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The Magic of John Williams

by bhebotenchantress | Published: Sep 08, 2013



I wonder what it would have been like to go to the movies, and everything being silent. Before the invention of the movies that we know and love today, being a movie theater was like a family day during Thanksgiving. Everyone would be sitting around the television, watching the Macy’s Day Parade, but with everyone talking with each other at the same time, you couldn’t really hear what was going on from the  television set. Everything was silent from the perspective of the show.

 

Now many years later, we have sound, and thank goodness for that. Let me introduce, or to some, reintroduce to you one of my inspirations in music, and the film genre in general, John Williams. It will only take a few bars of the opening of his movies for you to say, I know that movie! Or here comes Darth Vader! That is the impact of his music to the movies that we have all known to love and enjoy watching over and over again.

 

I remember watching as a child, Indiana Jones. It all began with Ta ta da da, da da da, and I was immediately enthralled in the film, not only because of the immersive acting of Harrison For, but mostly because of the gorgeous soundtrack written and conducted by John Williams. With only the music, you could picture in your mind Indie running away from the temple, being chased after by a giant round ball of solid rock.

 

I literally grew up with the music, and from such films as Home Alone, Jurrasic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and many more unnamed films to his name’s credit. His rising master pieces uplifts not only the movie itself, but the meaning behind the director’s creation. Someone once was quoted as saying that a movie is only fifty percent of the picture, the rest is done through sound. I wholeheartedly agree on that, as without music we wouldn’t know whether the good guy or the bad was coming around the corner. These are literally the musical cues that remind the audiences that what they are seeing on the screen is only a part of what the director originally imagined.

 

John Williams, currently eighty two years old and residing in Los Angeles, California, was born in the great state of New York, in Long Island to parents who had similar backgrounds in music and the arts. His father was a jazz percussionist. While his mother was a housewife, but enjoyed the arts in her own way. He later attended the prestigious Julliard School, where he studied music and continued to refine his craft.

 

Sometimes, when I am sitting at my piano, I try to think like him, when I am composing my own musical scores for projects that I do. I’m telling you now dear reader, that it is an extremely tough job to punch out on the keyboard the first few notes. To get that singular theme that will course through the entire musical piece from the beginning of the movie to the end and then even more after that through the hearts and minds of the audience.

 

I remember one session, while I was sitting at the keyboard, and I played a tune from Superman. Superman’s theme can be a little comical from the beginning, especially with the fanfare of the trumpet and horn section permeating through the first few measures, but as the music progresses into the string section, you can have a glimpse of the genius behind the work. It progresses through the melody of love between Superman and Louis Lane, and at the end, it leaves you craving for more.

 

This is the responsibility of the film composer, like John Williams. He strives not to distract from the picture itself, but to complement it with a soundtrack that endures through the entire film and even after that, as the audience walks out of the theater. I enjoy John, since he will always live on, even after his time here on earth is over through his music.

 

 

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