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Comments about the soundtrack for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (John Williams)

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Re: John Williams is a petty theif
• Posted by: Aaron   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 5:01 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: John Williams is a petty theif (Aaron)


I read with interest your post on John Williams as 'petty thief".

As someone who works in a creative industry, I will tell you that all artists "expand on ideas" "are influenced by" or in your case "steal" from other artists all the time.

Take for example writers, early greek mythology establishes the core archetypes of all modern narratives that have we enjoy in print, stage and screen today. Just because modern fiction has a CIA operative as a protagonist doesn't mean this story hasn't been told a thousand times over already.

It is the same with music, Mozart was influenced by Haydn. You can hear the influence in the music.

Similarly you can hear the great influence Wagner had on Debussy's Opera "Paleas and Melisande".

And more recently - I went to the Disney concert Hall and heard the composer John Adams conduct his new piece The Gospel According to the Other Mary - and guess what - IT RECOGNIZABLY SOUNDS LIKE WILLIAMS!!

The notion that any artist is a truly original act, simply highlights the fact that most people are not that familiar with these artists influences and inspirations. The number of times I hear a famous melody in another artists work happens all the time. It's called cultural legacy. This is what artists do - they leave behind a legacy that will hopefully inspire and further the intellectual pursuit of mastery of their specific craft.

Think of the last great book you read or movie you watched. You can trace it back to mythology.

The notion that Williams is a "petty thief" is really just intended to inflame. Think about it, because you recognize a motif does not account for how Williams will orchestrate and EXPAND on it in the totality of a particular cue or score. All artists do this.

So in essence when you recognize 7 notes in a particular order, what about the other tens of thousands of notes that surround and expand on it in a particular work?

The notion that an artist must never pay homage to and expand on a source of inspiration insists that they live and work in a sterile bubble.

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