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It's all over the place.

Agreed. John Williams makes some memorable music. Action music is not one of them.

^Not this.

So what you're saying is the horn fanfare as The Last Battle kicks in wasn't memorable? You don't remember the music 5 minutes later when Ben Kenobi says "Use the Force, Luke... Trust your feelings"?

"Here they come"....dun dun...dun dun.....DAH DAH DAHHH DAAAAH DAHHHHH!!!!! <--my childhood was based on that scene.

I find your post insulting.

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While I love Williams old action style more, I certainly enjoy and admire his modern action writing. Williams is a fantastic action writer. One of the things I've always admired about modern Williams is how regardless of how busy and "over the place" the action music sounds like, its still very structured and enjoyable. What I found myself marveling at when listening to Tintin, is how Williams manages to make his music sound so "busy" yet still very enjoyable. Only Williams can pull that level of complexity off without his music being dubbed as atonal work.

What's wrong with that? I don't think you quite grasp what "atonal" means.

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Wait, so Williams work isn't atonal at times (His modern action music)? Sorry, I'm not trained in theory, so I think of it as atonal..

"The Ferry Scene"? Really? Talk about scraping the bottom of the man's portfolio barrel. Have some people been bashed in the brain by a falling meteor or something? It's hard to imagine some of you as functioning members of society! I'll just leave these here:
"The Ferry Scene" phwJr.gif

I have those. :P Anymore action cues similar to those?

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While I love Williams old action style more, I certainly enjoy and admire his modern action writing. Williams is a fantastic action writer. One of the things I've always admired about modern Williams is how regardless of how busy and "over the place" the action music sounds like, its still very structured and enjoyable. What I found myself marveling at when listening to Tintin, is how Williams manages to make his music sound so "busy" yet still very enjoyable. Only Williams can pull that level of complexity off without his music being dubbed as atonal work.

What's wrong with that? I don't think you quite grasp what "atonal" means.

I understand what atonal means. And I was never saying atonal was a bad thing. When done right, you have some great material, like Penderecki's work or even Williams score for Close Encounters with the Third Kind. But the majority of listeners tend to dislike atonal music, and while Williams modern action sometimes appears to be so, it never is. A lot of people find atonal music unenjoyable, but if they consider Williams' modern action atonal (which its not), then it sure as hell is very entertaining "atonal" music.

(Sorry about the slight off topic) Listen to Rosenman's LOTR and compare it to Star Trek IV, LOTR is considered more Atonal than ST:IV
Vs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFijX7O7rz4

God, those Mordor chants always crack me up! Sometimes Rosenman's LOTR score has its moments, but its usually hard for me to take that score seriously (especially with the really childish main theme).

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<p>Wait, so Williams work isn't atonal at times (His modern action music)?  Sorry, I'm not trained in theory, so I think of it as atonal..</p>

<p>

Here are some examples of atonal writing in modern Williams action/suspense cues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zztndQcGzOg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OllIfXudpI&feature=related

(2:16 to end)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Xk72Xww7Y&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVcsyUK0alU

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Well her is shore's verion KK:

Luuuuuugbuuuuuurzzzz LuuuuuuuuuggggBuuuuuuurzzz (or however its spelled)

Barin Catharad! Get it right Faleel! :D

I'm not trying to make comparisons between Shore's work and Rosenman's work because they're two different films, but it really is hard to take Rosenman's score seriously. The main theme was so annoying in its persistance during the film. And the Mordor chanting is pretty darn funny if you ask me :P

As for Goldsmtih, his action music is freakin awesome in its prime. One of my favourite Goldsmith scores, The Wind and the Lion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFORF8iSnsY

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And Rambo III turned up the notch higher.

I don't know about that. The NPO's performance is certainly more gripping then that of the Hungarian orchestra.

It's not how the orchestra played the score but the way Jerry combined ethnic music with synthesizers; a melding together of Jerry Goldsmith's earlier love of ethnic instruments and his newfound love of synthesizers while still keeping the action cues in a cohesive, uncluttered manner.

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One of my favorites.



The music for the TIE Fighter Attack is based on the Rebel Fanfare, with descending five-note phrases occurring throughout. This is film scoring at its most triumphant - a cue unlike any other ever written fora movie, and so kinestheticaliy connected to the imagery that it is impossible to believe either existed before the other. A crescendo is reached with the Death Star motif, which brilliantly carries the drama into its final act by musically reminding the audience that the real battle is still to come.

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It seems like JW’s action music fits into three distinct categories.

  1. Ostinato: categorized by rhymic repition.
  2. Swashbuckling: emphasis is on melody and harmony and ornaments. This is the Korngoldian/old fashion approach to action music.
  3. Modern: clusters and advanced techniques. Great for intense dinosaur music.

Examples of the Ostinato action:

Empire Strikes Back: Hyperspace -

Phantom Menace: Duel of the Fates

(after chorus)

Minority Report: Everybody Runs!

Minority Report: Spiders!

Examples of Swashbuckling/Melodic Action:

ESB: Asteriod Field:

Jaws: Shark Cage Fugue:

Star Wars: Battle of Yavin:

Hook: Ultimate War:

Jurrasic Park: TRex:

Far & Away, Indiana Jones, Superman, etc.

Modern:

Jurassic Park - Raptor:

I think if broken down by these three styles, you see more continuity in his action approach. For example, ostinato approach that seemed fresh in Minority Report was heard in Hyperspace too so its really just a matter of which action approach was used rather than an evolution. It seems like his bigger action sequences such as Battle of Hoth, Desert Chase in Indiana Jones, T-Rex finale in Jurassic switch between these various approaches depending on the dramatic needs.

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It seems like JW’s action music fits into three distinct categories.

  1. Ostinato: categorized by rhymic repition.
  2. Swashbuckling: emphasis is on melody and harmony and ornaments. This is the Korngoldian/old fashion approach to action music.
  3. Modern: clusters and advanced techniques. Great for intense dinosaur music.

Examples of the Ostinato action:

Empire Strikes Back: Hyperspace -

Phantom Menace: Duel of the Fates

(after chorus)

Minority Report: Everybody Runs!

Minority Report: Spiders!

Examples of Swashbuckling/Melodic Action:

ESB: Asteriod Field:

Jaws: Shark Cage Fugue:

Star Wars: Battle of Yavin:

Hook: Ultimate War:

Jurrasic Park: TRex:

Far & Away, Indiana Jones, Superman, etc.

Modern:

Jurassic Park - Raptor:

'Raptor Attack' from JP is a suspense cue, not an action cue.

'T-Rex Rescue & Finale' employs plenty of tone clusters, although there's melodic material too.

Here's how I'd categorise Williams's action music :

  1. Modernist - Employment of ostinati, short melodic/harmonic/rhythmic cells, syncopations, polytonality, tone pyramids, tone clusters, aleatoricism, extended techniques, electronic percussion, minimalist devices etc.
  2. Romantic - Think Korngold, Steiner and Walton - lots of orchestral flourishes, big thematic statements, boom-tz, triads moving chromatically in parallel motion, frequent use of compound rhythms (i.e. 9/8 or 12/8) and triplet figures, strings in octaves, horns in unison or as propulsive chords (i.e. 8th note 7ths) etc.
  3. Hybrid/Post-Modern - Like a Venn diagram - most of Williams's action writing falls here - not entirely one or the other. A bit of both, depending on what's happening on screen.

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'Raptor Attack' from JP is a suspense cue, not an action cue.

'T-Rex Rescue & Finale' employs plenty of tone clusters, although there's melodic material too.

Here's how I'd categorise Williams's action music :

  1. Modernist - Employment of ostinati, short melodic/harmonic/rhythmic cells, syncopations, polytonality, tone pyramids, tone clusters, aleatoricism, extended techniques, electronic percussion, minimalist devices etc.
  2. Romantic - Think Korngold, Steiner and Walton - lots of orchestral flourishes, big thematic statements, boom-tz, triads moving chromatically in parallel motion, frequent use of compound rhythms (i.e. 9/8 or 12/8) and triplet figures, strings in octaves, horns in unison or as propulsive chords (i.e. 8th note 7ths) etc.
  3. Hybrid/Post-Modern - Like a Venn diagram - most of Williams's action writing falls here - not entirely one or the other. A bit of both, depending on what's happening on screen.

You're right about the Raptor music being more suspense than action. I was thinking of the scene where the girl was running from the Raptor into the shed (where the hand falls on her) but forgot which scene that was...been awhile since I've seen the film.

Regarding your classifications, why do you consider ostinati as a modernist characteristic when that's been around for hundreds of years and does seem to be to be a category in itself since he does it so often as a way to deal with action scenes. It also just doesn't sound modern. Are you thinking this is modernist in terms of how action scenes are done today...in which case I certainly agree with you. Please explain that further.

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