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John Williams and his trumpets


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15 hours ago, publicist said:


I will say, i have no idea how it was done, but regarding recording the trumpet, to this day i never heard a more perfect trumpet sound than on the original recording of 'Born on the Fourth of July'. It sounds so full and rich, i don't know why no one could quite catch that sound again (it stuck with me even as a youngster, when i was into SW and stuff, that it was more exceptional).


Most would credit that to the performance of Tim Morrison, BSO trumpeter.  He was selected for his tone.  What JW didn't want was a military trumpet or a bold, triumphant trumpet nor mellow jazzy/noir style.  He handpicked Morrison for that score for his sound.  I think the score was recorded at Fox Studios (Neuman scoring stage) which was the same stage where Towering Inferno, Jaws, were recorded here too.  The sequel trilogy was recorded at Sony (MGM) Streisand Scoring Stage.  Soloists and mixers/engineers have a big impact on the final result.  MGM has had some magnificent scores recorded there (Ben Hur, most Spielberg/JW films, Wizard of Oz) and so has Neuman (The Sound of Music, Star Trek the Motion Picture, Matrix trilogy. E.T., Schindler's List).  Rooms definitely have a sound, but you can consider that if the stage is good enough, it's going to be great for most scores if in the hands of a great orchestra, engineer, and mixer.  With that said, each room has characteristics unique to itself.  Eastwood (Warner Brothers) isn't great for huge orchestras.  Would sound fine for modest and jazz sized.  Capital Records has a unique vintage reverb chamber.  MGM is the largest so great for 100-piece orchestra with choir.  Might overwhelm intimate.  Fox is good for large and epic.  Would be unwise to record a string quartet here.  These stages all sound very different from concert halls which just have a different approach.  The approach could be generalized by the hall's acoustics is part of the sound but in a film studio, the cinema is part of the sound and not a consideration for concert halls.  After all these complexities, also add that the halls evolve over time.  Neuman got a mid 1990's retrofit that altered its sound.  MGM/Streistand did too at a different point in its history.  One can say the same stage with all the same people before and after alterations have different characteristics.  This is in part because different management takes control with different principals.  


I was the recording engineer and mixer for my orchestra for several years and got to experience the complexities of mixing in different locations with the same people and how mics, pre-amps, stage impacted the result.  Sometimes the hall helps you and sometimes it hurts you.  Same with the players, same with the tools and geers.  You use these variables to help as much as you can.  I won't claim to be on the same level of the top people but you get a sense for how having the same people and equipment in a different venue impacts the result and how you have to accomodate that problem.  In JW's world, he can pick and choose these variables for each project and that doesn't always result in us appreciating each aspect.  There are so many variables.  


Also important, JW would work with the recording engineers and mixers to create a sound specific for the score.  For example, he wanted Star Wars hot in the mix.  Eric Thomlinson made the recording distorts...a bit of borrowing from pop music where guitars frequently are distorting giving a rougher, edgier quality.  This approach worked great for bold, brass heavy music but wouldn't have worked for Born on the Fourth which I think is quite understated.  

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4 hours ago, karelm said:

Most would credit that to the performance of Tim Morrison, BSO trumpeter.  He was selected for his tone.  What JW didn't want was a military trumpet or a bold, triumphant trumpet nor mellow jazzy/noir style. 


I get the basics, for sure, but since Morrison was featured on many JW scores, not least in the BotF concert pieces, i don't think that's what i'm confusing for sound (the BPO suite does sound rather impersonal). Somehow they got a perfectly rich, resonant one for the OST, which i'm sure only users of good headphone equipment really get (it gets lost on speakers). It's a kind of deep, middle-centered sound of the instrument that just seems to fill or take up more space than usual, for the lack of a better expression.

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