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https://soundcloud.com/larya/tranquility-base

This is a slow movement in the sci/fi genre. Is there such a thing as a slow movement in the sci/fi genre? Anyway, when the melody moves very slowly the accompaniment chords are few and far between, so to build intensity or interest you can repeat the chords every quarter or eighth note, or waver back and forth between the chord and first inversion as in Beethoven. Or you can go down two steps in thirds and back up ala Bach. Or you can add the sixth to a tri-chord on every other chord as in Copland and Holst. I used this plus added a new wrinkle, went up three whole tones and down again. If you've heard this before don't tell me. I want to live in the illusion that I created something original. As we at the forum always strive to boldly go where no composer has gone before.

Tranquility Base is the site of the first moon walk by Neil Armstrong (not Michael Jackson) in 1969. The piece depicts the first lunar sunrise, astronauts scurrying about, moon walking, collecting rock and setting up experiments. Finally it ends with the lunar sunset.

All comments are welcome, except please don't say it sounds like pirate music.

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I dug up my response from the last time (also on a Lawrence post) the idea of Williams as a non-serious composer came up. I think it's still pertinent:

"John, I'd like music encapsulating the wonder of seeing extinct dinosaurs/the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust/the clash between good and evil itself/love thwarted by an evil guy in a big helmet/a child's life forever touched by an experience he may never fully understand"
"Not serious enough. I'm not writing serious music for this fluff"

(I'm not critiquing your thoughts btw)

Joel Becker said:

John Williams may be known only for his "non serious" movie music, but he wrote so much absolutely wonderful music, and the substance of his orchestrations is so rich. Lawrence, you and I could learn oodles from that guy. I think we should be slow to criticize. Also I thought his horn concerto was nice. Have you heard his serious music? It's almost impossible to find because everyone wants his movie music.

Yes, Yo-Yo and John Williams conducting.  It was commissioned for the opening of Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood.

Mike Hewer said:

DM, 

I'm so jealous, was Yo Yo Ma the soloist? Williams conducting? I have a fantastic recording with him and Williams.

Just got hold of the violin concerto the other day, looking forward to listening to that one, I think it was originally a rejected demo for  Shrek VII.

DriscollMusick said:

I was at the world premiere of the Williams cello concerto, but haven't listened to it since.  That's what I'll do today!

Thanks Bob, but it wasn't a 'for' flute..  (which i tried to clearly say :(  

There is Also a piece he wrote using a shakuhachi flute.. It is not this piece either..

It is from his student days (at USC?).. Heard it on Jim Sveda's show on KUSC..

Bob Morabito said:

i remember hearing an interview (quite some years back) on classical radio with John Williams They played a work from his student days - "Shakuhachi"… It was for orchestra, with the idea of mimicking the (incredibly varied) texture - and spaciousness of traditional Shakuhachi Flute and its music.  I thought it was an incredible work, (and musically very successful in that mimicry).. (to be clear, there was no shakuhachi flute in the orchestra).  The piece sounded nothing like his 'sound' I'm familiar with.  I tried to locate this piece before.. It never comes up.

I couldnt find anything called "Shakuhachi"--is this possibly what you were thinking of?

John Williams Flute Concerto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRLKIe81HyI

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Joel, Mike and Dave,

    I made those comments only half tongue in cheek.  I've probably heard most of Williams orchestral music, including a two and a half hour concert of all William's music about two years ago.  There is one film score I like, his music to The Cowboys, a movie written for adults, and music likewise.  If he was capable of writing good music in 1972, surely he can write good music today.

  As far as listening pleasure, I put his music in a class with Gustav Mahler.  They have their moments, but overall I would rather listen to most anything else, including a few members of this forum.
 
Joel Becker said:

John Williams may be known only for his "non serious" movie music, but he wrote so much absolutely wonderful music, and the substance of his orchestrations is so rich. Lawrence, you and I could learn oodles from that guy. I think we should be slow to criticize. Also I thought his horn concerto was nice. Have you heard his serious music? It's almost impossible to find because everyone wants his movie music.

That's cool. I mean, I'd never - if I do, tell me and I'll stop - tell anyone they should like certain music, or they're wrong not to. But I feel there's so much more to Williams than his fanfares and action music that you're associating, and you might not have heard it. A 2.5 hour concert certainly didn't contain all of it :) Would you be interested in some other pieces I can find? Whilst I admire most of his output, the pieces I listen to for pleasure aren't generally of the screeching-piccolo varietal.

I was at a Mahler rehearsal. It was breathtaking and complex and I can't remember a single note except the big hammer.

Lawrence Aurich said:

Joel, Mike and Dave,

    I made those comments only half tongue in cheek.  I've probably heard most of Williams orchestral music, including a two and a half hour concert of all William's music about two years ago.  There is one film score I like, his music to The Cowboys, a movie written for adults, and music likewise.  If he was capable of writing good music in 1972, surely he can write good music today.

  As far as listening pleasure, I put his music in a class with Gustav Mahler.  They have their moments, but overall I would rather listen to most anything else, including a few members of this forum.

Bob,

Just because I can't remember a movie from 40 years ago doesn't mean my arguments don't make sense. One last shot at the subject: I've been writing orchestra music for just three years, so I make mistakes as in this piece, I should have put the B section is 2 instead of 6. Williams has been composing movie scores for about 50 years. He doesn't make mistakes. He makes choices. For unknown reasons ($$$) he chose to compose for film and screen. That is the genre in which he has specialized and become expert. It is egotistical and naive to assume that because someone has gained expertise in one genre he can compose in any other genre. For example, I have some experience composing orchestra music, so to compose a string quartet I merely need to boil down a symphony movement into four parts and voila, a string quartet. But such a work would sound trite and amateurish because every genre has its own set of rules, peccadilloes, and nuances.

Honestly, I have managed to avoid all the Star Wars Saga except the first one, but the music is unavoidable. When I hear Williams' music in concert the screen play is not running in my head, so I can only judge it for how it is presented, as symphony music. Then things start to bother me like, that transition was too abrupt, the tempo is too fast, the percussion is over bearing etc. In other words I become a critic and not a listener. Which means I am not enjoying the music. With other composers the music flows over me, there is nothing to criticize, and the concert becomes one big aahh.

If Williams would rearrange his film scores for performance in the symphony then perhaps concerts of his music would be more enjoyable. In short, Williams is a great film score composer and will forever have that asterisk by his name.

( Or, if Williams would post one of his movie scores on line, we could tear it to smithereens and reconstruct it the way it should be, hee hee.)


Bob Porter said:

You mean the John Wayne movie staring a bunch of 11 year old boys? An movie written for adults? I love Wayne movies, but not that one.

It's all a matter of taste. It's OK to not like the Star Wars music. But the reasons you've given so far don't make any sense.

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