John Williams -- a little boring?

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Mastadge, Aug 17, 2004.

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  1. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    I recently realized that, despite for years thinking he was god among film scorers, I actually have fewer scores by John Williams than by a lot of other composers. I also realized that I tend to listen to them significantly less. And I've been thinking about why that may be. A big part of the reason may be that I've just come to find his stuff boring, because for the most part, it's all the same.

    I mean, he writes loud, heroic, easy listening music like no one else; every time he scores one of Spielberg's fairy tales he turns out a masterpiece. In that genre, he's nonpareil. But like most of the films he scores, there's nothing much subtle about his work, and not much depth. As I said: easy listening, but don't listen for more than there is. Or maybe it's just that his music literally usually sounds the same. There's enough distinction between his themes that you can't really accuse him of ripping himself off on the level of James Horner, but there's also very little chance of popping in a John Williams score and thinking it's by anyone by John Williams. His music is almost always orchestrated the same, always sounds very much the same.

    I find myself reluctant to spend money on a John Williams score, because I'm relatively sure that aside from the couple new themes, mostly it'll sound very much like what I've heard from him before. The CD of his I listen to most is Greatest Hits, basically a collection of those wonderful themes.

    Does anyone else feel the same way? Or am I asking the wrong bunch on a Star Wars message board?
  2. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I could not disagree more.

  3. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
  4. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    To you it's boring.
    To me it's a style I really like and gladly listen to all day long. It's mostly different enough for me.
    But then again, I don't own that many scores by him either.
  5. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    Wow, Mastadge! You just described exactly how i feel about Williams' music. I totally agree with you. I thought I was the only who felt this way.
  6. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    but don't listen for more than there is

    Huh? Couldn't you say this about anything? :p

    So you are saying that, stylistically, Williams is too predictable, too vanilla? You think he should "mix it up" at bit more? Maybe like The Beatles' "Revolution 9"? ;)

    I think there is diversity and subtlety in his work. "The Battle Of Hoth" and "Chase Through Coruscant" are a bit unconventional in the Star Wars sense. All composers tend to have somewhat of a recognizable style.


    There has been discussion of JW "borrowing" from his own work in this thread. (Feel free to unlock and up it, or PM me if you don't have mod powers. ;))
  7. Cerrabore Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 4
    I could not disagree more.

    ...same.
  8. xoliver Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2001
    star 2
    In the role it was written for, i.e. as an integral element of the operalike Star Wars films, John Williams's Star Wars music certainly doesn't lack for depth, or merit being called 'easy listening'. Listened to in isolation, I don't know.

    Mastadge, you know better than to talk so glibly of 'ripping off'. Save it for when it really happens, not for the usual creative process.

    To turn the same subject to different use: which John Williams soundtracks sound most like Star Wars without having particularly famous themes (Jaws, Indiana Jones, etc.)?
  9. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    It's not that he copies his own work. IMO, it's more that the themes themselves have little variety within them. There's little variation throughout the tracks. For example compare the Batman theme with the Superman theme.
  10. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    John Williams didn't write the Batman theme. That was Danny Elfman.
  11. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
  12. PloKloon1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2001
    star 4
    John Williams is God. That is all.


























    :p
  13. StarWarsFan2005 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2004
    star 1
    You know I do like SOME of John Williams' work, but I don't think he's a "god". To me after a while as well some of his work tends to bore me...but in all honesty if I had other composers to choose from to listen to for weeks on end it would be either Jerry Goldsmith or Don Davis. But that's just my opinion if you don't like it oh well tough crap.

    Trent
  14. Well_Of_Souls Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 2001
    star 5
    I would agree somewhat, but mostly concerning his modern work. I think he has been somewhat on auto-pilot for the last few years (although The Phantom Menace is brilliant, even in chopped-up form). But, for me anyways, John Williams on auto-pilot is still better than half of the film music produced today.

    As for Williams's 70s to early 90s music, I think there was no one better than him. He never tried anything too radical, but that suited him because he was so damn good at producing amazing scores with mainstream appeal. I just started listening to The Empire Strikes Back again for the first time in probably a year and it is still the best score I've ever heard. It was my favorite score when I first started listening to film music and, years later, it is still my favorite score. And my tastes in film music have broadened considerably since then. Empire is repetitive in theme, but it is incredibly balanced and each time you hear a theme it has a new spin put on it to keep it interesting. Every time I listen to it, I hear something new. I can't say the same thing about Williams's more modern works.
  15. ST-TPM-ASF-TNE Moderator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2001
    star 6
    I have always thought Williams was the best, and I continue to think so. I find myself listening to his scores more than most others, and I'm never let down. His score for The Prisoner of Azkaban proves to me that he still has that imagination and spark and that he always has something fresh in mind. And of course I'm never disappointed with his Star Wars scores :D
  16. Sithman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 1999
    star 7
    "I find myself reluctant to spend money on a John Williams score, because I'm relatively sure that aside from the couple new themes, mostly it'll sound very much like what I've heard from him before."


    That much is certainly true for me. It's not worth the money.

    In fact, I only own two JW scores besides Star Wars. It's just all too similar.
  17. Dani1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2002
    star 3
    I guess you usually know what to expect from a Williams score, but he has the ability to surprise now and then. The Fury, Close Encounters, The Lost World, Catch Me If You Can... These are all pretty unique scores. Also, I doubt there is anyone here who can honestly say that they were expecting "Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant" on the AotC CD.
  18. Ozzel TF.N Foreign Book Covers Staff

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    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 5
    Basically, Mas, everything you think is bad of Williams' music, I think is good. The similarities are his style. The same could be said of many great composers.

    I find myself reluctant to spend money on a John Williams score...

    Williams is the composer whose CDs I am least relucant to pick up. I always know it will be good.

    I think he has been somewhat on auto-pilot for the last few years (although The Phantom Menace is brilliant, even in chopped-up form).

    I agree with that pretty much, but I think he started to break out of it this year.

    In fact, I only own two JW scores besides Star Wars. It's just all too similar.

    :eek: Please tell me those are Superman and Raiders.
  19. Sithman Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 1999
    star 7
    Whoops, three scores.

    Harry Potter. The Patriot. The Last Crusade.
  20. Ozzel TF.N Foreign Book Covers Staff

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    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 5
    Wow. All I can say is that you are seriously missing out. But hey, whatever floats your boat. :)
  21. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    OK just for the sake of discussion let me cite examples of scores that depart from the standard orchestration style of John Williams:

    - Schindler's List (Stark and emotionally taut arrangements which are warm in tone and very intimate sounding)
    - Saving Private Ryan (Muted and brass heavy, not much blatent themes here as moods and tones, very UN-Williams)
    - A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Many different styles, only one or two cues even sound like Williams)
    - Catch Me If You Can (Completely un-Williams for a lot of this jazz intensive score)
    - The Terminal (Merging Williams style with eastern European classical style, similar to Schindler's List only more upbeat)

    I think all five of these scores depart significantly or completely from the more recognizable Williams sound. Still even the ones that DO have that sound... hello, Beethoven had a style... it's ok.

  22. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    John Williams and Howard Shore - gods of film music.
  23. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    John Williams -- probably.

    Howard Shore -- not even close.
  24. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    To me, he is. The work he did on TLOTR is the greatest anyone could've done!
    I don't know what else he has done, though.
  25. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    His work on LotR is loud and catchy and pretty, sure, though its musical merits are very debatable, but one fantastic project hardly makes him a God of film music.
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