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General Harmony/Orchestration/Theory Questions


Dixon Hill
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It always seemed odd to me that Padmé's Visit was missing from both the sketches and orchestrated cues leak. Could Williams have written it at a later date than the rest of the score?

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This is what I hear from the beginning of the chorale-style chords at 1:10 up to the Vader statement (volcanic explosions not notated!). A couple of places, I couldn't hear the lower parts very well, so I put question marks there.

The stemless notes are an approximation as to metric placement. There may be a few chords where there's another dissonance in there somewhere (like at the end of the second line, where there may be a full B minor chord along with the C, but maybe not).

Hope this is useful!

ROTS_Padme_s_Visit_excerpt.jpg

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Yo, can anyone help transcribe this dissonant chorale-like bit from ROTS? (1:21 up to the Vader quote at 2:46)

I love how increasingly twisted and Vaderish the harmony gets, as you're getting primed for the Vader theme to drop.

It's one of those unnoticed but awesome Williams moments. Nice perversion of the solemn "funeral" chords, isn't it?

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This is what I hear from the beginning of the chorale-style chords at 1:10 up to the Vader statement (volcanic explosions not notated!). A couple of places, I couldn't hear the lower parts very well, so I put question marks there.

The stemless notes are an approximation as to metric placement. There may be a few chords where there's another dissonance in there somewhere (like at the end of the second line, where there may be a full B minor chord along with the C, but maybe not).

Hope this is useful!

ROTS_Padme_s_Visit_excerpt.jpg

That's a brilliant job.

Just a couple of notes:

Chord 5: I think the voicing is lower - something like C2-C3-E3-G#3-A3

Chord 7: This sounds like Fm/E to me. Classic Williams/SW sonority that goes back to the original score

Chord 9: I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling it's Db2-F3-Ab3-A3-C4

Chord 10: Db2-Db4-F3-A3-Bb3. Voice leading wise it's not a big shift from the previous chord, plus it fits as transposition (T1) of the previous AmM7/C chord

Chord 28 (the last ?): G#madd9/B - B1-B2-D#3-G#3-A#3

Chord 29: B1-B2-D#3-G#3-A#3-B3

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Chord 5: I think the voicing is lower - something like C2-C3-E3-G#3-A3

Indeed it is. I also agree with all your additions of the lower octaves.

Chord 7: This sounds like Fm/E to me. Classic Williams/SW sonority that goes back to the original score

Unfortunately, there's a big "boom" right on the downbeat that pretty much covers the bass note, but as the boom dissipates, there's a hint of something. It helps to hear how it moves into the next chord, which I think you agree is Am (with A in the bass). I'm actually wondering if that mystery bass note isn't F since it sounds like the resolution to the bass A is coming from a lower note. That's why I initially put Ab, but now I'm almost convinced it's F. Would you agree?

Chord 9: I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling it's Db2-F3-Ab3-A3-C4

Chord 10: Db2-Db4-F3-A3-Bb3. Voice leading wise it's not a big shift from the previous chord, plus it fits as transposition (T1) of the previous AmM7/C chord

I don't hear any Db here, which I think would be more audible as a pungent dissonance. It's nice theoretically, but I hear a crystal clear major triad with F as the bass and a neighbor tone C-Bb-C motion overtop.

Chord 28 (the last ?): G#madd9/B - B1-B2-D#3-G#3-A#3

Chord 29: B1-B2-D#3-G#3-A#3-B3

Yes, I think that's right. I also agree that it's hard to know if Chord 28 is consistent through that bar, or whether the dissonant A# is picked up halfway through. I'd guess it's there from the start and just inaudible in the recording. These chorale-like chords seem to articulate all the voices at once rather than stagger them.

Here's a revised copy of the transcription with the above changes:

ROTS_Padme_s_Visit_excerpt_02.jpg

I would also point out that this excerpt draws on two devices we've discussed many times before in Williams' cues. The first is minor triads in parallel motion (mm. 1-3), though here in unusual (for Williams) first inversion. The second, and more prominent of the two devices is what I've called chordal "bristling" - that is, the use of semitonal dissonance against the notes of a triad. Some may be alternatively heard as seventh chords, like the AmM7 in m. 5. But in the context of other dissonances against triads that cannot be considered seventh chords, we probably hear even these mM7 chords as instances of bristling as well. This is reinforced by the contrast with several pure triads in the passage, which stand out against the others and create a dichotomy between consonant chords on one hand, and dissonant chords on the other.

A very Williams-esque treatment of triadic material.

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Chord 7: This sounds like Fm/E to me. Classic Williams/SW sonority that goes back to the original score

Unfortunately, there's a big "boom" right on the downbeat that pretty much covers the bass note, but as the boom dissipates, there's a hint of something. It helps to hear how it moves into the next chord, which I think you agree is Am (with A in the bass). I'm actually wondering if that mystery bass note isn't F since it sounds like the resolution to the bass A is coming from a lower note. That's why I initially put Ab, but now I'm almost convinced it's F. Would you agree?

I know it's really hard to discern, but try listening intently with headphones. I hear the V-I motion of E-A clearly. It's one of those unique polytonal sounds - a minor chord with a pedal on the major 7th - it sticks out.

Chord 9: I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling it's Db2-F3-Ab3-A3-C4

Chord 10: Db2-Db4-F3-A3-Bb3. Voice leading wise it's not a big shift from the previous chord, plus it fits as transposition (T1) of the previous AmM7/C chord

I don't hear any Db here, which I think would be more audible as a pungent dissonance. It's nice theoretically, but I hear a crystal clear major triad with F as the bass and a neighbor tone C-Bb-C motion overtop.

I agree, but at least keep the Ab. There's definitely a minor/Major going on, as with the next chord - not a pure triad. I'd say F1-F2-C3-F3-G#-A-C to Bb1-Bb2-Db3-F3-A-Bb. The previous tonic-dominant bass motion transposed.

I would also point out that this excerpt draws on two devices we've discussed many times before in Williams' cues. The first is minor triads in parallel motion (mm. 1-3), though here in unusual (for Williams) first inversion. The second, and more prominent of the two devices is what I've called chordal "bristling" - that is, the use of semitonal dissonance against the notes of a triad. Some may be alternatively heard as seventh chords, like the AmM7 in m. 5. But in the context of other dissonances against triads that cannot be considered seventh chords, we probably hear even these mM7 chords as instances of bristling as well. This is reinforced by the contrast with several pure triads in the passage, which stand out against the others and create a dichotomy between consonant chords on one hand, and dissonant chords on the other.

A very Williams-esque treatment of triadic material.

Well said, although I'd disagree that planing first inversion chords are particularly unusual for Williams. He tends to throw them in for a darker, more sombre mood.

@0:15

There's more examples, but that's what first came to mind.

About the bristling... maybe it's time to come with a system for labelling Williams's most frequently used bristled chords? Something like Forte Numbers?

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Chord 7: This sounds like Fm/E to me. Classic Williams/SW sonority that goes back to the original score

Unfortunately, there's a big "boom" right on the downbeat that pretty much covers the bass note, but as the boom dissipates, there's a hint of something. It helps to hear how it moves into the next chord, which I think you agree is Am (with A in the bass). I'm actually wondering if that mystery bass note isn't F since it sounds like the resolution to the bass A is coming from a lower note. That's why I initially put Ab, but now I'm almost convinced it's F. Would you agree?

I know it's really hard to discern, but try listening intently with headphones. I hear the V-I motion of E-A clearly. It's one of those unique polytonal sounds - a minor chord with a pedal on the major 7th - it sticks out.

Yes, I think you're right about that. Ok, E it is.

Chord 9: I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling it's Db2-F3-Ab3-A3-C4

Chord 10: Db2-Db4-F3-A3-Bb3. Voice leading wise it's not a big shift from the previous chord, plus it fits as transposition (T1) of the previous AmM7/C chord

I don't hear any Db here, which I think would be more audible as a pungent dissonance. It's nice theoretically, but I hear a crystal clear major triad with F as the bass and a neighbor tone C-Bb-C motion overtop.

I agree, but at least keep the Ab. There's definitely a minor/Major going on, as with the next chord - not a pure triad. I'd say F1-F2-C3-F3-G#-A-C to Bb1-Bb2-Db3-F3-A-Bb. The previous tonic-dominant bass motion transposed.

There's a bit of a warble to the sound in these chords, but I don't think that's due to the way the chord is written. I'm listening with headphones, and when I turn the volume up louder than normal, the brass shines through with a pure triad. Also note the virtual sequence of these bars in mm. 13-14, which both begin with pure triads. It's not an airtight case, but fairly strong, I would say.

I would also point out that this excerpt draws on two devices we've discussed many times before in Williams' cues. The first is minor triads in parallel motion (mm. 1-3), though here in unusual (for Williams) first inversion. The second, and more prominent of the two devices is what I've called chordal "bristling" - that is, the use of semitonal dissonance against the notes of a triad. Some may be alternatively heard as seventh chords, like the AmM7 in m. 5. But in the context of other dissonances against triads that cannot be considered seventh chords, we probably hear even these mM7 chords as instances of bristling as well. This is reinforced by the contrast with several pure triads in the passage, which stand out against the others and create a dichotomy between consonant chords on one hand, and dissonant chords on the other.

A very Williams-esque treatment of triadic material.

Well said, although I'd disagree that planing first inversion chords are particularly unusual for Williams. He tends to throw them in for a darker, more sombre mood.

Ok, I believe you on that. It's at least less common than the old planed root-position triads though, isn't it?

About the bristling... maybe it's time to come with a system for labelling Williams's most frequently used bristled chords? Something like Forte Numbers?

What about this:

M+n, where M is a major triad and n is the number of semitones above the root that the bristling note lies (regardless of octave displacement)

m+n, same but for minor triads

e.g., the chord ending m. 13 would be M+1.

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What about this:

M+n, where M is a major triad and n is the number of semitones above the root that the bristling note lies (regardless of octave displacement)

m+n, same but for minor triads

e.g., the chord ending m. 13 would be M+1.

All I see now are mass spectrometry peaks :P

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  • 1 month later...

First two sound like Aaug/D, Eaug/Eb... maybe some other dissonances hiding in there? These moments we pick always have the muddiest instrumentation possible!

Similar passage to around 7:00 here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkJYzvNM6z8

Also slightly reminds me of part of a sequence I based the first movement of my big "student" symphony-thing on, similar to what Jerry did in The Search Continues.

Six part chords, two horns on each of the three top notes, two trombones each on the fourth and fifth, two tubas on the bottom. Doubled by a smooth/evolving synth pad. From bottom to top: (D, Bb, C, F, Bb, D), (Eb, Gb, Db, F, Ab, C), (C, G, D, F#, B, E), (Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, C, Eb)

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Wonderful cue that; didn't you ask me to analyse it a year or two ago? Wish Zimmer would revisit that soundworld again.

I also love that very Herrmannesque passage in the Bane suite (6:06-9:27). Always imagined that would be used for a montage of Bane growing up in the pit. Was disappointed when I saw the film.

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Like the sound of that student piece! What would call that Hearwtood-like approach to harmony? Extended tonality? Third stream?

Here's my take on the 8 chords.

From bottom to top.

1. Db2-Ab3-A3-Db4-F4

2. Eb2-E3-Gb3-C4-E4

x2

3. C2-F#3-G3-B3-Eb4

4. Db2-Ab3-Bb3-D4-E4

5. A1-E3-F3-A3-C#4

6. B1-Gb3-Ab3-C4-E4

7. ?

8. ?

It gets way too foggy to hear those last two chords!

BTW, what are the influences behind that motorik 5/4 cluster motif for Bane? Obviously there's Stravinsky and Bartok, but any others?

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Here's my take on the 8 chords.

From bottom to top.

1. Db2-Ab3-A3-Db4-F4

2. Eb2-E3-Gb3-C4-E4

x2

3. C2-F#3-G3-B3-Eb4

4. Db2-Ab3-Bb3-D4-E4

5. A1-E3-F3-A3-C#4

6. B1-Gb3-Ab3-C4-E4

7. ?

8. ?

Sounds good but are you sure that first one is a Db in the bass and not a D natural? Hard to tell.

BTW, what are the influences behind that motorik 5/4 cluster motif for Bane? Obviously there's Stravinsky and Bartok, but any others?

Definitely those two. Not sure what else he might have heard... of course his interview schtick at the time was to tout it as using an orchestra "like never before." :lol:

Like the sound of that student piece! What would call that Hearwtood-like approach to harmony? Extended tonality? Third stream?

I remember thinking through it as two independent progressions - so bitonal, but with each component not necessarily being triadic. Lots of suspensions that don't resolve anywhere. Certainly a bit jazzy. Of course these days I just pick notes almost at random instead of trying to justify it so much! It's more about just finding the right feeling than knowing what to call it. I love the second chord in particular. It feels like... well, tough to describe haha.

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  • 1 month later...

Will post a longer response later today, but I hear the final two chords before the tutti C as A-D-F-Bb and Ab-E-G-B over a pedal Db. It not only sounds right, but it also makes sense in terms of voice-leading.

Awesome piece BTW.

Edit: Shit couldn't help it..

To save time we'll label the A-D-F-Bb chord X, and Ab-E-G-B is chord Y.

A > Fm > Bm >

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

Eb >

G-->

A > F > Bm

F#---------->

Eb (or Gm) >

B---------------->

F#m > Fm > Bm >

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

Db >

A-->

G > Bm7 > X > Y > C

Db-------------------> C

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Not at all. Sounds right to me at the piano. That's some great jazzy stuff right there. And orchestrated in a really interesting way. Love those clashes.

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I wouldn't go any higher or lower than a whole tone, and make sure your players aren't using synthetic strings--they're much more likely to break.

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I wouldn't go any higher or lower than a whole tone, and make sure your players aren't using synthetic strings--they're much more likely to break.

So I shouldn't have any problem tuning a viola's C-string to Bb?

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I wouldn't go any higher or lower than a whole tone, and make sure your players aren't using synthetic strings--they're much more likely to break.

So I shouldn't have any problem tuning a viola's C-string to Bb?

Not at all.

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I've got a not so important question, but I want to know two things about the following piece of music

1. How many trumpets do we have here? And what chords are they playing?

2. How do you get those trumpets to play and sound like that? Not just from the players, but from the recording studio also. It may seem silly, but it's been eating me up to know

Thanks in advance!

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I've got a not so important question, but I want to know two things about the following piece of music

1. How many trumpets do we have here? And what chords are they playing?

2. How do you get those trumpets to play and sound like that? Not just from the players, but from the recording studio also. It may seem silly, but it's been eating me up to know

Thanks in advance!

This is just big band stuff. Probably small orchestra like 35 piece. I would assume 17 brass, 12 strings, and 5 or so perc/rhythm. So stylstically, this is like 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 horns, drum kit, upright bass, piano, 4 saxes, 12 winds, and 12 or so strings. It is typical of the vintage Disney style. Very well written and arranged. These were pros.

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The final sound product is most likely result of the space they were recording in and the loss of fidelity (either by accident or design) when transferring it to film.

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George Bruns was a great arranger and big band writer. Love his Disney scores.

Karelm covered the ensemble size, though I'd add for the recording, look at old condenser mics such as the RCA Ribbons and the old Neumanns (U47, U87 etc.) and maybe a valve preamp.

Plus having jazz cats play it will help.

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Thanks guys! Loving those old mics :) And yeah, I adore Bruns scores. I especially think he made a fantastic job arranging the songs and making them sound perfectly at home with the rest of the score.

I can never get enough of this trumpet at the end of Jungle Book

Wish I could play like that!

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I do, actually! But I suck with the high notes.

Maybe it's the way you utilize your embouchure and your breath control. How strong would you say your lips are?

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I think my lips are fine, the problem is more with running out of breath or not knowing to control it well. Sometimes I end up doing a lot of pressure with my mouth instead of making it come out of the diaphragm. And also don't practice as much as I should, living in an apartment and all... Thank God I have the headphones for my piano :)

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I think my lips are fine, the problem is more with running out of breath or not knowing to control it well. Sometimes I end up doing a lot of pressure with my mouth instead of making it come out of the diaphragm. And also don't practice as much as I should, living in an apartment and all... Thank God I have the headphones for my piano :)

Breath control is very important. I too am a brass player and need to do those 8 bar crescendo's too. How long have you been playing? The odds are you aren't using your full lungs. Do this...inhale as much as you can. And then - breath in. You will feel like you are going to pop. Hold the air and feel the lungs can't hold any more. Now, play pianissimo in high register.

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I've been playing on and off since I'm 15 or 16 I think -I'm 23 now- and now that I've been a couple of years in a choir I find it surprising how much singing and playing the trumpet can have in common, at least in terms of how you have to use the diaphragm.

I'll try your technique, thank you kindly! I managed to get close to one minute so far :lol:

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Any chance someone could transcribe the first 30 seconds of The House Of Beorn in very basic format and either put it up here or upload the file?

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That looks and sounds right, sorry I didn't see it before. I absolutely love that kind of thing, and it's all over the place around that era.

*Pause*

NOT RACHMANINOFF! IT'S THE F***IN' "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" BY MOZART!

MOZART!

*Clears throat*

Sorry. That needed to be said for the benefit of the young people.

Back to this wonderful musical number within a film.

*Play*

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It comes from Debussy and Ravel, right?

Mmm. Or Koechlin or Milhaud.

Goddammit. Why can't someone publish Koechlin's music?

Always loved that kind of action cues Bruns did like in Sharky's clip from 2:28 onwards. Always sounded like a serious adventure film!

Gotta love those Maj/min stinger chords with the plungered trumpets. Wild!

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