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Ludwig

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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. I would say that Williams tends not to associate certain keys with certain moods. The idea of composers using certain keys for certain moods derived from the days when the 12-note chromatic system was not equally tempered, meaning that the same interval wasn't always exactly the same size. So each key did sound different and many tended to have common associations among composers. When equal temperament became the norm in the 19th century, those associations became more of a relic from the past and weren't used nearly as often. Beethoven was kind of the last big exponent of the idea, and it's not surprising that he spanned the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Anyway, with Williams, I don't see really strong connections between key and mood, but there are a couple of exceptions. Sometimes in his classic scores, it seems that he uses C major when there is a kind of purity in the character the theme represents in the theme's most prominent statement (main title / end credits): Superman fanfare and march (pure good), E.T. and Elliott (childhood innocence), Yoda (pure wisdom). This association of C major with purity is very traditional and mostly comes from C major having no sharps or flats in its key signature, so looks "pure" on the page. Other times, though, it just seems like C major is a convenient key to write in for Williams, like with the Raiders March. Williams also sometimes follows the 19th-century convention of using keys with lots of flats for slow, romantic pieces in major keys. This happens in Han Solo and the Princess, and Luke and Leia, both of which are in D-flat major, which has a whopping 5 flats in its key signature. The many flats are supposed to represent a very relaxed state in a musical way (whereas lots of sharps in a key signature are often associated with lots of energy). These are pretty much exceptions, though. Personally, I feel that Williams' choice of key for a theme probably depends on how he's going to orchestrate it. The use of B-flat major for the Star Wars main title not only allows the connection to the Fox fanfare that preceded it in the same key, but also the high B-flat in the trumpet, which is right near the very top of the instrument's range, as the theme's highest note. Or why the Jaws ostinato is on E - that's generally the lowest note in the double bass, so will be the darkest string colour he can achieve. The more I study Williams' writing, the more I find that his ideas seem very tied to orchestration, so that's why I'd lean more towards "not really" in answering your question despite the exceptions above.
  2. The whole score is insanely good. So choosing one cue over another is a bit like having a handful of polished gold and asking which piece shines the brightest. So keep that in mind when I say that Indy's Very First Adventure is the winner for me. It's got a draw-you-in kind of introduction, leitmotivic statements, non-leitmotivic tunes that really stay with you, colourful orchestration, and perhaps most importantly, it suits the scene like a glove - to me, it makes the scene. But there's something strikingly different about this score as a whole over its two predecessors in the Indy series. Interestingly, its action music revolves around major and minor scales rather than Williams' more typical twentieth-century-type scales and chords. The phrases also fall in a regular 4-bar pattern far more often in many portions of most of the action cues. Tunefulness is also at a series high here, with entire action cues being more or less dominated by a long-lined melody: Indy's Very First Adventure, Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra, Belly of the Steel Beast, etc. And along the same lines, the Scherzo has a light, Mendelssohnian character to it. I suspect that these are because of the more lighthearted nature of the film, especially with Connery as a kind of comic relief sidekick. You don't find this kind of thing in Star Wars very much because it is by its nature more serious than the Indiana Jones series despite also including comedic elements in each film. Anyway, as you can probably tell, I love this score! Williams' sensitivity to the overall tone of a film and his seemingly endless bag of tricks to express that tone never ceases to amaze me.
  3. Thanks for the transcript! I've wondered why (other than the one time we actually do get this in the film) Williams didn't just change Ren's theme into major rather than basically just straighten out the first two notes. Of course, he had no qualms about using Luke's theme in minor back in ESB, but that's a major-key theme being turned into minor. This is a (Hungarian) minor theme being turned into major, and for whatever reason, minor themes being turned into major just don't seem as common. And now, I'm wondering if he didn't do this for all of the Ben Solo statements because he may have felt that it transformed it beyond what people would notice. Interesting that he just wanted to write a new theme for him. I have to say I like the way he used JJ's suggestion.
  4. It's probably more of an allusion to the Lydian mode of Yoda's theme. You're right, it's unresolved (unlike other times in Yoda's theme), but I hear it as a kind of tag on the end of the cue, like a tiny reminder of the main feature of Yoda's theme. Ends of classical pieces do this a lot on a broader scale and it wouldn't surprise me if Williams is channeling that in miniature format here. I don't recall this part in the film - was it not included? I always look for evidence in the film to support more uncertain theme statements. I'd probably chalk this up to Williams' love of the Hungarian minor scale in action cues (minor scale with raised 4 degree), and that's the same scale Kylo's theme is forged from, so it does have a common sound with his theme. He loves his cascading low brass arpeggios in these kinds of cues as well - there's something kind of apocalyptic about them, and again Kylo's theme does the same. So I'd say they're cut from the same musical cloth but are probably separate in identity. My two cents, anyway!
  5. @Jay has made a pretty fantastic list there! @Falstaft (hiatus til TROS)'s Star Wars catalogue also has more information on the concert arrangements like what themes are used, if the piece differs from or is similar to a cue in the film, and details about further arrangements, recordings, and so on. An essential resource for those interested.
  6. Yes. I think of it as an example of thematic transformation, whereby a theme can undergo changes in melodic intervals, harmony, and to some degree rhythm, so that the theme remains easily recognizable though will imply some new aspect of its association. There hasn't really been another case in Star Wars of a transformed theme used in a consistent and frequent enough way, so from that perspective I can understand calling it something on its own. I suppose I would be more apt to call it something new if it were substantially more different from Kylo's theme than it is. As it is, I can't help but hear it as Kylo's theme a bit altered. A redeemed variation of Kylo's theme, in other words. It may be that we're not actually saying very different things, just in what to call it. I put it more in the vein of other examples that are admittedly simpler but demonstrate similar alterations like the minor and even Phrygian versions of Luke's theme in ESB. One might understand the emotion of these as something like Luke's despair, which of course veers widely from the heroism the major version generally expresses. But the theme is the same to me, still good old Luke's theme. So this question really gets at two ways of understanding the application of leitmotifs in film. On the one hand, one can understand as valid only what the composer creates and intends - in music theory land, this is what's called the "poietic". On the other hand, one can understand as valid the audience's reception of the finished product - this is what's called the "esthesic". I suppose I understand film scores as being somewhere between the two. So I am open to reorganizations of the composer's intentions by others making the film. After all, filmmaking is a collaborative process, even in the composition of the musical score. But I also think the composer's intentions are important to consider as well so that even if music is tracked into a scene or someone other than the composer suggests another approach to the scene, it has some relationship to where it was originally placed. Lucas' suggestion of the Force theme as an alternate Binary Sunset (the original one!) is a great example. It doesn't denote Obi-Wan or the Force in that scene as pretty much every other statement of the theme does in that film, but is clearly linked to Luke's destiny of becoming a Jedi like his father before him. This is where I'm open to suggestions made by those other than the composer and even most instances of tracking have a kinship to the composer's original use of the theme that creates an acceptable meaning, at least for me. Yes, I see what you mean. I don't think anyone would have felt deprived of anything had the theme not been written for this film. But given that it is there is what leads me to ask why and what it has to offer in terms of meaning. That's what I love about leitmotivic analysis. When a statement compels you to ask why and, with a composer like Williams, you'll usually get a very rich answer. So no, the movie didn't need this theme, but I think it was a nice addition because of the Ren/Palpatine collaboration, the Ren/Vader thing reignited, and the Palpatine/Fleet idea all being prominent parts of the film.
  7. Here's my analysis of the new themes in The Rise of Skywalker (beware: spoilers present!) http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/new-themes-and-their-meaning-in-the-rise-of-skywalker/ Enjoy!
  8. I've been the in same boat. But I just checked the tracking and it took just over two weeks to clear customs! Of course that was over the holidays. But it's now listed as having arrived at the post office, so it seems it will be delivered in the next day or so. Since you're overseas, I'd say it's probably still on its way. Just check the tracking link they give you to see if there's any more info.
  9. "and when JJ baby said the We Go Together theme should show how much our heroes very truly care for one another, I said 'well that's wonderful news because at long last, the saga will have its very first love theme'".
  10. Many thanks for these incredibly detailed analyses, @Jay. They're super useful! The FYC and OST for "Approaching the Throne" both have a statement of the Victory Theme at 3:10 not mentioned in @Jay's analysis, I'm guessing because you're going by the film first. That statement is not in the film as it is instead replaced with a repeat of 2:31-2:46 of the same track. It looks like that Victory theme was going to accompany the destruction of the navigation tower by Finn and Jannah. Maybe they felt it was too soon to have the Victory Theme since the First Order just moved the navigation signal to the command ship.
  11. On that note, this one hasn't been mentioned yet, but it's one of my faves because it reveals yet another emotional possibility for this most malleable of themes: besides being able to be wistful, sorrowful, mystical, militaristic, and heroic, this one is downright sinister! It's when Yoda is telling Anakin that fear of loss (i.e., Anakin's nightmare) is a path to the Dark Side. And I can't help mentioning that this is, I believe, the only time in the entire saga that the end of the 2nd phrase is harmonized with a minor bvii chord - similar to the "tragic" major bII chord it gets throughout most of this film, but with an even darker hue, perfectly matching the association of the theme with, oddly enough, the Dark Side.
  12. Here's what I get for that passage. Not quite the F#sus4 @Nick Parker suggested, but close! I'd call these chords quartal rather than try to force them (haha) into third-based labels of major and minor chords. I included the last chord of the preceding passage because the latter one grows out of it. The sustained chord on top is used again in bar 3, though now with C# as bass, so truly quartal as C#-F#-B-E (upper parts rearranged, but bass is the "root", a bit like with major and minor chords). Add some of Williams beloved planing of the upper chords and that's pretty much the passage, harmonically, until the last chord, which veers away from pure quartal writing. Quartal harmony is great because it kind of sits in between tonal and atonal - perfect for scenes of tension, especially when we're unsure which way a fight or battle is going to go at the moment.
  13. Loving these crunchy chords after Ben Solo's death with the brass chorale (what @Falstaft (hiatus til TROS) lists as "Ben Solo's Redemption" in his magnificent catalogue). The first chord of bars 1, 3, and 4 I hear as polychord constructions of DM / Eb5. Actually, the cue reminds me of "Voluntary Retirement" from Thomas Newman's Skyfall, which gives a similar brass chorale texture for Bond's "funeral". Not the same chords, but there's something similar about combining chords a semitone apart (successively in Newman, simultaneously in Williams).
  14. Williams almost certainly chose Sanskrit for Duel of the Fates (which is an action cue, not one depicting evil) because he described it as being like watching a religious ritual. And Sanskrit is a mainly liturgical language. It's also a very old language (over 3000 years), appropriate for religious-style events that supposedly happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. @artguy360 is right that the main baddies' music in the saga is in the European tradition. I would also add that their harmonic language is also forged in western techniques of the 20th century, namely octatonic, hexatonic, and Hungarian minor scales as the raw materials that contrast with techniques from major scales, minor scales, and modes for the good guys' music. Also consider source music in the OT - swing music plays in the seedy cantina, and rock music and baroque music inhabit the underworld of Jabba's palace, and those musics are western constructions as well. So no, I don't believe there's any glaring issue with the bad-guy music in Star Wars. @Falstaft (hiatus til TROS)'s Post article was miles ahead of this one.
  15. Well, sure it can be heard in many of his scores, a great example being that moment in the closing act of ESB: I'm guessing that what you mean by commodified is that you feel it's been trivialized due to overuse and by filling more of the underscore than before. The thing is, he never used it very much before, and now in TROS, it crops up at the main turning points. So rather than hear as something a tad overtired, I hear it as an attempt to unify a score where that's a huge challenge going in because 1) the film itself kind of lacks a unifying narrative idea that holds it all together, and 2) being the last film in the saga, Williams knows he'll be asked to stuff in as many of the old leitmotifs as possible. And that's on top of being asked to write several new themes to fit in somewhere as well. So it makes sense to me that Williams would seek out a way to musically bring the score together. I know what you mean about harmonic delights, but I suppose I like hearing how Williams reworks ideas into new harmonic surroundings, new instrumentations, new melodic frameworks, new scales, new rhythms, new dramatic arcs, and new narrative meanings as well. So to me it's a different kind of delight - a delight in variation, something Williams seems increasingly interested in in his later years.
  16. I've noticed a short chord progression come up many times in this score that I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed. What's cool about it is that it often appears at important moments in the film and it even undergoes a transformation from minor into major at the end, so it seems to me something like a "harmonic signature" for the underscore of TROS. The links below are mostly from TROS, but I give one from each of the previous two films as well since it accompanies notable places in those films as well. These include Han's death in TFA and Luke's Exile theme in TLJ, but I don't think the progression is as pervasive in those films as it is in TROS. Also, it appears as a closing tag to the concert arrangement, "The Rise of Skywalker", as if it's Williams' musical goodbye to the saga. Anyway, the progression could be called a minor chord to a minor(add b6). It usually has a melody in minor of scale degrees 5-6, often followed by a drop to scale degree 2 (sometimes 3). Here's where it appears. Thoughts? Rey's last conversation with Leia: As the friends escape from Kijimi in a ship: After Ren tells Rey she is Palpatine's granddaughter: As Rey decided to jump to the Falcon to escape Ren: In the final saber fight when Rey says "I did want to take your hand... Ben's hand": As Force-ghost Luke catches the saber Rey throws into her burning ship: After being Force-drained by Palpatine, Rey regains consciousness to see him destroying the Resistance fleet: TRANSFORMATION INTO MAJOR - After Rey kisses Ben for Force-reviving her and Ben smiles: From TLJ - Luke's Exile theme: From TFA - Han's death:
  17. These first few bars all come from what's called the hexatonic scale (or the augmented scale for jazzers), in this case: Bb-Db-D-F-Gb-A It's a six-note scale based on alternating minor 3rds (or augmented 2nds) and minor 2nds that Williams uses in his action music and in moments of mystery. I think @Datameister is right in calling Bb the tonic since it kind of resolves on that chord. But notice that the scale allows you to transpose anything up or down by major 3rd and still keep the intervals exactly the same. That makes the sense of a tonic very insecure, perfect for those moments of mystery Williams uses the scale for.
  18. No, no. That would be ridiculous. More plausible is the rising minor 3rd in both Rey's theme and the melody to the Jawa's music, which must mean that Rey is actually part Jawa. This would neatly explain why she was into selling old metal things on a desert planet in TFA. I mean, come on. It's completely obvious.
  19. That is one impressive imitation! Bravo, @Loert! Obi-Wan has taught you well.
  20. Thanks, Frank. Well written and a great read, as usual! One thing that was new to me and quite convincing was the claim of Kylo Ren's theme as overcompensation for his weakness as an evildoer. From that perspective, his two themes make more even sense than I had thought: his "menacing" theme could be seen as his external theme, in other words a projection of how he would like to be viewed by others. His mask certainly plays on that idea, and that is how we see him when he is first introduced and it literally hides the face of someone who himself admits is not as filled with the dark side as he'd like to be. The music could be seen as having this same masking quality. Kylo's "conflicted" theme then could be seen as his internal theme, a portrayal of how Kylo sees himself, which we all know is easily supported by Kylo's pleas to Vader's helmet the first time we hear this theme. Since the film came out, I wondered why the character was given two themes, especially when the distinction between the two becomes blurred even in TFA. But with this new insight, I now think Williams' judgement has been even more bang on than I first thought! What could be more fitting for a character whose internal and external selves are divided than to give him two themes depicting these? Clearly, Williams has still got it.
  21. The info is from Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars: And someone's actually gone to the trouble of synching the Rosza up with the main title (use password "OT"): https://vimeo.com/49976347 I think it still works pretty well, so is convincing as temp music.
  22. I think the structure came from the temp track for the original main title, which was Rosza's overture to Ivanhoe: It has basically the same structure as the Star Wars main title, along with many other connections. Here are some of the commonalities between the two in terms of structure, which is what you're asking about (both are also centred on Bb major!): Fanfare intro - 3 bars, quartal harmony A section - Brass melody + orchestra hits between long notes B section - String melody based on different motives than A section A section - Return to brass melody Where Williams' structure differs is in tightening the melody of each section to basically 4-bar phrases, making it easier to understand, easier to remember, and strengthening the march-like character it already has. But does Williams add an extra bar at the end of the B section, stretching the phrase out at the perfect time - right when we expect the A section to return, and so heightening our anticipation for it. So I think the template for the main title was already there in the temp track. But as with all great composers who assimilate other composers' work and don't merely repeat it, Williams improves on the original!
  23. One more solution I would suggest that might be right for you. In a published article of mine on film music themes, have a look at the theme from E.T., Example 30. There I use a hybrid of classical and jazz symbols, and there's a chord that's very similar to yours: an inverted dominant 7th chord with a 9th (bar 2). Instead of putting the literal interval for the inverted 9th, I just put V4/2 (add9). And I realize it's not proper for either notation to do this (for jazz, add9 would mean there's no 7th, and for classical, you wouldn't have both inverted and uninverted symbols in the same chord), but I felt it got the point across more quickly and clearly than anything else, especially when I wanted to show a more classical perspective with Roman numerals, something like yourself. And none of the readers who reviewed the article complained about it, which is telling. So the answer is, there is no answer. But that's the best I can come up with.
  24. Well then the problem is in trying to place classical Roman numerals on what is essentially a jazz chord. In jazz, it's easy to label as an Ebmaj9/Bb. In classical, there is no standard for this. The 5/4/3 label you have may give the notes, but it doesn't say anything about the spacing of the top note being a 9th. The traditional notation of 4/3 really only applies to 7th chords because once you have a 9th, it is usually supported by the 7th a 3rd below, not tucked away an octave lower. So really it should be something like 12/10/6/4, but that's obviously too unwieldy. You see my point, though. Jazz chords call for jazz symbols. Maybe you could have a simplified Roman numeral like bII9/7, then put "2nd inv." in parentheses. It's kind of a cheat, but it's probably easier to read than anything else.
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