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NPR: John Williams' Inevitable Themes


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Lukas Kendall, founder and editor of Film Score Monthly, praises Williams' musicianship and says the composer should be known for more than his classic film scores for Jaws, Star Wars and other films.

"He has a breadth and depth of talent and career that really started before there were The Beatles; [today he is] essentially the dean of American composers," Kendall says. "His themes sound inevitable. They sound like they fell out of his sleeves; they sound like they've always existed. And it's extraordinary how you get just two notes for Jaws or five notes for Close Encounters [of the Third Kind] and have them feel like they've always existed."

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/11/10/164615420/

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Insightful comment posted under the article by "nyc Jazzman":

When John Williams actually writes his own music it's pretty good. However in most cases, it's the music editors, music supervisors, orchestrators, and music directors working under him that do all the work. I believe Raiders Of The Lost Ark was one of the earlier examples of this (I love the movie btw and think the soundtrack helps to make it shine, but I'd never pay money to sit down in a concert hall and hear someone perform it). Williams composed the main themes and then handed the melodies over to his minions to do all the hard work. He rarely composes anymore, just writing out little 5 note melodies and handing the scraps over to the real geniuses. I believe the concert orchestration (or at least the piano reduction) of Catch Me If You Can was actually done by Williams even though the film music was not. Regardless, this is one piece that's actually worth programming and can stand side by side (albeit extremely humbly) with Bernstein.
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When John Williams actually writes his own music it's pretty good. However in most cases, it's the music editors, music supervisors, orchestrators, and music directors working under him that do all the work. I believe Raiders Of The Lost Ark was one of the earlier examples of this (I love the movie btw and think the soundtrack helps to make it shine, but I'd never pay money to sit down in a concert hall and hear someone perform it). Williams composed the main themes and then handed the melodies over to his minions to do all the hard work. He rarely composes anymore, just writing out little 5 note melodies and handing the scraps over to the real geniuses. I believe the concert orchestration (or at least the piano reduction) of Catch Me If You Can was actually done by Williams even though the film music was not. Regardless, this is one piece that's actually worth programming and can stand side by side (albeit extremely humbly) with Bernstein.

Nonsense. Simply not true.

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Emily Howell didn't show up till the 90s! Star Wars would have sounded so much better if Williams left it all to Howell.

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I think Williams used his money to hire an army of lawyers to draft iron clad clause of confidentiality for his score productions so no one could talk about them and reveal the true nature of his operation of him doodling on paper and assistants and true talents deciphering the score from there. Angela Morley tried to break this silence and look what happened to her.

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I can't hear the audio.

Does anyone have problem with this too?

By the way, I'm really are frustrated too by that guy!

The funny thing is that he speaks with so much confidence as if he knew what is Williams' process..

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Anyone feel like emailing him a few of Williams' handwritten sketches? ;)

I don't think he'll be able to read them! ;)

Did you see his 2nd comment?

You're a little bit ignorant as to what John Williams' job actually is. He is usually hired to compose the melody to the main themes. The orchestration and implementation are done by a team of other people, usually credited as "music editor", "music supervisor", "orchestrator", or "music director". Williams, of course, is not the only Hollywood composer that gets paid big bucks to write a handful of notes.

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What really irks me is how earnestly he believes he's right. That kind of ignorance makes me sick.

He makes me think of you.

Of course he does, but flattery is not going to get you anywhere BloodBoal.

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A friend of mine in college who is also majoring in composition tried to tell me the same thing. There simply isn't any proof of the whole orchestration conspiracy with JW. Unless I'm missing something big, of course. I always told my friend that I would believe it only when it was proven. He kept on insisting though. I find it really weird. lol

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A friend of mine in college who is also majoring in composition tried to tell me the same thing. There simply isn't any proof of the whole orchestration conspiracy with JW. Unless I'm missing something big, of course. I always told my friend that I would believe it only when it was proven. He kept on insisting though. I find it really weird. lol

Your friend is wrong. It really isn't even a debate.

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But Hans DOES write the melodies only then have other people compose the music for the films (for certain films I mean, obviously not all), and he doesn't orchestrate himself. Obviously HZ always credits the additional composers and there are no secrets about it. But Hans and JW operate completely differently and the person Alan has been quoting is very ignorant about JW's process. JW does write everything himself, all you have to do is look at his original sketches to see. And we have so many of his sketches from a span of 4 decades to boot.

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What is that variation of CE3K theme heard at 5:20 from?

Anybody?

It sounds very much like Nick Ingman's arrangement, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded for their Movie Legends: The Music of John Williams CD. Believe it or not the RPO actually played this version at their recent John Williams 80th birthday tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, much to the bemusement of a certain hardcore John Williams fan in the audience who was expecting to hear the usual signature edition suite (see http://www.jwfan.com...77).

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