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Everything posted by Jediwashington

  1. I mean, it's sort of a battle of semantics. In my opinion, Williams' Fiddler is not simply a re-orchestration and putting in a few transitions; it even presses the boundaries of arrangement into "reinterpretation" at times. That being said, all of the source material is from the original score with all melodies and vocal lines preserved 99% of the time. It's really the supporting material in the background that is the most different and adds a lot more virtuosity and he changes some keys. A simple crescendo in the broadway book gets incredible treatment from woodwind runs and miracle of miracles turns into this incredibly sweeping piece that puts the broadway version to shame from an orchestration standpoint. Everything from the original score is just brought to a different level of life with his additions, but Williams is tasteful and rarely alters the work structurally. Dances may be the exception to this, but the original book had TONS of dance music that isn't on albums that he may had pulled from. Been a while since I've played the show. The violin melody is from the original show, but he takes a lot more liberty with the development. As karelm mentioned, the entre'acte also has a lot of material that isn't necessarily composed, but has really imaginative combinations as well. The show has so many great classic melodies and motifs, you don't really need to "compose" much.
  2. Randol Bass definitely gets on this list. He has some corny stuff for educational ensembles, but his Gloria written in 1990 actually predates Call of the Champions by quite a bit despite sounding really similar. Can't find a good recording of his night before christmas, but it has elements of that childlike orchestration from ET, BFG, and Home Alone etc.
  3. I disagree. While there is certainly some gushing in there, there were some subtle variations to his standard set of questions that gave us some more insight; for instance I don't think Williams really answered the question well when he asked about what he listens to when he is trying to capture a different culture. He alluded to needing professional modern chromatic flutes to make a sound like Asian flutes - which I suspect is just be a bad cut, but when pressed a little he did mention that he needed to listen to more when working on Geisha for instance. He also asked about his composition process, but he knocked him off the normal script of "I don't read scripts/pencil paper" and he talked a little more about the melody refinement specifically in ET, which I hadn't heard him talk much about. If anything, I think this is a badly cut/edited interview. He talks most openly and honestly to other musicians, composers, and conductors. His media interviews are always dull and repetitive. When someone can knock him off script, that's when we get great insights, but he has clearly been well trained by the marketing folks during his time with the Boston Pops to not get too technical or in the weeds for fear of losing people and he seems very aware of that in interviews. His own agent might be coaching that as well, but he's at an age that I really wish they would just let him talk or sit him down with some conductors/musicians and just record conversations for prosperity. He's way too humble to agree to that though!
  4. How sad... I wonder if Williams will write something or perform dear basketball for the community. I imagine he is distraught as well. They seemed close.
  5. Yes - 100% this. He simply writes for orchestra like big bands. The chord complexity you can certainly analyze from a romantic theory standpoint, but it is much stronger of an argument to simply call him a jazz pianist and composer. That being said, I would put him near the top in jazz pianists/theorists, but for a jazz pianist you are mostly using chords to drive interest/complexity/mood/color/shape and less concerned about the individual notes. He's collected hundreds of progressions and modulations over his years that communicate certain moods/emotions and he just uses them at will like a language when writing. One of the other things you will notice about jazz is that they tend to set up a type of dissonance like it's a standard part of that key "world" so to speak. They will then selectively increase or decrease dissonance for effect. You see applied everywhere in E.T. where he essentially writes the whole thing in lydian and keeps the raised 4th and 7th the whole score writing 7th or 9th chords constantly, but pulls back into straight triads in minor keys for the antagonist theme (to great effect!) and increases dissonance and stacked chords to their breaking point leading into big moments. This constant slight dissonance of 7ths/9th allows him to go in two directions and subtlety move to a different mood quickly with lots of options where other composers may struggle to get there as tastefully. It's probably why he likes the ambiguity of open 5ths in melodies so much. He's intelligent enough to go back and analyze it and write all this out in a book, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually a very difficult exercise for him to do since romantic harmony is not likely to be where his mind is when writing. Now, the core question is if he uses orchestration selectively to increase/decrease dissonance. I would say he's gotten better at this as his career progressed and he finesses this a lot more after the Boston Pops years. He speaks of those years as being highly educational from an orchestration stand point. After mastering harmony, melody, and tone centers to create emotions, this has certainly been an area where I see a lot more sophistication the more he writes - especially with his doubling's. I can also usually tell when he's passed something off to be orchestrated by someone else. We can't neglect his ears and taste for balance during recording sessions as well. Recordings done by different conductors or even his own scores recorded by someone else can sound like completely different pieces with less important notes popping out of the texture.
  6. That's probably the case. It's also probably why the ensemble isn't as clean as I expect from Williams. He's a notorious stickler about clean intonation and rhythms from the ensemble and I'm not hearing as much discipline from the orchestra as he would get from them - particularly on rhythm. Yeah, Sony is just too small of a room for Star Wars in my opinion. It's such a loud score, it needs room to breath and a longer reverb time give the brass/perc some room to bloom. They keep Sony live by not putting up all the section isolation that you'll see in a lot of Giacchino's sessions, but it's still not big enough for the percussion and brass. I would have rather they recorded TFA and TLJ in a hall, like some of the Spielberg albums and the BSO albums. While still not ideal, those had more of that character than Sony does.
  7. Ain't that the truth? Though the irony would be lost on them, most likely...
  8. The title is Star WARS and a march isn't appropriate? It's a stylistic choice, and he certainly uses wonder when it's called for in the films. The reality is that Star Wars isn't really about space - it's greek inspired character development that happens to take place " a long time ago in a galaxy far far away." It's why Williams relied so heavily on Wagnerian lite motif because he knew themes would help tie the story together. Scoring it larger than life I think was appropriate as well given the size of the structures the characters are placed in. Now, I don't doubt that Ennio has a point that Williams chose to go commercial. I don't think given Williams' background growing up on sound stages that you can really blame him for choosing that route - as a young composer you take the opportunities you can get - but I don't think choosing the commercial route is a "bad" thing that Ennio seems to be suggesting. In fact, his work with the Boston Pops and scoring all these big commercial blockbusters with artistry has done a significant amount to advance or at least preserve the acceptance and adoration of orchestral arts - something that is absolutely necessary for the intellectual advancement of the art as well. I think you could even debate that he has advanced the art, but his innovation is not in areas where Ennio excels (e.g. applying innovative forms like using a 6 part fugue in a film), but more nitty-gritty details like jazz harmony, texture, and orchestration. Besides, I think European film makers are much more tolerant of those kind of risks than American studios - especially now. Having lived in Italy for a while and seeing the massive state support for orchestras/operas and immense pride, I understand why Ennio might not get the need for composers like Williams (though that enthusiasm among youth in Italy is declining as well). I know way too many young musicians and non-trained classical music lovers in the USA who are massive fans of Williams and attribute their initial love of orchestral music to him. While I have no proof of this, after his initial success I think Williams choice to stay commercial was extremely strategic and it's clear that he enjoys scoring films that will be viewed by children/intellectuals and uses every trick in the book to deliver musical "sweets" to this audience as a way to hook them while also scoring tastefully. It's why I hardly care that he quotes or plagiarizes. To suggest that he does it as a cop out or is unaware of it is, frankly, insulting given how intelligent we all know him to be from the cerebral interviews he gives. The only other way to explain it is perhaps temp tracks, but I think its more likely just a creative way to take great bits from musical history and subtlety deliver them to a massive audience with the hope that they'll not only selfishly buy an album, but go to an opera/ballet/symphony (as he is known to do and support often) or listen to more orchestral music. He was good friends with Leonard Bernstein who also is a massive champion of music education, so I wouldn't be surprised if his "commercial" choice was about influence more than money. Just look at his house for petes sake... he's certainly not materialistic. We have plenty of proof that Williams is talented and innovative when he has the opportunity. Making the choice to confine that creativity to market and share it with more people is a choice he has earned the ability to make. Despite that, I'm still looking forward to seeing the crazy sketches that never saw daylight when we finally see his archives.
  9. Yeah... I had to laugh at the Junkin shade being thrown in this thread - They'd be thrown out of Texas for even suggesting Jerry performed a wrong tempo! I also know Jerry well enough to know he's going the marked tempo. If the group is responsive enough is another story, not to mention that Williams rarely follows his own tempo markings to the millisecond for live performances. He'll vary by a bit and move around with the group. You can't do that on a sound stage though. His lyrical slow stuff has quite a bit of stretching on beat 4 to make a hit point on one, etc. If anything, I think Williams is the worse of the two conductors here if you're going by gesture (and he would probably agree), BUT Williams is an excellent music director with an ear and knack for understanding little musical "moments" and how they fit in the whole that I would put up against any great conductor in history. He's certainly a perfectionist for intonation and blend when it comes to recording. It would be a blast to hear Williams record some famous romantic symphonies on a stage just to see what he pulls out vs others.
  10. Yep... This one wins for me. He really makes the listener think its just going to be a piano attack like the end of Firebird (a la Stravinsky), but it's just another scale and fanfare. Just incredible taste. Love every second of this score.
  11. Curious... I don't think this is released yet, so I'm curious if someone transcribed it.
  12. I don't know, but there is this incredible chromatic circle of 5th sequence in "The Queen's Dream" starting at 1:20 and following with a statement of Sophie's theme that is harmonized with some really fun layers and rhythmic layering that I think is tragically missing from this suite. It may be one of my favorite moments in the film score wise. I sort of know why he left it out, since the key is slightly different (only like a step off I think), but I can't help but think it would be a much better transition then the sequence he wrote at about 5:30 in this recording.
  13. Definitely "Chairman's Waltz." Uses a lot of the same melodic chromatic alterations and chord progressions. Maybe a little slower, but I hear it as well.
  14. So many great things about this performance. First off, I'm yet to hear recordings in this new hall, but it sounds gorgeous. Perfect reverb for orchestral playing. Need to go see something there for sure! What caught me off guard was how fresh this sounds with the antiphonal second violin seating. I love this set up in the strings because it brings so much warmth to the orchestra placing basses and celli more center. I wish Williams used it more often - it's almost standard with most conductors now. It does bring down the brilliance of the seconds and violins in general (since he does a lot of unison I-II writing and play between the two parts), but it's refreshing to have the celli more present in the center and to have more delineation between the I and II Violins. Williams usually orchestrates really bright anyway (usually to cut through sound effects), so it seems appropriate to do whatever you can to bring it back to center. In general, aside from the nearly flawless playing (I love most European and Japanese groups...), I appreciate the more Mahler lyrical approach to Williams music. There seems to be this tendency with most groups to treat Williams as a percussive composer and put a front edge on everything and treat all his accents (particularly in the brass) the same way. UrbaƄsk does a nice job varying the accents and pulling as much legato out of the orchestra as he can, even lengthening final notes so the chords can speak a little more clearly, and drawing some gorgeous lines in those schmaltzy unison string sections. I really like the interpretation, aside from a few tempi that are a few clicks too slow for my taste. The only exception is the slower approach to "Luke and Leia," which was stunning. Bravi!
  15. I grew up down the street from Kunzel and went to pops concerts all the time with Cincinnati. Quite a treat knowing him! He was so lovely. His interpretations are a lot more German inspired. I love that he encourages the brass to be so much more legato than Williams would probably recommend. The Cincinnati Brass has always had quite a reputation. Aaron Copeland wrote "Fanfare for the Common Man" for our brass section and they've sort of tried to keep the sound similar over the years in their choices of players. The percussion overplaying and bright sound is sort of because of the hall. It doesn't reverberate very well and gives you very little feedback; sort of like an old European hall. Thus the percussion would sometimes overplay and not really be aware. It will never sound like most Williams scores given that it's a hall, not a sound stage like he does most of his scores. Kunzel was a perfectionist though and you can tell from his recordings... He never lets a bad take make it to the final record. Love that SpaceCamp recording as well!
  16. I work in legacy fundraising/development in the orchestra sector (Basically... being in peoples last wills). A "bequest" is a portion of the last will that is conditional upon death. As he has likely had a will for some time, he probably gave them the library a long time ago, but simply hasn't announced until they gave him this award. I'm sure their development department wanted to announce it as part of the event to make sure it got press. But basically, they won't get it until he passes. It's important to save space for it though and be prepared; especially with the volume of work he has. It probably exceeds many of the great european composers in output and I'm expecting a ton of unreleased compositions he wrote out of boredom or scrapped projects. As Williams is quite the philanthropist, I'm not surprised, but also also very pleased that he recognizes that his works should be preserved properly. They'll likely be accessible by everyone barring any copyrights - though he may have released all the rights he owns in the bequest as well; which would be unprecedented. It's likely that his estate will continue collecting royalties for decades. Julliard will have the original manuscripts to study though and will hopefully scan most of them before they start degrading (I imagine some are in poor shape already) and any one who has access to any university library should be able to access. That's how most are done. The original manuscripts are often less controlled than the final stuff owned by Hal Leonard, etc. The hard part is cataloging them all, which will take a number of years, but Williams is said to be meticulously organized, so that should make things easier.
  17. Absolutely the case. This score was heavily temp-tracked. Tempos line up almost exactly with previous cues and Rian even mentions that they temped the entire film and gave it to John. That being said, Rian has NEVER worked with a real composer before - only his relatively amature cousin. Thus his normal workflow was probably more dictated than artistically letting go and he probably had a really hard time doing that even though he has incredible appreciation for Williams and probably couldn't think of not temping a movie, even though Williams could probably work around it regardless.
  18. I've been in Milan for 6 months and I can confirm this is an Italian Orchestra thing; unless it's La Scala or one of the major opera house orchestras, they are usually out of tune and messy. Not really their fault; it's nearly impossible for full orchestras to make enough money here for full time positions because the Italian government basically only funds opera houses as part of their heritage management and there is no culture of philanthropy except for a few foundations (but they usually prefer to fund museums and artwork over music).
  19. Of course they do. Finale actually allows you to select what range you want to work within: Professional all playable notes, common ranges, and then more education based ranges. Not saying it's perfect, and it's still being refined to show what would be harmonics and whatnot, but even some instruments can have variation. I have a lovely oboe with a third octave key that makes some of the extended range stuff easy, but most guys with a loree with just 2 octave keys would have a hard time, even though it's a common configuration for professionals. Same goes for flutes with a B foot vs. a Bb foot. Woodwinds tend to be the messiest with these things, so I'm not surprised Williams leaves it vague for them to fill in details. He must trust someone specifically at JoAnn that is a beast at woodwinds. That being said, I'm pretty sure most composers aren't sophisticated enough to care. Can't tell you how many times I've been handed professional parts from composers who should know better that are writing non existent Bb's for oboe or thinking anything above a high D is going to sound decent. I've seen the same for string double stops that are impossible and no regard for the difference between that and a divisi. Finding people that know their stuff these days is rare, and the arrogance of some composers to "just make it work" is infuriating. That is where I tend to disagree with the reverence for composers intent that permeates the industry. Tell me about it... I graduated from one of the best conservatories in the US and our orchestration class was a joke. The teacher barely knew how to engrave a part, let alone basic ranges and questioned standard doublings all the time. I had to dumb my work down to satisfy her.
  20. Depends on the workflow. Williams needed copyists with some ability to fill in details more than he needed orchestrators. He is really familiar with ranges, tone colors, and blend, no doubt from all his years on a podium as well. There are tons of composers who don't know that level of detail, and thus need someone to flesh out their ideas more clearly, or they work in a team environment where they do more signing off of material than actually writing it and call those people "orchestrators." Orchestration and Copyists have been a dying art form anyway. It was sort of the middle man built by the pace required in Hollywood. Finale is so quick now, most competent composers don't need much help. Finale even indicates now when a note is out of range for a particular instrument while you are writing. The biggest annoyance is formatting the parts for page turns, anything that might overlap accidentally, and printing. For that JoAnn Kane is a blessing, as most printers have NO clue how to do music.
  21. Yeah... I would say from doing years of classical music study, this is where about 70% of classical musicians fall. Williams = "Pop-Classical for the masses," not actually innovative writing. Williams is clearly an Opera and Ballet lover, and there are so many similarities in in writing from standard romantic/neo-romantic Operas and Ballets. It's getting better though, since a lot of musicians these days went into music because of Williams. That and management as well as the musicians are starting to realize the value in his music for selling out strict large-orchestra instrumental music while not having to invite some incredibly expensive soloist or bring in vocalists. The cost is already built into the union contract and you might just have to pay some doubling fees and bring in some ringers to give the brass some body and pay a second principal trumpet to give the lead a break.
  22. http://www.finalemusic.com/blog/may-the-fourth-spotlight-on-joann-kane-music/ Interview with Mark Graham from Joann Kane was posted today in honor of May the 4th. He talks a lot about how Williams orchestration process has changed, and a fun anecdote about a Harry Potter cue that Williams forgot to write in on a sketch that he needed string parts for: Sound's like Knight Bus? Any other ideas? Tons of little tid-bits for discussion, so I thought I would start a thread.
  23. Williams is a modern day Gershwin that took progressive jazz and standards writing and dressed it up for orchestra. I'm constantly amazed at his depth of compositional language from a chordal stand point and the areas he explores. It's much easier to analyze his works from a jazz perspective than from a traditional theory. He uses keys to influence mood unlike any other composer for film. It's quite clear he has a deep love of ballet, opera, and tone poems. His awareness of the standard rep and even the more esoteric material has certainly informed his orchestrations and given him this incredible paintbrush to use for every film he works on. From a music stand point, it's his timbre and tone colors that make his style so unique. As well, his ear is impeccable as a conductor. I have never regarded him as a good conductor (and I have no doubt that was part of the reason Boston and him had some trouble at one point) but he has great ears from the podium and no one can create as clean a take as he can so quickly. He does have the best playing for him, but that is only part of the equation. But by far my favorite thing about Williams is his humility and somewhat self loathing quality. He writes what he thinks is needed for the film and never boasts that his work is any good. He simply enjoys the journey of writing, refuses to let the strict classical community get to him, and continues to explore his own voice while staying true to the core of his style, even at this age. His work ethic is incredible as well and given his personality and love for writing, I have no doubt that some of his best works and sketches will be discovered in a filing cabinet labeled "little nothing works." It's sad that I really don't see anyone as complete of a musician as him coming up through film. He has been blessed to have a name that allowed him to blow holes through most fast pace production environments and consider the music as a complete package that needed time, but the younger folks don't have this liberty. It's probably the true reason he doesn't work with any young directors aside from the price. Overall, I think his work will be looked upon for centuries as the culmination of the symphonic film score era. I hope someone close to him can encourage him at this age to take on a protege to learn some of his shortcuts, discussions with directors during spotting, and learn some more detailed insight to the process so we can continue truly symphonic scores that actually match film moving forward.
  24. Humm...recording session leaks... As a composer/conductor, would have loved to know about those sooner!
  25. @king mark I went again last night and found a few glaring unreleased segments. There are probably about 20 seconds missing when Sophie first gets into the BFG's hut of simple theme material (so not a big loss). There is an oboe statement of Sophie's theme I didn't recognize when he turns around in his rocking chair. but the biggest omission that is beautifully orchestrated is a huge segment of oboe solos, flute and more "wagnerian" string writing when Sophie is brought back to the dream cave. It's probably a minute or more of unreleased music I think. There is also some transition material out of the Rule Brittania material left out, and some flute and harpsichord material left out during the Breakfast Scene.
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