Join Date: Apr 2008
Re: Episode VII Music Composer?
Some words from Williams about his approach for scoring episode 7. Cant wait to hear this!! http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/...-force-awakens
John Williams Says His New Star Wars Score Will Include the Original Themes
An extended interview between the revered composer and the author of our Star Wars cover story, Bruce Handy.
BY BRUCE HANDY
Film composer John Williams has been nominated for an astonishing 49 Academy Awards. Heís won five. His second was for Jaws and his third was for the original Star Warsóand bingo! Right there you have arguably the two most recognizable scores in Hollywood history. Williams has since written the music for all the Star Wars sequels and prequels, along with nearly all of Steven Spielbergís films, the first three Harry Potter pictures, andóa few more titles chosen not quite at randomóSuperman, The Witches of Eastwick, Home Alone, JFK, and The Book Thief.
I recently spoke to Williams about his in-progress work on his seventh Star Wars score, for the upcoming The Force Awakensóand also about a song he once co-wrote for Frank Sinatra. Click here to read the June Vanity Fair cover story on The Force Awakens and to see Annie Leibovitzís exclusive portraits of the cast. Below are outtakes from my conversation with Williams.
Bruce Handy: Now that youíre scoring your seventh Star Wars movie, do you find that you approach the series differently in terms of your creative process compared with other films or series youíve worked on?
John Williams: Very much so. Itís all a continuation of an initial set of ideas. Itís a bit like adding paragraphs to a letter thatís been going on for a number of years. Starting with a completely new film, a story that I donít know, characters that I havenít met, my whole approach to writing music is completely differentótrying to find an identity, trying to find melodic identifications if thatís needed for the characters, and so on. Which I do here, but here itís an extension of something thatís been really organic and continually growing. Itís a very, very different process. Thatís really the best analogy I can come up with at the moment so Iíll repeat it: itís like adding paragraphs to a letter rather than beginning the letter again.
That musical backstory, your previous Star Wars scores, is that something you can tap into pretty easily? Or do you, for instance, maybe sit down and re-listen to all the old scores to immerse yourself in that world before you start writing a new one?
I havenít done that, though I might have been helped by doing that. But I know the material--I think I do. I have my take on it, so to speak; I have my feelings about it. So I havenít had to consult the old scores. Itís really been a comfortable transition in each case. Iíve used this analogy too, a thousand times: itís a bit like riding a bike that you havenít been on since you were ten years old. You do remember. And Iíve had the experience before with the Raiders series and Superman, the Harry Potter series, although the music is somewhat dissimilar. I hope itís dissimilar. I hope theyíre at least, in part, unique to the projects. But going from one to another is not a difficult adjustment, at least not for me.
How has it been different working with J.J. Abrams compared to working with George Lucas?
Itís actually very similar. My meetings with George had to do with spotting the film, selecting areas in which music would be played, and pretty much we agreed on all that. He always left me free to write the music. And J.J.ís done the same thing. Weíve had a few preliminary meetings, and Iíve played him some music at the piano, which he seemed to like very much. His latest instruction to me was, ďJust do your thing.Ē Which is giving me a good sense of freedom, a good free swing at the ball. I donít know how much you know of him, but he is a delightful person. Enormously bright. Iíve been very impressed with him in meetings with a great variety of people. His generalship is assured and warm and inviting and inclusive. If I can say it, heís a fabulous young man whoís future is so brilliant and so promising. I donít know how old he is, but heís a young man to me. [Abrams is 48; Williams is 83.] Heís enormously impressive.
In the new score, aside from the main Star Wars theme, are you going to be reviving any of the themes from the first trilogy which were associated with Luke, Leia, and Han?
There are some scenes where we do make reference to earlier thematic pieces. We havenít done it yet, but weíre planning to do it. Itís something that I think will seem very natural and right in the moments for which weíve chosen to do these kinds of quotes. There arenít many of them, but there are a few that I think are important and will seem very much a part of the fabric of the piece in a positive and constructive way.
This is probably a corny question, but of your six Star Wars scores, do you have a favorite?
I really donít. [Thinks about it for a moment anyway, then laughs] No. Iíve played so many of those pieces in concert over the year, and I think my affection for them, if I can put it that way, is pretty constant thing. If you pressed me, well, you could probably look up the concert programs over the years and say, You favored this one over that one. Itís possible, I donít know, but I donít think I can say I have any favorites.
This is a bit out of the blue, but a couple of weeks ago I bought an old Paul Williams LP at a flea market. [Here Comes Inspiration, released in 1974] Thereís one song on the album for which a ďJohn WilliamsĒ is credited as the co-writer and also as the arranger. Are you that John Williams?
Yes. It might have been from Cinderella Liberty, the film. Paul and I wrote two or three songs for that. We also wrote a song together that was recorded by Frank Sinatra for that album Olí Blue Eyes Is Back. Remember that album? [The record, a ďcomebackĒ album, was released in 1973. The Williams-Williams song on it was ďDream Away,Ē the one that also appears on Here Comes Inspiration.] Paul and I worked together way back in the 70s on film projects of one kind or another. He was and is a fabulous lyricist.
Are you related?
No, weíre unrelated. But Iím very, very fond of him.
ďThere is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.Ē Goethe
If Jack Bauer joined the Rebel Alliance, 24 hours later there would be no Empire :p