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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. Just finished an analysis of Skyfall - http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/oscar-nominees-2013-thomas-newmans-score-for-skyfall/ Opinions on this score - at least in this forum - seem pretty divided. Some seem to love it, some hate it, some say it's okay but nothing special. Funny that whenever I take a good listen to a score, I always find a lot more things to like than I thought I would, and my respect for it goes up. I think it must be tough writing a Bond score because you have to have both old and new ideas and not overdo it either way. Very tough.
  2. Yes, tonic. Even without the root. This whole passage strikes me as very jazzy in nature (almost everything's a seventh or ninth chord!) and rootless chords are not at all uncommon in jazz, so the III in bar 3 would still strike me as a GM7add9 without the root. I think there's a tendency in harmonic analysis (Lord knows, I've been guilty of it) to get hung up on trying to decide on what chord is sounding when the more fundamental question is what harmonic function is sounding. Tonal music can basically be boiled down to the three functions of subdominant, dominant, and tonic. So if we say that the chord in bar 3 of your second example is III, which I can of course understand from the standpoint of chord construction, than we should be able to say what function the chord has. It doesn't really matter to me whether you call it III or I, but I think it's indisputable that the chord has tonic function. After all, it comes after a VII chord, which is dominant function. Similarly, I consider the III chord you have in bar 6 to be tonic in function as well. There, I think it's even stronger because you get the root in the melody. The F# that follows is, to me, a chord tone in GM7. The mystery chord doesn't have a strong sense of harmonic function (at least not to my ears), which is why I say it's a contrapuntal formation. Perhaps it has a hint of subdominant function, or the IV pointed out by Prometheus. But it's by no means clear, which is certainly why we're all still talking about it. I had a feeling you wouldn't like the term "modulation" for the B minor you mentioned. Okay, let's call it a temporary tonic then. Again, I'm not so concerned with what to call it as how to understand it. To say it can be explained through B minor means that we must hear B minor as a tonic somewhere. But nowhere do we have a chord that suggests its dominant. At best, what we have is, in bars 2-6, an alternation of subdominant and tonic functions in that key. If the music is actually going to pass through another key, though, it had better use a dominant function. Otherwise, it's not enough to really get the sound of the old key out of our ears. Rather, it gets swallowed up by the old key and we're more likely to hear it as still in the old key. By the way, there's a really good book on jazz theory in case you're interested. I think more of that would apply to Williams' music than traditional harmony textbooks. The book is The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine. Totally, totally awesome! Especially if you play piano.
  3. My bad. I meant V of B minor for the strange chord in bar 5, not V/V. It seems to me that to be V/V, we really need to have its leading note, E#. With E-natural, I think the V/V interpretation is rather strained. But even an interpretation as V is strained as well. Myself, I don't hear this in B minor, but G major all the way through the passage you cite. That's why I like the more contrapuntal approach. And now that you add the melody, I think it works a little better since the E-G is now filled in with stepwise motion. I suppose I still think it's best to view it as a sort of passing chord. By the way, when I listen to this passage on the video, I hear both of the III chords as G major chords with added notes. I think the melody supports that in both bars 2-3 and 6. The G in bar 2 seems to be an anticipation of a G that is implied in the next bar. One other thought. The bass is such a strongly articulated voice here that when we hear C# in bar 5, it's as if we want to hear it as supporting V/V (of G), but once we clearly hear what the upper voices are, that interpretation is either negated or at least altered. So maybe one could say it's a contrapuntal chord with an element of V/V?
  4. The only thing about the Hungarian minor interpretation is that is doesn't account for the C-natural we hear in bars 1-2. When C# enters in bar 3, it sounds fresh and wonderfully chromatic. If we hear it as Hungarian minor, this would be just another note in the scale. To me, it sounds like something outside the scale, something chromatic, which is why I would still go with the augmented sixth interpretation myself. The second example you give is indeed strange. I would say that the whole passage is in G major with no modulation to B minor. I hear the III you have in bar 3 as a G major chord with no root, a common situation in jazz. After all, we still have a dominant chord just before it - VII. The question mark you put under the 5th bar is entirely appropriate. Who knows what this is, really! I suppose there are two options for it: 1) It could be a V/V as you suggest, so without the root or 3rd - strange, if you ask me. 2) A voice-leading chord that has no harmonic function but only a contrapuntal one. In other words, the soprano E goes up to F# (through the appoggiatura G you mentioned), the alto C# goes up to D, the G# up to B, and the bass falls back to B. Again, could we not hear the III as a G major chord with no root? Maybe the G isn't really an appoggiatura after all, but both the G and F# in the melody are chord notes in the G major chord. In that case, it would be an intervening chord between the IV of bar 4 and the possible I of bar 6. You might call it something like a passing chord, something that's "on its way" to the next chord, filling in intervals between the two surrounding chords. With that view, you could say that Williams wanted something chromatic here with smooth voice-leading to the next chord, and that he arranged the result so that it happens to be a triad instead of just some dissonant notes. As you can probably tell, I like the second interpretation better. But it is very strange. That's the best I can come up with.
  5. I would consider the chord in question to be a variant of the augmented sixth, written enharmonically with sharps instead of flats. In other words, it's almost a French sixth, which would be Eb-G-A-C#, but the third is lowered to create Eb-Gb-A-C#, then written enharmonically as D#-F#-A-C#. Of course, augmented sixth chords resolve to V, and in this case I would not ignore the chord on the final eighth note of the third bar. The bass is the dominant of G minor, and all we have above is Bb, which sounds to my ears like the outline of a V13 chord rather than an anticipation of the tonic. I think it's really important that the D appears in the bass since it suggests a V-I cadence, no matter how quickly it occurs. If you want some theory literature to back this up, there's a good article in the Canadian journal Intersections. The author discusses the same type of chord in relation to Wagner's Tristan chord, which is a half-diminished seventh chord that resolves to a dominant, just like we have here. Here's a link to the article online (see especially pp. 18-21 for the relevant discussion): http://www.erudit.org/revue/is/2008/v28/n2/029953ar.pdf By the way, where is this excerpt from? It's pretty cool!
  6. Well, it seems odd to me to mix together Roman numerals, which are used for analyzing classical music, with the Arabic numbers of jazz and pop. What I mean is that iv6 looks like a classical chord symbol meaning iv in first inversion because the 6 is an interval above the bass. Em6 of course is the jazz/pop symbol meaning an E minor chord with added 6th above the root, not necessarily the bass. I think that there's a limitation in talking about the function of a chord in jazz/pop music because the chord symbols used there don't include that information. Only the Roman numeral does that, but then that's classical. It's just too bad that there is no way to discuss harmonic function using only the terminology of the jazz/pop world. It seems that we need that classical "iv" symbol to talk about these things in a general way. Thanks for some more good examples - it really is a common device.
  7. Great point, Prometheus. I think we can take the idea of iv giving that sense of romantic longing and extend it to the half-diminished ii7 chord, also borrowed from minor. That chord is actually the second chord we hear in Marion's theme and is also the second chord of Princess Leia's theme, another wonderfully "longing" piece of music. In both cases, the melody goes to scale degree 2 against the notes of a iv chord to give the ii7. And the sense of "longing" is brought on by the flat-6 degree common to both. Interestingly, Williams does not leave this flat-6 as a gimmicky cliché that disappears after a bar or so, but works it into the entire theme in both pieces as it returns again and again, even to the final cadence, which both use the borrowed ii7 to remind us once more of that wistful flat-6 degree. I have a soft spot for Princess Leia's theme in particular, which works incredibly well as a standalone concert piece - not that that's any criterion for good film music!
  8. Maybe they were thinking of the Bond accompaniment figure that we hear at the beginning of the Bond theme and that appears around 0:52 of the Goldfinger theme, the one that slowly slides up and down chromatically on the scale notes 5-b6-6-b6-5. The same thing happens in the accompaniment of Marion's theme if you listen to the harmony in its opening bars. But it's not in the melody and it's not very prominent, so I wouldn't say the two have melodic similarities or that Williams stole anything from Goldfinger. I'm always suspicious of these kinds of claims because if it really was there, more than one person would have said something about it.
  9. Well said, KK. While I think Skyfall is an effective score with the film, listening to it on its own becomes a bit tedious because so much of it is given to rhythm loops that our beloved JW avoids like the plague. So, effective yes, but I would agree, not Oscar worthy.
  10. Excellent. By the way, the Death Star explodes at bar 201.
  11. Yes, horns an octave below the trombones. And yes, contrabassoon would be the second bassoon staff. Funny, it's marked in my score, and it's even written again over the first bar of that part just to make sure.
  12. Sibelius will do the transposing for you as long as you choose the correct instrument to start with and have "Transposing Score" switched on. You're right that the transpositions are not marked in this score, but looking at, I can tell you that the transposing instruments are: Clarinets - all in Bb, down a major 2nd Bass Clarinet - in Bb, down a major 9th Contrabassoon - down an octave Horns - all in F, down a 5th Trumpets - all in Bb, down a major 2nd Bass - down an octave I understand now why you're copying it out. That would be really cool to hear the parts individually. So what I mean is that with the switch turned on in Sibelius and with the right instruments chosen, you just enter the notes as they are in the score, and Sibelius will play them as they sound, not as they are written.
  13. He doesn't use key signatures for this piece, so he writes accidentals instead. Horns 3 and 4, for example, double what trombone 3 and the tuba are doing at the start - exactly the same pitches. So you copy bits of the music, then analyze them? Why do you copy the music to analyze it? Does it have to do with hearing certain sections of the piece without the mass of the whole orchestra? I suppose I've never analyzed that way, which is why I ask. Just curious.
  14. I'm curious as to why you want to enter it into Sibelius when you have a recording already. To hear each instrument individually maybe?
  15. Wait a minute. You said the score has horns 3 and 4 on F and A-flat. That's the same score I have, and it's not in concert pitch. All transposing instruments have the written pitch, not the sounding one. If you're using Sibelius, just make sure you have "transposing score" on so that when you enter the horns, for example, they transpose down a 5th for the sound. Datameister, I think you're right that JW writes his sketches in concert pitch, but since this is a finished score, everything's transposing.
  16. Just the first four bars of the Imperial March repeating. Awesome for building up the confidence.
  17. Oh good. Let me know what you see/hear in the piece as you study it. I'd be curious to know.
  18. Thanks a bunch! I thought the score is full of subtlety. The more I looked, the more I found - the mark of a great artwork. - Lincoln Ludwig
  19. Wow, that is not what I would have guessed - thanks for sharing. It makes me wonder what he does about mock-ups for previews of the films he scores. Does he have someone do this for him? Apparently it's an essential part of the film scoring process now.
  20. Yes, that's the one. It includes the long lead up to the Death Star exploding and the music just after it. Cool stuff.
  21. Hi all - I've just posted an analysis of the Lincoln score as it relates to scenes in the film. In case you're interested: http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/oscar-nominees-2013-john-williams-score-for-lincoln/
  22. I don't know for sure, but I really don't think so. He must either synch it up himself with a computer or have an assistant do it for him. Then again, he does still use paper and pencil for composing...
  23. To answer the question about the sketch, there are definitely trombones, bar 41, staff 3. He's got "Tbs" (= trombones). But there is also what looks like "Wind" at the same spot, so probably doubling in the bassoons. He uses "Wind" in other places, and at other times specifies precisely what instruments in the wind family, probably only when there could be confusion as to which ones. The low range of these notes are only playable in the bassoons, so I would think this is what he means. As for the score, I have a hard copy of the Star Wars Symphonic Suite. This is not the same as the newer "Signature Series" that has music from both of the first two movies. The older suite has a cue called "The Battle" from the end of the first film, which on the newer CDs is renamed "The Death Star/The Stormtroopers". This is a fast action cue that is certainly worth studying. See if you can get your hands on it at a library somewhere, one that specializes in music. That would probably be your best bet since it's no longer in print. The newer suite still is in print, but that doesn't have the kind of fast action music you're looking for.
  24. I can answer this in a bit - again, not with my scores, though I will be shortly. I'm sure it's not easy, but I am curious why you want to start with this cue in particular. Why not study something for which there is a full score first, like The Battle from the original Star Wars? You would probably find similar techniques, orchestrations, etc. that you could then apply to The Asteroid Field. It seems like you're reaching right for the very summit of action cues (which I admire, of course), but there is probably an easier way. Just trying to help.
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