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Eddie Karam on Williams


Skelly
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There is an absurd amount of urban legend concerning ghostwriting and a lot of that is just mismatched assumption or plain invention. Film composing is very rarely standing upon the shoulders of just one person and having trusted collaborators to help you get through impossible deadlines and ungodly requirements from directors etc. is absolutely essential. But it's possible to do it with integrity.

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On 24/10/2021 at 5:02 PM, karelm said:

You shouldn't worry about it too much.  There is no doubt that Horner was a very skilled and talented composer.  There is also the reality of film scoring as a business.  Sometimes these collide.  It's not really that big a deal.  Think of it like any one of his great scores would probably sound different, perhaps even better, if he had no time constraints.  Because composers sometimes have awful deadlines, corners are cut.  It's not ideal, it's the reality of working in a business.  To think otherwise is to over-romanticize the business of film scoring.   

NO Composer can write a full score for a movie like Troy in a week. It's absolutely impossible. It's a movie that needs a 3 month turnaround for a fully orchestrated classical score, so it's really not his fault he went to everyone working with him and dolled out cues, i just found it funny that he talked about himself in the 3rd person and said "you know what horner sounds like" lol

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  • 3 months later...

Old thread, but a question in light of the recent discussion about ghostwriting:

 

When Karam says the following...

 

Quote

"So that was the beginning of my career with John. One disadvantage was that I stopped doing my own writing, because I was very involved with him. I was writing a lot of extra stuff for him on the side. He wanted me to take something that he had written for 100 pieces and condense it down to 13. And I said, Well, I can edit, but boy, that takes an editing job. And I would do that, and he'd give me some arrangements to do, or things that he didn't want to spend the time doing because he was working on a major piece to open the Disney hall. It was a grand opening and he was conducting it. I think I wrote something for that -- I can't remember all of it."

 

...is he just using "writing" in the sense of writing out the parts from JW's sketches? Or is he implying that he actually ghostwrote for JW on occasion?

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On 27/02/2022 at 3:45 PM, Will said:

Old thread, but a question in light of the recent discussion about ghostwriting:

 

When Karam says the following...

 

 

...is he just using "writing" in the sense of writing out the parts from JW's sketches? Or is he implying that he actually ghostwrote for JW on occasion?

 

To be clear, I am quite doubtful that Karam is refer to actual ghostwriting. It would be very strange for a massive secret about JW's process to be revealed in passing in a random interview. Most likely, Karam is just speaking a bit imprecisely and using "write" to mean "write out the orchestrated scores."

 

It is an interesting quote in the sense that it suggests JW may have used an orchestrator on "Soundings" (although it's possible Karam was misremembering which piece it was). I had assumed all JW's concert works were written out by himself in full score. But regardless, as is true with his film scores, the use of an orchestrator doesn't mean JW didn't write every single note. 

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On 17/10/2021 at 7:12 AM, Edmilson said:

Wait, so Horner didn't actually scored the movies, he'd just write a few themes and then his orchestrators would do all the work of actually putting music to score scenes of the movie?

 

Geez, it's so sad to know that. It's like discovering your favorite super-hero faked all his battles. It's truly depressing to know that all that wonderful score that elevated the movie wasn't actually done by Horner, but rather by some guy who doesn't even have photos on the internet.

 

It sounds like the easiest job in the world, just giving blank pages and a few notes to the orchestrators and then let them do all the work. "Well, it's a sad scene so I want some sad piano and strings and maybe a dark performance of the hero's theme. Now, if you need me I'm gonna be in my bedroom relaxing and smoking some weed."

 

 

Its really too bad Andre Previn's book "No Minor Chords" is out of print, because he was super direct about what it was like working in Hollywood in his days, which seems to be exactly the same now except even more common.
 

There is one story, when he was hired on a part of the music staff at MGM he was sent to some guys office (im not sure he actually mentioned the composer by name) who he said had a line of people outside his office and he went in and he would bang on the piano with his thumb only a melody and said here kid thats the theme for the picture, and then Andre apparently went off to essentially write everything for this guy.

 

John seems to have always been somewhat of a rare case in Hollywood, although I think people like Jerry Goldsmith were still writing detailed sketches, Desplat does as well. My guess is that because a lot of these guys take on multiple films a year they cannot do the whole thing themselves so they do really basic stuff and then the ghost writers come in. It would sound at first that well Horner or Zimmer scores all have a certain sound, but a good orchestrator can imitate that easily.

2 hours ago, Will said:

 

To be clear, I am quite doubtful that Karam is refer to actual ghostwriting. It would be very strange for a massive secret about JW's process to be revealed in passing in a random interview. Most likely, Karam is just speaking a bit imprecisely and using "write" to mean "write out the orchestrated scores."

 

It is an interesting quote in the sense that it suggests JW may have used an orchestrator on "Soundings" (although it's possible Karam was misremembering which piece it was). I had assumed all JW's concert works were written out by himself in full score. But regardless, as is true with his film scores, the use of an orchestrator doesn't mean JW didn't write every single note. 

 

There were other pieces on the program, I 100% doubt he touched anything on a concert work. He probably arranged some of the tunes that Josh Groban sang.

 

Also as for your previous question, there was another orchestrator who used to talk in those terms. Angela Morley did an interview once about orchestrating original Star Wars and talked in terms of "thats my work you're hearing on that cue" or thats my cue or my piece. It makes it sound like its theirs but i'm sure thats a show business thing to do everything but pee on things you've worked on for the credit and the money because you can so easily get screwed out of both.

 

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11 minutes ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

My guess is that because a lot of these guys take on multiple films a year they cannot do the whole thing themselves so they do really basic stuff and then the ghost writers come in. It would sound at first that well Horner or Zimmer scores all have a certain sound, but a good orchestrator can imitate that easily.

 

That's not true! That's Impossible! - Luke skywalker nooooooo | Meme  Generator

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35 minutes ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

There were other pieces on the program, I 100% doubt he touched anything on a concert work. He probably arranged some of the tunes that Josh Groban sang.

 

Very good point -- I suspect you're right.

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7 hours ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

John seems to have always been somewhat of a rare case in Hollywood, although I think people like Jerry Goldsmith were still writing detailed sketches, Desplat does as well.

 

 

'John' wasn't a rare case, he was using orchestrators as part-and-parcel of his composition process from his humble beginnings like everyone else back then did. Only Herrmann (and Morricone, but he doesn't really count) refused them. It's just a matter of schedules and speed. And let's make no mistake, writing in short-hand, establishing a working relationship to another guy who comes in and can translate your particell into a full-blown score is quite a chore in itself.

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10 hours ago, Will said:

 

To be clear, I am quite doubtful that Karam is refer to actual ghostwriting. It would be very strange for a massive secret about JW's process to be revealed in passing in a random interview. Most likely, Karam is just speaking a bit imprecisely and using "write" to mean "write out the orchestrated scores."

 

It is an interesting quote in the sense that it suggests JW may have used an orchestrator on "Soundings" (although it's possible Karam was misremembering which piece it was). I had assumed all JW's concert works were written out by himself in full score. But regardless, as is true with his film scores, the use of an orchestrator doesn't mean JW didn't write every single note. 

 

Karam wasn't implying ghostwriting for JW of course, but about writing arrangements and orchestrations because he was/is still an old school type of guy, i.e. writing pencil scores. And he didn't imply orchestrating Soundings, but rather doing more film orchestration/arranging work around that time because JW was committed writing that concert piece.

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7 hours ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

Also as for your previous question, there was another orchestrator who used to talk in those terms. Angela Morley did an interview once about orchestrating original Star Wars and talked in terms of "thats my work you're hearing on that cue" or thats my cue or my piece. It makes it sound like its theirs but i'm sure thats a show business thing to do everything but pee on things you've worked on for the credit and the money because you can so easily get screwed out of both.

 

I think she said E.T.'s flying theme was hers.

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10 hours ago, Will said:

I had assumed all JW's concert works were written out by himself in full score. But regardless, as is true with his film scores, the use of an orchestrator doesn't mean JW didn't write every single note. 

 

7 hours ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

There were other pieces on the program, I 100% doubt he touched anything on a concert work. He probably arranged some of the tunes that Josh Groban sang.

 

7 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

And he didn't imply orchestrating Soundings, but rather doing more film orchestration/arranging work around that time because JW was committed writing that concert piece.

 

I don't know about Soundings, but I know that, for example, the Trumpet Concerto was orchestrated by John Neufeld. So, in some cases he uses orchestrators also for his concert pieces - surely, in the same way as he uses them with his film works. In other cases, he writes everything in full score by himself (he did in the Horn, Tuba and Violin concertos).

 

 

2 minutes ago, Luke Skywalker said:

I think she said E.T.'s flying theme was hers.

 

Of course the composer is Williams, but Morley orchestrated the beginning of the End Credits. So, maybe she was just saying that it was her orchestration (as in the case of the final Yavin cue from Star Wars)?

 

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3 hours ago, publicist said:

 

'John' wasn't a rare case, he was using orchestrators as part-and-parcel of his composition process from his humble beginnings like everyone else back then did. Only Herrmann (and Morricone, but he doesn't really count) refused them. It's just a matter of schedules and speed. And let's make no mistake, writing in short-hand, establishing a working relationship to another guy who comes in and can translate your particell into a full-blown score is quite a chore in itself.

 

Yeah, I meant that he write very detailed sketches as opposed to the story I put up about the guy writing tunes with his thumb or having a lot of ghost writers.

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@Jean-Baptiste Martin, as the greatest Horner specialist in the internet, what is your opinion on these accusations on this thread? Do you think Horner indeed utilized a great deal of ghostwriters, but never credited them? Or are these just false rumours?

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5 hours ago, TownerFan said:

She never said that. You're probably confusing the story of the infamous Les Baxter lawsuit.

 

Oh gosh, what a blast from the past! Did we ever do a thread on it? I remember all these FSM threads debating it years and years ago, but right now, I can't remember the exact Baxter cue or the details.

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20 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Oh gosh, what a blast from the past! Did we ever do a thread on it? I remember all these FSM threads debating it years and years ago, but right now, I can't remember the exact Baxter cue or the details.

 

 

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2 hours ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

Yeah, I meant that he write very detailed sketches as opposed to the story I put up about the guy writing tunes with his thumb or having a lot of ghost writers.

 

But even in the olden days, guys like Herbert Stothart were exceptions to the rule (and also at least 50% administrator), the music guys in Hollywood were top talent with a vast education and ability. I guess when pop guys like Randy Edelman & Co. started to make it big and had to write for orchestra (before Zimmer), this practice really became a de facto norm. At least i do not remember pop/rock guys writing 'real' scores before that to any real extent. People may cite guys like Quincy Jones, certainly for big western scores like 'McKenna's Gold', but he also remained mostly in idioms he could handle. Maurice Jarre was a rare case where orchestrator Gerard Schurmann later claimed having to largely write out 'Lawrence of Arabia', because Jarre was not really equipped to handle it.

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6 hours ago, TownerFan said:

 

She never said that. You're probably confusing the story of the infamous Les Baxter lawsuit.

I really think i read something about morley... But maybe it was writting in the general sense.... Like the karam quote. 

 

I think i got annoyed by the comments... Even offended... When i was zealous williams fan. 

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Just now, Luke Skywalker said:

I really think i read something about morley... But maybe it was writting in the general sense.... Like the karam quote. 

 

I think i got annoyed by the comments... Even offended... When i was zealous williams fan. 

 

Morely never said that, as far as I know. There is an interview with her on YouTube where she downplays a lot what she did for JW, basically calling herself a music preparator, not orchestrator.

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30 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

 

 

 

This video isn't available in the States.  Is it the same piece of music in the first post of the thread Jay linked to here?

 

22 minutes ago, Jay said:

 

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The internet is unforgiving. And I was young and naive.

 

EDIT: those were really speculative posts done by a naive version of myself so I prefer to pull them down. Since then I learned that the story that Angela Morley ghostwrote some of E.T. is a notorious urban legend that keeps creeping up every now and then and also saw evidence that it was all composed by JW from the 1st note to the last.

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33 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

The internet is unforgiving. And I was young and naive.

 

EDIT: those were really speculative posts done by a naive version of myself so I prefer to pull them down. Since then I learned that the story that Angela Morley ghostwrote some of E.T. is a notorious urban legend that keeps creeping up every now and then and also saw evidence that it was all composed by JW from the 1st note to the last.

 

Didn't a similar rumor come about with Chamber of Secrets and Conrad Pope? But that is kind of what I meant by "old school" in one of the above comments. Horner is easy sometimes, one would imagine, to imitate because especially in his action cues there is a lot of tutti, and Zimmer is not hard at all to imitate. But I can't imagine anyone really pulling off an imitation of JW, especially with two scores that have a very specific sound (but don't they all?). I think even the best attempt would stick out and be fairly obvious.

And while were on that topic, there is actually ONE cue that I was always suspicious about because it sounds just a bit too simplistic in style and orchestration to be John. On the Jurassic Park soundtrack its listed as "the coming storm", its the part where Jeff Goldblum and company are being chased in the jeep by the t-rex. I mean it doesn't seem really obvious, but compared to the super rich writing of basically... the rest of the score, something doesn't seem quite right.

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44 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

The internet is unforgiving. And I was young and naive.

 

EDIT: those were really speculative posts done by a naive version of myself so I prefer to pull them down. Sorry if I make it look like I want to redact my own history on this board, but they were really silly. The story that Angela Morley ghostwrote some of E.T. is a notorious urban legend that keeps creeping up every now and then.

Oh...you are rewritting the history of jwfan :/

 

It's like if williams didnt want his earlier works released.

 

Oh wait...

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5 minutes ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

I think even the best attempt would stick out and be fairly obvious.

 

Calling the MIG attack cue in Air Force One and Battle for the Castle from Last Castle, which are so obviously not Goldsmith even though they had access to all his core material.

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I’m always thinking that if someone had the capacity to ghostwrite for JW, he/she’d be so good that it would be weird they wouldn’t have a composing career of their own – considering the difference in quality between JW’s music and most other film music.

 

Sad reality is that frankly most people don’t care. I once spoke to an orchestra musician who basically confused Zimmer and his method with that of JW (saying that he had heard other people actually wrote for him) but after I corrected that with a passionate monologue he was like ‘oh well’ and it wasn’t like I fundamentally shook his worldview or anything… 😅

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8 hours ago, Edmilson said:

@Jean-Baptiste Martin, as the greatest Horner specialist in the internet, what is your opinion on these accusations on this thread? Do you think Horner indeed utilized a great deal of ghostwriters, but never credited them? Or are these just false rumours?

 

I think calling it an accusation is just plain wrong. 

 

It's not a friggin' crime to hire a ghost-writer, whatever the reasons. Of course, in an ideal world, this wouldn't be necessary. But the ideal conditions are rarely given.

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Crime or not, it's still highly disappointing to me. Discovering that one of my favorite composers actually hasn't written much music and instead sat all day in his office scratching his balls while his assistants did all of the work, but he never acknowledged all of their effort... It's awful. 

 

It's rather disgusting that The Ludlows, the End Titles from Braveheart, Re-Entry and Splashdown and all of his beloved cues weren't written by him, but he took the credits and was hailed as their creator anyway.

 

I said that before and I'll say it again: I hate this thread.

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Anything people do is hardly a one-man job.

 

Even Michaelangelo had assistants when painting the Sistine Chapel, so why should it be a problem if Horner didn't write what you thought was your favorite cue? I don't think it changes anything, really.

 

At the end of the day, it's a job and people get paid to do it. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

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2 hours ago, Muad'Dib said:

Anything people do is hardly a one-man job.

 

Even Michaelangelo had assistants when painting the Sistine Chapel, so why should it be a problem if Horner didn't write what you thought was your favorite cue? I don't think it changes anything, really.

 

At the end of the day, it's a job and people get paid to do it. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

Michaelangelo still designed the whole thing in detail.... similar to a Williams sketch being given to an orchestrator who is essentially just a copyist.

6 hours ago, Remco said:

I’m always thinking that if someone had the capacity to ghostwrite for JW, he/she’d be so good that it would be weird they wouldn’t have a composing career of their own – considering the difference in quality between JW’s music and most other film music.

 

Sad reality is that frankly most people don’t care. I once spoke to an orchestra musician who basically confused Zimmer and his method with that of JW (saying that he had heard other people actually wrote for him) but after I corrected that with a passionate monologue he was like ‘oh well’ and it wasn’t like I fundamentally shook his worldview or anything… 😅

 

Funny you should say that because I have been curious about that for a long time. Obviously the older musicians in the recording orchestra have done literally too many scores to count, most of them sounding the same. But obviously there are some people in there that are really into the music (liked Richard Kaufman), and others who are literally there for a gig. And its funny because there are a ton of musicians like that. JW himself does the same thing. "Classical" music seems to have a much more throw away or quickly forgotten culture than any of the other genres, except for corporate produced pop. I mean look at some orchestras and conductors that record the same pieces for the 100th time, and then sometimes re-record them. Even Yo-Yo Ma recorded the Bach suites what.... three times? Most of the time if you ask an orchestra member, conductor or soloist "oh I loved this recording of such and such" they will kind of vaguely remember it most of the time.

I often wonder what some composers are thinking when they write stuff, although in order to keep making money, they probably don't have time to even think about it. They finish one project and immediately start another, with no overlap if they're lucky. I'm sure that eventually just becomes a habit to forget what you just did and move on.

10 hours ago, publicist said:

 

Calling the MIG attack cue in Air Force One and Battle for the Castle from Last Castle, which are so obviously not Goldsmith even though they had access to all his core material.

Maybe slightly off topic, but that reminds me of the big issues Goldsmith had on Alien. I mean, I personally don't know why they would bother hiring a composer if they are just going to keep a few cues and then LEAVE IN the temp cues, which were all taken from other films, including other Goldsmith films.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8bv0QDLI7M

10 hours ago, publicist said:

 

Calling the MIG attack cue in Air Force One and Battle for the Castle from Last Castle, which are so obviously not Goldsmith even though they had access to all his core material.

Maybe slightly off topic, but that reminds me of the big issues Goldsmith had on Alien. I mean, I personally don't know why they would bother hiring a composer if they are just going to keep a few cues and then LEAVE IN the temp cues, which were all taken from other films, including other Goldsmith films.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8bv0QDLI7M

 

 

I also pulled out Andre's book with the passaged I mentioned above:

 

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IMG_6194.jpg

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On 17/10/2021 at 12:16 AM, Skelly said:

 

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I noticed in your credits, wedged between all the John Williams films, you worked for James Horner as well. I just wondered how his work process might differ from John's.

 

His scores were blank. He wanted me to fill them in. So I would get --

 

[laughing] They were what?

 

Is that news? That...? I would get the notes, and a copy of the tape, and I would look at it, and then just sit down and write it.

 

Did he differentiate with you in terms of theme and, like, texture? Or at least give you like an idea of what he wants?

 

No, because he would do it individually. Like, I wasn't the only one. There was an emergency case to do one picture that he wanted to do it in a week. So there was a lot of writing to do in one week, so there were four of us. I don't think what he was doing was trying to plot thematic material, but in my case, he didn't plot anything. He just told me, You got the notes you got the picture, you start here, and you quit here. Okay. And so he went -- oh! He told me one thing. He said, 'This right here, in one spot, it's building up to something and I want to start with brass; with, like, trumpets and French horns alternating, but do it individually so that it sounds like it's all overlapping and it sounds like it's coming from different parts of the battlefield. So they do that. We can do it by the way we mic it.' And there was one picture in specific that he said, 'If you play it like [humming] and then just have that keep repeating but in different keys. So I said, "I'm not sure what you mean, because overlapping like that -- having it all separate keys, you don't change the harmony. Leave it the same and just let me dot and dash with the trumpets and the french horns alternating." We had eight French horns, so it was great; I could use them in couples with the trumpets. I think there were four or five, I'm not sure, I can't remember -- oh no, they were eight! I'm sorry. Eight trumpets and eight French horns. I couldn't figure out which picture that was on... that came together and it worked fine, but he wanted -- insisted on changing harmony.

 

Eddie, so at that point, it really becomes more ghost writing than orchestrating.

 

Yes.

 

From a business standpoint, how to you deal with that?

 

We were told that they were going to pay us double.

 

But you wouldn't ask for an additional 'Music by...' credit or something in a situation like that?

 

Well, we were hoping we might get that, but we were called orchestrators.

 

Yeah. You could call a cat a dog; it's still a cat.

 

I did that -- there were a couple of times with him I had to do that. And I did it because John released me to do it, because I turned it down. I said, you know, it's not fair. And I thought everybody that was involved should have been paid a fee and should have gotten some kind of credit other than, you know, a side credit. But he doesn't like sharing credit. Most people don't. Most composers don't. John never did -- John Mandel. And he is a brilliant writer by himself. But it's something that you have to, when you're dealing with a producer, you want to make sure that he doesn't get the idea that you're hiring somebody who's going to shuttle it off with other people.

 

Now you didn't do a mini version to get approved; they just handed it to you and you just did it?

 

He didn't know what he was going to get until he gave the downbeat. Takes a lot of guts.

 

(If anyone would like to hear the whole video, he can send me a Pm.)

"Sounds expensive". ;)

 

Karol

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  • 2 weeks later...

The trex chase is another cue... after the rex attacks the tour cars it never rains on the island again.

 

The coming storm is the scene from the end of the triceratops to nedry talking to his contact at the ship.

 

 

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7 hours ago, BrotherSound said:


“The Coming Storm” is definitely 100% JW. Here’s the opening of the sketch in his own handwriting:

 

image.png

 

5 hours ago, Luke Skywalker said:

The trex chase is another cue... after the rex attacks the tour cars it never rains on the island again.

 

The coming storm is the scene from the end of the triceratops to nedry talking to his contact at the ship.

 

 

 

Right, the coming storm sounds like him but the rex chase. Obviously none of us would EVER have unofficially released manuscripts, and I ABSOLUTELY wouldn't just have the orchestrated score and not the manuscript sketches. That cue is one of the only "orchestrated" by Alexander Courage, as well as the finale. But the finale sounds 100% Williams, plus the orchestration and writing in fact do no sounds of the same caliber either for those two sections.

My guess is maybe he just didn't care about that cue all that much since all the sound effects mostly over power the music anyway. I never even really knew what that cue mostly sounded like until the special release, you can barely hear most of it.

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  • 5 weeks later...

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