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The Definitive John Williams Plagiarism/Homage Thread


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Sure this has been mentioned elsewhere, but I'm listening to Ready Player One , enjoying all the musical easter eggs, and I was struck by "Arty on the 'Inside'" -- Silvestri really places a great new spin on "Everybody Runs" from Minority Report 

 

 

 

 

 

Only fitting, since Williams clearly borrowed a page from Silvestri's Death Becomes Her in "Eye-Dentiscan" from Minority Report.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

 

 

Oh wow! Hadn't heard that before. The stuff from 0:09-0:13 really is a dead-ringer for the beginning "Rey Trains"/"Thru The Jungle" too much so to be an accident. (What comes before is more of a riff on the opening of TFA "The Falcon Still Flies" to my ears.)

 

We know there are multiple versions of "Rey Trains"  -- my guess is the version we hear in the film was a late addition and Williams (maybe with substantial aid from Ross) didn't bother reinventing the wheel for the umpteenth iteration of the sequence. Another possibility is there's some unused/unreleased/unrecorded cue from TFA or TLJ that contains that music which Haab based that segment on, and later got reintegrated into the TROS score. @BrotherSound, you know the timeframes and cue lists better than anyone else, is this possible?

 

There's also the possibility that Haab so thoroughly studies and internalizes Williams's Star Wars-style that he was actually able to write *actual* Star Wars music through some sort of Borgeisian convergence. 

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"Pines of Rome" - Respighi

 

The obvious lift is " The planet Krypton".@ 2:20

and even the JAWS theme can be heard -in the opening passage that features a two note timpani ostinato and  modal melody!

E.T " Farewell in the Forest"?

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18 hours ago, Falstaft said:

Another possibility is there's some unused/unreleased/unrecorded cue from TFA or TLJ that contains that music which Haab based that segment on, and later got reintegrated into the TROS score. @BrotherSound, you know the timeframes and cue lists better than anyone else, is this possible?


I’m not aware of anything written for TFA or TLJ that used this material. The big question is when exactly the Gordy Haab music was recorded. Though the game is ostensibly a 2017 release, there’s been multiple updates with new content, and it would appear these have also included additional, newly recorded music. For instance, he mentions doing more recording for the game in this 2018 interview: https://www.mandy.com/news/star-wars-battlefront-2-composer-video-games-gordy-haab-interview#

 

There were updates to the game in late 2019 and early 2020. I think it’s most likely he may have heard the new TROS music early and used it as the basis of this cue.

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It's confusing; the only two times Gordy seemed to be recording new material was at least before November, and then January of this year (for what, I have no clue), over a month after the TROS DLC was released. Huh.

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19 hours ago, BrotherSound said:

There were updates to the game in late 2019 and early 2020. I think it’s most likely he may have heard the new TROS music early and used it as the basis of this cue.

 

18 hours ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

It's confusing; the only two times Gordy seemed to be recording new material was at least before November, and then January of this year (for what, I have no clue), over a month after the TROS DLC was released. Huh.

 

Ah, this makes much more sense -- didn't realize the game had continual updates, and musical add-ons, as a result. I don't suppose anyone familiar with the game can confirm the track in question comes from one of the post-TROS installments? I asked in a comment of the YouTube video but haven't gotten a response.

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1 hour ago, Falstaft said:

Ah, this makes much more sense -- didn't realize the game had continual updates, and musical add-ons, as a result. I don't suppose anyone familiar with the game can confirm the track in question comes from one of the post-TROS installments? I asked in a comment of the YouTube video but haven't gotten a response.

 

I'm going through my files right now; so far I can't find anything added for the TROS dlc that sounds like this or anything from TROS. I'll keep looking...

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On 9/5/2020 at 8:41 PM, Falstaft said:

Sure this has been mentioned elsewhere, but I'm listening to Ready Player One , enjoying all the musical easter eggs, and I was struck by "Arty on the 'Inside'" -- Silvestri really places a great new spin on "Everybody Runs" from Minority Report 

 

Hmmmmm, I dunno if that is close enough to be considered related.  That's a tough one

 

Quote

Only fitting, since Williams clearly borrowed a page from Silvestri's Death Becomes Her in "Eye-Dentiscan" from Minority Report.

 

Heh, that's pretty interesting, but isn't Williams (and I guess Silvestri before him) more than likely stemming off of March of the Villains from Superman?

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  • 2 months later...
On 9/7/2020 at 1:17 PM, Falstaft said:

 

 

Ah, this makes much more sense -- didn't realize the game had continual updates, and musical add-ons, as a result. I don't suppose anyone familiar with the game can confirm the track in question comes from one of the post-TROS installments? I asked in a comment of the YouTube video but haven't gotten a response.

 

On 9/7/2020 at 3:16 PM, Manakin Skywalker said:

 

I'm going through my files right now; so far I can't find anything added for the TROS dlc that sounds like this or anything from TROS. I'll keep looking...

 

Hi guys, I'm not sure if this was answered to you but I haven't been very active in the last months in the forum. Just saw this.

 

Nevertheless, I have to say: I've played Battlefront II an insane amount of hours since 2017 and I'm 99% confident this track was added in the TROS DLC. I think Haab did the same with Solo. He took a nice action queue and remade a similar one for the game.

 

From 0:37 to 1:15 you can hear how the theme tries to get to The adventures of Han over and over, and fails.

 

 

I'm pretty sure it's Haab style for this game. I think because of rights irc, pretty sure he talked about that in an episode of Star Wars Oxygen.

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3 hours ago, Yannick said:

From 0:37 to 1:15 you can hear how the theme tries to get to The adventures of Han over and over, and fails.

 

We've talked about that one before. Gordy claimed that he wrote the Kessel DLC cues a few months before John wrote the Adventures of Han, and didn't even hear TAoH until seeing Solo in the theater for the first time.

 

3 hours ago, Yannick said:

I've played Battlefront II an insane amount of hours since 2017 and I'm 99% confident this track was added in the TROS DLC.

 

I play BF2 quite a lot as well, and I know for a fact I've heard this piece of music in-game many times. However I just went through the TROS DLC files yet again, and still have not located it. It had to have been added pre-TROS, otherwise I'm confident I would have located it by now. Very strange...

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6 hours ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

 

We've talked about that one before. Gordy claimed that he wrote the Kessel DLC cues a few months before John wrote the Adventures of Han, and didn't even hear TAoH until seeing Solo in the theater for the first time.

 

Oh I'm late to the party then, sorry 😅.

 

That's pretty strange! I always thought he had access to the score to have something to work with. This is honestly unbelievable. I mean, what are the odds?! You guys always amaze me

 

6 hours ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

I play BF2 quite a lot as well, and I know for a fact I've heard this piece of music in-game many times. However I just went through the TROS DLC files yet again, and still have not located it. It had to have been added pre-TROS, otherwise I'm confident I would have located it by now. Very strange...

 

Correct me if i'm wrong but i'm pretty sure we can here that theme only in Capital Supremacy, I think Ajan Kloss. Maybe in every sequel map? Did you search there? I'm sure It's in the game

 

Edit: I found the track I was thinking about but it's similar to another part of The training course and is not the track we are looking for

 

 

We have to keep looking 😅

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  • 2 months later...

Haydn's counterpoint seems to match (more or less) Williams' harp counterpoint right before the theme

 

image.png

 

It is a theme of Old Ben, so why not music from before the romantic era?

 

What do you think, @Ludwig?

 

Edit: I also can't help but notice that this style of counterpoint, which has been described as Haydn moving away from the style galant and looking back to the baroque era (but not going full baroque), is a good characterization of Williams' "preparatory commotion" counterpoint in Jaws, Black Sunday, The Mission, and so on... (and funnily enough, the era of pop songs and easy listening in film scores in which young Williams was active is something of a galant era of Hollywood scores...)

 

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I find amusing the smattering of bits from classical (and often obscure) pieces that would never serve as temp tracks.  These are coincidences, nothing more.  Do you realize how learned and brilliant Williams would have to be to know the entire canon of orchestral music so well that he could take all these bits?  The answer: a level that I do not think is plausible or maybe even possible.  

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On 2/24/2021 at 2:09 AM, Tom said:

I find amusing the smattering of bits from classical (and often obscure) pieces that would never serve as temp tracks.  These are coincidences, nothing more.  Do you realize how learned and brilliant Williams would have to be to know the entire canon of orchestral music so well that he could take all these bits?  The answer: a level that I do not think is plausible or maybe even possible.  

Well, I for one would be against the premise that among many jokes an occasional actual inspiration cannot be found.

 

1. Haydn's String Quartets Op. 20 are a very famous and revolutionary set of six compositions, which helped coin the name "father of the string quartet" for Haydn, and which were adored by, among others, Beethoven and Brahms. Every classically trained composer (especially back then) has had contact with them.

2. Williams is known to read (and re-read!) works such as Beethoven's sonatas and symphonies like a normal citizen would books.

3. Williams, Goldsmith, and others used to play chamber music together back in the day, and not all of it was jazz. Of course they had to know it.

4. Haydn is Williams' favourite composer, and Williams considers him one of the very greatest. This has to be based on the knowledge of Haydn's music.

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I'd say that in ANH, the figure in the accompaniment that comes in before the theme is based on the Force theme itself, a kind of outline of it that even uses the same notes: A-Bb-D (see the boxes I've drawn in the music below). Williams also transposes the figure so it has a version that ends on G (the tonic) as well, so it doesn't get too repetitive.

 

It isn't unheard of for Williams to do this in his golden-era Star Wars scores, either. What @Falstaft calls Heroic Descending Tetrachords, which generally ushers in Luke's Theme, is a faster version of the same figure from the B section of the same theme. And in "The Asteroid Field", the entrance of Vader's Theme comes with a triplet figure in the strings that's again a faster version of the same Vader theme.

 

I know Williams loves classical concert music and knows a good deal of it, but I would probably say that, once the references to any other works have been established beforehand either by a temp track or instructions from the director / music editor etc., that he works by developing the material he already has. And that's what I'd say is probably going on here: basically compress the Force theme's first phrase into fewer notes and allow the theme's big entrance to be led up to by a form of itself. What could be more appropriate?

 

 

 

fejrZu.png

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Yes, some of the major pieces, but something like a 4 second snip-it from Monteverdi's 'Deus in Adjutorium.'  Maybe, but damn one would have both study and have a fantastic memory of such things to pull it off.  Isn't it far more likely that it is coincidence?   

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On 2/24/2021 at 3:27 AM, Ludwig said:

I'd say that in ANH, the figure in the accompaniment that comes in before the theme is based on the Force theme itself, a kind of outline of it that even uses the same notes: A-Bb-D (see the boxes I've drawn in the music below). Williams also transposes the figure so it has a version that ends on G (the tonic) as well, so it doesn't get too repetitive.

 

It isn't unheard of for Williams to do this in his golden-era Star Wars scores, either. What @Falstaft calls Heroic Descending Tetrachords, which generally ushers in Luke's Theme, is a faster version of the same figure from the B section of the same theme. And in "The Asteroid Field", the entrance of Vader's Theme comes with a triplet figure in the strings that's again a faster version of the same Vader theme.

 

I know Williams loves classical concert music and knows a good deal of it, but I would probably say that, once the references to any other works have been established beforehand either by a temp track or instructions from the director / music editor etc., that he works by developing the material he already has. And that's what I'd say is probably going on here: basically compress the Force theme's first phrase into fewer notes and allow the theme's big entrance to be led up to by a form of itself. What could be more appropriate?

 

 

 

fejrZu.png

I have noticed the thematic connections to the theme, but that seems to me easily explainable as mundane transposition and adjustment to the new key and context. A good idea for a build-up taken from something that fit with a given melodic fragment in the first place.

 

The prevalence of the heroic descending tetrachords does not explain their origin. Examples with Vader and Asteroid Field all came later.

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I know Williams loves classical concert music and knows a good deal of it, but I would probably say that, once the references to any other works have been established beforehand either by a temp track or instructions from the director / music editor etc., that he works by developing the material he already has.

That misses out on the reality of the non-random similarity of Williams' (and any other composer's!) music to the music they once studied, to the styles they learned, to the chords they once found cool, which are directly traceable to specific elder works.

 

For example, I had recently read that Bernard Herrmann studied the music of Delius with Percy Grainger with great enthusiasm, and proceeded to read some scores by Delius myself. On one page there was a big chord with horns, clarinets, and other instruments that looked 100% like Herrmann. Herrmann used to say that orchestration is the personal stamp of a composer, and yet we have this, or to give another example - his asking Max Steiner's orchestrator about the main title of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, and then using a similar orchestration in scenes of glittering crystals in Journey to the Center of the Earth, and even in the main theme to The Twisted Nerve. Not to mention the copious amounts of Wagner in Herrmann's music, which could in fact lead one to the notion that Herrmann was the last major profile Wagnerian composer, arguably except for Messiaen.

 

Coming back to Williams, there are many similarities between Williams' music on one hand and that of especially Herrmann and Korngold on the other, which would be simply unwarranted to be considered mere coincidences. It's better to look at composition (for a film) via a two stage problem-solving model:

1. What is the composer expected to do? -> Inspirations (temp)

2. What is the composer's answer to this? -> means (techniques, other inspirations)

 

Williams said once in a lecture given at some university that "every note of Benny's (Herrmann's) music flows through him". Hence

-> in the possibly Prokofiev-temped Parade of the Ewoks one can find (as a trio) the mysterious main horn call from The Mysterious Island, which in turn is cloned from one of Wagner's operas.

 

And then the general dramatic context. The Haydn connection isn't too far fetched in that regard either. Here we have classical music that came 30 years before romantic era (just like the originally suggested 30-year gap between the era Ben was describing in the scene about Jedi and the Force, and Luke's time) and yet these quartets are traditionally described as passionate, and steming from Haydn being far away from Vienna in a harsh marshland, isolated from fellow musicians. This is an "old", isolated man's music. This is of course just an afterhtought compared to the direct similarities of both the theme and the surrounding contrapunctual context.

 

Quote

I suppose composers have for centuries complained about this. I think of Mozart having to produce a mass for Sunday for the archbishop, or Haydn writing something for the Esterhazys on demand "let me have a symphony for the thursday night's dinners".---John Williams scoring 'Empire' (BBC, 1980)

 

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The opening 40 seconds have noticable strains of the Imperial March embedded within, and these reappear several times later on in the concerto (which incidentally doesn't deserve to be as forgotten as it is)

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1 hour ago, JJA said:

The opening 40 seconds have noticable strains of the Imperial March embedded within, and these reappear several times later on in the concerto (which incidentally doesn't deserve to be as forgotten as it is)

 

Wow! Never heard that before, what a striking resemblance. Pretty hard to fathom it was an intentional allusion -- esp. when more likely candidates exist -- some blend of Tchaikovksy's Swan Lake Finale, Elgar's 1st Symphony 2nd Movement, and the Tarnhelm motif from Rheingold and a few others models. But this is delicious music!

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6 hours ago, JJA said:

The opening 40 seconds have noticable strains of the Imperial March embedded within, and these reappear several times later on in the concerto (which incidentally doesn't deserve to be as forgotten as it is)

 

This is great, but what that opening reminded the most was actually Notturno from Tiomkin's Fall of the Roman Empire

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3 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I can't remember if we have a separate thread for noticing similarities within just Williams music

 

You're in it

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7 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I can't remember if we have a separate thread for noticing similarities within just Williams music, but I was listening to the Cello Concerto this morning and couldn't help making this mental connection.  Really that whole section of the scherzo movement sounds so much like modern JW action motifs.

 

 

 

Oooh, that is similar.

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  • 5 months later...

Just a coincidental similarity, but I can't hear the beginning of Williams' "Sunrise Sunset" arrangement without thinking of Elfman's Catwoman theme from Batman Returns.

 

 

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Posted this in the more general homage thread but possibly better here…

 

I wasn’t sure where to post this but the latest episode of BBC Radio 3’s The Listening Service is dedicated to JW. Sadly, after a promising start expounding the virtues of the opening of CE3K (amongst others), the first half is an uninspired slog through all of his classical precedents. Even more frustrating is some are no more than a vague resemblance… the force theme and the fate motif from Wagner’s Ring… I mean… maybe. A bit?! Or Tchaikovsky’s sugar plum fairy is like Harry Potter because they both use the Celeste. Uh huh. Although he did reference something by Faure that sounded a bit like hedwig’s theme which is a new one. I don’t deny a passing similarity, but only in passing. I don’t even think the Imperial March sounds much like Mars from the Planets aside from both being minor key marches. Even more weird since there are a couple of passages in the original Star Wars which genuinely do sound like Mars. 

 

It feels like the intent was to show how JW anchored his best known ideas in the classical repertoire and reinterpreted it them for the cinema. However for the average high brow Radio 3 listener I rather think they’d get the impression that all of his music is just ripped off Prokofiev, Holst, Strauss etc. which is frustrating as those references constitute a vanishing minority of his music and plenty of his scores only sounds like himself. A shame as there are some more interestingobservations later on in the show but by that time you get to those you just feel like it’s a JW musical character assassination!


I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts…

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42 minutes ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Posted this in the more general homage thread but possibly better here…

 

I wasn’t sure where to post this but the latest episode of BBC Radio 3’s The Listening Service is dedicated to JW. Sadly, after a promising start expounding the virtues of the opening of CE3K (amongst others), the first half is an uninspired slog through all of his classical precedents. Even more frustrating is some are no more than a vague resemblance… the force theme and the fate motif from Wagner’s Ring… I mean… maybe. A bit?! Or Tchaikovsky’s sugar plum fairy is like Harry Potter because they both use the Celeste. Uh huh. Although he did reference something by Faure that sounded a bit like hedwig’s theme which is a new one. I don’t deny a passing similarity, but only in passing. I don’t even think the Imperial March sounds much like Mars from the Planets aside from both being minor key marches. Even more weird since there are a couple of passages in the original Star Wars which genuinely do sound like Mars. 

 

It feels like the intent was to show how JW anchored his best known ideas in the classical repertoire and reinterpreted it them for the cinema. However for the average high brow Radio 3 listener I rather think they’d get the impression that all of his music is just ripped off Prokofiev, Holst, Strauss etc. which is frustrating as those references constitute a vanishing minority of his music and plenty of his scores only sounds like himself. A shame as there are some more interestingobservations later on in the show but by that time you get to those you just feel like it’s a JW musical character assassination!


I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts…

 

That's like when I was at a concert of Star Wars / Star Trek music and the conductor of the Phoenix Symphony sounded quite amused when he remarked how much of The Imperial March was lifted from Holst. I felt like he had heard "Star Wars is from Holst" so many times and they weren't going to be playing Inner City (although I think they did play the Main Title) and everybody knows The Imperial March and it sounds marchy...

 

I'm sure you can find classical antecedents to The Imperial March (and I bet they're in this thread!) but like you said, I don't think it's Holst.

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12 minutes ago, Tallguy said:

 

That's like when I was at a concert of Star Wars / Star Trek music and the conductor of the Phoenix Symphony sounded quite amused when he remarked how much of The Imperial March was lifted from Holst. I felt like he had heard "Star Wars is from Holst" so many times and they weren't going to be playing Inner City (although I think they did play the Main Title) and everybody knows The Imperial March and it sounds marchy...

 

I'm sure you can find classical antecedents to The Imperial March (and I bet they're in this thread!) but like you said, I don't think it's Holst.

Exactly. I mean if you’re going to go for the Holst comparison then the rebel blockade runner or those crushing blows when the blow up the Death Star are much closer. But again these are fragments and hardly representative of the whole cues. 

 

I’ve usually seen the Imperial March compared to Shostakovich but only in a broad stylistic way in terms of heavy brass and percussion but nothing specific. I’m a pretty enthusiastic Shostakovich fan and have a lot of his music and have never found anything that sounds more than a general style let alone something where, for example, the rhythm, intervals or those triplet figures are derived. 

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On 07/10/2021 at 10:44 AM, Disco Stu said:

I can't remember if we have a separate thread for noticing similarities within just Williams music, but I was listening to the Cello Concerto this morning and couldn't help making this mental connection.  Really that whole section of the scherzo movement sounds so much like modern JW action motifs.

 

 

 

He actually directly quotes the the fourth movement of his Cello Concerto in this cue from Angela's Ashes:

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Posted this in the more general homage thread but possibly better here…

 

I wasn’t sure where to post this but the latest episode of BBC Radio 3’s The Listening Service is dedicated to JW. Sadly, after a promising start expounding the virtues of the opening of CE3K (amongst others), the first half is an uninspired slog through all of his classical precedents. Even more frustrating is some are no more than a vague resemblance… the force theme and the fate motif from Wagner’s Ring… I mean… maybe. A bit?! Or Tchaikovsky’s sugar plum fairy is like Harry Potter because they both use the Celeste. Uh huh. Although he did reference something by Faure that sounded a bit like hedwig’s theme which is a new one. I don’t deny a passing similarity, but only in passing. I don’t even think the Imperial March sounds much like Mars from the Planets aside from both being minor key marches. Even more weird since there are a couple of passages in the original Star Wars which genuinely do sound like Mars. 

 

It feels like the intent was to show how JW anchored his best known ideas in the classical repertoire and reinterpreted it them for the cinema. However for the average high brow Radio 3 listener I rather think they’d get the impression that all of his music is just ripped off Prokofiev, Holst, Strauss etc. which is frustrating as those references constitute a vanishing minority of his music and plenty of his scores only sounds like himself. A shame as there are some more interestingobservations later on in the show but by that time you get to those you just feel like it’s a JW musical character assassination!


I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts…


Agreed. I was apprehensive about the program, since I find Tom Service’s idiosyncratic delivery style to be rather irritating at the best of times, but I gritted my teeth and got on with it.

 

A very promising start descended into a by-the-numbers rehash of all the usual JW-plagiarises-the-classics we’ve all heard before, but overstated to a preposterous degree. Star Wars was ‘compiled and remade from that fragment of King’s Row’? Compiled? Remade? Do me a favour; it’s a very short resemblance of a handful of notes and orchestration. I also agree that the Faure/Hedwig and Force/Siegfried resemblances are slight, to say the least.
 

To be fair, he did admit that it amounts to little more than ‘musical trainspotting’ and was ‘an incredibly limiting’ way of appreciating JW’s music, which I did agree with!


The second half of the program was better, exploring the differences between classical concert music and film music and was much more sympathetic to what JW does to enhance the films he writes for. He concludes that JW’s music ‘is the engine of emotional and dramatic connection across one media to another’.

 

Aside from this, I always find the Imperial March sounds closer to Prokofiev’s The Montagues & Capulets than it does to Mars.

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Tom Service regurgitates his obvious dislike for John Williams at any opportunity.  He used his programme notes for the BBC Proms concert in 2017 (the one where Keith Lockhart conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra) to list classical works which Williams supposedly ripped off. In all other Proms programmes the same page is used to promote ‘further listening’ of music by the same composers featured in the concert.

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Holst? I thought the Imperial March was Elgar?

 

 

 

Anyway… I used to think that Williams copied his bridge from Across the Stars for Catch Me If You Can (or the other way round?)… turns out Silvestri went there first, 13 years earlier:

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