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Which Cues Showcase JW's Use of Percussion?


artguy360
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As a big JW fan, I am particularly a fan of how he uses the percussion section of the orchestra. But I can't say I'm actually all that familiar with cues that use a lot of percussion or feature percussion in interesting ways. So I hope this thread can be a place where we share personal favorites or just cues where JW features cool percussion. 

 

One cue that does come to mind is the chase from AOTC:

It's got a lot of different drums in there along with some nice drum solos. Really fun piece.

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The classic Forest Battle from ROTJ comes to mind immediately. Saw this performed live and my God did the percussion section have a workout. I've still no idea, having never seen the score, what the huge wooden mallet percussion instrument is actually called - just that it looks impressive performed at that speed, especially when in unison with xylophone and glockenspiel :D

 

 

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I'd love to see John Williams do a percussion concerto one day. It's about the only instrument he's not written a concerto for. For all the percussion talent that runs in his family (his father and two brothers, for one), surely he must have inherited some of it.

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19 minutes ago, Thor said:

I'd love to see John Williams do a percussion concerto one day. It's about the only instrument he's not written a concerto for. For all the percussion talent that runs in his family (his father and two brothers, for one), surely he must have inherited some of it.

God yes. I think I even said so in another thread. The concert suite for Catch Me If You Can which features a ton of vibraphone made me even more curious about what JW could do with a percussion concerto.

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

I'd love to see John Williams do a percussion concerto one day. It's about the only instrument he's not written a concerto for. For all the percussion talent that runs in his family (his father and two brothers, for one), surely he must have inherited some of it.

 

Has he written a concerto for the trombone? I know the tuba concerto is also arranged for trombone but sharing a concerto isn't the same and the trombone was one of his instruments.

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Not to forget his fabulous timpani solos, like the one in The Battle of Yavin. And the antiphonal timpanis in War of the Worlds.

3 hours ago, Thor said:

I'd love to see John Williams do a percussion concerto one day. It's about the only instrument he's not written a concerto for.

 

Aside from the obvious one: The piano.

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0:18 - 2:24 - Not a flamboyant showcase by any means, but the build-up is very effective (just like the percussion interlude in "To Pankot Palace" as Corellian2019 already mentioned, as well as the sacrifice scene mentioned by Thor). It also reminds me of another cue I like a lot, "Ewok's Feast" from ROTJ. I especially like the (barely audible) sliding timpani starting at 0:49, which initially only supports the rest of the instruments periodically, but by the end becomes a constant texture heard in the background, sliding up and down in an almost dizzying manner. It returns at 4:51 in a wilder context. 2:54-3:00 is awesome as well.

 

Another good one is Grave Robbers:

 

 

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The Happy Birthday variations contains a fantastic variation on percussion (35 seconds in), with timpani/chimes taking the melody supplemented by snare/piatti - leads into a glorious harp passage, followed by a classic Williams-sounding passage on glockenspiel/mallet percussion. 

 

 

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Ooo, that reminds me! Listen to the percussion from 2:24 here:

 

 

I just love the way all those clicks and clacks support the piano! :D And check out 6:17 too - hilarious! 

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8 hours ago, Thor said:

I'd love to see John Williams do a percussion concerto one day. It's about the only instrument he's not written a concerto for. For all the percussion talent that runs in his family (his father and two brothers, for one), surely he must have inherited some of it.

 

JW always said that "Images" is a percussion concerto, with chamber orchestra.

 

 

4 hours ago, Romão said:

War of the Worlds does have some terrific writing for the Timpani

 

:) Especially the city escape cue.

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9 hours ago, Thor said:

Ha! True; weird that we never think of the piano as a percussion instrument.

 

While I didn't actually mention the piano in relation to the thread topic above, I love it when Williams uses it as a percussion instrument, e.g. the "piano slam" in Lost World's The Hunt.

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5 hours ago, TheWhiteRider said:

 

I was quoting an odd post someone else made a few days ago.  I'm as baffled as you are by it.

 

 

Hey, man, what does "baffled" mean?:lol:

 

 

6 hours ago, Bespin said:

This thread is very strange, you list all the cues I hate the most. It's like telekinesia! :sarcasm:

 

 

Back the hard drive up a bit. You hate "Images"??!!

It is against the law for any JWfaner to hate " Images ".

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16 hours ago, TheWhiteRider said:

I reckon his concert music gives percussion a more extensive workout than most of his scores do.

 

I wonder why that is. Maybe It's to do with sound effects occupying a lot of the frequency spectrum that percussion normally does. White, pink noise etc. 

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5 hours ago, Richard said:

It is against the law for any JWfaner to hate " Images ".

 

If I can freely translate the passage of a well-known Georges Brassens song:

"The plural is worth nothing to the man

And as soon as we are more of four we are a bunch of idiots.
Stand apart, hell's teeth! It is my rule and I hold it.
Among the shouts of wolves we do not hear mine."

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6 hours ago, Bespin said:

 

If I can freely translate the passage of a well-known Georges Brassens song:

"The plural is worth nothing to the man

And as soon as we are more of four we are a bunch of idiots.
Stand apart, hell's teeth! It is my rule and I hold it.
Among the shouts of wolves we do not hear mine."

 

 

A whaaaat?

 

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I like how in the raider's march the glockenspiel plays the melody on the last time it's played. Brightens it up a lot. 

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20 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

While I didn't actually mention the piano in relation to the thread topic above, I love it when Williams uses it as a percussion instrument, e.g. the "piano slam" in Lost World's The Hunt.

 

Ah, yes Johnny's piano clusters. Love this nerve-jangling bit in JP. Donkey's jawbone + "huge bass drum" + "lowest cluster" + small triangle = instant win.

 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, king mark said:

Also Werewolf Scene in PoA

Oh that's another good one. 

 

Thanks for the great suggestions so far everyone! I think I totally forgot about all the percussion featured in TLW.

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I've always enjoyed his use of traditional Irish percussion instruments in Far and Away, particularly in The Fighting Donnellys cue.

 

 

And the percussion section is quite fleshed out in concert version of The Knight Bus from PoA, more so in my opinion than on the OST.

 

 

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