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John Williams: Unpopular Opinions


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I love how Williams reacted to the more cartoony, puppet infused nature of the movie and out of self-defense went balls-out Prokofiev mode, writing a fantasia for eclectic weirdo creatures.

Unpopular Opinion:   I've never been able to get into Hook.  I dig the 'Prologue' concert suite, but that's about it.

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  • 5 months later...

John Williams' film music sometimes feels like it's been "packaged" too much, like he's handing over some music which has been wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a pretty red ribbon rather than the raw music itself. I wish Williams would let his hair down once in a while (like in his concert works).

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2 hours ago, Loert said:

John Williams' film music sometimes feels like it's been "packaged" too much, like he's handing over some music which has been wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a pretty red ribbon rather than the raw music itself. I wish Williams would let his hair down once in a while (like in his concert works).

I feel like most film composers are like that.  Morricone is the best film example I can think of somebody who can write "raw unpolished" music (he's not afraid to go "out-there").  

Though John Williams's "polish" is one of the reasons I find his output so consistently satisfying.

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19 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

Beethoven and Bach deserve to be deemed favorites.  They are genuinely head and shoulders above the rest.

Beethoven is basically Thanos. Only he wiped out the hopes of half of the composers after him xD

On some he has an opposite effect, of course. Makes them want to take up the gauntlet (since 1800s)

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5 hours ago, Loert said:

John Williams' film music sometimes feels like it's been "packaged" too much, like he's handing over some music which has been wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a pretty red ribbon rather than the raw music itself. I wish Williams would let his hair down once in a while (like in his concert works).

 

What do you mean with "packaged"?

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13 hours ago, Knox Harrington said:

 

I think I know what you mean and I agree.  This is probably just the price of working for Hollywood.  Even a craftsman from beginning to end like Williams has to deliver "the product" in that kind of environment.  And forget about countless others who all share a handful of the same orchestrators which leads to an incredible homogeneity and polished shine on so much of what comes out of this town.  Now contrast this with outsiders like Goldenthal, Shore, Morricone yada yada yada...from them you'll hear something which to me anyway seems far less assembly line produced.

 

So, if I understand correctly, you and @Loert are referring to the fact that JW basically does not experiment very much with orchestration and/or unconventional techniques? And, because of that, his works consistently sound very good (i.e., they run along established lines), but not "surprising". If this is the point, I understand it and agree to some extent. In fairness, the other composers that you mentioned experienced rather different working situations. For example, Morricone has hundreds of titles to his name, but many of them are rather small-sized scores, compared to an average JW one (in terms of the amount of music that needs to be physically written down). Then, Morricone had more time and possibilities to do unconventional stuff, and even some of his techniques in this regard allowed him to save further time. One of the techniques he experimented with, consists in a sort of modular composition, where he writes down a score for, say, three or four different ensembles that can play all simultaneously, or two at a time, or three at a time, etcetera. Then, he gets many different cues (or possibilities for the same cue, among which the director can choose) by just combining the ensembles in different ways (e.g., one cue will be that score played by ensembles 1 and 4, another cue the same score played by ensembles 2 and 3 and 4, and so on). An example is this piece, where he applied that principle sequentially:

 

 

Of course, such an approach would not work if the request is to write 2 hours of symphonic poem that should also match the action in the movie in some detail. It's just a different world of scoring and, indeed, I don't see much room in Hollywood for these things, at least nowadays. It's already amazing that JW has managed to write so much top quality stuff in such a relatively little amount of time. 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Montre said:

I vastly prefer JW’s style in cues like Fighting with Grievous, The Whomping Willow (POA), and the Chase through Coruscant over his style when he wrote The Asteroid Field, The Battle of Hoth, and similar cues from that time.

 

That's indeed an unpopular opinion!

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On 9/11/2019 at 7:02 AM, Montre said:

I vastly prefer JW’s style in cues like Fighting with Grievous, The Whomping Willow (POA), and the Chase through Coruscant over his style when he wrote The Asteroid Field, The Battle of Hoth, and similar cues from that time.

It's basically rhythm vs melody.

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I have to say: I'm not a fan of Kylo Ren's theme, both of them. They're too agressive, too epic, and just too outward evil, for a character that is not as powerful or cruel or menacing as Vader or even Maul. I think this is a theme for a more frightening character than poor Ben Solo. 

 

I wish Williams was a little more subtle with the theme. Like, he has to address the menace the character represents (he is - so far - the main antagonist, lol), but also wrote about his inner conflicts, him being "torn apart" on the inside, anyway... It's not the character is the most complex villain ever written (far from it), but he presented an opportunity for great psychological scoring by Williams.

 

Unless Williams is being more subtle than we know, and Kylo's terrifying themes are how he sees himself, as a powerful and fearsome Sith and the rightful heir to Darth Vader - until, of course, he discovers the sad truth.

 

That said, I loved the performances of his theme when he is destroying his helmet and then when he realizes he has been tricked by Luke.

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Kylo Ren's horn motif is similar to the Jaws theme. Reminds me of something that could play when a beast of some sort enters the room. Chaotic danger. Maniac evil. Not much character.

 

In my view it fits the emo well.

 

It's not quite the same as the militaristic, 1940sh little fanfare for Vader in 1977.

 

Edit: the trombone and trumpet version in TFA is not the same as the fanfare for Vader either. It lacks the Third Reich vibe, and resembles more... the USSR (I can't quite identify why)

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