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The intensity of John Williams' music


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We all know Williams’ thrilling music. Sometimes it’s heroic, sometimes it’s dark and sometimes it’s a little bit ironic. But what about the other side of his music?

Since a while I have another thought of music in general. I like the sensitive and passionate music much more than highly effective action sequences. In this case I’m falling in love in the War Horse Score: It’s an orchestral landscape marking that includes memorable string sections. It has - as an compensation - a touch of straight forward pieces and pointed dynamics. That special intense is a climax for me. It’s very deep and really heartbreaking beautiful! It is definitely my favourite score.

If I hear e.g. The Empire Strikes Back, I appreciate Yoda’s Theme more than The Battle of Hoth. There are other scores I prefer because of the intensity:

The Violin Concerto - Excellent and impressionistic; Bartók would to bow low.

Memoirs of a Geisha - An extremely powerful an oppressive music with a kind of mystic.

Seven Years in Tibet - Same as Geisha but in another form.

The chamber music are also great - I only think of Air and Simple Gifts.

What do you think about the intensity?

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I would say that long action sequences offer Williams a chance to show his generosity and sense of rhythm (two of his strongest qualities in my opinion) more than a piece such as Yoda's theme but I lo

Yea, those 8 minutes are definitely among my favorite in the TESB score! I kinda get why a lot of it was dropped or replaced in the final film, but damn it's great music on it's own!

If I hear e.g. The Empire Strikes Back, I appreciate Yoda’s Theme more than The Battle of Hoth. There are other scores I prefer because of the intensity:

That's where we differ. I prefer Williams actual film underscore to his concert suites, simply because there's more variation, more contrast, more details, and less broad strokes. I think of the anthology version of the The Battle of Hoth, besides the thrilling action, there's wit, tenderness and unnerving suspense. So many nooks and crannies that you can miss through many listenings, and then when you finally hear and appreciate one of them, it's wonderful feeling. There's no such nooks and crannies in Yoda's Theme, as beautiful as it is. I'd much rather listen to the film's developments of that theme, whether it's Carbon Freeze/Darth Vader's Trap/Departure of Boba Fett or The Training of a Jedi Knight/The Magic Tree.

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I would say that long action sequences offer Williams a chance to show his generosity and sense of rhythm (two of his strongest qualities in my opinion) more than a piece such as Yoda's theme but I love it all. Empire is certainly special.

I have listened to it hundreds of times over the years and my favorite cue has changed several times. My current favorite is the third track on the Special Edition cd: "Wampa's lair/vision of Obi-Wan/Snowspeeders take flight". It's a great example of what I stated above. Williams does things in these eight minutes of music that no one else has ever done in a hundred years of film music. Any one else singles out that particular piece?

If I remember well most of the "Snowspeeders take flight" cue is not even heard in the film and was replaced with a section of Hyperspace. I've wondered why since 1980. It's such a great melody.

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Yea, those 8 minutes are definitely among my favorite in the TESB score! I kinda get why a lot of it was dropped or replaced in the final film, but damn it's great music on it's own!

Hi Jay, nice of you to drop by!

Why do you think the music was replaced? It's so good it's drawing too much attention? :>)

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Yea, the film didn't really need it. The parts that now play with no music at all work just fine.

And the part that was replaced by Hyperspace, I think they wanted a darker tone for the search, keeping the mystery of if Han and Luke survived more of a mystery. As soon as they are revealed, it switches to Williams' happy cue

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Thanks all for your posts!

Well, it's an interesting point that you have written. It's hard to explain what I define intense in Yoda's Theme. Yes, it's only a theme but with only few notes he transform it to pure magic. I compare it mostly with Schuberts String quintet D 956, the second movement: Only 94 bars and how much intense!

Of course, that doesn't mean if Williams uses less notes then it is more intense. The Jaws-Theme has two notes and there is no intense IMO. But most action sequences aren't "made" to show intense: There are particular rhythms and structures and it's gone very fast so I can concentrate on orchestral subtleties. So I would say that I perceive intense if I can gather the whole thing.

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