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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. 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:
  2. 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!).
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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
  6. Here's my transcription of the sample for "Reflections", the first four bars of which also return in "The Letter".
  7. Yes! The one in Helena is more in what @Falstaft labels the A portion of the theme in his transcription back in that thread (the kind of introductory-sounding statement we get before the full-fledged version he labels A'). Though there he stretches the notes of second cell out to double the length. I even think there's a hint if it in Rey's theme, where the cell is 3 notes in the first bar and only 2 in the second. The technique probably warrants even more study. But it was something I first noticed in the 3 themes I discuss.
  8. In this video, I explore how John Williams adds memorability and interest to some of his most famous themes with a rhythmic technique I call "Cell Repetition with Divider". Enjoy! Edit: Video updated!
  9. Went to see this today at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra played so well throughout, it was a pure delight. It was great to hear different details come through the score than what I've heard on the OST or in the film recording. This was especially the case in the quieter moments, when I could hear, for example, the piano when BB-8 runs away from the battle at the start of the film, or the oboe solo when Maz tells Rey the people she's waiting for aren't coming back. Things like that really added more humanity to these scenes. Act One ended with the big statement of the First Order theme they use near the start of the film when we cut back to the First Order ships, and Act Two began with a very abbreviated form of the concert version of Rey's Theme. I think the best thing about this performance was that I got to hear the score louder than I've ever heard with the film before, as though with a better mix in a recorded film. And the live element, as I say, just gave it more humanity and warmth. Top notch performance. If you get the chance to go, it's really worth it!
  10. I think when we feel that Williams reaches a kind of perfection with a scene or theme, then it always seems to be a great example of his talent for aligning many musical parameters toward similar or compatible sorts of expressions. In other words, it is the melody's aching leaps and steps, it is the gorgeous harmony, it is the warm scoring, the sturdy bass pedal point, the simple major scale, the yearning countermelody, and so on. It would be hard enough to come up with a great solution in just one of these parameters, but when they all coordinate? Perfection indeed! This is golden-age Williams at his finest and it never ceases to boggle my mind how simple it sounds but how complex it can be to unpack.
  11. Yes, it's a bit like the Obi-Wan intro, where the theme hasn't yet solidified into it's final form until the whole orchestra gets going. He seems to like these provisional intros to his themes in these later scores. Even the Victory theme opening "The Rise of Skywalker" track has that provisional quality even if it's a bit more formed in that case. Could be! I'm hearing several places where it also sounds a bit like Marion's theme (as others have noted above), so those sequences can sound a bit like the 6th and 7th notes of Marion's theme, if only in rhythm and contour, not so much interval.
  12. I think we match! You're probably right about the rhythm of the triplet being changed to quarter-eighth-eighth in the 2nd bar of your 2nd-last line. There's just so much rubato in the piece, I went for the straight rhythms instead. And bravo for including the harmony! Will make a fine addition to your Indy catalogue! EDIT: After listening again, I changed the triplet I had in my m. 10 to the quarter-plus-eighths. Williams loves little changes like that, so I could see that being the case.
  13. Beautiful theme! Just so we can get a sense of what the actual melody of the theme is, I did a transcription of the theme proper (minus the intro, middle section, and coda) . There are two statements - the first in the strings at 0:29, the second in the horn at 2:33 (I reposted the great-sounding video from @crumbs):
  14. It really depends on what you're looking to do. If you actually want to perform some written music, probably a full 88 keys is better. Then you can hear the pitches as written and never have to leave out or rearrange any notes. But it's totally possible to just learn to read music on a small instrument. You might also think of what space you have for it and whether that's a factor as well.
  15. Great. The main thing is, you can practice with it as much as you like with all the interactive elements. I hope you find it to have everything you're looking for!
  16. Film Music Notes is happy to announce the launch of a new course, Fundamentals of Reading Music. Customize your learning of reading music with this comprehensive course, which covers all essential aspects of musical notation, scales, and chords. With nearly 3 hours of video lessons, 750 flashcards, and 220 quiz questions, you can focus on the skills that you want to develop. Get this course for just $29 on its own, or absolutely free when you enroll in Diatonic Harmony which is at the launch-sale price of $59 for only two weeks until July 4th. Visit the course pages using the links above to watch a preview, see the course contents, and enroll in the course. https://filmmusicnotes.com/fundamentals-of-reading-music/
  17. Film Music Notes is happy to announce the launch of a new course, Diatonic Harmony in Classical and Film Music. Learn how to write diatonic harmony in both a classical “strict style” and a more film-oriented “free style”, and see how the two are combined in cues from well-known film scores. Plus, get the course Fundamentals of Reading Music absolutely free when you enroll in Diatonic Harmony which is at the launch-sale price of $59 for only two weeks until July 4th. Or get Fundamentals on its own for just $29. Visit the course pages using the links above to watch a preview, see the course contents, and enroll in the course. Course 1 - Diatonic Harmony Learn how to write diatonic harmony in both a classical “strict style” and a more film-oriented “free style”, and see how the two are combined in cues from well-known film scores. Plus, get the course Fundamentals of Reading Music absolutely free when you enroll in Diatonic Harmony! Course 2 - Fundamentals of Reading Music Customize your learning of reading music with this comprehensive course, which covers all essential aspects of musical notation, scales, and chords. With nearly 3 hours of video lessons, 750 flashcards, and 220 quiz questions, you can focus on the skills that you want to develop.
  18. So this is interesting. In the "cutting room floor" book cited above, Hirsch says "Ben [Burtt] also came up with Erich Korngold's Oscar-winning theme from the 1938 Robin Hood to play under the crawl at the beginning of the movie. George [Lucas] had experimented with something from Kurosawa, but we all ganged up on him and got him to change it. It was just too bizarre and didn't capture the heroic spirit." But in Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars, Hirsch is quoted as saying "we used music from Ivanhoe by Rózsa for the main title." This is the same person saying they used two different pieces for the main title! It's pretty clear that the Rózsa is essentially the model for the Star Wars main title. Maybe Robin Hood was used at one point then changed out for Ivanhoe, but if so, there isn't really any trace left of it. Sounds like he's probably misremembering in the newer "cutting room floor" book (2020), the Rinzler being from 2007.
  19. Yes, I think you're right. I don't hear any full-fledged 8-bar theme anywhere here. Several times there are 4-bar phrases that are restated at a new transposition then they develop in a different direction. So it kind of suggests it might go the full 8 bars but never seems to. What would be really helpful is a thematic map of the piece like we've seen with those colored bars representing different themes or otherwise consistent material. It's funny that despite it being a fun piece, it's surprisingly hard to get a grasp of its structure. Every time I hear it (and it's been 3 now), I hear the sections coming back more clearly, but I don't get a big-picture structure of the piece as I listen to it. Would be great to see how it's put together, though!
  20. Yes! I would say that it's almost certainly in 12/8 rather than 4/4, at least after the horn solo intro (and maybe not including the contrasting middle section). The reason I say that is that Williams seems to write in slowish compound meters when he's expressing something to do with sorrow, which certainly fits the bill here, but there's also Jedi Steps (12/8), Across the Stars (9/8), and even things like the main themes for Angela's Ashes (mostly 12/8) and the Book Thief (6/8), etc. And while we're talking about these ostinato figures, I'll say that one thing I think is quite different from many of his other film concert pieces is that this one is very tightly based on the descending half steps found naturally in the minor scale (on degrees 6-5 and 3-2). When I heard the second and third notes of the theme's melody, I thought it was simply an appropriate expression of sounding forlorn with the 3-2 scale notes. Then it happened again in the 3rd bar (on the triplet). Then I noticed that he also uses the 6-5 notes as the high notes of the theme in those first four bars. And in those funny inverted chords in the second statements of the theme, we get the bass notes of the chords as Eb-D-C-D, again playing around with 3-2. Then I heard the cadence and I was like, cool, 6-5 in the bass for a really grief-stricken sound. Then every time these ostinatos came in, I felt the composition was getting increasingly motivically tight. And I can't help but think that his intensive work for the concert hall in the past few years has made its mark in this theme, as this kind of knitting together of a piece through a repeated scale degree figure (and not even one tied to a certain rhythm) is a hallmark of more classical concert works. Normally, I wouldn't think too much of finding this or that scale degree figure, but it's foregrounded for us right in the first bar of the melody so it inhabits even the most obvious of places!
  21. I love how the melody is basically all in C minor but when we finally get some tonic chords in the 2nd statement of the theme, they're C major chords. I hear it as a new take on the Force theme's major chord at the end of its first phrase, the "hope" that shines through the minor-key darkness.
  22. Just catching up with this now. I have to say, I think Yo-Yo said something very profound about Williams' music in general. We all know that Williams loves those little variations of motives, particularly in his film themes. But what Yo-Yo said is that, in this particular case, they manage to express all the most important emotions he felt in holding his children and grandchildren as babies and wondering what their futures would hold. And it was great that he played the variations then expressed them as human gestures, basically forming a direct connection between music and emotional expressions that seemed to suggest something like tenderness, trepidation, and torment. In any case, I've always wondered how we might actually say in words what Williams' slight variations mean in the context of his themes, and I think Yo-Yo hit the nail on the head. If we apply what he says to Williams' themes in general, we might say that they offer a rich portrayal of their association by showing us different emotional expressions of the same character, situation, place, object, etc. Yet at the same time, Williams shows us only those expressions that are the most important (Yo-Yo's choice of "essentializing" is the perfect word) to understanding what the core nature of that character, situation, place, or object is. That seems to me to sum up a lot about what makes Williams' theme writing so great!
  23. That may well be! It does seem like the perfect spot to refer to Ben-Hur. But if that's true musically, it's odd that the portion of the Flag Parade that sounds like the Ben-Hur parade is a tiny transitional bit buried in the middle of the cue, and that the main Flag Parade theme has very little in common with the Ben-Hur march aside from a general modal-ish sound. But the funny thing is, that imitative quartal bit I mentioned earlier, if alluding to the original main title (taken along with the other similarities mentioned above), it would come from Williams channeling Ròzsa's Ivanhoe overture, which was the temp track for the 1977 Star Wars main title. So one way or another, it's definitely Ròzsa-derived!
  24. Yes! Completely agree. There are also a couple of other points I'd mention: 1) The scoring at the start has that "shimmering" quality with a high tremolo in the strings and winds 2) Really striking to my ears is the bit from 0:50-0:56 that sounds suspiciously like the opening fanfare of the original - a similar Bb quartal harmony arpeggiated and imitated among the brass. I've queued it up here for comparison: It certainly sounds like it was modeled on the original main title, so I'd agree this may well have been considered for prequel main-title material.
  25. With a celeste, it'll be even more poignant than solo piano, maybe something like "Remembering Petticoat Lane" in orchestration but in structure more like the piano solos you guys are mentioning here. Considering that parts of the score (played on piano, mind you) made Spielberg weep as Williams played it, whatever the music is on celeste, it seems bound to be of the deeply emotional kind. Poignance, melancholy, nostalgia, would all be really rich emotions for Williams to score.
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