Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. That is one impressive imitation! Bravo, @Loert! Obi-Wan has taught you well.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. The bII is actually not inverted, so I'd call it a bIImaj9. At 0:19, you can hear a deep bass Eb. It's easier to hear at 0:48 and 1:45 when the same chord returns.
  15. Could you post the next bar, even if it's in a different phrase? It's hard to analyze harmony without the full context (as Disco Stu's example from that Piston quartet that turned out to be, fooling us all since it was actually quartal).
  16. We had a discussion about this very thing a number of years ago now and found some examples in The Last Crusade rather than ROTLA, as was implied by the editing of the Nazi entrance over the part of the interview where Williams was talking about "7th on the bottom". Though the examples we found were not the minor-major 7th, but dominant 7ths. If Johnny really meant the former, then we still don't know what he's talking about for Indy scores.
  17. I came up with a breakdown of Williams' film output into style periods for an academic chapter I wrote on Williams' theme writing a couple of years ago. It was in John Williams: Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage. See below. There are several points supporting the divisions between the periods, but my study of his theme writing further bolstered them. Basically, I took one theme from each of his films to be the "main" one (if he composed the theme, of course, so excluding those based on others' pop songs or musicals) and included a primary new theme from any sequels. What I found was that: Whereas in the first period, Williams' main themes tended to state an idea and repeat it (e.g., Daddy-O, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, and The Poseidon Adventure) Williams' second period showed a marked shift towards themes that stated an idea then varied it (e.g., Superman fanfare, E.T., Imperial March). I think this is something we all kind of know about Williams' style, and it really became apparent in this period. While the first two periods showed an overwhelming preference for long-lined themes based on 8-bar models, his third period regularly included either much shorter themes (like Nixon, Amistad, and Minority Report) or ones that are more amorphous because they're drawn out way beyond a more regular 8-bar model (e.g., the dinosaur theme in Jurassic Park, Duel of the Fates, and Catch Me If You Can). The fourth period shows a return to the long-lined theme as the norm, the sole exception thus far being Tintin's motif from The Adventures of Tintin. I did this work to justify some further conclusions I made about Williams' theme writing and their associations in the film, but it was good to draw some divisions in his output. As others above have stated, you could certainly get more granular with further divisions, but the four I proposed seemed to me pretty convincing distinctions at a very broad level. And it seems many others here agree with 1975, 1993, and 2008 as new beginnings of sorts.
  18. Here are some titles this generator came up with - looks like they fit right in:
  19. I love the statements in the first 40 seconds of this cue, when Brody is flipping through a book, looking at shark attack victims. I think this is great because it emphasizes not the more recognizable ostinato but the melody on top of it. And the wonderful thing is that the ostinato is actually still there but very subdued and in descending whole tones instead of ascending semitones, gently being plucked by the harp - perfect for depicting someone mentally conjuring up the terror of the shark without the shark actually being there. I can imagine the cue being done in a horribly straightforward way, but am always delighted to hear Williams' brilliant solution.
  20. Thanks @Disco Stu! So now it's clear that your mystery chord is embedded in a sound world of harmony by major 2nds/minor 7ths and perfect 4ths/5ths rather than by 3rds/6ths (i.e., secundal and quartal harmony rather than tertian). Notice how the piece starts off - with the major 2nd C-D. Then the minor 7th B-A is added in. And in bar 3, the melody starts to unfold in 4ths (which becomes a motive at least in the opening of the piece): B-E-B-E. The harmony here starts to blend secundal and quartal ideas together: taking the melody's 4th B-E along with the supporting chord, we can unfurl the harmony as B-E-A-(D-)G-C. Sure, there's no D, but it's still easy to hear the fourthiness of the harmony (and besides, we already heard several Ds just before in the harp and viola). So when your mystery chord suddenly arises, I would call it 5ths-based (quintal, which is quartal harmony inverted), meaning I would understand it as two perfect 5ths plus an augmented one (hence the F#): Ab-Eb-Bb-F#. And notice on the second page when the chord is sustained, Piston goes out of his way to bring back a major 2nd-ish sound with the piano's Gb-Bb-Gb-Ab, and blend it with a perfect 4th melodically in the piano's Ab-Db (the motive I mentioned). Vincent Persichetti's Twentieth-Century Harmony neatly describes this kind of blending of 2nds-based and 4ths-based chords in this passage from his book (written in 1961, only 6 years after Piston's piece - clearly something was in the air!):
  21. Yes, I want to know this too as well as what chords came before it. Harmony is best understood as a contextual thing since, as @Score and @SteveMc have already pointed out, this vertical "slice" this can have several interpretations. And if non-chord tones are considered, then the possibilities become extensive indeed since each note could be on its way to resolving to the chord tone, and may be doing so at the same time as another note in the "chord". For example, following @Score's lead, maybe the F# is on its way to resolving to a "real" chord tone of G to produce an EbM/Ab (whatever that would mean in context). Or maybe the F# will resolve to G at the same time that the Bb will resolve up to C to give an AbM7. Or maybe F# will resolve to G, and the Ab (which seems like a stable note) is actually a non-chord tone that resolves down to G as well, resulting in an EbM/G chord. Beethoven's actually written this with exactly the chord @Disco Stu cites (voiced differently but with F#!). It's in the slow movement of his Bb Piano Sonata, Op. 22. Here's the relevant bit: But likely the many interpretations of Stu's mystery chord would whittle down to one when heard in its context. So, what piece is this from, and where in the piece is it?
  22. All I want is one more kick-ass march before he finishes with the saga movies, even if it's just heard just once. I'm hoping Knights of Ren?
  23. So Williams now goes for walks outdoors to solve compositional problems? That's exactly how Beethoven used to work. And Williams is reading the Beethoven symphonies for pleasure. Hmm... Clearly, he's channeling his inner Beethoven for TROS! (Btw, would absolutely love to hear a concert orchestral work from Williams whose musical architecture is influenced by Beethoven. Maybe something akin to a Shostakovich symphony. Williams loves 20th-century Russian music anyway!)
  24. Very, very sorry to hear this, Sharky. Know that you have many friends here and that, I'm sure I speak for many when I say, I'm both incredibly sorry for your loss but very glad to have you back!
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.