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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Modal Mixture in the Theme from Jurassic Park (That's right, I went there...)

Begin Log.

Well, let me start off be saying that John Williams is Da Bomb! I mean, who is better than JW in today's society? That's right, no one. So, I have chosen to remark on his music from (you know it, you love it) Jurassic Park (I know it's not classical, but, hey, that wasn't in the criteria...). However, in all actuality, I only chose this piece because it was within reach of my desk chair.

I'm a huge Spielberg (and Spiegelberg) fan as well. I have 4 of his autographs (I'm not so sure about two of them...) just for kicks.

Let's get down to it.

There is only one mixture chord and it occurs 4 times according to my own count. It is a bVII and always occurs before a V chord. During the first three occurences the progression is I-bVII-V-I. In these cases, the chord is a 9 chord in 2nd inversion. However, the last occurence is I-V-bVII-V-I. In this case, the chord is simply a root position triad.

The desired affect for this chord is most likely tension. This can be felt by both the performer and the listener. However, once the performer practices and listens to it more than once, the surprise of the tension goes away and they are left with a colorful chord progression to elevate the piece. The same goes for the listener. It's like watching a movie! Of course, if you've seen the movie a dozen times or more (like me...) then you know what is going to happen. Besides all that, the surprise of the tense bVII chord when it is heard for the first time, and even the second time, is encouraging to our musical minds.

End Log.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Howard Shore also likes using the bVII chord (the hero theme from LOTR is a good example).

I think Williams uses the bVII to portray the fantastic elements, signaling that we are entering world not our own (normal tonality). Sometimes bVII is used in period movies to mimic pre-tonal music (mixolydian mode).

Make sure your paper is in a more formal language.