Augie's Great Municipal Band - The Debate

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Grand Moff Joker, Feb 13, 2001.

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  1. Grand Moff Joker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1999
    star 4
    This is my first post here on the Music Forum, and I'm glad to see these boards are doing so well.

    Prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, I tried to avoid as many spoilers as I could. I watched the trailers and anything presented on the Official Site, and I got bombarded with all sorts of stuff at the Celebration in Denver, but I tried pretty hard not to find out the overall plot and storyline. Therefore, I almost avoided buying the TPM soundtrack the day it was released because I had already heard that the track titles were as spoilerific as anything. But since the music of Star Wars is almost as important to me as the films themselves, I broke down and bought the soundtrack to tide me over those last couple of weeks before the movie came out.

    Still not wanting to be spoiled too much, I only allowed myself to listen to two tracks: Duel of the Fates (I had heard it a million times in Denver already) and Augie's Great Municipal Band & End Credits (I was hoping it would be a suite like the End Credits for TESB and ROTJ). Anyway, long story short (too late! LOL), the first time I heard Augie's, I seriously got chills and it even brought tears to my eyes (still does sometimes, honestly). First because it was new Star Wars music after 16 years!!! Second, because it was so upbeat and uplifting. Third, because I tried to imagine what was going on in the film at the time (I assumed it had to be a final celebration sequence), and fourth because it immediately sounded eerily familiar and even haunting.

    Now, keep in mind that at the time I first heard it, I didn't know the plot of TPM. But there it was....as plain as day.... a happy and cheerful version of the Emperor's Theme from ROTJ being sung by children rather than a male chorus! I couldn't think of why in the world the Emperor's theme would ever be portrayed like that, so I immediately played the track for friends...and they all recognized it (and freaked out), too.

    Of course, the greatest part was when I finally saw the film and understood the context of how that theme could be portayed that way. It's so perfect! Everybody is all happy, thinking they've won the day and kept Naboo safe from the evil Trade Federation. Boss Nass yells for peace, Amidala and Anakin share a glance, and Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council look on with approval. But despite all the outward celebration that the music represents on the surface, it's actually for an internal celebration that the majority of the movie-going public didn't even catch. In the middle of everything else, there stands Palpatine - newly elected Chancellor of the Republic - realizing that everything (except the loss of Maul) was proceeding exactly as he had planned, so the celebration (and accompanying theme) is most appropriate for him. Little does everybody else know that they're only celebrating the beginning of the end...

    Now jump to after the TPM release when word started spreading on the net as people realized that Augie's was a disguised version of the Sith theme. I was glad I had noticed it on my own and excited that other people were picking up on it as well. But shortly thereafter, reports started coming out saying that Williams said that it was not planned that way and was completely unintentional. Some fans swear that Augie's was meant to play off the Sith theme....others have never caught the connection.....and various websites have come up with all sorts of evidence to support arguments on both sides.

    So now that we have this forum, let's discuss this somewhat controversial piece of Star Wars music. Augie's - Do you like it? Love it? Hate it? And is it supposed to be a hidden (dare I say "insidious") portrayal of the Sith theme that overshadows the duality of the end celebration in The Phantom Menace? Discuss.
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I like it, personally; sounds cool.
  3. Cindé of Naboo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2000
    star 4
    It was when I got the piano music for TPM that I first noticed the sinister hints in this happy song, and it literally sent chills up and down my spine. I love it!
  4. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    I think it's amazing. It's the Emperor's theme from RotJ transposed from its original minor key to a major key.

    Once again, observe please, the pure genius of John Williams. :)
  5. Son of the Suns Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 6, 1999
    star 6
    "Augie's" is a pretty good track. As far as "pre-End Credits music" goes, though, I'd place it after "Throne Room", "The Rebel Fleet" and "Victory Celebration", but it's way better than the old "Yub Yub" song from the original ROTJ score.

    As for the debate about whether it's an upbeat version of Palpy's theme or not: I definitely believe it is an alternate version of that sinister theme. It would be too much of a coincidence if Williams didn't knowingly compose it that way.
  6. Sithman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 1999
    star 7
    I love it. It's definitely Palpy's theme from ROTJ. BTW, what you said about JW denying it, um, how credible were the sources? The website or whatever could have been lying about that.

    ANYWAYS, what I was gonna say was, did any of you notice the difference between the movie version and the soundtrack version of the song? Personally, I like the movie version better. It's got a longer drum part, that funky part the choir sings while Jar-Jar and Co. walk up the steps, but what's REALLY interesting is that they only play/sing Palpy's theme once. On the soundtrack it's sung/played probably 4 or 5 times, but in the movie, it's just once. So, if you miss it the 1st time, you miss it for good. Anyone else notice that and/or which version did you like better?

    ~Sithman~
  7. Rokangus Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 18, 2000
    star 5
    The soundtrack version is really cool, but I agree; I wish it had a longer drum/percussion section to it. That's always my favorite part. I've always been rather fond of those types of cadences.
  8. Grand Moff Joker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1999
    star 4
    I like the film version more, too. I had noticed the film version was different, but I hadn't noticed that the chorus part of Palpy's theme was only sung once in the movie. Interesting. And have you noticed there's a short different little choral part in the film as they show Yoda standing there? I really like that part....it's powerful when you take it in the context of the other films...and wish that version was available on disc. But maybe we'll get that when they get around to making a "Final Edition" soundtrack with lots of alternate cues and such.

    The only thing I don't like about Augie's is that it's so short. I wish Williams would/could do a concert arrangement of the piece. Now that would be excellent.
  9. s1138_ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 1
    i always knew it sounded familiar...
    so i used winamp and slowed down the augie's and lowered the pitch. hmmm....sound like palpy's theme
  10. Grand Admiral Reese Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 1, 1999
    star 6
    I like it. Williams is amazing.
  11. NathanDahlin Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2000
    star 6
    I love that track! I didn't notice that it was the Emperor's theme until someone told me, though...
  12. Bubba Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2000
    star 5
    I get those shivers as well when I hear it...and the life-long question I ask is...who is Augie? :)
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Augie=Palpatine, I think. It is his theme..
  14. Sithman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 1999
    star 7
    Yeah, who IS Augie anyways?

    ~Sithman~
  15. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    So that's what happened to him.
  17. dehrian Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 1999
    star 6
    You know, technically, it's NOT the Emperor's Theme. Even with a key change. Most of the notes are different: off a step or quarter-step, or sometimes a whole step, even compensating for a key change. The boy's choir is just singing notes to the same time of the Emperor's Theme and with the same phrasing, so it sounds like it.

    Musically, technically, it IS different. But I've yet to find someone who isn't musically trained who understands me and accepts my explanation when I try to tell them exactly HOW it's different.
  18. Grand Moff Joker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1999
    star 4
    From what I've read (and I really forget where - maybe the EP1 Visual Dictionary or one of the TPM souvenir magazines), Augie is the Gungan band director who is leading and conducting the Gungan band during the parade. In other words, Augie is the Gungan's John Williams. >: )
  19. Sithman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 1999
    star 7
    DLM,
    Wow, we didn't learn THAT in history. I guess I DO learn more on the internet. :-D

    ~Sithman~
  20. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
    dehrian: You can make any technical argument you please, but speaking as an "untrained layperson," I'd say what really matters is the way the music is understood by the general listening public. Music is an art form, and the communication of ideas is more important than the actual structure, at least from the listener's point of view. So whether or not 'Augie' really is the Emperor's theme is irrelevant; what matters is that it comes across that way.
  21. Fatboy_Roberts Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2000
    star 3
    Exactly, Mara. I'm of the mind that Williams KNEW where he wanted to go with it, knew that he wanted something to sound just similar enough to the Emperor's Theme that people would prick up their ears and go "hmm..same pattern, same ascending and descending pattern of notes..whaddya know, there's Palps up there onscreen, smiling!!" but to tweak it enough so that it's an entirely different piece of music that, like Palpatine himself, can barely be traced back to it's original intent and origins, especially once you start looking at it on the page.

    Or maybe I'm attributing to much to Williams genius? I dunno.

    Peace,
    Fatboy
  22. dehrian Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 1999
    star 6
    Mara, I'm not trying to start an argument (and my girlfriend's name is Mara, so you have no idea how those words just ROLL of the tongue). I just felt someone should actually stand up and say that they are not actually the same piece of music, even accounting for a key change.

    Everyone is jumping on this bandwagon, saying it's incredible how they're the same. I thought some people might actually be interested to know that they're really not. It's a trick of the ear, like one of those magic drawings that if you stare at long enough seem to reveal another picture underneath. Is it real or do you just want to see it so badly that you're imagining it?

    The first and third notes on the first bar of the two pieces are the same. The first two bars of each piece contain three notes. Those are the similarities. The first bar sets you up to think they are the same because of the first and third notes.

    Anyway, I'm not here to debate it. I just thought some might be interested in a more technical standpoint, as this IS the music discussion forum.

    If anyone wants to know more, I can post a note-by-note transposition of each piece into the same key for comparison. Just let me know.
  23. Fatboy_Roberts Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2000
    star 3
    Dehrian: I'm basically saying the same thing you are, but I'm of the mind that Williams intent *was* to get people to think "OH WOW! The emperor's theme." if they were in the know, and yet have it be a completely different experience for those not paying as close attention to the scores. I mean, yeah, it's obviously a different piece of music..but I think Williams threw in those similarities for the sole purpose of getting people to go "man. that' palpatine's theme. there he is..slick."

    Peace,
    Fatboy

  24. dehrian Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 1999
    star 6
    Well, for what it's worth, Ken Wanberg (longtime JW collaborator and editor) was asked about this very issue, if the Emperor's Theme was hidden in the boys choir of Augie, and he said, "Not at all. I don't know where they got that idea.... There are no hidden meanings."

    Take it for what you will.
  25. Grand Moff Joker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1999
    star 4
    In addition, I remember reading and/or hearing that the parade sequence was the only piece in the film where Lucas told Williams specifically what he wanted. Now, that may mean he just said "Make a parade-style march with lots of brass and an accompanying children's chorus that is really upbeat and happy."

    Or, maybe Lucas is the genius behind the similarities. Perhaps he said, "John, I want a parade-style march with lots of brass and an accompanying children's chorus that is really upbeat and happy. But I want the main melody of that chorus to sound very much like the theme you used for the Emperor. Change it enough so it's not too obvious, but I definitely want a connection. You see, the irony of this final scene is that everybody is happy and celebrating a great victory. But what they don't know is that they've really lost the battle. Palpatine just got elected as Surpreme Chancellor and is standing there knowing that everything is proceeding as he has foreseen. He's the only one who has really won anything in the long run, so the music should subtly reflect that concept. Think you can do it?"

    All that, of course, was just my little imagination. But I do know for a fact that I read or heard in a John Williams interview that Lucas pretty much gave him free-reign in the score except for the celebration parade.
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