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First War Horse teaser trailer includes Williams score


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Interesting thoughts on modern vs. classic Williams, gentlemen. I especially liked the point about Williams' more frenetic action style mirroring the more frenetic style of the scenes they're written for. Especially in the case of something like the OT vs. the PT, that's so true - the scenes used to be as streamlined and brilliantly simple as the music was.

That being said, I will say that I very much enjoy "The Chase Through Coruscant" because although the orchestration and complexity are more typical of Williams' modern writing, there are still strong, bold musical ideas in there for me to enjoy.

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Interesting thoughts on modern vs. classic Williams, gentlemen. I especially liked the point about Williams' more frenetic action style mirroring the more frenetic style of the scenes they're written for. Especially in the case of something like the OT vs. the PT, that's so true - the scenes used to be as streamlined and brilliantly simple as the music was.

It seems Williams switched to this new mode after TPM. Maybe when you have more monochromatic action score like this, it makes tinkering with it less apparent? Just a thought.

Karol

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The great thing is that JW still writes amazing "old school" action music. The best example is the already mentioned "Quidditch, Third Year". Others are "Anderton's great Escape", the rarely mentioned "The Womping Willow", "Ugh, Vines" or "The Flying Car".

I'm so looking forward to the new "old school" action tracks from Tintin and War Horse but if JW also delivers another modern action track like his in my opinion best to date ("The Chase through Corsucant") i'm equally happy.

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I'd say it was more of a gradual transformation, crocodile. Even in the early 90s, he was starting to really transition away from the bolder, simpler ideas he tended to use earlier on - there's some incredibly complex material in Jurassic Park, for instance. But it was fresher back then, and it was still a lot more emotionally direct and variegated than it would later become. By the time TPM rolled around, he'd moved further in the same direction, and he really just continued to do so all the way through KOTCS. Even that score isn't like that through and through, though...the jungle chase sequence as a whole may not be as great as Williams' earlier action setpieces, but it contains some moments that I believe are great for the same reasons. I'm thinking especially of the ostinato that begins in the last leg of the sequence - the rewritten version heard in the film and on the OST, I mean. There's some great writing in there. And for those who are primarily interested in a unique melodic thread running through an entire action cue, "Ants!" certainly fits the bill.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that TPM didn't really mark a sudden change, IMO. The process began before TPM and didn't really reach its most extreme form of expression until KOTCS. And I really hope that that will remain its most extreme form...like I've said, I can enjoy that style, but enough is enough! Time for Williams to do something new, and/or something old. I'm very, very pleased that War Horse and possibly Tintin could accomplish that.

EDIT: SF1_freeze, I think those are good examples of Williams being bolder and more melodically cohesive while still maintaining the sort of orchestrational choices that have dominated his work in recent years. Kind of a happy medium, if you will.

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I think what changed mostly are the films themselves. If you compare the tight, lean and focused action sequences of The Empire Strikes Back or Raiders of the Lost Ark with the chaotic, hectic ones in Attack of the Clones, then what do we say?

Williams always responds to what he's seeing onscreen and tries to create the best musical translation. He always says that he mostly looks at the rhythm of a film and how he can inform that with the music. The action sequences of the SW prequels are very LONG set-pieces with a ZILLION of things happening onscreen (a sign of a bad direction, imho). Of course Williams can't catch every single visual element, but he has to follow anyway the "busy-ness" of what's happening onscreen, hence the complex rhythmic approach and the various timbral ornamentaions here and there. If we compare the "Chase through Coruscant" sequence from AOTC with the "Asteroid Field" one in TESB, we'll see how much more perfectly paced and constructed is the latter, while the former is bloated, exaggerated and overly complicated one (i.e. a nightmare for the film composer). Also, I guess Williams is also aware he's got much more competition with the sound effects track than in the past, so he also has to keep that in mind while writing the score.

We can criticize Williams' modern approach to action scenes saying he isn't capable anymore to conceive setpieces that are equally spot-on as musical accompaniment AND great stand-alone listening experiences... but before that, we should look at how the films themselves are differently shaped and constructed from the ones he wrote for in the past.

If that is his actual thought process it explains why his action music of late has become so "meh."

That line of thinking screams a weaker aesthetic/design sense. The man has all the technical prowess and talent of the best, but sometimes his inability to "design" the music shows. (If you want evidence, look at his album layouts, his concert program selections, etc.)

If the screen is filled with action, the soundtrack loaded with sound effects, the last thing you want to do compound that with additional frenzy. It's like piling ketchup and mustard on a dish already loaded with a frenzy of sauces. It's amateur, and it brings nothing to the table, and can ruin the "dish."

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Publicist, I actually have to disagree with you a little on your last statement about Spielberg films having less going on. Yes, they are still very slick and very focused in their main characters and flow. But, look at something like Minority Report while Anderson is escaping from his car...look how much is going on in that scene around him. Or watch the chase through Yale...ahem...I mean...whatever college Indy works for in Indy 4...there is sooooo much going on in that scene.

Devil's advocate asks why he didn't just go the Goldsmith route. JG action music became much more focused and streamlined the more cluttered the action scenes became (think AFO). Not that it was always gold the Goldmaster was spinning, but boy, it's much easier on the ears than the chaos Williams unleashes on his movies.

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There's nothing chaotic about Williams' recent action music. It is very complex, but never randomly so. And the orchestrations are mindblowingly creative

Yes, J.J. Abrams also doesn't randomly select where he puts his lens flares on a frame of film.

Doesn't make it good. Why? Because he doesn't pick where the lens flares should be on grander scale.

There needs to be multi-dimensional thinking on these choices. Complexity should be a tool just as simplicity. Just being non-randomly complex doesn't make it good. You have to know when to bring out the 120-piece orchestra, and went to let few notes and instruments carry the load. This is what's the problem with Johnny today. It's complicated way too much, way too often almost arbitrarily so.

It's not enough that each note is carefully selected. The selection of where complexity (as a structural device) needs to be is also important, and that's what John's action cues seem to lack.

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Sorry for this last post, I had not read the last sentence you wrote.

JW can be streamlined when he wants too or when it is required of him (and he has been minimalistic on his action scoring from time to time). But his recent action music demands more from the listener. One should not confuse our personal preferences with the inherent quality of the music

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Those discussions go on since 2002 or so...i'll just say that everybody seems happy about WAR HORSE harking back to his older style and nobody cried HURRAH about TINTIN sounding like his newer style and rest my case.

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Seems arbitrary.

More often than not it's probably simply poor design/aesthetic decisions. For example, scoring a frenzied visual field and audio field with something like The Chase Through Coruscant.

In all honesty, I don't really care how the music works in the movie. I tend to appreciate the music on its own. And there are some breathtaking passages he came up with in Chase Through Coruscant, for example, specially the first half of it.

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Those discussions go on since 2002 or so...i'll just say that everybody seems happy about WAR HORSE harking back to his older style and nobody cried HURRAH about TINTIN sounding like his newer style and rest my case.

And this proves what? That his earlier style is easier to enjoy? Of course it is, it is much more direct, and brilliantly so. But this board, of all places, should be the place where people are open to apreciate different sides of the composer, how his style matured and evolved. But even here people tend to concentrate and focus on his action/adventure scores, leaving brilliant scores like Empire of the Sun, JFK, Nixon, Sleepers, Seven Years in Tibet, Angela's Ashes, Munich, among many others, to be sometimes and often sadly underlooked.

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One should not confuse our personal preferences with the inherent quality of the music

I agree, I think the world of film music fandom would implode if criticism and blame ever shifted to a side other than the artist.

It seems even as adults that most, or at least a great deal of listeners still prefer to be thematically spoonfed.

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Anyways, if anybody has any other questions to ask about the score, feel free to shout it out. I am on "vacation" if you will until after the 4th of July so I should be able to check back in now and again to answer questions. Seems that most people have asked the "general gist of things" questions though, so if you have any others, I will try my best to answer!

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And this proves what? That his earlier style is easier to enjoy? Of course it is, it is much more direct, and brilliantly so. But this board, of all places, should be the place where people are open to apreciate different sides of the composer, how his style matured and evolved. But even here people tend to concentrate and focus on his action/adventure scores, leaving brilliant scores like Empire of the Sun, JFK, Nixon, Sleepers, Seven Years in Tibet, Angela's Ashes, Munich, among many others, to be sometimes and often sadly underlooked.

It proves that throwing around lofty words like 'mature' doesn't make another stampede of nervous xylophones brilliant by default. I like CHASE THROUGH CORUSCANT, no doubt about that. But at this point of Williams' career, i sure hope he doesn't have to resort to this tired bag of tricks anymore.

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Have you had the chance yet to listen to War Horse, or did you just study the sheet music?

As a person with no musical training, I'm amazed how some of you can actually hear music in their minds when studying a complex, perhaps 22 lines, sheet music score

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I've got a question regarding Tintin. With so many different elements -you mentioned sitar, saxophone, accordion and others- doesn't the score feel a bit jumpy? Or is it able to integrate all these different styles in an intelligent way?

And is there any material that doesn't get developed enough? Kinda like the Russians Theme in KOTCS, which only got perfectly developed a bit in the Jungle Chase and the End Credits, but not so much during the rest of the score.

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Merkel - PM me for that answer.

Michael - The score does not feel jumpy at all. All of the ethnic instruments are used either to emphasize a brief filmic moment, or to evoke a certain tone in the music. It doesn't jump from classic Williams orchestra to jazz saxophone from one cue to the next. Think the way Terminal had accordion in the main theme and throughout...it worked because it blended.

Quite the contrary in regard to the themes...each theme is used extensively in Tin Tin. Almost every cue has at least a touch of the several themes. I wouldnt' say they are developed that much over time...pretty much what you first hear is what you get from them. Sort of like Indy's theme...sometimes it is fast and adventurous...sometimes it is slow and thoughtful...but it doesn't really morph that much over the film.

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One should not confuse our personal preferences with the inherent quality of the music

One should not confuse music with something that has inherent quality. ;) Music has objective attributes, but good/bad judgments are purely subjective.

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It is always a bit frustrating to see a thread derail and develop to another Old Williams VS New Williams discussion/argument. I agree with Romão that people should try to enjoy Williams' many facets instead of just limiting themselves to the "Golden Age" scores. I am by no mean a musically trained professional but a layman who loves Maestro's compositional voice in its many forms. I have my preferences and favourites amoung Williams' ouvre but I do not feel a constant need to gripe about the few things I feel might be lacking in his scores but focus instead on enjoying and celebrating his music in all its forms. So much of what is said here in this thread is very good discussion, especially how changing times and styles and trends affect a film composer or how they can limit his personal style and preferences. If a producer/director wants rhythmic propulsion or kinetic push over thematically varied and colorful orchestral ballets then the composer gives him that. If there is a temp-track and the director is in love with it, the composer might have to copy that. If he is told they need a busy action cue for an overloaded action scene, it has to be written. If the composer is lucky he can have an input, if not he toils and produces something the director is happy with. Even John Williams, who has ever been the most consumate craftsman and artist and seeks to fulfil the task set to him, has to bow to those wishes. To retain still your individual voice and style so strongly as he has done is admirable.

Also we could look at artists in general and ask ourselves, do they remain the same throughout their lives. Does a band play and create the same music over and over 30 years in a row? Does a painter paint with same techniques and skill when he is 24 as when he is 75? Is an actor different at the age of 26 than at 66? Does a person's world view change over time? The obvious point is that people change, even artists. Williams as an artist looks forward not backward, not keen on repeating past things but creating new. He still has the skills he has attained through his long career but he sees things differently and writes music differently in 2011 than in 1977 as a result of decades of change in him and his work, the field of film music. Is the writing good or not is personal preference of each individual fan. The music has no absolute value. But what has not changed is the core and heart and essence of his musical voice which can to our delight be heard from the earliest scores up to the latest ones. His unique understanding of the film medium, his grip on the emotional core of the film which translates to insightful themes and orchestrations, his sense of cinema and elegant and seemingly effortless mastery of creating beautiful and meaningful music that touches the heart and the intellect. Even if not every note would be pure ambrosia there is always such a wealth of music to enjoy in each of his scores. It sounds idealistic and naive and preachy but I prefer to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

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That flute solo at the end reminds me a lot of the theme to Black Beauty. Coincidence? ;)

No. I think all composers are contract bound to use a solo flute in every movie made about a horse.

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It is always a bit frustrating to see a thread derail and develop to another Old Williams VS New Williams discussion/argument. I agree with Romão that people should try to enjoy Williams' many facets instead of just limiting themselves to the "Golden Age" scores. I am by no mean a musically trained professional but a layman who loves Maestro's compositional voice in its many forms. I have my preferences and favourites amoung Williams' ouvre but I do not feel a constant need to gripe about the few things I feel might be lacking in his scores but focus instead on enjoying and celebrating his music in all its forms. So much of what is said here in this thread is very good discussion, especially how changing times and styles and trends affect a film composer or how they can limit his personal style and preferences. If a producer/director wants rhythmic propulsion or kinetic push over thematically varied and colorful orchestral ballets then the composer gives him that. If there is a temp-track and the director is in love with it, the composer might have to copy that. If he is told they need a busy action cue for an overloaded action scene, it has to be written. If the composer is lucky he can have an input, if not he toils and produces something the director is happy with. Even John Williams, who has ever been the most consumate craftsman and artist and seeks to fulfil the task set to him, has to bow to those wishes. To retain still your individual voice and style so strongly as he has done is admirable.

Also we could look at artists in general and ask ourselves, do they remain the same throughout their lives. Does a band play and create the same music over and over 30 years in a row? Does a painter paint with same techniques and skill when he is 24 as when he is 75? Is an actor different at the age of 26 than at 66? Does a person's world view change over time? The obvious point is that people change, even artists. Williams as an artist looks forward not backward, not keen on repeating past things but creating new. He still has the skills he has attained through his long career but he sees things differently and writes music differently in 2011 than in 1977 as a result of decades of change in him and his work, the field of film music. Is the writing good or not is personal preference of each individual fan. The music has no absolute value. But what has not changed is the core and heart and essence of his musical voice which can to our delight be heard from the earliest scores up to the latest ones. His unique understanding of the film medium, his grip on the emotional core of the film which translates to insightful themes and orchestrations, his sense of cinema and elegant and seemingly effortless mastery of creating beautiful and meaningful music that touches the heart and the intellect. Even if not every note would be pure ambrosia there is always such a wealth of music to enjoy in each of his scores. It sounds idealistic and naive and preachy but I prefer to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

Well said.

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I don't necessarily agree with this view that recent JW action cues have become less interesting. Stuff like T-Rex Rescue, Belly of the Steel Beast, The Hunt, Escape from Naboo, Anakin Defeats Sebulba, Everybody Runs! or General Grievous are some of the best action music he has ever written. I actually greatly admire action tracks that don't require an underlying melody that's constantly repeated to be enjoyable. T-Rex Rescue is a great example of this. The action cues in The Phantom Menace are so stunning, so intricate, that some of his older stuff actually sounds rudimentary in comparision.

Yes. I completely agree.

I love how some of you guys here say things like, "You know, this score is a modern day Williams, but it's not so bad . . ." or "Although this is a modern Williams, it's pretty decent . . ."

These guys don't seem to realize that modern day Williams is much much more skilful and a better composer than the Williams of the 70s or even 80s.

Which type of music one personally prefers--now that's a whole different matter, of course.

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Well, it boils down to this:

Many people (here on this board) prefer old-school Williams, including filmcomposer518. I understand that.

But modern Williams is a much better composer than he was in the 70s or 80s.

I personally love both, actually, modern day and old school, but I wouldn't presume to say that he used to be better in the 70s or that what he writes now is somehow inferior to his previous works.

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If the screen is filled with action, the soundtrack loaded with sound effects, the last thing you want to do compound that with additional frenzy. It's like piling ketchup and mustard on a dish already loaded with a frenzy of sauces. It's amateur, and it brings nothing to the table, and can ruin the "dish."

Well, you have to keep in mind that the style and even the dynamics of the music don't rest just on Williams' shoulders--he has to follow the director's instructions. If Lucas wants a percussive rhythmic piece for the Coruscant chase, Williams must comply to the request. The SW Prequels especially demanded a lot of busy music for very long action sequences, hence Williams produced the best he could (imho) for that kind of request. I wouldn't use the word amateur. Also, the SW Prequels suck big time in terms of cinematic value (esp. in comparison with the OT), so even the greatest music couldn't save that trainwreck.

That being said, I happen to enjoy A LOT Williams' modern action writing. It doesn't never sound chaotic or random to my ears. It's complex and very textured, yes, but his pencil is always very clear and focused. Is this just a showoff of technical prowess? Maybe, I don't know. But for me is just as exciting as his older works.

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Well, you have to keep in mind that the style and even the dynamics of the music don't rest just on Williams' shoulders--he has to follow the director's instructions. If Lucas wants a percussive rhythmic piece for the Coruscant chase, Williams must comply to the request.

Actually, while I agree with you, the Coruscant chase is a bad example. Williams actually didn't do what they expected. He was supposed to do a percussive piece, but did something more muscular and orchestral. I remember Ben Burtt mentioning it somewhere.

Karol

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Well, you have to keep in mind that the style and even the dynamics of the music don't rest just on Williams' shoulders--he has to follow the director's instructions. If Lucas wants a percussive rhythmic piece for the Coruscant chase, Williams must comply to the request.

Actually, while I agree with you, the Coruscant chase is a bad example. Williams actually didn't do what they expected. He was supposed to do a percussive piece, but did something more muscular and orchestral. I remember Ben Burtt mentioning it somewhere.

Karol

Yeah most often Burtt is complaining about Williams' music. I bet there is a competition about whose material is heard in the film, Williams' music or Burtt's sound effects, both lobbying their output to Lucas.

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I am now looking forward to this film much more after having seen the trailer and heard the music in it. I have never read the book, so can anyone tell me if the narrator's Scandinavian accent is intentional? I understand that the actor is of Danish extraction, but wondered who the character was and whether he was supposed to be Danish.

It is nice to see what looks like Widecombe In The Moor at the [0.27] mark. That church you can see fleetingly in the trailer is known as the Cathedral of the Moors. If nothing else, I suspect that this movie will boost tourism on Dartmoor.

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I am now looking forward to this film much more after having seen the trailer and heard the music in it. I have never read the book, so can anyone tell me if the narrator's Scandinavian accent is intentional? I understand that the actor is of Danish extraction, but wondered who the character was and whether he was supposed to be Danish.

What actor is it? Being Danish myself, I only recognize one actor from Denmark: Nicolas Bro among the cast! :)

EDIT: Oh, my bad, I guess you mean Niels Arestrup, as his father was Danish..

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Josh, I would like to just throw out there that calling someone a "better composer" at any point in their life is not a cold hard fact-based thing. It's an opinion. I would also like to state that NOWHERE in my posts did I ever say Williams was "worse" now than back in the 70's and 80's. That would be moronic of me to actually presume he...what...forgot how to compose over the years?

But really what you are saying is comparable to saying "Mozart was a better composer in his early thirties than his middle twenties." Says who? There is no supreme law on what is better composition unless you are just looking at Bach Chorales and judging similar boring technicalities.

Do I happen to agree with you that his music has grown in depth? Yup! Does that mean he is a better composer than he was before? Who are we to say?

Can we PLEASE get back to the music of War Horse and Tin Tin and stop going on and on and on about old/new Williams? It's boring and tired. His style has changed along with the styles of movies over the years. What else is there to say?

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I love that Williams gets billing right underneath Spielberg's name on the very first title card, and nobody else. Really shows how much Steven must admire the guy (and probably means he completely hit this score out of the park!)

Has that ever happened before?

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I am now looking forward to this film much more after having seen the trailer and heard the music in it. I have never read the book, so can anyone tell me if the narrator's Scandinavian accent is intentional? I understand that the actor is of Danish extraction, but wondered who the character was and whether he was supposed to be Danish.

It is nice to see what looks like Widecombe In The Moor at the [0.27] mark. That church you can see fleetingly in the trailer is known as the Cathedral of the Moors. If nothing else, I suspect that this movie will boost tourism on Dartmoor.

As far as I know, that character is suposed to be French and the actor playing him is also French and, to my non-native english ears, it sounds to me like a French accent.

In this movie all the characters are played by actors of their respective nationalities

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I am now looking forward to this film much more after having seen the trailer and heard the music in it. I have never read the book, so can anyone tell me if the narrator's Scandinavian accent is intentional? I understand that the actor is of Danish extraction, but wondered who the character was and whether he was supposed to be Danish.

It is nice to see what looks like Widecombe In The Moor at the [0.27] mark. That church you can see fleetingly in the trailer is known as the Cathedral of the Moors. If nothing else, I suspect that this movie will boost tourism on Dartmoor.

I know Niels Arestrup, the actor, is half French and half Danish, but to me he sounds 100% American - he's speaking with such a strong American accent. I wonder whether that was a deliberate choice so as not to alienate the US audience, as there are no US actors in the film at all, as far as I know - certainly not among the big name stars anyhow. (His accent sounds jarring to me as during WW1 the vast majorty of Europeans who spoke English would have done so with an English accent. The American accent has only come to prominence in the last 30 years or so in non UK and non Irish Europe when people speak English. But that's beside the point, really.) In the book the character he plays is French.

BTW, it's Sheepstor Church, not Widecombe.

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Many people (here on this board) prefer old-school Williams, including filmcomposer518. I understand that.

But modern Williams is a much better composer than he was in the 70s or 80s.

As FilmComposer518 said...since when can one composer be objectively better than another? (Or than that same composer in a different era?) That's entirely subjective. (S)he may be better at a specific task, but that's about it.

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Back to Tintin and War Horse,

How many themes each score will have? Did the newer recorded Tintin parts replace old parts or did Williams originally just record 75% of the score? Does the Tintin score include songs and/or substantial source music?

In an article it was mentioned that a song from the War Horse stage play was included in the film. Can you elaborate on that FilmComposer518? Was there a Williams arranged vocal recording of the song and does the stageplay melody also appear in orchestral form in the score?

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