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mrpink

7th on the bottom?

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I first came across this in the Emilio Audissino book and been fascinated by it since...

 

Audissino repeatedly claims that JW uses a minor chord with the "7th on the bottom" to denote the bad guys (especially Nazis!) but is it a minor 7th or major 7th?  I asked Conrad Pope on Facebook and he said the former (ie. E natural, F, Ab, C).  He pointed me towards the Himalayan bar scene in ROTLA for an example.  Allegedly, it's something JW learned from Max Steiner...  

 

Are there any other places this can be found in JW scores?  Any found in the signature edition scores?  I really want to know how this chord gets orchestrated.

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If it's what I'm thinking of, I think there's an example in Raptors in the Kitchen.

 

Edit: No, I'm thinking of the decending figure at the start of The Basket Chase (extended not OST) just before the scherzo begins, which sounds a bit like the four note predator motif from JP (particularly the slow reading on double basses in RITK).

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2 hours ago, mrpink said:

Audissino repeatedly claims that JW uses a minor chord with the "7th on the bottom" to denote the bad guys (especially Nazis!) but is it a minor 7th or major 7th?

 

Well it's certainly a major 7th above the root. The chord itself is the minor major seventh chord, the version with the 7th in the bottom is the same chord, 3rd inversion.

 

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2 minutes ago, Kühni said:

If I weren't a quarter down a bottle of Apricot Liqueur, I would completely get what you're talking about. I'll get back to you...

 

Blech!  You are gonna have one helluva hangover drinking that sticky sweet stuff.

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3 hours ago, mrpink said:

I first came across this in the Emilio Audissino book and been fascinated by it since...

 

Audissino repeatedly claims that JW uses a minor chord with the "7th on the bottom" to denote the bad guys (especially Nazis!) but is it a minor 7th or major 7th?  I asked Conrad Pope on Facebook and he said the former (ie. E natural, F, Ab, C).  He pointed me towards the Himalayan bar scene in ROTLA for an example.  Allegedly, it's something JW learned from Max Steiner...  

 

Are there any other places this can be found in JW scores?  Any found in the signature edition scores?  I really want to know how this chord gets orchestrated.

 

We had a discussion about this very thing a number of years ago now and found some examples in The Last Crusade rather than ROTLA, as was implied by the editing of the Nazi entrance over the part of the interview where Williams was talking about "7th on the bottom".

 

Though the examples we found were not the minor-major 7th, but dominant 7ths. If Johnny really meant the former, then we still don't know what he's talking about for Indy scores.

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Quick query from a musical (half)-illiterate: which direction do I have to think with (major/minor) sevenths? Can't I just call them "downwards" minor/major seconds (does inversion figure into this)? Does it even matter, other than the voicing of the chord, whether I go C-D-E♭-G, or C-E♭-G-D' (I ask because, while knowing the vocabulary, I've never had a musical education myself, so my writing D' is probably wrong to begin with. Ta!)

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C-E-G-B♭ is a major-minor 7th

because of the major 3rd (C-E)

and the minor 7th (C-B♭)

 

Not sure where you got the D.

Not sure if that addresses your question at all.

This combination of tones would be analyzed as a seventh and not a “downward second” regardless of inversion. But inversion does “even matter” (as much as any of this matters).

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10 hours ago, mrpink said:

I first came across this in the Emilio Audissino book and been fascinated by it since...

 

Audissino repeatedly claims that JW uses a minor chord with the "7th on the bottom" to denote the bad guys (especially Nazis!) but is it a minor 7th or major 7th?  I asked Conrad Pope on Facebook and he said the former (ie. E natural, F, Ab, C).  He pointed me towards the Himalayan bar scene in ROTLA for an example.  Allegedly, it's something JW learned from Max Steiner...  

 

Are there any other places this can be found in JW scores?  Any found in the signature edition scores?  I really want to know how this chord gets orchestrated.

I think you are missing the point.  In jazz voicing, the point is to soften the dissonance.  All JW is saying is that he is emphasizing the dissonance for bad characters.  That makes sense for simple characterizations.  Typical jazz voicing will separate the 7th.  JW is emphasizing it for villainous characters which puts the E natural next to the F emphasizing the minor second dissonance.  The evil character.  That is all he was saying.  Nothing mystical here.  Very basic stuff.  He is saying "don't make the villains sound pretty" and nothing else. 

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3 minutes ago, karelm said:

I think you are missing the point.  In jazz voicing, the point is to soften the dissonance.  All JW is saying is that he is emphasizing the dissonance for bad characters.  That makes sense for simple characterizations.  Typical jazz voicing will separate the 7th.  JW is emphasizing it for villainous characters which puts the E natural next to the F emphasizing the minor second dissonance.  The evil character.  That is all he was saying.  Nothing mystical here.  Very basic stuff.

For whatever reason, your final analysis reminds me of Nimoy's last line:

 

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7 hours ago, Kühni said:

which direction do I have to think with (major/minor) sevenths? Can't I just call them "downwards" minor/major seconds (does inversion figure into this)?

 

Like Pallaeon I'm a little confused by your question. In the key of C, the (major) 7 would be B... I'm not sure why you would want to refer it as a downward minor second (?), especially if it puts you at risk of thinking of the actual second scale degree by mistake (D in the case of C). Is there a certain organizational hurdle you're trying to get through? 

 

 

7 hours ago, Pellaeon said:

Not sure where you got the D.

 

 

Oh we know where he got the D!

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13 hours ago, Tom said:

For whatever reason, your final analysis reminds me of Nimoy's last line:

 

That's high praise.  The joy of that scene is of course Spock is known for his impeccable logic and Spock and Nimoy are one and the same except here we discover Nimoy to be a logical imbecilic.  

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12 hours ago, Nick Parker said:

 

 

Like Pallaeon I'm a little confused by your question. In the key of C, the (major) 7 would be B... I'm not sure why you would want to refer it as a downward minor second (?), especially if it puts you at risk of thinking of the actual second scale degree by mistake (D in the case of C). Is there a certain organizational hurdle you're trying to get through? 

 

 

 

 

Oh we know where he got the D!

 

Still hasn't happened...other than the PhD.

 

The c-minor with the added D was just a general example that I used, it didn't pertain to the issue of the 7th chord. My apologies for the confusion.

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"7th on the Bottom: Interpreting the Utterances of Holy Mystic John Towner Williams," by J.W. Fan, as read by Clive Revill Ian McDiarmid

"This audio book is a wonderful addition to our great repertoire of hermeneutical texts, though I hope there'll be an opportunity to expand on the themes, have some closure and make it truly frickin' awesome, if I can put it that way" – Johnny Williams

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In general, Williams loves to add the 7th on the bottom, both in major and minor chords, all over his scores, in all sorts of contexts. Often it is just to add the the coloration of a chord. So it’s not so straightforward that you can boil it down to “he means evil when he uses it”.

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1 hour ago, Disco Stu said:

In the final grand chord of the Raiders March "B Theme", I see that the brass section has two C major seventh chords stacked on top of each other, both using the third inversion with "the seventh on the bottom".

 

I would expect my ears to be able to at least subtly detect that dissonance of the minor second intervals between the Bs and Cs.  But it always sounds like a normal C major chord to me.  I don't really have a question here, I'm just not sure why.

7th at the bottom and masked dissonance at the same time?

 

We only lack a triplet :lol:

 

Sadly the only thing I can offer you is the comfort that there is at least one "moron" more ignorant than you :) 

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7 minutes ago, Falstaft said:

wonder if, when Williams made that well-scrutinized remark about 7ths on the bottom, he distinct had instrumental choirs, rather than actual sounding bass note of the whole orchestra, in mind. That's would be much more how an arranger, especially a jazz arranger with a sense of various drop voicings & such, would conceptualize inversion. 

 

It would definitely line up with how he writes, especially for these big series like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

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20 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

When I taught this stuff, I'm sure if I gave an ear test on this chord, even many top students would say was a plain C major chord, not because there's something wrong with their ears, but because of their training and what they "expect" to hear based on what they're taught. So I'm sure you're not alone!

 

I also notice clicking around random Youtube videos of people playing the Raiders March on piano, that a lot of people play it as a standard C Major triad.

 

Like this guy!  :D

 

image.png

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3 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I would expect my ears to be able to at least subtly detect that dissonance of the minor second intervals between the Bs and Cs.  But it always sounds like a normal C major chord to me.  I don't really have a question here, I'm just not sure why.

 

I pretty much agree with @Falstaft. If the bass were taken away, I guarantee you would be able to hear the B in the brass much better.

 

Actually, it's strange...every time I listen to the excerpt you posted, the B seems to be getting louder! :eh:

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19 hours ago, Falstaft said:

 

Great question! Another part of the explanation is that the seventh isn't really "at the bottom," since timpani, cellos, & basses are all pounding away at the root of the chord at the same time as the trombones are playing that B against C semitone:

7th.png

 

So while the brass choir may be giving you that 3rd inversion 7th chord impression on the page, the aural gestalt is still of a root position major chord with an internal dissonance. If you can focus your ear on that midrange portion of the chord, maybe by humming or playing a B3 at the same time, you'll be able to sense the dissonance a little more clearly, I think.

 

I wonder if, when Williams made that well-scrutinized remark about 7ths on the bottom, he had distinct instrumental choirs, rather than actual sounding bass note of the whole orchestra, in mind. That's would be much more how an arranger, especially a jazz arranger with a sense of various drop voicings & such, would conceptualize chordal inversion. 

 

Also important is context.  Our ears can make sense of dissonance depending on how we get there and what the pedal (C in low strings) is doing because that implies a harmony. 

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