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General Harmony/Orchestration/Theory Questions


Dixon Hill
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  • 3 weeks later...

This isn't a question, just pointing out a very quick and quirky little orchestration touch I like in Copland's "Dance Panels"

 

A solo oboe backed with a muted trumpet, violins striking the strings (col legno!), and pizzicato viola (which you can just hear if you close eyes and listen very closely).

 

It's over in 4 seconds, but I always look forward to it when listening to this delightful and mostly forgotten Copland ballet, the last he wrote.

 

(0:40-0:44)

 

image.png

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^^^ Sounds like a broken kid's toy. :mrgreen:

 

Does anybody known what the sliding effect is at 0:56?

 

 

It happens here at 7:42 as well:

 

 

Even Dudamel looks surprised as to where it came from!

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1 hour ago, Loert said:

^^^ Sounds like a broken kid's toy. :mrgreen:

 

Does anybody known what the sliding effect is at 0:56?

 

 

It happens here at 7:44 as well:

 

Even Dudamel looks surprised as to where it came from!

 

According to the score that's a triple forte trombone gliss

 

Screenshot 2019-09-19 at 17.40.13.png

 

1 hour ago, Loert said:

^^^ Sounds like a broken kid's toy. :mrgreen:

 

 

It does!  Copland makes a point of saying that Dance Panels is a ballet with no intended story, that it's completely up to choreographers who take it up, so interpret it however you like :) 

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2 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

 

According to the score that's a triple forte trombone gliss

 

Screenshot 2019-09-19 at 17.40.13.png

 

 

It does!  Copland makes a point of saying that Dance Panels is a ballet with no intended story, that it's completely up to choreographers who take it up, so interpret it however you like :) 

 

That is not a gliss.  It's a bend or fall.  A jazz technique.  Pink panther "pows" are a great example.  Like at 0:46 and 0:52, 1:02 and really all over features this fall/bend technique.  These are literally exactly what Bernstein has.  I'm only able to go off Disco Stu's score since the links don't play in the US so not sure if there is anything else playing like a percussive whistle. 

 

Think of it as the difference between a portamento and a gliss on the strings.  They aren't the same thing, are performed differently, notated differently, sound differently but technically aren't really all that different.  Here is a famous gliss. from the repertoire (Bartok Concerto for Orchestra at 0:24)

 

Think of a fall as just a jazzy punch with the note dying off falling away.  A gliss is a full duration slur between notes.  A portamento is a last moment slur (like holding two notes too long).  What startled The Dude was probably the triple forte brass which can be a punch to the gut.

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22 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

According to the score that's a triple forte trombone gliss

 

I'm afraid that's not the correct answer...the trombone fall is played but it's not what's causing that downward sliding sound. See attachment for what the fall sounds like on its own.

 

To me it sounds almost like some kind of horn. It reminds me of the upward French horn glisses in Dance of the Earth (14:39):

 

 

tromb_a_major_fall.mp3

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52 minutes ago, Loert said:

I'm afraid that's not the correct answer...the trombone fall is played but it's not what's causing that downward sliding sound. See attachment for what the fall sounds like on its own.

 

Well then it’s not in the score and my only deduction is that its appearance on two Dudamel performances means that he must have added it himself, perhaps to add greater emphasis to the moment than provided by the trombones, and shouldn’t have been surprised in the video!  Maybe it was just the sheer volume that took him off guard.

 

The only solution is to email the LA Phil librarian!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...
17 minutes ago, filmmusic said:

Hello. I'm stuck with the numbering in a chord, hope someone could help me.

is it correct like I have written it?

It's a bII with a 9th, in 2nd inversion.

 

 

 

Look Down lord 9m5.png

 

Could you post the next bar, even if it's in a different phrase? It's hard to analyze harmony without the full context (as Disco Stu's example from that Piston quartet that turned out to be, fooling us all since it was actually quartal).

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12 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

Could you post the next bar, even if it's in a different phrase? It's hard to analyze harmony without the full context (as Disco Stu's example from that Piston quartet that turned out to be, fooling us all since it was actually quartal).

It's difficult now, because I haven't written it in Sibelius.

The next 2 bars, is a plagal candence. i - iv - i.

it's from the Look Down Lord song, by John Williams.

 

edit: the chord in question is at 0.19-20:

 

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38 minutes ago, filmmusic said:

It's difficult now, because I haven't written it in Sibelius.

The next 2 bars, is a plagal candence. i - iv - i.

it's from the Look Down Lord song, by John Williams.

 

edit: the chord in question is at 0.19-20:

 

 

The bII is actually not inverted, so I'd call it a bIImaj9.

 

At 0:19, you can hear a deep bass Eb. It's easier to hear at 0:48 and 1:45 when the same chord returns.

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2 hours ago, Ludwig said:

 

The bII is actually not inverted, so I'd call it a bIImaj9.

 

At 0:19, you can hear a deep bass Eb. It's easier to hear at 0:48 and 1:45 when the same chord returns.

In this first instance it is inverted. I have the original score.

So, would the numbers be correct?

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1 hour ago, filmmusic said:

In this first instance it is inverted. I have the original score.

So, would the numbers be correct?

 

Well then the problem is in trying to place classical Roman numerals on what is essentially a jazz chord.

 

In jazz, it's easy to label as an Ebmaj9/Bb. In classical, there is no standard for this. The 5/4/3 label you have may give the notes, but it doesn't say anything about the spacing of the top note being a 9th. The traditional notation of 4/3 really only applies to 7th chords because once you have a 9th, it is usually supported by the 7th a 3rd below, not tucked away an octave lower. So really it should be something like 12/10/6/4, but that's obviously too unwieldy.

 

You see my point, though. Jazz chords call for jazz symbols. Maybe you could have a simplified Roman numeral like bII9/7, then put "2nd inv." in parentheses. It's kind of a cheat, but it's probably easier to read than anything else.

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Thanks for your reply Ludwig.

Well, the thing is that I have Roman numerals in all the examples in my dissertation  (there are around 340 examples), and I can't change it just for one example.

I want to keep a continuity.

 

I have mentioned in one instance that I will use invertion numerals only when needed. So, maybe I shouldn't use it here?

I've also thought that it should really be 12 on top.. I'll see what I can do.

Maybe I should use one of the later not inverted chords from that song in my example..hehe

It's really used for the phrygian aspect of it.

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3 hours ago, filmmusic said:

Thanks for your reply Ludwig.

Well, the thing is that I have Roman numerals in all the examples in my dissertation  (there are around 340 examples), and I can't change it just for one example.

I want to keep a continuity.

 

I have mentioned in one instance that I will use invertion numerals only when needed. So, maybe I shouldn't use it here?

I've also thought that it should really be 12 on top.. I'll see what I can do.

Maybe I should use one of the later not inverted chords from that song in my example..hehe

It's really used for the phrygian aspect of it.

 

One more solution I would suggest that might be right for you. In a published article of mine on film music themes, have a look at the theme from E.T., Example 30.

 

There I use a hybrid of classical and jazz symbols, and there's a chord that's very similar to yours: an inverted dominant 7th chord with a 9th (bar 2). Instead of putting the literal interval for the inverted 9th, I just put V4/2 (add9). And I realize it's not proper for either notation to do this (for jazz, add9 would mean there's no 7th, and for classical, you wouldn't have both inverted and uninverted symbols in the same chord), but I felt it got the point across more quickly and clearly than anything else, especially when I wanted to show a more classical perspective with Roman numerals, something like yourself. And none of the readers who reviewed the article complained about it, which is telling.

 

So the answer is, there is no answer. But that's the best I can come up with.

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3 minutes ago, First TROS March Accolyte said:

sort of idea behind prolonging the Kings Row fanfare into a longer piece anyway

 

You believe it was a conscious choice to have the opening sound like Kings Row?  I don't.

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50 minutes ago, First TROS March Accolyte said:

Nothing gets composed out of thin air, and Williams must have had some sort of reasoning and some sort of idea behind prolonging the Kings Row fanfare into a longer piece anyway. Both are in Bb major, and "Sleeping Beauty" feels like a perfect symbolic choice for what was supposed to follow the resurrected Alfred Newman's fanfare as an "awakening" of the music of old.

 

I think the structure came from the temp track for the original main title, which was Rosza's overture to Ivanhoe:

 

It has basically the same structure as the Star Wars main title, along with many other connections. Here are some of the commonalities between the two in terms of structure, which is what you're asking about (both are also centred on Bb major!):

 

  • Fanfare intro - 3 bars, quartal harmony
  • A section - Brass melody + orchestra hits between long notes
  • B section - String melody based on different motives than A section
  • A section - Return to brass melody

 

Where Williams' structure differs is in tightening the melody of each section to basically 4-bar phrases, making it easier to understand, easier to remember, and strengthening the march-like character it already has. But does Williams add an extra bar at the end of the B section, stretching the phrase out at the perfect time - right when we expect the A section to return, and so heightening our anticipation for it.

 

So I think the template for the main title was already there in the temp track. But as with all great composers who assimilate other composers' work and don't merely repeat it, Williams improves on the original!

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27 minutes ago, First TROS March Accolyte said:

Tell me what you think about my theory above.

 

You've managed to assign all kinds of imagined thoughts and opinions to me on your own.  So why don't you tell yourself what I think about your theory.

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3 hours ago, First TROS March Accolyte said:

In another thread I witnessed great scepticism as to whether it is definitely known what was the temp track to Star Wars, and what was Williams' choice. Do you have any resource?

 

The info is from Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars:

Quote

Before showing a cut of the film to John Williams, Lucas and Hirsch added to the temp track. The director had designed his film as a "silent movie," told primarily through its visuals and music, so great care was taken to obtain the right moods. "We used some Stravinsky, the flip side of The Rite of Spring," Hirsch remembers. "George said nobody ever uses that side of the record, so we used it for Threepio walking around in the desert. The Jawa music was from the same Stravinsky piece. We used music from Ivanhoe by Rózsa for the main title. George was talking about having a majority of the film set to music."

 

And someone's actually gone to the trouble of synching the Rosza up with the main title (use password "OT"):

https://vimeo.com/49976347

 

I think it still works pretty well, so is convincing as temp music.

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  • 1 month later...

Forgive me if this is the wrong thread to ask this, but I have an orchestration question. We know that John Williams likes doubling instruments with other sections for melodic lines. However, there are a few times I notice where he goes even further and has a bunch of different instruments combined in a way to create a very warm, blended, noble sonority that is really pleasing to listen to. A few times in the first two HP scores jump to mind, where double reeds will be playing a melody quietly with strings and quiet horns, rounded out by flutes and sometimes even some quiet mallet percussion and, in the HP movies especially, celeste.

My question is, which composers in the repertoire are known for doing this? I’d like to know where he may have gotten his inspiration for this sound from.
 

An example at 1:25 in this cue

 

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On 1/29/2020 at 3:39 PM, Montre said:

Forgive me if this is the wrong thread to ask this, but I have an orchestration question. We know that John Williams likes doubling instruments with other sections for melodic lines. However, there are a few times I notice where he goes even further and has a bunch of different instruments combined in a way to create a very warm, blended, noble sonority that is really pleasing to listen to. A few times in the first two HP scores jump to mind, where double reeds will be playing a melody quietly with strings and quiet horns, rounded out by flutes and sometimes even some quiet mallet percussion and, in the HP movies especially, celeste.

My question is, which composers in the repertoire are known for doing this? I’d like to know where he may have gotten his inspiration for this sound from.
 

An example at 1:25 in this cue

 

You get this in lots of romantic Russian music.  Definitely in the Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev ballets, Rimsky-Korsakov operas especially when evoking mystical which is frequent.  Here is an example from Prokofiev.  The melody starts in the low register so the double reeds and low strings start it and horns, violins, and higher winds join as it ascends.  At 3:10 the same thing is done again but in octaves.  Horns now play harmony but to me, JW is evoking Russian fairy tales like the composers I mentioned.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just...what in the heck is actually happening here?  It's from the Poulenc Mass in G (1937).  That ending chord gives me hair-standing-up goosebumps every time, I'm sort of addicted to listening to just these two measures over and over.

 

image.png

 

Here's where the measures are in the piece, at 0:46 - 0:51

 

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@Disco Stu There are two things happening here:

 

1. You are experiencing a perfectly natural, human reaction to an interesting section of music, and

2. The top F# comes from the ostinato in the previous bar. The C and G# come from the C# and G in the previous chord, "brought into" the B, which is constant across both chords (i.e. GBC# --> G#BC). The B itself goes up an octave to create a more open sound (or an open fifth in particular). For me that last chord is almost like a G# half-diminished 7th chord with the D brought down to a C.

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21 minutes ago, Loert said:

@Disco Stu There are two things happening here:

 

1. You are experiencing a perfectly natural, human reaction to an interesting section of music, and

2. The top F# comes from the ostinato in the previous bar. The C and G# come from the C# and G in the previous chord, "brought into" the B, which is constant across both chords (i.e. GBC# --> G#BC). The B itself goes up an octave to create a more open sound (or an open fifth in particular). For me that last chord is almost like a G# half-diminished 7th chord with the D brought down to a C.

 

I listen to mostly 20th century music so I guess I'm used to it with instrumental music, but there's something I would say uniquely thrilling about this kind of shifting chromaticism when expressed only with voices and I can't quite put my finger on why exactly.

 

Like the shifts happening in Caroline Shaw's Partita from 4:34 to 5:15.  It feels to me like it's an unbroken line from Poulenc to Shaw.

 

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  • 1 month later...

What is Shore doing in this little piece? Is this all "just" pianissimi strings playing tremolo, with the violas (?) doing a line later in the composition? Only at the very end do brass sneak in, but is there anything else going on I can't hear? And it's just two chords (that get augmented/diminished/Shore-stacked here and there), right? (Please bear with me...I'm a musical person, but never had any music theory lessons. Ta mucho! :))

 

 

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4 hours ago, Kühni said:

What is Shore doing in this little piece? Is this all "just" pianissimi strings playing tremolo, with the violas (?) doing a line later in the composition? Only at the very end do brass sneak in, but is there anything else going on I can't hear? And it's just two chords (that get augmented/diminished/Shore-stacked here and there), right? (Please bear with me...I'm a musical person, but never had any music theory lessons. Ta mucho! :))

 

I'd say that, besides the wispy mid-range tremolos, the main interest in the piece is its use of dissonance on top of basic triads. The progressions themselves are very straightforward and you could analyze them with textbook harmony.

 

But what's interesting is that when a line in the tremolo goes to a dissonant note, the original note is still being heard, so there's a dissonant clash between them. Usually, you would let the original note simply move into the dissonant note, then resolve it somehow. But Shore's treatment creates a blurrier sound that, together with the tremolos, add a poignance to the cue.

 

The opening, for example, goes something like this (top to bottom of texture) - the bold notes show the clash I'm talking about:

 

F --> E --> F

D ------------>

A ------------>

F --> F --> F

D ------------>

 

The chord at 0:34 is also unresolved - it's an Fsus4 that sounds like it should go to an FM chord, but doesn't. Another different aspect of the cue.

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5 hours ago, Kühni said:

What is Shore doing in this little piece? Is this all "just" pianissimi strings playing tremolo, with the violas (?) doing a line later in the composition? Only at the very end do brass sneak in, but is there anything else going on I can't hear? And it's just two chords (that get augmented/diminished/Shore-stacked here and there), right? (Please bear with me...I'm a musical person, but never had any music theory lessons. Ta mucho! :))

 

 

In addition to @Ludwig's observations, there is some instrumentation choices that add to the unsettling feel.  He's also doing several different types of tremolos (for example some are repeating the same note and other are playing an interval tremolo) at once.  He's probably dividing the first and second violins in three or four and they are all that is playing until the cello melody near the end.  The strings are probably muted and playing "sotto voce" which literally means "soft voice" like whispering but it is a string technique to play very softly. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can anyone help me decrypt the cluster-like sonority in Angela Morley's arrangement for It's Raining Day from Scott 3?

 

I can hear that it's divisi strings - divided half and half with some playing artificial harmonics and the others tremolo. Unveiling that is what sounds like a bowed vibraphone with the motor on, and then of course the mark tree that shepherds in the guitar and bass--an expectant Db(add9).

 

This Youtube comment describes the effect best:

 

"The genius of Angela Morley's string arrangement... that creeping uneasiness in the background - like overhead electricity pylons, lifting the hairs on the back of your neck skyward..."

 

 

 As a side note, this is probably my favourite song of all time.

 

Here's a live version with the great Sheffield crooner Richard Hawley on vox.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

It might interest you, @Ludwig, that in an interview for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra Williams said this:

Quote

Well, the Main Title of Star Wars was, I think, was about the last thing I wrote for the film. Probably eighty - a hundred minutes of music. And I've been dealing with all these battle scenes and spaceships and all of this... I'm not even sure if George Lucas showed me this... scroll, it says "in a place far away". I don't remember first seeing that, honestly. But I felt that after all the battles and the trumpets and cymbals and so on, that the opening of this film needed to be a blasting of orchestral fanfare. The second part of the theme I wrote first... which is the... remember the Throne Room scene at the end of first film? That became the middle theme of the Star Wars thing, I had that first and then I wrote the fanfare and put it together that way, trying to write the most arresting fanfare that I could.

Audio: https://vocaroo.com/856a8uo8HcN

 

unreliable narrator strikes back?

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4 hours ago, Fabulin said:

It might interest you, @Ludwig, that in an interview for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra Williams said this:

Audio: https://vocaroo.com/856a8uo8HcN

 

unreliable narrator strikes back?

 

I trust Williams on this, but for it to fully make sense, there may be a missing detail or two that explains things more fully. The (second) question he was asked was "what inspired you to write the main theme of Star Wars" and I think he interprets this as "what inspired you to write the main title of Star Wars". Otherwise his answer seems to say that he wrote Luke's theme as one of the last things in the score, which can't possibly be true.

 

That's fascinating that he says the B section of Luke's theme is really the B section of the Throne Room when it seems the other way around! That B section is also used in the statement of Luke's theme (in full ABA form) in Chasm Crossfire, when Luke swings across with Leia on the Death Star. So assuming Williams is recalling accurately, that would mean that he wrote the Throne Room first then decided that it's B section would be Luke's B section, whether he wrote Chasm Crossfire next or the main title. The point is that he wrote that music for the Throne Room first, and when it came time to write the main title, he imported the B section then arranged the A section of Luke's theme into that context rather than composed it then and there.

 

Also interesting that he wrote the main title's opening blast in response to music he had already written for (presumably) the Battle of Yavin. That the blast provides a measured balance with a musical highlight of the score is I think another reason why it works so well as an introduction to the film.

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On 2/18/2020 at 3:13 PM, Disco Stu said:

Just...what in the heck is actually happening here?  It's from the Poulenc Mass in G (1937).  That ending chord gives me hair-standing-up goosebumps every time, I'm sort of addicted to listening to just these two measures over and over.

 

image.png

 

Here's where the measures are in the piece, at 0:46 - 0:51

 

 

Just to add my interpretation to @Loert.'s -

 

At the heart of this movement is a bitonal tug-of-war game between B minor and it's dominant, F# Major. Neither key centre quite wins out, and at the closing measures in a masterstroke of compositional of guile, Poulenc reinterprets the F# as the dominant of B Major, forming an elegant Picardy cadence. The chord you highlight is a G#7#9, which is just the II7 chord in F#, spiced up with a Stravinskian false relation. Note that we've been primed with the genuine article, a G#m, at :09, so when this more colourful chord arrives it feels somewhat uncanny. As the G#3 generates a D#5 in the form of the third harmonic, Poulenc chooses to omit the fifth (a common jazz practice), and this along with way the chord's voiced lends it an open, ambiguous quality, that could lead one to read it as an appoggiatura chord derived from the previous sonority. Both are valid readings I think, but I'd argue there's merit in viewing this passage in the wider context of an expanded functional harmony.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ludwig said:

I trust Williams on this, but for it to fully make sense, there may be a missing detail or two that explains things more fully. The (second) question he was asked was "what inspired you to write the main theme of Star Wars" and I think he interprets this as "what inspired you to write the main title of Star Wars". Otherwise his answer seems to say that he wrote Luke's theme as one of the last things in the score, which can't possibly be true.

 

That's fascinating that he says the B section of Luke's theme is really the B section of the Throne Room when it seems the other way around! That B section is also used in the statement of Luke's theme (in full ABA form) in Chasm Crossfire, when Luke swings across with Leia on the Death Star. So assuming Williams is recalling accurately, that would mean that he wrote the Throne Room first then decided that it's B section would be Luke's B section, whether he wrote Chasm Crossfire next or the main title. The point is that he wrote that music for the Throne Room first, and when it came time to write the main title, he imported the B section then arranged the A section of Luke's theme into that context rather than composed it then and there.

 

Also interesting that he wrote the main title's opening blast in response to music he had already written for (presumably) the Battle of Yavin. That the blast provides a measured balance with a musical highlight of the score is I think another reason why it works so well as an introduction to the film.

Some say that the opening blast of Star Wars after that silence is like a universe being born. It's interesting to think that when Williams wrote it, he had already known that the rest of the film "needed" a really grandiose introduction. Going further and louder than Rózsa's fanfare was Williams's decision of decorum, not Lucas's, despite a reasonable prediction people have had that it "must have been" Lucas who wanted it to be this big. Yet another example how the input of others into this project made it not only better, but more sweeping than it was at the beginning (the rebel base in danger is a good one too).

 

The more we know about this score, the more interesting it gets. For example: some speculated for long that the decisions to use the music sparsely during some moments of the end battle were a proof of Williams's deliberate action, and if not, likely a decision made by Lucas. Paul Hirsch, however, in a recent interview for the Film Music Foundation talked long how he learned from Hitchcock and Herrmann when not to use music, and when to keep music for later, and what a great lesson that was. Considering the considerable input of his and of Marcia Lucas's in the editing, where in fact storytelling was still being done, it makes me think it was Hirsch who was behind the first attack run being silent. It's a textbook application.

 

What really blows me away now is that the great pay-off of the Main Title being reprised in the Throne Room victory scene was likely an afterthought.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Fabulin said:

What really blows me away now is that the great pay-off of the Main Title being reprised in the Throne Room victory scene was likely an afterthought.

 

Indeed! I've just been going over the score of the Throne Room again, looking through that B section. Traditionally, B sections are not completely different from their A sections, but more like developments of them. So you're bound to find an A section's motives, or developments of them, in a B section.

 

Here's what I noticed about the Throne Room (see music below). The B section's main two-bar figure is based on the A section in both the rhythm (the small change of the dotted rhythm being a small variant) and the contour (shown by the arrows, which show both the A and B section's directions of the notes). Then there's the climax of the B section (the second-last bar shown), which uses the exact same rhythm as in the A section opening (shown by the double-headed arrows and brackets). What's interesting, though, is that the B section's second bar starts with a triplet, just as the A section of Luke's theme does, so there is a connection to that theme as well, which may be why he thought of this B section as appropriate for that theme as well.

 

But I'm still reeling from Williams' statement that this music was written for the Throne Room then applied to Luke's theme. The motivic connections between the Throne Room A and B really seem to confirm that.

 

JNcJ8x.png

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ludwig said:

 

Indeed! I've just been going over the score of the Throne Room again, looking through that B section. Traditionally, B sections are not completely different from their A sections, but more like developments of them. So you're bound to find an A section's motives, or developments of them, in a B section.

 

Here's what I noticed about the Throne Room (see music below). The B section's main two-bar figure is based on the A section in both the rhythm (the small change of the dotted rhythm being a small variant) and the contour (shown by the arrows, which show both the A and B section's directions of the notes). Then there's the climax of the B section (the second-last bar shown), which uses the exact same rhythm as in the A section opening (shown by the double-headed arrows and brackets). What's interesting, though, is that the B section's second bar starts with a triplet, just as the A section of Luke's theme does, so there is a connection to that theme as well, which may be why he thought of this B section as appropriate for that theme as well.

 

But I'm still reeling from Williams' statement that this music was written for the Throne Room then applied to Luke's theme. The motivic connections between the Throne Room A and B really seem to confirm that.

One would usually expect that a theme progression will sound most natural in a presentation in which the composer originally intended it. Privately, I've always thought that the themes of the Main Title have been composed without taking into account whether they fit perfectly when sounded one after another.

 

It seems likely to me that Williams did indeed see a complete cut (with the title crawl) during the spotting session, even if he doesn't remember that ("place far away" ekhm). He must have known about the need to follow the Rózsa. But maybe he considered the main title as something that should be done at the very end of writing for the film? Not necessarily because of "drama first", but simply considering that this music did not have to be synced with anything other than the structure and duration. It must have seemed like a task that can be rushed if necessary, so is best left as a last thing to do. 

 

The Grail Diary (Making of Star Wars) gives us clues how to conclude the analysis: we should ask ourselves whether the music follows Dvorak's 9th better than the Ivanhoe, or vice versa? Dvorak's 9th must have been temp-painted all over not only the Throne Room, but the Death Star battle sequence as well.

 

So, what do you think?:

1. Does the music seem to have been composed in Bb or in Db/Bbm?

2. Do the connections to Rózsa seem more or less ingrained in the structure of the themes compared to those to Dvorak?

 

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1 hour ago, Fabulin said:

The Grail Diary (Making of Star Wars) gives us clues how to conclude the analysis: we should ask ourselves whether the music follows Dvorak's 9th better than the Ivanhoe, or vice versa? Dvorak's 9th must have been temp-painted all over not only the Throne Room, but the Death Star battle sequence as well.

. . .

2. Do the connections to Rózsa seem more or less ingrained in the structure of the themes compared to those to Dvorak?

 

I think, though, that the Dvorak was the model for the big Force theme statement in the Throne Room and not necessarily the (what we call) "Throne Room theme" that follows. Williams himself says (in The Making of Star Wars - also in the Anthology CD liner notes) that it was like the Elgar tune to "Land of Hope and Glory":

 

Quote

The entrance to the throne room has a big fanfare as they come in, and Ben's theme is used in a kind of parade way. . . . This is followed by the presentation of the medals, which is a theme I am very fond of. It is a kind of 'land of hope and glory' bit. It is almost like coronation music, really, which the scene seemed to want."

 

 

1 hour ago, Fabulin said:

1. Does the music seem to have been composed in Bb or in Db/Bbm?

 

There's no way to tell that given what we know. Honestly, I think the strongest corroborating evidence (and personally I think it's quite strong) is the motivic connections between the two sections of the Throne Room melody. It's a fundamental ingredient to the traditional rounded binary ABA form (which both the Throne Room and Luke's theme are in), despite many textbooks emphasizing a B section's contrast. And I'd sooner believe Williams with something that would be very important to him in the throes of composing the score like the order in which he wrote cues rather than, a specific wording of the title scroll, which, from a compositional point of view, doesn't really matter.

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1 hour ago, Ludwig said:

I think, though, that the Dvorak was the model for the big Force theme statement in the Throne Room and not necessarily the (what we call) "Throne Room theme" that follows. Williams himself says (in The Making of Star Wars - also in the Anthology CD liner notes) that it was like the Elgar tune to "Land of Hope and Glory":

 

There's no way to tell that given what we know. Honestly, I think the strongest corroborating evidence (and personally I think it's quite strong) is the motivic connections between the two sections of the Throne Room melody. It's a fundamental ingredient to the traditional rounded binary ABA form (which both the Throne Room and Luke's theme are in), despite many textbooks emphasizing a B section's contrast. And I'd sooner believe Williams with something that would be very important to him in the throes of composing the score like the order in which he wrote cues rather than, a specific wording of the title scroll, which, from a compositional point of view, doesn't really matter.

The motivic connections themselves do not give evidence of time or order the piece has been composed. Williams could have well composed The Throne Room starting with a Main Title in hand. You are absolutely right about Elgar though. The Elgar connection alone does not leave a shadow of doubt. Parts of Pomp and Circumstance 1 fit like a glove after a Dvorak opening and up until the early end credits, after which Dvorak has possibly been temped again.

.

.

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And as for human memory, it is more fallible than you think, even concerning "important matters", and that's not irrelevant in any investigation of oral accounts. He said he doesn't think he was shown the title crawl, despite the fact that Hirsch gave no indication that the cut and temp track were incomplete when the film was presented to the composer.

 

You said the following about Ivanhoe:

On 12/12/2019 at 6:58 PM, Ludwig said:

 

I think the structure came from the temp track for the original main title, which was Rosza's overture to Ivanhoe:

 

It has basically the same structure as the Star Wars main title, along with many other connections. Here are some of the commonalities between the two in terms of structure, which is what you're asking about (both are also centred on Bb major!):

 

  • Fanfare intro - 3 bars, quartal harmony
  • A section - Brass melody + orchestra hits between long notes
  • B section - String melody based on different motives than A section
  • A section - Return to brass melody

 

Where Williams' structure differs is in tightening the melody of each section to basically 4-bar phrases, making it easier to understand, easier to remember, and strengthening the march-like character it already has. But does Williams add an extra bar at the end of the B section, stretching the phrase out at the perfect time - right when we expect the A section to return, and so heightening our anticipation for it.

 

So I think the template for the main title was already there in the temp track. But as with all great composers who assimilate other composers' work and don't merely repeat it, Williams improves on the original!

How would you phrase the red part today?

 

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1 hour ago, Fabulin said:

The motivic connections themselves do not give evidence of time or order the piece has been composed. Williams could have well composed The Throne Room starting with a Main Title in hand. You are absolutely right about Elgar though. The Elgar connection alone does not leave a shadow of doubt. Parts of Pomp and Circumstance 1 fit like a glove after a Dvorak opening and up until the early end credits, after which Dvorak has possibly been temped again.

 

And as for human memory, it is more fallible than you think, even concerning "important matters", and that's not irrelevant in any investigation of oral accounts. He said he doesn't think he was shown the title crawl, despite the fact that Hirsch gave no indication that the cut and temp track were incomplete when the film was presented to the composer.

 

You said the following about Ivanhoe:

"It has basically the same structure as the Star Wars main title, along with many other connections. Here are some of the commonalities between the two in terms of structure, which is what you're asking about (both are also centred on Bb major!):

 

  • Fanfare intro - 3 bars, quartal harmony
  • A section - Brass melody + orchestra hits between long notes
  • B section - String melody based on different motives than A section
  • A section - Return to brass melody

 

Where Williams' structure differs is in tightening the melody of each section to basically 4-bar phrases, making it easier to understand, easier to remember, and strengthening the march-like character it already has. But does Williams add an extra bar at the end of the B section, stretching the phrase out at the perfect time - right when we expect the A section to return, and so heightening our anticipation for it.

 

So I think the template for the main title was already there in the temp track. But as with all great composers who assimilate other composers' work and don't merely repeat it, Williams improves on the original!"

 

How would you phrase the red part today?

 

 

I'd still say the same thing today, because I think what he took from Ivanhoe were broad strokes: the use of a quartal fanfare as an intro and the kind of orchestration for the theme proper. I see that I noticed back then as well that the motivic content is quite different between Luke's A and B sections. I think this new oral information from Williams that you've found now explains this nicely.

 

1 hour ago, Fabulin said:

The motivic connections themselves do not give evidence of time or order the piece has been composed. Williams could have well composed The Throne Room starting with a Main Title in hand.

 

True. Yes, you're of course right that memory can be fallible even for important things (and Williams has certainly misremembered before). In this case, I think when he said he wasn't shown the crawl, he was talking about the static "a long time ago" card since he did mention the "in a place far away" (!) line, he just referred to it confusingly as a crawl. So I wouldn't say he's misremembering in that sense. I don't think there's any way to know for sure, but I'd bet that he's correct in this case. Otherwise, we'd have to say his story is completely wrong - that he wrote the main title before the Throne Room and that the B section just happens to be more closely related to the latter even though it was composed with Luke's theme. That's why I say the motives are important - that the A and B sections are so closely related (even beginning both sections with the same rhythm and contour) bear out Williams' anecdotal evidence that he composed that music for the Throne Room rather than the main title.

 

As with much of the history of Williams' scores, we may never know for sure how they came to be, but I for one am convinced that he's remembered right with this one.

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36 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

(...) I see that I noticed back then as well that the motivic content is quite different between Luke's A and B sections. I think this new oral information from Williams that you've found now explains this nicely.

To think that the obvious has been there all along... I have thought for years that the two themes in the Main Title do not sound composed to perfectly fit back-to-back.

36 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

(...) As with much of the history of Williams' scores, we may never know for sure how they came to be, but I for one am convinced that he's remembered right with this one.

But at least we have quite a mystery solved! I bet there are not many people who know the most probable scenario behind both the Throne Room and the Main Title the way we do now :lol:

 

Normally I would consider playing the Throne Room as a reward, but I think I've had enough of it for a while... ;) 

 

Thank you very much for your analyses!

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On 5/31/2020 at 11:09 AM, lemoncurd said:

of course it can. I always say you don't need to be a cook in order to talk about food. ;)

 

Also worth noting that you don’t need to be a food critic in order to be a cook. Many great artists could write books about their field and have done so. Others no less brilliant wouldn’t know where to start.

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