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Most original JW film cues

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Most of us have heard cues and are somewhat confused who the composer is. You know, when that JW trademark sound is either not there or hidden.

Incidentally these are my favorite cues from JW. Why? Well...because they really don't sound like JW. JW in charmelon mode you could say! Or maybe he was following the temp? ;-)

List away!!

Here are mine:

Zam the Assassin and chase thru coruscant

Prologue from War of the Worlds

Quidditch 3rd year

Mecha World from A.I.

Letter Bombs from Munich

Attack on olympic village Munich

Padmes Rumunitions from SW Ep 3

Peters Rescue Seven Years in Tibet

The Hunt (Goldsmithish with odd meter writing) Lost world

Escape from the City

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I have been recently wondering how 'original' some of JW's film works are...maybe our more musically knowledgable posters (ie Prometheus, etc) can chime in as to whether there was a musical precedent for some of these cues?:

- first few bars of Imperial March - the use of a major melody (complete with major triads outlined in the tune) with minor chords, to reflect the good and bad in Vader

- SPR--the muffled percussion that works so well in representing a restless anxiety (ie parts of "Defense Preparations")

- "The Map Room"

- "CMIYC"

- Raiders March

- "the Motorcade" from JFK
- "Jazz Autographs"

- his concerti

Most of us have heard cues and are somewhat confused who the composer is. You know, when that JW trademark sound is either not there or hidden.

Incidentally these are my favorite cues from JW. Why? Well...because they really don't sound like JW. JW in charmelon mode you could say! Or maybe he was following the temp? ;-)

List away!!

Here are mine:

Zam the Assassin and chase thru coruscant

Prologue from War of the Worlds

Quidditch 3rd year

Mecha World from A.I.

Letter Bombs from Munich

Attack on olympic village Munich

Padmes Rumunitions from SW Ep 3

Peters Rescue Seven Years in Tibet

The Hunt (Goldsmithish with odd meter writing) Lost world

Escape from the City

All good cues, but a lot of these are filled with JW signatures IMO

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Not sure I quite understand the original post. The pieces you list are one that you claim don't sound like Williams, which seems to be the opposite of what you want. The cues that actually do sound like Williams would be the ones where you're not confused about the composer. Wouldn't his trademark sound technically be more "original" because they own their sound to one composer?

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I think the thread is about pieces that's don;t have the usual Williams signatures

Jabba's Palace recital

Festivity at thornfield-Jane Eyre

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Perhaps I confused some people. What I meant is for the average person who knows John Williams style, if they listen to say Zam the Assassin from Star Wars they may wonder who they are listening to at first..... I can't think of that many examples of where JW has written for orchestra featuring toms, cymbals, electric guitar.

By my "favourite" cues I meant I like the cues which have different orchestration or don't follow cliches. As much as Tintin was well written I believe a lot of the materials is uninspired...... I'm not saying it doesnt work well in the film, it does... it's just not as welll... original (as if we haven't already heard it before).

I can see how some people who are familiar with the JW sound hear it in everything. That said just taking the piece above as an example there are all sorts of 20th century techniques. Quartal harmony, fast tongued trumpet passages. It sounds like it was inspired by another work? maybe?? Certainley the Mecha World from A.I. was like a blend of Steve Reich and John Adams. I really do think the temp score inspires him on occasion.



Indy4,

How does Escape from the city sound like JW? It doesn't even sound like Black Sunday.

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Indy4,

How does Escape from the city sound like JW? It doesn't even sound like Black Sunday.

Well, to name a few things: mix-metres, syncopated trombone hits, heavy timpani use (there's one part in particular that sounds like an altered, sped up version of the action cue from Family Plot), long dissonant brass notes that crescendo/decrescendoe over the rest of the orchestra (that might be the easiest giveaway), some french horn clusters that sound familiar, an eight-note triplet pulse, heavy use of mallet percussion, a few hints at Dies Irae (whether intended or not), development of a mostly rhythmic motif over the course of the piece, the fadeout with restless low strings recalling the rhythmic motif of the cue, the opening that I think uses subtle synth choir... I think you could also argue that it is partially inspired by Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," and you can also argue that JW has sorta absorbed that bit of Stravinsky as a building block upon which he bases some of his own stylistic signatures.

I mean, I think "Escape from the City" is definitely a new development of JW's pre-existing style. It's kind of exactly what I would want from a composer: a sense of style strong enough to mark a piece as his own, but different enough that it doesn't feel like we're just getting the same ideas rehashed over and over.

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Perhaps I confused some people. What I meant is for the average person who knows John Williams style, if they listen to say Zam the Assassin from Star Wars they may wonder who they are listening to at first.....

Which is why I stand firm on "The Killing of Marcel" from IMAGES.

Alternatively, one could play some of his big band jazz music from the 50's or some of the more pop-oriented songs from the 60's comedies, like the Turtles song from A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN.

Good luck to Regular Joe in recognizing those as JW!

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I think all the cues listed sound quintessentially "John Williams". To my ears, Williams' musical identity has nothing to do with outward stylistics (i.e. what medium it was written for, density, pace and volume of music etc.). Rather, it's a matter of pure writing: pitch and interval preferences (regardless of tonality/atonality), phrase construction, emotional flow and ultimately a certain "core soul" that runs through all of it. Even "A Guide for the Married Man" (especially the harmonization of the word "married").

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Indy4,

You must be more familiar with JW 1970's output. As I said, to me, it sounds a little like Black Sunday with that kind of of off meter thing with the timpani punctuation.... I fully agree with what your saying. I think its great that a cue like that has it's roots in his earlier writing but at the same time doesn't sound old.

Marcus,

You must have a good ear to recognize his style!

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