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Everything posted by Ludwig

  1. I miss this guy a lot. Deadpan done to perfection. Fellow Canuck too. The first one here is one of my favourites. Airplane also has a number of Nielson gems.
  2. Exactly. In Royal S. Brown's interview with Herrmann in his book, Overtones and Undertones, Herrmann is quoted as saying: Still, as @TheUlyssesian points out, Herrmann does use a long-lined theme in North by Northwest. To me what's really interesting is not merely that he does use them, but how he uses them. Here are a couple of others from Vertigo: These themes, along with the one above in North by Northwest, come at crucial points in the narrative. So instead of eschewing the long-lined theme altogether (which is the impression one could easily get from his interview quote), he brought them in at key moments of emotional stability, as a kind of special musical effect that emphasizes these moments in a way one could not had the score been loaded with long-lined themes. It's also interesting that all of the above themes involve an element of romance. I've always liked Marion's driving music in Psycho for that bit that sounds like it's finally burst into a full-fledged theme, only to dissolve away and remain unresolved: Marion is of course hoping to use the stolen money to marry her fiancee but never gets that far, so the incomplete character of the theme fits her situation quite well. I'm always fascinated when I come across film music in which the forms of its themes are very tightly aligned with its narrative meaning. Herrmann's is one of them.
  3. Thanks @Disco Stu. I keep a pretty low profile - probably too low, heh. Glad you are a fan of my blog. I've tried hard to keep the analyses accessible while maintaining a level of depth as well. So it's great to have feedback like this. I will definitely update more often. Things have just been insanely busy this year but there is light at the end of the tunnel. So I can finally get to some of the things I've been wanting to do for years now. Like a 6-part series on Goldsmith themes, for example. So stay tuned!
  4. "Primitively satisfying" - what a great way to describe the harmony there! It's a progression of descending fifths that is kept in perfect fifths longer than is typical for these progressions. First, I'll just say that descending-fifth progressions are the backbone of classical harmony, and for a host of reasons they have a sound of inevitability to them. In other words, they're usually pretty satisfying to hear. Here, the descending-fifth progression is set up with a conventional turnaround progression, I-V/ii-V/V-V, then continues it in a faster rhythm starting with the home tonic chord, I (in B-flat, by the way, not F). In more normal situations, a descending-fifth pattern from I would begin I-IV-viio, with vii remaining in the key (meaning the bass is the leading tone). But here, it's altered to the flat ^7 degree, making it sound unexpected but satisfying. The pattern continues in these perfect fifths, which brings the harmony further and further away from the home key, before finally being hoisted back to the home key's dominant chord, which then dutifully resolves to the tonic, fulfilling a descending-fifth trajectory that goes: I - V/ii - V/V - V - I - IV - bVII - bIII - bVI - bII ( - V - I) I would also mention that the 3+3+2 "tresillo" rhythm that kicks in with the fifth chord in the progression speeds up the chord changes with what is probably the most common accompaniment rhythm in all popular music. So it gives it a cool factor on top of all this. Buddy Holly used the same progression in the bridge of "Everyday", but his has more subtlety and swagger IMO: Notice that the first verse (and, strangely, only the first verse) uses the turnaround progression too, as though the bridge grows out of that.
  5. I mean 0:14-0:19, the second short phrase of the theme. Yes, the passage I noted above in Yoda's Death has the markings of a Williams "mystery" mode, as you point out. But in terms of a more direct association both musically and in the scene, it is definitely drawn from that second short phrase of Yoda's Theme. Notice how, early on in the cue, Williams places the passage directly after stating the second short phrase of Yoda's Theme, 2:20-2:50: Once we hear the passage this way (i.e., as a transformation of Yoda's Theme) I think it becomes clear that the later one I originally quoted at 5:35 is a sped-up version of the same thing. Yes, though when it appears there, it's slightly different - not a full minor chord being arpeggiated (the bottom note is omitted). And I think that's important because it makes it harder to recognize it as coming from Yoda's Theme, especially since it isn't surrounded by that theme the way it is in Yoda's Death. In this way, one might view the relationships we're talking about as a kind of progression that develops a theme/motif in much the same way that a narrative gradually unfolds. In other words, visually it might look something like this: Yoda's Theme --> Minor-key Yoda (for his mysterious advice) --> Accompaniment to Brother and Sister (for the mystery's revelation to Leia) I think all this shows a keen sense of dramatic development through musical means on Williams' part, meaning that the score isn't just this theme followed by that one, but one that closely follows the discoveries and character changes of the narrative itself. Great stuff.
  6. I've always liked this mysterious version of part of Yoda's theme, which is its second idea sped up and in a minor key. Appropriately, it plays when Yoda warns Luke about the Emperor's powers and cryptically reveals that there is another Skywalker.
  7. I think he should just let the cat write the score. I mean, cats can write some bad-ass sad-death music when they feel truly inspired:
  8. Of course you can always adapt music to fit a 3/4 time when it's not written as such. Something about the melody of Rey's Theme, which is in 4/4, makes it a particularly good waltz when adapted to 3/4. Have a listen to the mockup I did below: http://picosong.com/wfnek/
  9. I agree with you and filmmusic about the first note being a downbeat. In situations like this where there's a repeating chunk but it's hard to tell where the start point is, a strong suggestion of downbeat is where the changes of harmony occur. It would be very strange to have the harmony change on the last eighth of a bar then be carried over into the next bar. Even if It were rotated that way, we tend to hear the downbeat with the change of harmony. As for the notation, it probably wouldn't be your first option because there isn't anything besides the melody that suggests another downbeat in the middle of the whole 10-eighth-note pattern. It sounds more like a consistent beat is being retained throughout, so I'd guess a continuous 5/4 here. In other words, there's no reason for the melody's quarters to suddenly sound like a strong beats if they have been sounding as weak beats just before.
  10. I agree. It's also more "classical" a progression than Williams usually writes, one that, after the first chord, follows a typical pathway for harmonizing a lament bass (stepwise down from the tonic to dominant note). Haven't seen the film yet, but makes me think there's some kind of imminent threat (represented by the lament bass) Han maneuvers out of (represented by the triumphant entry of his hero theme.
  11. You will remove your restraints and see this movie with your mind open.
  12. @9:08. This is the first time in the saga and the only time in the film that the theme's first phrase ends with this particular major chord (the Neapolitan, or flat-II). Instead of having the usual chord (major IV, which has a raised note) to sound optimistic the way most Force theme statements do, this one (which has a lowered note) is infused with a feeling of tragedy even though it's a major chord - something that normally sounds positive. And what a time for it to be used - just as Vader tosses the Emperor to his death, in turn sacrificing himself as well. It wonderfully captures how this act of heroism is carried out unexpectedly by the villain. This harmonization of the theme becomes a regular facet of ROTS, where it has the reverse effect because of Anakin's status as a "good guy" - it suggests his darkening deeds as he plunges towards the Dark Side.
  13. Apparently Williams commented on this news saying, "Finally, the Star Wars universe will get its very first love theme."
  14. I suppose I see it as a part of a larger effort along with 3D, CGI, and immersive fantasy stories to market blockbuster films as "spectacles" to experience in the theater in order to create as large a draw as possible, especially with all the competition films face, particularly online and from TV. Very much the same thing happened back in the 1950s when television first came on the scene and some films became bigger-budget than ever before and were marketed in much the same way, with 3D (!), widescreen formats, full color, stereo sound, and epic stories with long running times - a movie like Ben-Hur is a good example. This is a simplification as there were other factors involved, but it is interesting to see much the same approach taken to blockbuster films today that face a similar problem. History seems to repeat itself!
  15. It really isnt. If you zoom in very closely, it clearly says: III IIII IIIII III JOHN WILLIAMS IIIIIIII IIII IIII IIIII II
  16. Whoops! I gave that a like before you changed it to reference me. I'll change it to a thanks instead. Didn't even realize I'd said something like that. Well, at least I'm consistent!
  17. @Batman's Diet Coke Your first shot above reminds me what a master Spielberg is with bluish-white backlighting effects that create a dramatic aura of otherworldliness around the figures. There are so many examples of this, but Jaws is a great one: It really emphasizes the idea of the "mysterious depths" while also carving out the figure as the target of a monster's meal. Another really impactful one is in Close Encounters: It's like a reverse spotlight on the characters, highlighting them while still preserving some of their mystery by keeping their fronts largely in darkness. Then of course, there's this fantastic one from E.T.: Again, it highlights an alien while retaining its mystery, but the thing I really love about this shot is that E.T. visually emerges from a place that is so brightly lit as to seem unreal and almost based in the imagination. There are a few other similar visual cues in the film - when Elliot is looking out the kitchen window, the steam from the hot running water rising up in front of his face like thought bubbles through which he hopes to see his alien. Then of course, there's the finale, when E.T. says "I'll be right here", pointing to Elliot's head, not only suggesting the obvious thing, that Elliot will always remember E.T., but also that E.T. is figuratively a creation of the childhood mind, an "imaginary" friend of sorts. So the backlighting in the above shot helps introduce the character in this sort of way. Great stuff.
  18. Love these videos you've been doing, Stu. And this cue in particular is one I'll rarely pass up the chance to gush about. It's just traces the emotional arc of the scene so beautifully down to the smallest details. Two wonderfully contrasting moments are those eerie sustained chords, the first at 0:30, which through its harsh dissonance perfectly captures the mortal dread of feeling like WTF was that that just bit me? And the other is at 0:47 when we cut to the friend on the beach, which sounds torn between being dissonant and consonant, so has a kind of frozen quality to it, just as the friend has been immobilized by passing into a drunken stupor. It's almost as if I don't need the images to tell the horrifying scene going on here, it's told so perfectly with the music. And every time I hear it, it fills me with the same morbidly chilling sensation. It's that good.
  19. Exactly, or that it's just somehow a bit different, a variation of A, you might say.
  20. It's the theme itself, and by that I mean the most complete form that can be considered self-contained (musically, I mean an eight-bar theme). Additions can be understood as embellishments to this self-contained core, or that core can be part of a larger structure, like when it's an A section to a larger ABA. So for TLW, this core is what's heard between 0:13 and 0:34, which has a structure of ABCD, as I mentioned. It's relatively rare in his main themes: What I find fascinating is how different this is from most of his other main themes. In Williams' more fantasy-based scores generally, a common structure for the main themes is AA' AB (or AA' AA'). Hedwig's theme is a great example of this one in its AA' AB form. This of course is the A section of a larger form that goes on to a B section. The part I mean is from 0:00-0:18 below: Another common structure in his fantasy-based scores is AA A'B. Take, for example, the full form of the Mountain Theme from CE3K heard in the end credits (from 0:50-1:32 below):
  21. I think a look at the style of the score in general might help give some kind of answer to this question. This period in Williams' film scoring career is marked by a relatively high degree of experimentation with respect to his previous film scores - Minority Report, A.I., and War of the Worlds come to mind. The Lost World fits into this pattern as well, most obviously through its unusual orchestration. But its thematic material of course is unusual too in that it draws very sparingly on the original's themes. And, though not exactly obvious, the structure of TLW's main theme is itself unusual. Williams' main themes typically break down into four short ideas that combine to create a complete theme. And the opening idea is usually repeated or varied at some point in the theme, his favorite overall structures being ABAC, AA'AB, and AAA'B. But TLW's theme goes ABCD - no repetition or direct variation, which is very unusual in his scores. The point is that he seems to be trying out different approaches to scoring in a number of ways. I think it's useful to keep all this in mind when considering your quesiton, @Fal, since another means of experimentation seems to be in the use of thematic material that has very strong similarities to, but also some important differences from, the main theme. This is unusual in Williams, where most themes remain easily distinguishable from one another even if there are some prominent connections. (The themes in E.T., for example, all have the interval of a 5th at or near their start, but we never confuse one theme for another.) In TLW, the motif developed in "The Trek" is, as @crumbs points out, stated with the main theme, though there it seems to function only as a kind of linking material between the more prominent statements of the main theme material. And it has much the same shape as part of the main theme, but is also distinctive in its own right. What is most unusual is the way this motif is detached from its original source in "The Trek", suggesting that it is a separate theme. Yet because it has such strong similarities to the main theme, once it is heard in "The Trek", we might best consider it a kind of variant of the main theme that, as @Incanus observes, has its own function. A sister theme, you might call it. Incidentally, I would say the same about the music of "The Hunt", which has its own repeated motif throughout but a motif that is again clearly a variant of main theme material. Another sister theme with a different function, then. So an answer to the question of whether these themes are the same or different from the main theme is blurred because, while they function differently, musically they resemble each other to a greater degree than would normally occur in Williams' scores. The result is score that, through its economy of material, gives a claustrophobic feeling of being subjected to a relatively confined environment, much as the characters become helplessly stuck on the island.
  22. Thanks, @TownerFan! This is an excellent exploration of the score. I think it's an especially important point that, as you say, There's something about this score that truly lives and breathes as a continuous, coherent whole. Whereas the strengths of TFA's score lies especially in its new themes and the set pieces composed especially for them, the strengths of TLJ's score lies in its weaving together of the drama, as you say. Put another way, if TFA is like a patchwork quilt whose individual patches tell rich and engrossing stories on their own, TLJ is like a composite picture that tells a rich and engrossing story when one stands back and sees a large-scale picture made up of countless smaller pictures.
  23. Thanks, Emilio. Really looking forward to reading everyone's contribution to this very important book. Here's what Conrad Pope has to say about it on Facebook:
  24. So incredibly sorry to hear of this news, Thor! I know you've been collecting Williams info for quite some time and are headed towards coalescing that into a book at some point. I would take the suggestions in this thread very seriously and pursue them to see what can be retrieved. In moving forward, I would also add that, when working on extended projects that require many sittings working on the same file, I would recommend saving it using a different version each time. I was once working on a very important essay that I was constantly saving over the same file. When I saved it once, the computer crashed in the middle of it, corrupting the file and making it unreadable. Fortunately, I had a tech guru who was able to salvage most of it and I managed to reconstruct the blanks from memory. After that, I became vigilant about making backups, both through different versions of individual files and through having multiple storage devices, especially with one on the cloud, which doesn't take up much space for written documents. I know you've lost a lot here, and I'm so, so sorry. I just want to add some things that may help in going forward. Best wishes in retrieving all your collected data, my friend!
  25. This has always been a favorite of mine because it sums up much of what the whole movie is about in a single shot. As Keys looks sympathetically on Elliot, saying that he's dreamed about this (meeting an alien) since he was Elliot's age, we see Elliot's image projected directly onto Keys, making it clear in a very visual and visceral way that Keys sees himself in Elliot. And at the same time, by showing Elliot's reflection on Keys' face, there is also a sense that, if one's child-like imagination is allowed to die (as Elliot is dying), then we end up turning into the purely rational, scientific beings that Keys represents and cutting ourselves off from a vital part of our humanity. I love how Keys' bio suit captures both the scientific aspect and a physical barrier that separates him from Elliot at the same time. Spielberg at his very best.
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