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What do you consider to be Williams “lightest” score?


WampaRat
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Due to popular demand…(ok. One person suggested this) 😜 Here is a companion to Williams “darkest score” thread.

 

What do you consider Williams “lightest” score overall?

 

BFG? Stepmom? Stanley and Iris? Penelope? He’s got quite a few sugary scores ;)

 

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The Terminal or Catch Me If You Can

 

Both films have somewhat serious concepts but are executed extremely lightheartedly (for better or worse) in only a way Spielberg could.

 

And of course....the scores beautifully represent them.

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On album, probably The Terminal. It always lift my mood on days I'm struggling.

 

Interestingly the film has a couple of unreleased, darker dramatic cues, so maybe my opinion would change if we had an expanded/complete presentation of the score.

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23 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

As I said on the other thread:

"The Terminal, Tintin, Stepmom or Sabrina."

Tintin is certainly a brisk zippy adventure score. I’m curious if you would consider his Indy scores (Last Crusade and Crystal Skull in particular) just as light?

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2 hours ago, WampaRat said:

I’m curious if you would consider his Indy scores (Last Crusade and Crystal Skull in particular) just as light?

One can argue that The Last Crusade is the"lighter" score Williams ever wrote for an action blockbuster. It does have less dark moments than Raiders and of course Temple of Doom, although I do think Belly of the Steel Beast is more dramatic and operatic than other action cues for the IJ movies.

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9 minutes ago, Cameron007 said:

Home Alone, perhaps? HP1?

The light parts are light as a snowflake, but I'd say there were enough darker moments (such as when the thieves or the "sinister" neighbour appears or the attack on the house sequence) to rule it out of contention.

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Lots of contenders, but I'd ultimately say The Terminal. It's not only the positive and constructive atmosphere, but also the lightheartedness that makes it the winner for me. There is never a really onerous(?) moments.

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This cue is just so unlike all the rest. I remember being pretty disappointed that it was not on the OST. But, yeah, from that point on, the music never changes back to that mood.

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I also thought of Stanley Tucci holding him against the copy machine as one of the movie's kinda jarring dark moments but even that is pretty brief and low-key musically and then goes into one of the score's most triumphant pieces.

 

 

The earlier part of the scene with the guy who needs the medicine is also quite fraught but they play it for realism without music. 

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22 hours ago, Tom said:

I would add How to Steal a Million to the mix. 

Agreed. I'd also add PENELOPE.

HOW TO STEAL A MILLION has its darker moments, though. The Prowler set the tone for subterfuge. You can trace the through line to E.T., and beyond.

Although it has some dark passages, I'd say that FAMILY PLOT is among JW's lighter scores.

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I would go with one of his earlier scores. I don't think CMIYC or Stepmom count. The former has lots of drama and suspense, quite emotionally heavy in places. The latter has a lot of familial drama, which is reflected in parts of the score and not what I could call "light". Of his modern scores, BFG might qualify as light as it has a lot of playfulness and whimsy to it. But I do think JW's lightest score would be from his much earlier body of works.

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14 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

The light parts are light as a snowflake, but I'd say there were enough darker moments (such as when the thieves or the "sinister" neighbour appears or the attack on the house sequence) to rule it out of contention.

True, but that doesn't make it a dark score overall. Though I agree about Marley's motif.

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Would I be breaking the rules of this thread by suggesting a non-score work like his early jazz music such as this?  I find his style to be filled with bittersweetness.  Part of the dominant 7th that he uses so often in his harmonies is that the dominant seventh chords contain dissonance between some of the intervals. 

 

 

For example, in Superman, a very melodic score, there are tons of major and minor 7th chords, and 6th chords.  To me, these introduce bittersweet elements because you don't get pure major harmonies, you get dissonance and frequently.  It's part of his style.  It's all over Star Wars for example.  This adds much more interesting colors and flair to his music because of the rich harmonies but it also gives his scores a somewhat bittersweet feel (like the lovely soft music in Jaws).  I love that quality and complexity in his music but that makes it difficult to find a score that doesn't have some element of this jazzy bittersweetness.  You might have to look for his earlier pure jazz stuff.  I don't think he's full of angst who would write in full on clusters like early Penderecki or Ligeti, but rather there isn't really lightness in him...he's complex.  Like an aged wine that operates on many levels, anything someone sees as "light" from his music, probably has some underlying sophistication and complexity.   It probably isn't what it seems.  

 

Superman Theme by John Williams Chords, Melody, and Music Theory Analysis - Hooktheory

 

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Going that route, I would go to the other chronological extreme and mention the Overture to the Oscars as a light (but great) piece.  

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Went down the rabbit hole of some of Williams early swingin’ 60s/“bubbles and champagne” comedy scores. 

Bachelor in Paradise

Not With My Wife You Don’t

Penelope

John Golfarb Please Come home.

 

It’s a very fun sound …when used sparingly. But I could only listen to about 20 minutes of each before I felt like it was giving me a cavity lol. 
 

I had to listen to WotW afterwards to balance my humors ;)

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3 minutes ago, WampaRat said:

Bachelor in Paradise

 

BACHELOR FLAT, you mean.

 

I love those albums. Light, yes, but in a very sophisticated way. I could listen to them all day long.

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I surprised Williams didn’t tap more into that sound for bits of Catch Me If You Can. But maybe it would have undercut the drama a bit too much. 
 

Now that I mention it, in Highschool I was expecting the score to CMIYC to sound a lot like these. A modern swingin’ jazzy Williams score.  And I was disappointed at the time when it wasn’t that fun. I love it now. But at the time I didn’t love it.

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Yes, CMIYC often has a comic tone, but it's pretty darkly comic, not suited to that kind of sound.  It's as close as Spielberg got to making a Coens-esque black comedy (although it's definitely not that).

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The Terminal is top 5 of my favourite scores from Williams, but I would argue it's one of his most emotional. Though it comes off as light-hearted, there is so much emotion in that film and its score. Specifically the fact that it's a Jazz story makes it feel personal to Williams' own life. There's a lot of power in those reflective Piano and Clarinet performances.

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Ok. I just saw that on the album there exists also an instrumental version of the song, so I thought, this might be some kind of "score". And who knows what else is there in the movie.

 

But ok. Anyway, for this question I said before, we should distinguish between before Jaws and after Jaws. After Jaws this question becomes more interesting.

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