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What Is John Williams's Most Goldsmith Style Score (and vice-versa)?


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JW is really the Paul McCartney of film music.   It's a true gift to be able to create such catchy melodies.   The truth is that not all directors are confident enough to let the m

That's easy:   Black Sunday vs. Poltergeist

Well, it's 100 % Williams for sure, but if I had to choose something from his work that reminds me of Goldsmith, it would be this one.

Can't really think of any Goldsmith-like Williams scores, or vice versa. Whether it's the lyrical writing or the action music, their sound is very different. Now, if you had asked about - say - Bernard Herrmann-like JW music, I could at least think of two: THE FURY and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. But that's not the question.

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1 hour ago, Pawel P. said:

But...  Starts at 1:11

 

1:11 is 100% Williams and doesn't sound like Goldsmith at all.

 

55 minutes ago, Thor said:

Now, if you had asked about - say - Bernard Herrmann-like JW music, I could at least think of two: THE FURY and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. But that's not the question.

Parts of Minority Report.

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38 minutes ago, bruce marshall said:

Well.

 

Jerry was obviously ' doing ' JW in ALAN QUARTERMAIN....

Yes. The other way around there are more examples, like Supergirl for instance. 

 

By the way, aren't Williams' Western scores like The Cowboys or The Reivers just a tiny bit comparable to Goldsmith's Western scores?

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The initial question was, where does Williams sound like Goldsmith and not where does Goldsmith sound like Williams. Second question is easier to answer.

And when I look at the facto that Goldsmith used no leitmotifs and often used just one theme in the whole film then The Accidential Tourist and Presumed Innocent come to mind.

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1 hour ago, GerateWohl said:

The initial question was, where does Williams sound like Goldsmith and not where does Goldsmith sound like Williams. Second question is easier to answer.

And when I look at the facto that Goldsmith used no leitmotifs and often used just one theme in the whole film then The Accidential Tourist and Presumed Innocent come to mind.

 

That's not quite true. JG worked very much with leitmotifs in scores like Lionheart, Legend etc. 

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2 hours ago, Pawel P. said:

Well, it's 100 % Williams for sure, but if I had to choose something from his work that reminds me of Goldsmith, it would be this one.

 

Yes, it's probably the best example I think. For me, it has always been Williams doing Goldsmith action and making it his own.

 

The other way round it's more difficult. Poltergeist came to my mind (before Pub mentioned it), but it's really still quintessential Goldsmith - it's Goldsmith doing Spielberg much more than Goldsmith doing Williams.

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I can't think of any scores from my decent Williams collection or my small Goldsmith collection where the styles get particularly similar. Two distinct musical voices...a lot of surface-level similarities, and plenty of versatility on both ends, but I can't think of any real overlap.

 

Finn's action motif is a good catch, though,@Pawel P.. It's closer to Goldsmith than Williams normally goes, in terms of rhythmic sensibilities. But the orchestration is still distinctly Williams, of course.

 

I guess you could make the case that Images pushes closer to some of Goldsmith's more experimental projects. Still, as soon as you get any sense of tonality, it sounds far more JW than JG.

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1 hour ago, publicist said:

 

??

 

Well, there are several similarities with some techniques that JW used frequently in action movies of the 70s and 80s. A striking one, for me, is the theme for Imhotep, at 0:31 here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWly0yvaY5M 

 

The beginning of the theme is based harmonically on the alternation of two chords. The first is C# minor. The second one is a bit ambiguous, it can be interpreted either as A major or A minor, because the major third (the note C sharp) is held in several instruments from the C# minor chord, but the horns playing the melody go to the notes C natural and A. Given the prominence of the horns, the harmonic function of the second chord definitely sounds to me as A minor, so we have the alternation C# minor - A minor (two minor chords separated by a major third), which is a harmonic gesture that Williams uses everywhere (e.g., in the Imperial March, the theme for the bad guys in E.T., and even the main theme of Angela's Ashes). Add to this several important themes (including this one) played throughout the score mainly by the brass, with the horns being prominent, and some militaristic-like rhythmic figurations appearing in some of the action cues, or for example in the last cue before the end credits, 1:54 here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn1_TUbvpdc

 

which reminds of several march-like pieces for which Williams is well known. It's not as if Goldsmith borrowed anything literally, but if I had to point to a score by Goldsmith that could have been written by Williams, I'd say this one. What do you hear in Poltergeist that sounds Williams?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Thor said:

I don't hear any of these similarities that people mention. Other than that they're both orchestral. Weird.

Really? Not even that one? 

That was for me always a quite obvious reference to Planet of the Apes.

 

I also find a lot of the music that accompanies the scenes in the Death Star in a New Hope, those that don't include the major themes a lot like Goldsmith, those deep hammering piano notes etc. 

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1 hour ago, Score said:

 

Well, there are several similarities with some techniques that JW used frequently in action movies of the 70s and 80s. A striking one, for me, is the theme for Imhotep, at 0:31 here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWly0yvaY5M 

 

The beginning of the theme is based harmonically on the alternation of two chords. The first is C# minor. The second one is a bit ambiguous, it can be interpreted either as A major or A minor, because the major third (the note C sharp) is held in several instruments from the C# minor chord, but the horns playing the melody go to the notes C natural and A. Given the prominence of the horns, the harmonic function of the second chord definitely sounds to me as A minor, so we have the alternation C# minor - A minor (two minor chords separated by a major third), which is a harmonic gesture that Williams uses everywhere (e.g., in the Imperial March, the theme for the bad guys in E.T., and even the main theme of Angela's Ashes). Add to this several important themes (including this one) played throughout the score mainly by the brass, with the horns being prominent, and some militaristic-like rhythmic figurations appearing in some of the action cues, or for example in the last cue before the end credits, 1:54 here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn1_TUbvpdc

 

which reminds of several march-like pieces for which Williams is well known. It's not as if Goldsmith borrowed anything literally, but if I had to point to a score by Goldsmith that could have been written by Williams, I'd say this one. What do you hear in Poltergeist that sounds Williams?

 

 

The Mummy is Goldsmith through-and-through and completely at odds with how JW or numerous other composers would attack such movie. Or, to put it differently, you cite extremely broad examples that would count for at least two dozen other Hollywood composers as well, which kind of loses sight of the big picture. Which is that Williams' tonal language for big adventure movies is more indebted to classical, or even operetta, music, from Strauss to Stravinsky (or Mahler or Orff), which JG's music, at that point at least, had long abandoned for a more *cheesy* streamlined blockbuster sound that is its own beast - David Arnold meets Miklos Rózsa, if you like.

 

As for Poltergeist, i agree with whoever referred to it more as Spielberg than Williams music, but i find the luxurious, almost opulent orchestral style for what is basically a suburban horror movie very close to how Williams approaches movies. Especially the light-and-wonder music, as well as the saccharine Carol-Anne theme.

 

 

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1 hour ago, GerateWohl said:

Really? Not even that one? 

That was for me always a quite obvious reference to Planet of the Apes.

 

I also find a lot of the music that accompanies the scenes in the Death Star in a New Hope, those that don't include the major themes a lot like Goldsmith, those deep hammering piano notes etc. 

And Herrmann is the granddaddy. Neat decade intervals btw. (1958 Sinbad -> 1968 Apes -> 1977 SW)

1 hour ago, publicist said:

The Mummy is Goldsmith through-and-through and completely at odds with how JW or numerous other composers would attack such movie. Or, to put it differently, you cite extremely broad examples that would count for at least two dozen other Hollywood composers as well, which kind of loses sight of the big picture. Which is that Williams' tonal language for big adventure movies is more indebted to classical, or even operetta, music, from Strauss to Stravinsky (or Mahler or Orff), which JG's music, at that point at least, had long abandoned for a more *cheesy* streamlined blockbuster sound that is its own beast - David Arnold meets Miklos Rózsa, if you like.

I wouldn't say Goldsmith is that far from the opera/operetta classics in this one:

Mere 3 weeks schedule, late changes, hating the job, whatever the reason...

 

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

I don't hear any of these similarities that people mention. Other than that they're both orchestral. Weird.

Some people may think that heavy percussion equals Goldsmith and sumptuous harmony means Williams, which is all far-fetched, but the Black Sunday and Poltergeist example is a great one with the two composers obviously leaning towards each other.

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2 hours ago, Fabulin said:

I wouldn't say Goldsmith is that far from the opera/operetta classics in this one:

Mere 3 weeks schedule, late changes, hating the job, whatever the reason...

 

 

Yeah, good catch but another 'can't see the forest for the trees' example, because tidbits like this (or the overt Vaughan-Williams quotes in First Knight) are not really characterizing the tonal language I mean. It's random stuff, just like you wouldn't call Titanic a russian score because there's Shostakovich popping up in some piece of action music.

 

This cue is very Goldsmith, though (irregular syncopated rhythms, bass hits, high strings):

 

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7 hours ago, publicist said:

 

 

The Mummy is Goldsmith through-and-through and completely at odds with how JW or numerous other composers would attack such movie. Or, to put it differently, you cite extremely broad examples that would count for at least two dozen other Hollywood composers as well, which kind of loses sight of the big picture. Which is that Williams' tonal language for big adventure movies is more indebted to classical, or even operetta, music, from Strauss to Stravinsky (or Mahler or Orff), which JG's music, at that point at least, had long abandoned for a more *cheesy* streamlined blockbuster sound that is its own beast - David Arnold meets Miklos Rózsa, if you like.

 

As for Poltergeist, i agree with whoever referred to it more as Spielberg than Williams music, but i find the luxurious, almost opulent orchestral style for what is basically a suburban horror movie very close to how Williams approaches movies. Especially the light-and-wonder music, as well as the saccharine Carol-Anne theme.

 

 

 

 

I have listened again to several cues from Poltergeist and I definitely see what you mean about that. Indeed, there are relevant points of contact with JW, although the Carol-Anne theme (saccharine, indeed) has some features that correspond to what JW seems to consciously avoid as being too unimaginative. I am referring to certain choices of chords in the very simple harmonic sequence - JW always tries to put some spices like at least some major-seventh chords, even in simple childlike pieces like "Somewhere in my memory". But in general, I agree on Poltergeist.

 

However, I don't think my observations about "The Mummy" are so generic as you imply, I mean, not necessarily more generic than yours about Poltergeist. It depends very much on what parameters you prioritize to represent a certain style, or a certain composer. For me, harmony (in the sense of the choices of chords, or when the concept of chords is inappropriate, simultaneous combinations of sounds) is one of the most important aspects of music, and one of the first things that I notice and care about. So, if Goldsmith uses a distinctive sequence of chords for the Imothep theme (one of the most used themes of the score) that is almost literally the same as what JW used earlier for other very famous villain pieces, I definitely hear a similarity, whether it was intended or not. If JW had written the score for "The Mummy", it would not be unrealistic to imagine that he would have conceived a similar theme for the bad guy, and he would have generously used brass and choir throughout the score. Morricone would have written a totally different score, not to mention Zimmer and others.

 

 

 

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An argument can be made that Star Trek TMP is strongly operatic take ala Star Wars.  Remember at the time, memorable and lushly orchestrated themes were novel.  We had the Ilia/Leia themes, the bombastic main titles, etc.  Of course TMP was more cerebral rather than swashbuckling but there is considerable stylistic overlap.  Also, Goldsmith wasn't a particularly melodic composer and struggled making a memorable theme he was directed to do.  It got to the point where he suggested to Robert Wise being the wrong composer for this type of score to do that JW thing which was significantly influenced by the lucrative success of SW.  I sort of feel like Midnight Cowboy is a bit of the Sugarland Express.

 

But generally, I would not consider them influenced off each other but rather cousins from a common ancestor.  Sort of like apes and humans.  Humans didn't evolve from apes but both came from the same common ancestor...cousins. 

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40 minutes ago, karelm said:

An argument can be made that Star Trek TMP is strongly operatic take ala Star Wars.  Remember at the time, memorable and lushly orchestrated themes were novel.  We had the Ilia/Leia themes, the bombastic main titles, etc.

 

I thought about that, but aside from the main theme, its "love theme" setting in The Enterprise, and *perhaps* the Ilia theme, the core of the score for me is really the minimalistic cloud music and all the avant-garde stuff in cues like Spock Walk. And all of that has little to do with how Williams would have approached it, I imagine.

 

I'd considered The Great Train Robbery, which overall "sounds" much closer to a post-Romantic Williams thing, but again the way its essentially a series of monothematic theme & variations is quintessential Goldsmith (and the mystery cue in the middle is a direct foreshadowing of Alien).

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48 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

I thought about that, but aside from the main theme, its "love theme" setting in The Enterprise, and *perhaps* the Ilia theme, the core of the score for me is really the minimalistic cloud music and all the avant-garde stuff in cues like Spock Walk. And all of that has little to do with how Williams would have approached it, I imagine.

 

Yes, though all his subsequent ST scores were increasingly non-minimalistic and operatic.  

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11 minutes ago, Tom said:

Yes, though all his subsequent ST scores were increasingly non-minimalistic and operatic.  

 

Certainly, but also less romantic, with stronger synth stylings that make them even more classic Goldsmith than Williams.

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