John Williams and Contemporary Film Music
There seems to be the idea that everything has been written on John Williams, because he is such a famous film composer. Yet, this is not true at all, since academic studies of his work are rare. Moreover, when discussed critically, if not academically, the take on Williams’s work is often oversimplified if not prejudiced. On the other hand, the stylistic influence of Williams’s work on contemporary scoring has also been overstated by fans and favourable critics. The use of big orchestras and dense sound textures is actually the only thing that contemporary mainstream Hollywood composers such as Hans Zimmer seem to have inherited from him, certainly not Williams’s leitmotivic, symphonic, and classical-hollywood-sounding style. This chapter aims at defining Williams’s contribution to contemporary scoring in fairer terms. The essay surveys Williams’s career in terms of his revival of the musical style and repertoire of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and compares his style with the general style of mainstream contemporary film music.
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