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Ludwig

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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. Yes, and this semitone-up-plus-tritone-down figure is a part of the ST sound in particular, and not just as a combination of intervals but as the same degrees of the scale (5-6-2 in minor). So it seems a deliberate part of Williams' ST style. It's here as the Starkiller destroys the Hosnian system in TFA: And at Han's death with the corresponding music in Torn Apart: A little earlier in the same cue as well: It's the melodic tag at the end of The Rise of Skywalker: It's in that brass chorale at Ben Solo's death: And it was also part of that proto Rey's Theme we discussed here in an early version of TFA's 1M5 "The Scavenger". These are in addition to the appearances in March of the Resistance and this new Battle Theme. So it really seems to be woven consistently into the new trilogy's melodic fabric.
  2. I think this theme has the most to do with March of the Resistance. And I think it makes sense not just musically but contextually since this theme is about the Resistance and we actually hear the March a little later in this same cue. The second time the Battle Theme has a big melodic drop (its 3rd bar), the notes are the same as those in the 2nd half of the March of the Resistance's A section, as I've shown below. For those who don't read music, I mean that these moments are the same: The interval of that drop, which is very distinctive, being a tritone, also fills out the rest of the theme, as I've shown with the brackets under the notes. Its right at its outset with a note in between, in the 3rd bar I just mentioned, then again in the 4th bar. So in the video above, I mean at 2:32-2:34, 2:35-2:37, and 2:37-2:39. The whole theme has the same basic outline as March of the Resistance as well, starting from the tonic note (here A) and ending on the leading tone nearly an octave higher (G#), gradually rising up in between the two. Again, for those who don't read music, I'd compare the start and ends note of one theme, then compare them for the other. They're not in the same key, but the notes in their scales are the same. One might also say that what I've written as the 2nd line of the Battle Theme uses the same first three notes of March of the Resistance, though in a different rhythm. It's a little more abstract than the other similarities, but since the whole theme seems to be a kind of riff on the March, it kind of makes sense. Like March of the Resistance was recomposed with more jagged edges!
  3. I'm still blown away by the fact that Williams himself actually leafed through @Falstaft's catalogue! And just riffing on what @Cerebral Cortex said, I'd say that the catalogue with the amount of work that's gone into it (not to mention the length of its bibliography) is perhaps the most immediate way of seeing just how much of an impact his film music has made in the academic realm. I've contributed to that scholarship as well, and every time I analyze Williams' music for any kind of research, I find that it stands up to the rigorous kind of scrutiny that scholars typically subject music to. There's a consistently high level of musicality, which is hard to put into words, but it's things like attention to the smallest details, breadth and depth of knowledge, and appropriateness of technique that time and again rewards the study put into it. One of the greatest things about Williams' film music is not just that it has an impressive complexity and richness to it, but that it merges that complexity with an attractive simplicity (usually through the themes) - that allows the music to be accessible to just about anyone.
  4. To which Williams replied, "whether it be for Leia, or perhaps her relationship with Han, or Luke and Leia together, or the romance of Padme and Anakin, or even in the latest film, the very close-knit trio of main heroes, my only regret in writing all these themes is that I never got around to composing anything approaching a love theme."
  5. My guess is that, as @Falstaft points out, the note is at the bottom of the instrumental choir. What lies on top of it is the plain C major triad in root position, something that's hammered into students of classical ear-training studies. This kind of chord - the major 7th - really comes more out of jazz. It's quite uncommon in classical music, so much so that it's not a part of our ear-training studies, where, in terms of 7th chords, we instead focus on dominant 7ths, diminished 7ths, half-diminished 7ths, and minor 7ths. When I taught this stuff, I'm sure if I gave an ear test on this chord, even many top students would say was a plain C major chord, not because there's something wrong with their ears, but because of their training and what they "expect" to hear based on what they're taught. So I'm sure you're not alone! I don't really have a solution except to say try playing it at the piano, both with and without the 7th and after a while, you'll develop that intangible "feel" for the major 7th chord and be able to recognize it even if you don't know which notes are where. Aha! That makes a lot of sense, @Falstaft. I'd bet good money that's what he meant. Look @Disco Stu, you've helped us (probably) solve an age-old riddle in Williams lore!
  6. Deeply saddening news. More about his genius... A certain quote from Morricone has fascinated me ever since I came across it. In a course by Italian musicologist Sergio Miceli in which Morricone took part (what a dream that surely was!), talking about themes, Morricone said: It is truly a genius who on the one hand had such low regard for themes yet on the other wrote themes so deeply moving that they betray a deep understanding of their inner workings.
  7. Funny thing is, I don't hear any of Rey's theme in this alternate. There are, however, some slight similarities to March of the Resistance. The melody starting the theme's 2nd half (0:19-0:20 in Pando's mockup) begins with the same notes as the march's 2nd half. If we wanted to push the similarity further, you could say the opening of the theme is somewhat similar too, starting from the tonic note and rising up to the fifth of the scale, complete with a sharp going back up to the fifth note of the scale again (this is the thing @Tom was talking about before in another thread). And hey, even the first three notes of the theme are the same notes in a different rhythm. Also, the 8 bars of this version are also structured the same way as March of the Resistance's first 8 bars: 2 bars - Main idea 2 bars - Main idea slightly varied 2 bars - Faster chord changes 2 bars - Cadence I mention this because this kind of structure (which in music is called a "sentence" for the non-theorists here) has been, despite the march's example, rare for Williams for many decades now, so the connection rather stands out. Even so, though this looks like a lot of evidence, I wouldn't read too much into it. I think this theme has much more to do with a kind of "misterioso" sound Williams likes to invoke. In fact, I'd say this theme has more than a shade of the mystery-laden Unicorn's theme from Tintin in both the contour of the tonic chord and the use of his favored Hungarian minor for elements of mystery. One of the things I admire most about Williams is his ability to clothe cues in an entirely different musical wardrobe, so to speak. It very much looks like he was asked to simply write something in an entirely different vein for this version, so he complied, and instead of producing a reworking of what we know as Rey's theme, produced something wildly different in almost every way!
  8. Textbooks don't usually get into these kinds of stylistic details. I looked in several harmony and counterpoint books just now but to no avail. The music speaks better for itself. Take, for one famous example, Chopin's Prelude in A below. All the dotted figures except the last are half steps (as in March of the Resistance), and Chopin sometimes uses notes outside the scale to do that. For those who don't read music, it's always the 2nd and 3rd notes in of each phrase in the recording below.
  9. Ok, I get what you mean. The A# sounds like it shouldn't be there. If you're hearing it as out of place, it's likely because you're expecting the melody to sound a plain old A there and stay in the key of E minor, which has been going for the last bar and a half. But Williams also will often write a melody that uses only uses notes from a major or minor scale while the harmony ventures outside it (e.g., Luke's theme, Force theme, Raiders march). So I can understand where you're coming from. For me, I hear that note as derived from the down-up (or what's called a neighbour-note) figure that starts the fourth bar in your example above. And I think what makes that figure really distinctive is that the down-up motion is within a half step, or semitone. Almost every statement of the figure is within a semitone: the very first one, the one in the middle of bar 5, the one starting bar 6, the two in the middle of bar 9, and almost every statement in the B section as well (from bar 11). This use of notes outside a scale to match a semitone interval in a motive is something that is exceedingly common in music from the classical and romantic periods in particular. March of the Resistance has more of a conservative rather than more radical 19th-century feel to it, even if it is molded in Williams' own style (i.e., something more akin to, say, Dvorak than Wagner): both the melody and harmony stay in a single key for its opening 8 bars (unusual for Williams), the theme uses harmonic minor with the raised 7th degree (also unusual for Williams), and the melody is fashioned in a 4+4 structure (so common for Williams!), so it makes sense that it follows 19th-century melodic conventions as well.
  10. Could you pinpoint this note more precisely? What number note would it be if you count them from the start of the melody?
  11. I'd still say the same thing today, because I think what he took from Ivanhoe were broad strokes: the use of a quartal fanfare as an intro and the kind of orchestration for the theme proper. I see that I noticed back then as well that the motivic content is quite different between Luke's A and B sections. I think this new oral information from Williams that you've found now explains this nicely. True. Yes, you're of course right that memory can be fallible even for important things (and Williams has certainly misremembered before). In this case, I think when he said he wasn't shown the crawl, he was talking about the static "a long time ago" card since he did mention the "in a place far away" (!) line, he just referred to it confusingly as a crawl. So I wouldn't say he's misremembering in that sense. I don't think there's any way to know for sure, but I'd bet that he's correct in this case. Otherwise, we'd have to say his story is completely wrong - that he wrote the main title before the Throne Room and that the B section just happens to be more closely related to the latter even though it was composed with Luke's theme. That's why I say the motives are important - that the A and B sections are so closely related (even beginning both sections with the same rhythm and contour) bear out Williams' anecdotal evidence that he composed that music for the Throne Room rather than the main title. As with much of the history of Williams' scores, we may never know for sure how they came to be, but I for one am convinced that he's remembered right with this one.
  12. I think, though, that the Dvorak was the model for the big Force theme statement in the Throne Room and not necessarily the (what we call) "Throne Room theme" that follows. Williams himself says (in The Making of Star Wars - also in the Anthology CD liner notes) that it was like the Elgar tune to "Land of Hope and Glory": There's no way to tell that given what we know. Honestly, I think the strongest corroborating evidence (and personally I think it's quite strong) is the motivic connections between the two sections of the Throne Room melody. It's a fundamental ingredient to the traditional rounded binary ABA form (which both the Throne Room and Luke's theme are in), despite many textbooks emphasizing a B section's contrast. And I'd sooner believe Williams with something that would be very important to him in the throes of composing the score like the order in which he wrote cues rather than, a specific wording of the title scroll, which, from a compositional point of view, doesn't really matter.
  13. Indeed! I've just been going over the score of the Throne Room again, looking through that B section. Traditionally, B sections are not completely different from their A sections, but more like developments of them. So you're bound to find an A section's motives, or developments of them, in a B section. Here's what I noticed about the Throne Room (see music below). The B section's main two-bar figure is based on the A section in both the rhythm (the small change of the dotted rhythm being a small variant) and the contour (shown by the arrows, which show both the A and B section's directions of the notes). Then there's the climax of the B section (the second-last bar shown), which uses the exact same rhythm as in the A section opening (shown by the double-headed arrows and brackets). What's interesting, though, is that the B section's second bar starts with a triplet, just as the A section of Luke's theme does, so there is a connection to that theme as well, which may be why he thought of this B section as appropriate for that theme as well. But I'm still reeling from Williams' statement that this music was written for the Throne Room then applied to Luke's theme. The motivic connections between the Throne Room A and B really seem to confirm that.
  14. I trust Williams on this, but for it to fully make sense, there may be a missing detail or two that explains things more fully. The (second) question he was asked was "what inspired you to write the main theme of Star Wars" and I think he interprets this as "what inspired you to write the main title of Star Wars". Otherwise his answer seems to say that he wrote Luke's theme as one of the last things in the score, which can't possibly be true. That's fascinating that he says the B section of Luke's theme is really the B section of the Throne Room when it seems the other way around! That B section is also used in the statement of Luke's theme (in full ABA form) in Chasm Crossfire, when Luke swings across with Leia on the Death Star. So assuming Williams is recalling accurately, that would mean that he wrote the Throne Room first then decided that it's B section would be Luke's B section, whether he wrote Chasm Crossfire next or the main title. The point is that he wrote that music for the Throne Room first, and when it came time to write the main title, he imported the B section then arranged the A section of Luke's theme into that context rather than composed it then and there. Also interesting that he wrote the main title's opening blast in response to music he had already written for (presumably) the Battle of Yavin. That the blast provides a measured balance with a musical highlight of the score is I think another reason why it works so well as an introduction to the film.
  15. Great work to all involved! I liked Frank's point near the end that Williams' old-fashioned style of scoring has not been derailed by the more sound-designy, athematic-type scores that have become increasingly prevalent since the 1990s. And Doug added that that's partially because Williams has found ways of including so many different styles of music in his scores rather than shelve what is considered "old-fashioned" and stick fairly exclusively to newer trends. It goes to show that one of Williams' most valuable assets is in his innovative synthesis of styles to form a distinctive voice, rather than an innovation in the raw sounds themselves as is sought more in current film and especially classical concert music. And it was great to hear that many other active composers, conductors, performers cite Williams as one of their influences today. With the work that flourishes around Williams' music, it seems assured that it will continue to live on in many ways beyond the films themselves.
  16. And the saga's first actual love theme! (No, really.)
  17. One thing I noticed is the music as the heroes approach the cliff and see the Death Star wreckage. The harmony follows a pattern @Falstaft identified in a musicology blog post a couple of years ago for TLJ. It's a pattern of keys rising by 5ths, the most spectacular instance he cited being that in "Escape" from TLJ's OST, which goes on for a full minute! The pattern is notable because going up by 5ths has long been associated with rising tension in the classical world (just as the opposite, moving down by 5ths, has been associated with the opposite - a resolving effect). So Williams seems to be using the harmonic device to build tension or suspense, which certainly fits the bill in the old Death Star scene, as it's the moment of its discovery by the gang. In the music, it's those eerie minor chords we hear after the first bit of twisted string lines. They go F#m - C#m - G#m to form the pattern of rising 5ths. Notice the brass melody rises up through a minor chord as well (C# - E - G#) to double the effect of it being an "aha!" moment:
  18. Ah, no. Just that we're at the end of the Williams-style SW score and that given that the style can't really be duplicated that it will become more appreciated for that reason. There are no other film music dinosaurs like him!
  19. That's not to say that what he and other older composers incorporated into their music can't be broken down and reassembled into something new and engaging by another composer down the line. Indeed, that's precisely what Williams himself did in creating his Star Wars style. It wasn't Steiner or Korngold, but that kind of music informed by the newer musical currents of jazz and modernism in particular. Besides, Hollywood is now so bent on nostalgia trips that old-fashioned-type scores are bound to remain an option again and again, if refracted through the lens of the whatever the current trends may be.
  20. I think this will turn out to be the case, especially as TFA is highly regarded in the general population as well, and TROS caps off nonology that is already Williams' most prominent legacy. Probably many were still expecting a return to the OT musically, but the film's treatment and mixing of the music I think makes it hard for the casual enthusiast to really appreciate the quality of what Williams provided. Even so, that we have been fortunate enough to receive this kind of score in today's film music landscape is a gift that I think will become even more evident as time goes on.
  21. Yes, and it's interesting that Williams combines the two uses of this general sound from ANH: the chord you refer to is the one from Rebel Blockade Runner, while the rhythm with the triplet and cadence to C (with a very similar Holstian chord) mirrors the use in The Battle of Yavin. What I find cool about this reference in Falcon Flight is that it recalls the material without quoting one particular spot, so we feel more of a general nostalgic buzz rather than (at least for us JW fans) a direct rehash.
  22. After transcribing the cue, I found some interesting connections in relation Rey's theme in particular. Here are the first two lines of the cue: I like that the triplet ostinato is basically a fleshed out version of the opening of Rey's theme (shown in the small notes above the first bar). It saturates the cue with her sound in a nice subtle way. The melodic bass line that comes in the end of bar 2 I hear as a deconstruction of, again, the opening of Rey's theme, as shown in the small notes below bars 2 and 3 (notice the reversed order of 2 notes and the shifting of the order of notes as well). And it makes sense as Rey sets up a new life for herself with a new home, name, saber, etc. The bass melody of bar 6 of course refers to Jedi Steps, but it's also cool that the 8th-note figure just before it is both part of the end of Rey's theme (in rhythm and shape) but the rhythm is also part of Jedi Steps (just after the theme's opening 2 notes). So Williams exploits the similarity to splice the two together in seamless fashion. And the several moves to the 6th degree of the minor scale throughout are another aspect of Jedi Steps, but it's woven in so organically that it just gives you the flavour of it without directly referencing that part of the theme. In all, I'd say this is a splendid example of Williams using his gift for melodic variation to come up with a surprising amount of music from so little material.
  23. I'd say that, besides the wispy mid-range tremolos, the main interest in the piece is its use of dissonance on top of basic triads. The progressions themselves are very straightforward and you could analyze them with textbook harmony. But what's interesting is that when a line in the tremolo goes to a dissonant note, the original note is still being heard, so there's a dissonant clash between them. Usually, you would let the original note simply move into the dissonant note, then resolve it somehow. But Shore's treatment creates a blurrier sound that, together with the tremolos, add a poignance to the cue. The opening, for example, goes something like this (top to bottom of texture) - the bold notes show the clash I'm talking about: F --> E --> F D ------------> A ------------> F --> F --> F D ------------> The chord at 0:34 is also unresolved - it's an Fsus4 that sounds like it should go to an FM chord, but doesn't. Another different aspect of the cue.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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