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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. So this is kind of a complicated topic...(!) These kinds of lists of key characteristics all date from centuries ago, and the biggest factor affecting these lists was the tuning system used. For the past couple of centuries or so, equal temperament has been the standard, meaning that the octave is divided into 12 equal semitones. But before that, most tuning systems were unequal temperaments, meaning that the semitones don't divide equally, so the intervals in every key literally sounded different even though they are written the same on paper. So each key lended itself to emotional interpretations due to the differences from the unequal tuning. Some tunings done in a chain of 5ths meant that the 5th going from the top of the chain to the bottom again sounded horribly out of tune and had acoustic "beats" in them that sounded to people like the howling of a wolf. So it was named the "wolf" interval. You can hear it here. This is why they say that some major keys sound "harsh" or full of "rage". Keys that stray far from C major will sound more out of tune, so these are generally ones with four or more sharps or flats that were not generally in common use, and these are the major keys that get negative descriptions: Ab, Db, B. Even E and F# describe fighting and struggling. This is actually quite a complicated topic, but there are other factors as well, like physical factors of instruments, e.g., open strings of string instruments resonating more than stopped ones, so sounding more "joyful". This is why you'll see major keys that can use many open strings have that description: D, A, E. Then there are psychological factors like the jagged nature of the sharp sign vs. the softer rounded nature of the flat sign (not kidding!). So keys with many sharps tended to be called energetic while those with many flats tended to be called calm. Other things too, like C major with no sharps or flats has a "purity" or "child-like simplicity". Or Eb major with its 3 flats is thought of as symbolic of the holy trinity, so you get descriptions about conversing with God, etc. As you can see, this is all pretty complicated, so much so that one academic devoted a whole book to it. One last thing, probably the most well-known list like this was by a guy named Schubart (not Schubert!) in the late-18th century. Here's a reproduction of his list. I only mention it because Beethoven saw the list and agreed with it, which is in many ways corroborated by many of his pieces (e.g., the Ode to Joy in D Major, the key of joy, or the Pastoral Symphony in the "calm" key of F major). But today, equal temperament has gotten rid of the tuning distinctions between keys, so one key sounds like another, just higher or lower.
  2. It's a thematic transformation (that's a proper term) rather than a straightforward thematic statement, meaning that it's been significantly altered, so it's going to sound different, to the point where you could easily miss it if you're not exactly listening for it. As @Falstaft pointed out, it's unusual for Williams to work this way, and I would agree, especially in Star Wars, where references to themes are usually made abundantly clear. But here's what I mean by the thematic transformation (or development, as I called it in the analysis). In "Advice", the original rhythm has been stripped away, the harmony is entirely different, and the tempo is slowed way down. BUT the intervals and contour (melodic shape) are much the same, so it retains some fundamental aspects of the original and is still recognizable. See below. The square bracketed sections all do this kind of thing. I show the original transposed to the same note as "Advice" for comparison. Hope that makes things clearer!
  3. The Morricone track is "The Transgression": I noticed this too and brought it up several years ago in one of the Williams "plagiarism" threads. As for a reason, the more I study Williams and his film scoring techniques, the more I'm convinced that moments like these, where an original shines through clearly, are simply the result of him following a temp track. I'd say that this probable temp was there because the situation is very similar: a main character crossing a dangerous terrain with a constant hidden threat of death. In Once Upon a Time in the West, Frank is crossing through the town with hidden gunmen trying to kill him at every turn and Harmonica killing the gunmen to keep Frank alive (so he can kill him himself!). In Empire of the Sun, Jim is trying to cross under the fence of a POW camp with armed guards watching everywhere. As to why this temp remained clear in Williams' score is beyond me. Maybe Spielberg just liked the temp!
  4. Great track! I took a crack at analyzing this overtop of @Falstaft's excellent transcription. Williams actually de-composes Anthem of Evil for the first half of the passage, as Kylo is deciding whether or not to give up his evil ways. It's done by passing the main developments of the theme from melody to bass and back to melody (the solid square brackets). There are smaller developments of the theme as well at the same time - shown in dotted brackets. This is just too good! When Kylo says "I know what I have to do but I don't know if I have the strength to do it", then we get a new motive (unrelated to other themes as far as I can tell) that is passed between the upper voices - a more positive, upward-striving motive. I see this as a musical representation of him giving up the evil and striving to climb out of the emotional hole he's dug himself into as Kylo. The developments of the Anthem of Evil, though, are pretty subtle and reward careful listening. It also leads nicely into the more obvious Anthem of Evil references just before the brass come in, making the cue really hang together well. To me, these are part of what makes this score top-notch and a great final musical entry in the saga, even as Williams is in his late 80s!
  5. Anthem of Evil is also unique in that, of all the leitmotifs in the saga (those shown on @Falstaft's list), it just blows me away that it's the only one not to have a full statement somewhere in the film proper (i.e., other than the end credits). It's second half never gets played in the film itself. And I'm talking about the A section of themes, the part that makes the theme the theme. Even themes in other films that don't appear very much like Luke and Leia, or Poe have a complete statement. Rose's theme as well, which is heard a lot, appears only single time in complete form during The Fathiers. I'm just saying that in his Star Wars scores, it seems important for Williams to have a complete form of each new leitmotif somewhere in the film, then to use the end credits as a summary of those complete statements, not as a place to reveal a full theme. So Anthem of Evil almost certainly had more to do in the film.
  6. A great assessment of the ST! I would agree with it as well. I think the most damaging aspect of the film to the score is how much the film must have changed in the month before release. It really seems that Williams wrote a score for a very different movie, so it seems that Williams' conception of the score remained scattered and fractured at best in the end. Things like the reordering of scenes, cutting of scenes, substantial edits to scenes, etc. make it very hard to hear Williams' intended arc for the score. And yet... the new themes, especially the three for the good guys (Friendship, Victory, Heroics) are all quite strong, the underscore for action scenes is top-notch (we even get an old-style thematic action cue in the Speeder Chase), and somehow, instead of feeling like the thematically-attractive-but-less-interesting-underscore-type score for TFA or the emotionally-exciting-but-low-density-of-new-themes-type score for TLJ, the score for TROS manages to be both attractive in its themes and exciting in its underscore and still hang together in the film. The prominence and frequency of the Friendship theme throughout certainly helps, as does seemingly not overdoing it on temp track references / old themes. Even so, an expanded score I think would be the most revealing of any in the ST because of how much the film seemed to have changed. The Anthem of Evil, for example, I would guess had a larger and/or more important role in the original film than it ended up having - was the choral bit ever part of the film, for example? And as @Falstaft pointed out when the film was released, the Speeder Chase motif is a kind of variant of the Heroics theme, and Ben Solo's theme (aka the Kylo Ren redeemed theme) was foreshadowed near the start of the film. So it seems that Williams had a more overarching conception of the score and how the themes would appear throughout, creating a more unified score than what we heard in the final film. But I love the score, too, even with its current frustrations, and likewise consider it the best of the ST for all the above reasons.
  7. That's because it's hidden in the main title too if you take the first note, the 2nd note of the B section, and the last note of the theme all together. Just kidding. It was just a mistake - I've fixed it now. Thanks, @crumbs!
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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."
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Could you pinpoint this note more precisely? What number note would it be if you count them from the start of the melody?
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. And the saga's first actual love theme! (No, really.)
  24. 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:
  25. 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!
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