talk is with the Academy of Scoring Arts this Sunday, Sep. 10th, from 10am-12pm Pacific Time (they're based in L.A.). I'll be breaking down two cues from the original Star Wars trilogy: "Attacking a Star Destroyer" from The Empire Strikes Back, and "Fight in the Dungeon" (the Rancor scene) from Return of the Jedi. The idea is to give a sense not only of the kinds of chords Williams often uses, but also how he tends to use them in an action scene. You must be a member to attend, but you can sign up entirely for free on the Academy's website. Here's the link for the talk on the ASA's site (includes a link to sign up with ASA): https://scoringarts.com/event/the-music-of-john-williams-with-special-guest-mark-richards/
  5. This is weird. I can't add it to the cart on jwpepper. It says "No new items added. Proceed to cart to finalize order", but nothing gets added to the cart. Also weird is that I tried this earlier today and I could add it, but it said item was not in stock. I'm hoping this means that the suite is coming soon, but there's nothing listed on Hal Leonard's own site or even Sheet Music Plus. Fingers crossed, though! We've been waiting for this one for a loooooooooooooooooong time.
  6. I've always felt that the opening of "The Rebel Fleet/End Title" from TESB is what a concert version of the Force Theme might sound like since it has a mini B section that leads to a reprise of the theme. And, since the theme is short and almost like a motif as you say, it would make sense to combine it with the Solo and the Princess theme as it is here (another theme from the same film with a very contrasting emotion). So it could be like The Rebellion is Reborn from TLJ, which combines Rose's Theme and the Luke in Exile Theme. You can kind of imagine it if you listen to the first couple of minutes of the cue with that in mind:
  7. Yes, nice catch! It is of course transformed here, but I think what he's doing is setting it into an octatonic scale because it's an action scene. What really blows me away is that the whole first phrase of Helena's theme set in octatonic is the basis of the first 15 seconds of the cue until it reaches that big landing on C, where it leaves the scale. (That G-flat at the start is one note that deviates from the scale - a common enough occurrence in Williams.) Anyway, it really connects the action music directly to Helena but in a subtle way. Brilliantly done, IMHO.
  8. I like the way the ostinato at 2:12 comes in sounding at first like an innocuous accompaniment figure, then it beautifully blends with Helena's theme in counterpoint. And more than that, with the varied form of the ostinato (it's second statement and every other one after that), it seems like a variant of the opening figure of Helena's theme (I would say most like the one in its second phrase from 0:50 of "Helena's Theme"), which is more than an ostinato because it works in counterpoint with the melody of Helena's theme. That's what's the most interesting thing to me, almost like Williams is taking a technique that's more from concert music and importing it into his film work. It's something that is pretty subtle, but hearing the ostinato as related to Helena's theme I think explains why the ostinato blends so well with it. So compare this: to this:
  9. So, you mean is this a true long-lined theme in the manner of an 8-bar type of theme (grammatical) or something longer and more free-form? (Just translating my own obscure academic terms for fellow JW fans!) What's interesting is that I think pretty much every other statement of Voller's theme is just the opening idea, maybe repeated, so it seems like it's more a motif than a long-lined theme. But here, he stretched it out with more statements and they basically add up to a couple of AAB, or sentence, structures. It kind of reminds me of how Kylo Ren's aggressive motif becomes something more substantial at the end of TLJ and it almost turns into a full 8 bars. But there, I think Williams writing that was probably related to Ren becoming the accepted leader of the First Order by Hux (though reluctantly). The character becomes more substantial and so does the theme. In DOD, it still feels like a motif even when it's arranged like this, and I think that's because 8-bar themes tend to have a kind of predictability to their phrasing, so you kind of know when each idea and phrase will come to an end. But this use of Voller's theme is so much the opposite! Slow tempo, changing meter, different phrase lengths. It just doesn't feel like a long-lined theme, more like a motif that's being manipulated, if that makes sense.
  10. I think it's especially intuitive to place the chromatic figure starting on a downbeat each time. I tried transcribing it as well, and found that my ear was also drawn to the soft timp hits as downbeats, so I added as another factor and came up with this. I think we only differ in the amount of time between phrases, which doesn't always sound exact anyway.
  11. The theme is in a slow 3 (counting the first 3 melody notes as the main beats), so it's really any rendition that's in that meter. It can have a slightly different feel at that tempo, but I would say the feeling of 3's is still prominent. Take the ones at the end of The Magic of Halloween: Or the one at the end of The Rescue and Bike Chase:
  12. Great topic, @Holko. For the flying association, I would add the E.T. flying theme. I'd agree that there's something buoyant about waltz-tempo triple times, and the examples you mention are excellent ones. And you might be onto something with the fairy-tale beauty idea as well. That could explain the triple time of The BFG's main theme, for example. For me, one of the most challenging things with these kinds of discoveries is understanding how strong the association is, meaning how widespread and frequent the connection is. What you provide here is a massive step towards that, so kudos! When I was working on my course on rhythm and meter last year, I came across a whole bunch of passages in triple time / compound time (basically faster 3's) in Williams that had narrative associations and that were pretty frequent. One that he returns to often is the use of 3's in a slow compound time for sorrow. Examples include the main themes for Angela's Ashes, The Book Thief, Presumed Innocent (also includes mystery as an association), as well as Petticoat Lane, Across the Stars, Jedi Steps, and the new Obi-Wan theme. There were other associations, but that was the one that seemed to have the most examples I came across (aside from the action music association you mention, of course!).
  13. I heartily second this. @DomSewell has done analysis videos on every cue in The Phantom Menace, and has been working through The Empire Strikes Back up to now. His work is on a forensic level of detail, so you can find commentary on practically every moment of these cues. Fine work, Dom, and keep it up! Absolutely! I'm working on concepts right now for the next action course that tackles some of his more difficult harmonies to label. Not atonal, but not fully tonal either. So hopefully more people will add their voice to discussing these kinds of chords, because many of them are at the heart of much of Williams' film writing.
  14. In this form, it's a lot like the "ancestral" theme from Far and Away, which has the very same kind of large AABA form, where B is a variation of A, and funnily enough, that theme has very similar pitches and melodic shape as well, and is even in the same key of D minor: Coincidence?
  15. I have the Holman and find it a superb resource. I use it mainly to look up leitmotifs quickly and with good information like where they first occur according to the Schrimer vocal score, how they relate to other motifs, what's happening in the drama when heard, etc. And there's the concordance, if you're interested in learning more about the story and how it all fits together, it cites all references in the translated libretti to each keyword they give there. The Donington is just ok IMHO. I love the Holman, though. And actually, if you're looking for something to learn from while listening, I highly recommend The Ring Disc. Yes, it's old now, but so good! It gives you the vocal score and running analytical commentary while playing the Solti recordings of all four operas. Great for learning the leitmotifs in an in-time way. And it's on the Internet Archive as well: https://archive.org/details/the_ring_disc
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