Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Williams Files

Sometimes when you blog about a topic you really care about, however intermittently, and you happen to know editors of publications other than the one you run, it may happen that you're asked to write about the topics you know too much about for actual for-sale publications. That was the case when Allison Adato, an editor at Entertainment Weekly books and an old college friend of mine, was putting together a Star Wars guide last fall and she asked me to write about what made John Williams's scores so special. I'd written at some length about revisiting the original 1977 soundtrack album here; and I happily obliged giving the scores another spin in anticipation of that what's-it-called movie about the force. A sample:
Think of the opening anthem, which accompanies each chapter’s expositional crawl: This octave-spanning tune, in wholesome B-flat major, is irresistibly stirring not only for its leap-frogging melody but for what that melody leaps over: a harmony built partly from a “quartal” chord, so-called because it’s essentially a stack of fanfare-like fourth intervals (the opening notes of “Taps” or the “Wedding March” are fourths), and a restless rhythm in the underscoring that alternates off-beat bursts of syncopation with an even-keeled march, keeping this otherwise straightforward processional on its toes.

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