Why John Williams is a genius

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by classified, May 31, 2005.

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  1. classified Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    Listening to the soundtracks of all of the Star Wars films made me realise how much of a musical genius John Williams is. Its amazing how everything just works. Not only musically but symbolicly as well.

    For instance take the theme: Duel of the Fates. The words are from the ancient Indian language of Sanskirt. They are translated from an old Celtic poem called battle of the trees which depicts the story of 3 battles going on at once. Notice, when the theme is played in TPM there are 3 battles going on. the duel, the battle of naboo and the battle of theed. The attention to detail is amazing. Also it focuses on a few main words aswell such as loss and temptation and anger (i think). When we see Anakin on Tatooine searching for his mum, guess what theme is playing? Duel of the Fates. Sanskirt is a very ancient sounding laguage which gives it an extra authenticity. The Sith people (not the Jedi/Sith, i mean the origional Sith who lived on a planet practicing black magic and dark arts) are an ancient people who of a sort of pagan religion, worshiping in ancient temples (ive heard people say that Yavin IV was where they came from but im not sure.). Duel of the Fates is an eerie chant which gives this impression very well.

    Duel of the Fates is amazing and i could listen to it over and over again.

  2. jadailyTCU Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2005
    star 1
    A tangent: If Yavin IV was where the original Sith came from...well, that irony is just too good for words.
  3. classified Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 4
    Im not sure, but i think it may be. Becuse one of Luke Skywalker's students communes with an ancient sith lord at the temple at Yavin. However that may be just some crap i got of supershadow. not sure
  4. DarthMorsus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 8, 2005
    star 1
    Duel of the Fates is intense. I was listening to it recently and it is really amazing. I just love those false endings.
  5. Cerrabore Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 4
    That's because it's based on a cue written for the film. The false endings match the action.
  6. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    I also noticed a point in ROTS where Anakin's theme is playing over the ostinato from the Duel of the Fates. I loved that point.
  7. QUI-DON-JINN Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 1
    Can you give a time cue and/or track (if it's on the OST) for when that occurs? Sounds interesting. :)
  8. the-shrude-dude Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2005
    star 1
    I think John Williams is the supremo talent for movie music - but geniues? I'm not sure. Without having a jibe at him - he really is master of the pastiche - everything he's written is very much a pastiche of other more classic works. SW most easily is Mars crossed with Dambusters. Doesnt take away its excellence - but genius? no.
  9. stradman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2002
    star 3
    I am not sure I would call Williams a "genius."

    Bach was a genius. As was Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and even Ives (if you can stand his work). Williams is an extremely talented composer, one who has made a great impact on the film community. But as with the "great" composers, I believe you will need to divide Williams career into different "creative periods." His early works and his latest work will have little in common. His later works have more maturity behind them and you can tell that they are of a higher calibur. This is not to say anything bad about the earlier works, it is just to say after one has had 30 years of experiance, one tends to learn a couple of new tricks. Just by the nature of things and what I have read, Jaws, will have little in common with Memoirs of a Geisha. In this latest movie, I have read that the orchestra is going to be stripped down in size and it will be more like a grand concerto (a concerto with the orchestra and a small group of soloists set aside). This form of writing goes back to a style that died out of the mainstream in the Baroque period since these grand concertos were replaced by the symphony. If Williams can successfully employ this style and create a well crafted soundtrack to the movie, I will be inclined to call him a GENIUS.
  10. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    1) There are other reasons that Jaws and Geisha will have little in common -- such as the fact that the two movies have nothing in common.

    2) I must disagree with you. Williams' greatest period was late seventies to early eighties. His new stuff may be more mature, but with few exceptions it's not as good as what he produced several decades ago.
  11. TheBoogieMan Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2001
    star 6
    I agree with Mastadge on both points.


    Although, the idea of Memoirs of a Geisha being scored with the familiar Jaws theme does have its merits... :p
  12. stradman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2002
    star 3
    I will clarify what I wrote earlier. Williams was more innovative and revolutionary in the late seventies and early eighties, I am not denying that. I just believe Williams is becoming more mature and artful with his music. And while I belive that there are times that he might use a theme too much and be repeditive, I think his themes show more emotion and depth than they did thirty years ago.

    When I made the comparrisson to Jaws and Memoirs of a Geisha, I was referring to the dynamics and instrumentation of the orchestra that was to be used. In Memoirs, we will not see the full power of the London Symphony Orchestra that we have come to expect from Williams. It will be much smaller and more intimate. That is what I was trying to say. I believe that this score will be much different than anything we have heard before.
  13. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    More like Jane Eyre?
  14. stradman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2002
    star 3
    I'm not sure I follow you.
  15. skyy38 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 2003
    star 2
    If you really want to experience the genius of John Williams,rent "The Towering Inferno" sometime...and listen closely.

    Then listen closer...

    http://tti-music.servemp3.com/

    Beats the stuffing out of anything he did for "Jaws" or "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
    IMHO
  16. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    John Williams wrote Jane Eyre back before Jaws or any of the others. It's smaller, more intimate. More chamber music than his later massive compositions.
  17. stradman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2002
    star 3
    Then, Yes I mean that. I admire Williams' use of old and sometimes forgotten instrumentation and forms. There is much to be gained by looking into the past for inspiration. Not forsaking what the present and the future have to offer, but not forgetting what has come before either.

    The reason I want to hear the stripped down and more intimate sound is because anyone can write a large bombastic sound, but it takes a greater sense of musicality and technique to write on a smaller scale. Even Mozart, argued by some to be the greatest composer of all time because of his masterpieces that were often on a grand scale, honored Haydn for his greatness because he could compose string quartets with ease.
  18. the-shrude-dude Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2005
    star 1
    I see the term genius bandied about for a lot of things. Now, whilst Williams is THE master at film cues - which in my opinion are generally hashes and pastiche anyway - it really doesnt put him in the creative realm for musical genius. Okay, now what about the recent point of imaginitve use of arrangement and instrumentation from forgotten times? Well, let me put it this way - look at his use of electric guitar in the "chase through coruscant". Niaive at best - attrocious at worst. He is excellent at the filmic use of the orchestral - this does not make him a master genius - but it does make him unsurpassable in film music terms.

    I must also disagree with the point that what he did 20 years ago was superior to what he does now. His experience is clearly shining through. He knows his players - his reinterpretations of classic star wars themes now are incredible. Obviously access to better recording techniques and players par excellence helps (i've worked with Maurice Murphy a few times and his playing now as a man in his 60's is vastly superior to that of his original lead trumpet lines on ANH nearly thirty years ago!)

    Finally - have a listen to "catch me if you can"... fantastic hitchcock pastiche....

  19. Discorpor8 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2005
    star 4
    For me, John Williams is amazing. I don't know of any composer who makes such diverse pieces. And so many have become pop culture icons, as well. The Star Wars Main Theme. Imperial March. Indiana Jones Theme. Theme from Jaws. John Williams is a genius in that sense of the word.

    One of my favorite John Williams memories is when my school orchestra played the Theme from Schindler's List. I played violin, and when I played it, I would always feel like crying. Not just because I'm Jewish and I relate this song to one of the most horrible things to ever happen to my culture, but because of this piece's very notes. The almost wailing the violin makes. The descending and ascending scales melting into one another. Just the melody itself reminds me of the prayer my rabbi sang over the candles at my Bat Mitzvah. I always cry during that song (when I'm not playing it, lest I get my violin messed up).
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